Each year architects and designers come together to celebrate and express the spirit of Christmas through design. These examples show how the festive season is interpreted by different designers, and how technology and design can help infuse some festive magic into our environments.
Project: Wonderland by Target
Location: New York City
Target opened a 16,000 square foot retail pop-up spectacle for the Christmas season in 2015 in Chelsea, NYC. Aptly named "Wonderland" - the installation features a range of interesting activities and displays that test the future of retail through blending the digital and analogue retail shopping experience. Features include a large ball pit for children, a giant Lego pirate ship to pose with, and displays that allow you to purchase items such as toys you are interested in by scanning codes on a product with a special shopping tag, and picking up your purchase on the way out from a mechanical "Santa" which hands you your shopping, without carrying the item around. This installation is a great example of how architecture and technology can come together in the digital age.
Project: Luminaries at Brookfield Place
Location: New York City
Luminaries is an interactive light display created by Rockwell Group and stretches the full length of the Winter Garden atrium in New York City. The installation features rows of box-shaped lanterns fixed by a steel support structure. The colour, animation and light intensity of each lantern can be controlled individually. The installation integrates technology and interaction with users - featuring 3 white cubes on the ground level that allow visitors to "make a wish" that changes the colour and behaviour of the lantern illumination. There are also choreographed light shows by Rockwell Group through the day.
Project: Alternative Christmas Tree at Utzon Centre
An installation by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill (SOM) called the "Alternative Christmas Tree" was set up in 2016 in the courtyard of the Utzon Centre in Denmark as part of an ongoing SOM exhibition in the building. The temporary lattice sculpture is made of 1000 modules from Peter Lassen's GRID system, taking on the form of an inverted Christmas tree, and allowing one to physically step into the space and middle of the "Christmas tree". Colour-changing lights by lighting designer, Steensen Varming illuminate the sculpture at night.
Project: Christmas Forest at Claridge Hotel
Location: London, United Kingdom
The annual 2016 Christmas display at the luxury London Claridge Hotel was designed by Apple design chief, Jonathan Ive and Apple special projects designer, Marc Newson. It is featured as a re-design of the Christmas Tree, breaking down the organic form of the tree and integrating it with technology, inspired by "nature, technology, tradition, and the future". Green pine serves as the canopy for the forest, surrounded by fir trees, cast pine tree models, light boxes with snow-covered birch trees, and a 3-foot-high tree.
Project: Macy's Christmas Window Display
Location: New York City, USA
Macy's annual Christmas window displays is a spectacle many look forward to - and these typically take a year to prepare for. These days, technology has become a cornerstone in how people interact with the surrounding environment, and Macy's has sought to incorporate these understandings into its displays. 2016 displays include charms such as Elfs reading wish lists through youtube videos, use of LED screens in scenes, and an interactive element that lets the user know whether they have been naughty or nice through the placing of their palm on the screen, and even games that allow interaction with the exhibits. Each of Macy's window displays typically feature a sub-category of an overarching theme. The theme for 2016 was "Believe".
Project: North Pole Experience in The Little America Hotel
Location: Flagstaff, Arizona, USA
Year: 2012 - Current
The North Pole Experience is an 8,500 square foot replica of Santa's Workshop located in The Little America Hotel in Arizona. It is set up each year for approximately a month before Christmas. It is, overall, an interactive family Christmas experience that features a host of activities including tours of Santa's Workshop with toy exhibits overs the years designed with intricate details, a toy building factory setting, learning areas, and other adventures. This unique experience combines the best of education and fantasy through the design of a unique setting and backdrop for the festive season.