This Year’s Immersive Christmas Tree at Claridge’s and The Seven Before It

Claridge's Christmas Tree Designs 2009-2016

The posh Mayfair hotel Claridge’s has unveiled its 2016 Christmas Tree, an annual tradition. Designed by Apple Chief Design Officer Sir Jony Ive and Industrial Designer Marc Newson, two of the world’s most respected and influential designers, this year’s was more than just a decorated tree, it was – in industry parlance – an ‘immersive’ experience.

Claridge’s Christmas Trees from 2009-2016

For the past seven years Claridge’s has invited a favourite guest to reinterpret the tree in their own distinctive style.

2016: Claridge’s Christmas Tree by Sir Jony Ive and Marc Newson
Claridge's Christmas Tree Designs 2009-2016

At first glance, and compared with the lobby’s installations of the past, this year’s tree is a snooze. No shiny baubles, no tree topper, not a shred of tinsel in sight. Ive’s and Newson’s installation, created in collaboration with renowned British set designer Michael Howells, is meant to emulate a magical, snow-covered forest. And it does, through lighting, smell and imagery.

The backdrop to the large and unadorned central tree – and the smaller cast models of trees – are light projections of black and white photographic images of snow covered silver birch trees, set on a pure white floor. Specially choreographed lighting mimics the dappled light of forests and the smell of the real Pine canopy above create a relationship with nature via technology.

Claridge's Christmas Tree Design 2016

“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.” – Sir Jony Ive and Marc Newson

I applaud the ironic attempt at creating nature via technology, but many feel that the overall effect lacks that certain something that an admittedly gauche and elaborate tree has on the human spirit this time of year.

Claridge’s Christmas Tree Designs From 2009-2015

The Claridge’s Christmas Tree has long symbolized the start of the festive season in the capital, drawing visitors and Londoners alike to admire its magnificent design. Here’s a look at the Hotel’s Christmas Tree designs throughout the years as well as the artists’ sketches.

2015: Claridge’s Christmas Tree by Christopher Bailey for Burberry
2015: Claridge's Christmas Tree by Christopher Bailey for Burberry

The artist’s sketch:
Claridge Christmas Tree sketch by Christopher Bailey for Burberry

2015 marked the first time that Claridge’s had a British designed Christmas Tree. Christopher Bailey’s creation featured over 100 umbrellas, each finished in bespoke gold and silver metallic fabric, and thousands of motion-sensor lights, programmed to sparkle and glitter as guests walked by the tree.

With London being at the heart of both Claridge’s and Burberry, the 2015 Claridge’s Christmas Tree was a true celebration of the two brands’ shared British heritage.

2014: Claridge’s Christmas Tree by Dolce & Gabbana
2014: Claridge's Christmas Tree by Dolce & Gabbana

The artists’ sketch:
sketch for Claridge's Christmas Tree by Dolce & Gabbana

In 2014 Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana designed Claridge’s Christmas Tree for a second year in a row. Inspired by their childhood memories and to celebrate children of the world, the eight metre-high tree brought a magical woodland to life in the heart of Mayfair.

dolce e gabbana claridge christmas tree

The tree was also adorned with glass baubles that were hand-painted with international flags representing the many festive traditions celebrated the night before Christmas.

2013: Claridge’s Christmas Tree by Dolce & Gabbana
2013: Claridge's Christmas Tree by Dolce & Gabbana

The artists’ sketch:
dolce & gabbana christmas tree sketch for claridge's

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana were the designers behind Claridge’s Christmas Tree in 2013. They presented a seven metre-high Christmas tree, reinterpreted with Sicilian elements that drew on the Italian heritage of the two designers. The tree was adorned with more than 450 Italian festive glass baubles blown by master artisans and a bespoke multi-coloured ‘luminarie’ framework, created in Southern Italy.

At the base of the tree were 30 hand crafted Sicilian marionettes (Pupi) made in the likeness of Charlemagne and other medieval knights, carved in wood and dressed in velvet robes.

2012: Claridge’s Christmas Tree by Kally Ellis of McQueens
2012: Claridge's Christmas Tree by Kally Ellis of McQueens

In 2012 Kally Ellis of McQueens designed Claridge’s iconic Christmas Tree. Her creation “Forest Murmurs” drew inspiration from the natural world, lending it a contemporary twist.

2012 claridges christmas tree katy ellis

The Christmas Tree featured magnolia branches and lichen moss, studded with crystal and emerald jewel eggs in white, gold and silver to create a canopy of colour and glamour to reflect the art deco beauty of Claridge’s.

2011: Claridge’s Christmas Tree by Alber Elbaz for Lanvin
Claridge's Christmas Tree by Alber Elbaz for Lanvin

The artist’s sketch:
lanvin sketch christmas tree claridge's

Alber Elbaz for Lanvin designed Claridge’s Christmas Tree in 2011. Alber created a dream world of colour and fantasy with his signature marionettes and a silk figurine of himself with trademark glasses and bowtie at the top of the tree.

Alber Elbaz for Lanvin designed Claridge's Christmas Tree in 2011

An infusion of tradition and modernity, Alber’s fantastical Christmas dream was brought to life in Claridge’s art deco lobby.

2010: Claridge’s Christmas Tree by John Galliano for Dior
Claridge's Christmas Tree by John Galliano for Dior

The artist’s sketch:
john galliano christmas tree clraidge's

In 2010 Claridge’s welcomed back John Galliano for Dior to design its iconic Christmas Tree. The celebrated designer unveiled his spectacular “Under the Sea” creation in Claridge’s art deco lobby – a Christmas Tree made of sparkling silver leaves, pink coral, sea horses, fish, anemones, starfish and jellyfish – truly one of a kind whimsical design.

John Galliano for Dior Tree

2009: Claridge’s Christmas Tree by John Galliano for Dior

The artist’s sketch:
john galliano sketch for Christmas tree

2009 marked the first time Claridge’s Christmas Tree was to be designed by a famed fashion designer. The Christmas Tree by John Galliano for Dior evoked a frozen twist on tradition with a tropical tree completed with snow leopard, dragon flies and parrots, echoing Claridge’s art deco surroundings.

images courtesy of House Beautiful, Claridge’s and their Christmas Tree Archive