Design Week’s favourite festive projects of 2021

While Christmas and the holiday season are once again uncertainties, designers didn’t shy away from the festive spirit with a range of online and in-person projects.

Pinecraft, from Sennep

London-based digital design studio Sennep has put an online spin on the tradition of wood-turning with its Pinecraft platform. The interactive lathe tool lets people carve and paint their own Christmas tree – ensuring that each project is unique. For every tree that is added to the virtual forest, one tree will be planted in the real world. Last year, almost 7,000 mangrove trees were planted in Madagascar thanks to the project, and this year the studio is aiming to reach 15,000. “It’s exciting to see what people invent when given simple creative tools,” Sennep creative director Matt Rice says. “So far, we’ve seen trees being made into hamburgers, snowmen and toad stalls.” You can try out the tree-making tool on Pinecraft’s website.

Bee Together, from Baxter & Bailey

For Baxter & Bailey’s Christmas project, the studio turned to the plight of the bee for inspiration. Reminiscent of a classic fable or children’s story book, the aim was to “tell a serious story in a way that felt charming, accessible and, ultimately, optimistic”, studio creative director Matt Baxter says. Bee Together: A fable for our times follows the bees as their workplace – the hive – is closed down, and they learn to work together during uncertain times. All the text and illustrations were done by the studio team. The book hopes to show “the ways in which we’ve all become adept at working separately through necessity”, Baxter adds.

Festive installations

Though returning to the office has been far from certain of late, designers have still made an effort to create a festive atmosphere. Take London’s Endpoint studio – which specialises in wayfinding and built environment design – where the team has hand painted its windows. Over two days, the design team worked together on the window, decked out with a Christmas message in red and green. You can view our round-up of festive shop window displays here.

London hotel The Standard meanwhile collaborated with designers including Harris Reed and Chet Lo for a series of high fashion Christmas installations. Fashion designer Reed mixed gothic and romantic genres with a “midwinter’s night dream” while Lo’s futuristic sculpture has been knitted (a seasonal touch which is in line with Lo’s designs).

Christmas cards

In a year where connection and collaboration has been challenging at the best of times, it’s perhaps no surprise that studios embraced Christmas cards to mark the year end. Design consultancy Hamilton-Brown’s set of 12 Christmas cards take inspiration from our shared experiences during the pandemic. There’s a card for the Zoom quiz fan, pandemic puppy parents and the subscription addict. Money raised from sales go to mental health charity Young Minds.

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