Every year, Claridge’s puts up a Christmas tree in its lobby to mark the start of the festive season. Since 2009, the trees have been designed by heavy hitters of the fashion industry, including Christopher Bailey, Dolce & Gabbana, and Alber Elbaz. This year, however, Apple’s Sir Jony Ive and industrial designer Marc Newson have been invited to create their take on festive landmark.
The result is an immersive installation that welcomes guests as they step through Claridge’s revolving doors. While the usual tree by the staircase has been left bare, the room through the main entrance has been transformed into a snow-covered forest. The pair collaborated with set designer Michael Howells to create the experience. Models of pine trees stand in front of light boxes with images of a dense forest. The ceiling is covered by a green canopy of leaves, masking speakers which play bird calls and other sounds of nature. A young tree symbolising the future sits in a corner amongst the fake snow. The lighting changes regularly, transforming the scene from day to night every so often.
The designers explained:
“There are few things more pure and beautiful than nature, so that was our starting point, layering various iterations of organic forms with technology. Our aim was to create an all-enveloping magical experience that celebrates our enormous respect for tradition while recognising our excitement about the future and things to come.”
London’s hotels and shops certainly don’t disappoint when it comes to Christmas decorations, and with more and more institutions embracing technology in their displays, festive installations are set to shift from something to simply look at to mesmerising experiences to be enjoyed.
A mini forest in the centre of London that embraces nature and technology is an unexpected interpretation of the Claridge’s Christmas tree. In creating this experience, Sir Jony Ive and Marc Newson have brought something new to the table. But it does beg the question: what will Claridge’s do next year?