Our favourite festive design projects of 2016

From immersive Christmas tree installations to Brexit-themed crackers complete with bad taste jokes, here’s a selection of festive design projects that caught our eye.

Claridge’s Christmas tree, by Sir Jonny Ive and Marc Newson


Previous years have seen the Claridge’s Christmas tree decorated by fashion industry bigwigs like Dolce & Gabbana and Christopher Bailey.

This year however, Apple’s chief design officer and Marc Newson have taken the reins, creating an interactive forest installation in the lobby of the hotel.

Created in collaboration with British set designer Michael Howells, the forest comprises four-metre high light boxes showing black and white photographic images of snowy silver birch trees, set against a canopy of green pine trees.

The installation is designed to play with “the relationship between nature and technology, tradition and the future and three dimensions and two,” say the designers.

Brexit crackers, by Mcgarrybown


Ad agency Mcgarrybowen has topically designed a set of Brexit-themed crackers for the Guardian, which quite literally let you tear Britain away from the European Union.

The crackers feature referendum-themed prizes, including a miniature EU jigsaw puzzle where you can try and find a place for the UK to fit, and a yo-yoing pound coin.

Each cracker also includes the traditional cheesy Christmas joke, but with a Brexit twist. For example, ““Q. Why did Michael Gove leave his Christmas dinner? A. He didn’t like Brussels.”

To be in with a chance of winning a box visit The Guardian.

Tate Britain’s “upside down” Christmas tree, by Shirazeh Houshiary

Photo by Joe Humphrys, Tate Photography
Photo by Joe Humphrys, Tate Photography

As is tradition, Tate Britain has marked the beginning of the festive season with an artist commission, which this year comes in the form of a dramatic upside down Christmas tree by Shirazeh Houshiary.

The Iranian-born artist has chosen to reimagine the tree she first created for the gallery back in 1993. The work hangs upside down from the glass ceiling in the Millbank entrance, with its roots exposed and covered in gold leaf.

Houshiary has created the piece in order pay tribute to the pine tree as one of the oldest species of trees in existence, as well as recognise the roots as “the source of its continued stability, nourishment and longevity”.

Häagen-Dazs gâteau glacé, by Jaime Hayon


Now in its ninth edition, Häagen-Dazs’ Christmas ice-cream cake has been designed by Spanish homewares designer, Jaime Hayon.

The designer has envisaged two edible magical characters, inspired by his experience of the world of show business and filled with everything from speculoos and salted caramel sauce to almond panna cotta and hazelnut praline.

Fighting Fire with ice cream, by Alex Chinneck


British artist, Alex Chinneck’s installation at Granary Square in King’s Cross, London sees a giant Christmas tree adorned with 1,200 lights and housed within a seven-metre “ice cube”.

The installation is the staggering height of a two-storey house, while creating the surrounding “puddle” – which has been designed to “melt” into the Square’s fountains – involved Chinneck pouring almost 250kg of clear wax.

Hot Tub, by Art&Graft

Yule Log 2016 from Art&Graft on Vimeo.


Art&Graft’s festive short film is inspired the US yule log tradition, in which a film loop of a yule log burning in a fireplace with a soundtrack of classic Christmas songs was broadcast on Christmas Eve for several hours.

Featuring a colourful cast of coal characters, Hot Tub reimagines this tradition for the digital age.

It is one of a collection of films created by animation artists for Yule log 2.0, an initiative which raises funds in order to give kids the gift of learning how to code and canoe for Christmas.

You can read more about the initiative here.

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