From Mayfair to Shoreditch, London’s most creative minds have been put to the ultimate test – to design the most fabulous Christmas tree. In search of festive inspiration, we took a tour to see the most fashionable firs for 2016.
Marc Newson and Sir Jony Ive's trees at Claridge's
Claridge’s likes to set the bar high and this year they have played with virtual reality to create not just a tree, but a forest courtesy of the design wizards Marc Newson and Sir Jony Ive. Are those birch trees real? Is it actually snowing? Go and see for yourself (and sip some bubbles just to heighten the whole experience).
How about taking your tree outside this year? Antony Gormley’s futuristic tree is lighting up the streets of Mayfair outside the Connaught Hotel. Subverting tradition, the sculptor decorated the core of the tree instead of the branches. Gormley inserted a light column to illuminate the tree’s natural branches – try this at home by wrapping multiple strands of fairy lights around the trunk to similar effect.
Simon Costin's tree at The London Edition
Or tell a folk tale with your tree. Simon Costin’s fantastical tree at The London Edition in Fitzrovia is based on Welsh mythology. The designer has worked extensively with Alexander McQueen and Tim Burton and shares the same theatrical approach. Delicate moths and plum coloured hydrangeas adorn the branches, and instead of the traditional angel, a fiery, feathered owl-woman sits on top.
J.W. Anderson's tree at Hoi Polloi
For J.W. Anderson, Christmas decorations take on a more conceptual tone. He has decked the halls of Hoi Polloi in the Ace Hotel with his ‘body parts’. Living in luxury but also mocking it, is the designer’s cardboard cut-out Graeco-Roman bust sitting on top of the tree, while the same statuesque arms and legs hang from it, and even the ceiling. Very abstract.
Katie Eary's tree in Old Street. Image credit: Gary Manhine
And it’s Christmas crackers all round to the London Borough of Hackney which has made full use of its many resident fashion designers to create a string of glamorous trees across the district. We loved Louby McLoughlin’s hyper feminine cyber vision in Dalston Square; Mary Benson’s 2D baubles outside Hackney Town Hall (Mary Christmas to you too!); Katie Eary’s blood shot eyes (we know the feeling); and Henry Holland’s shouty slogans and letter ornaments making a very graphic statement in Clapton.
The last stop is Stoke Newington where the NEWGEN designer Ashley Williams has decked her tree in girlish bows, with strands of multi-coloured tinsel made of tulle. We can’t wait to try this out at home.
These designers have thought outside of the box for Christmas 2016. We've seen wild owls, fake snow, googly eyes and cardboard cut-outs dotted around London. Now, which route will you take?
Text by Abigail Southan