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It's another year for the exhibit of various designer interpretations of the traditional Christmas tree at Germany's Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design. The images below are from various submissions to the exhibit over the past few years. The show is in its fifth year this year and has had hundreds of unusual and imaginative entries. The deadline for this year's entries was December 12th (I'll show you those trees next year). Here are a few of my favorite entries since the inception of the show in 2004.
First off, what is the history of the Traditional Christmas Tree? According to wikipedia:
The Christmas tree is one of the most popular traditions associated with the celebration of Christmas. Normally an evergreen coniferous tree that is brought into a home or used in the open, a Christmas tree is decorated with Christmas lights and colourful ornaments during the days around Christmas. An angel or star is often placed at the top of the tree, representing the host of angels or the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity story.
Now, onto the designer interpretations. Here some of my faves from the 2007 entries:
above: Tire and tree tread by Cornelia Sieg
above: cristina irrgang and moritz willborn
above: miriam bauer
above: keifer & michalski
above: masa busic
above: viola kup
above: thomas beckstein
above: piero glina
above: nadja schoch
Above: suzanne feldt
above: lauren walter
above: peter bube & felix grunschloss
above: gotz gramlich
above: cecile noel
above: alice henry
above: elvira heise
above: stefanie miller
above: lia stoeckel
above: bea stach
some of my faves from the 2006 entries:
above: förderer & schäfer & schmid & vogel
above: juli foos
above: markus gläser
above: sogol shirazi & saskia noël
above: jérôme nelet
above: kun wang
above: marko grewe
above: max kosoric
above: kosoric (detail)
above: kathrin jilg
above: päivi raivio & niko venäläinen
above: simon roth
above: yunwei zhu
and some of my faves from the 2005 entries:
above: stefan legner
above: marcel besau & jan eilts & philipp sholz
above: claudia kappenberger
above: kappenberger detail
above: benedikt achatz
above: volker albus
above: matthias mai
and some of my faves from the 2004 entries:
above: katrin sonnleitner
above: volker albus
above: johannes marmon & johannes müller
above: christina irrgang
above: berta riera
above: susanne könig & charlotte montanus
above: tom förderer
above: kai richter
above: martin sämmer
5th Christmas Tree Exhibition
12.12.2008 - 21.12.2008
HfG Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design
THE IDEA (in their words): One for all!
»Enjoy it, love it, hate it, destroy it and revive it again!« This just about sums up in one sentence our original intentions in 2004. But in fact, at the inception of the project, we didn’t really know where we were going with the idea or what—to all intents and purposes—made for enjoyment and what for destruction.
• We wanted to initiate a project everyone participating in would have fun with, one that would bridge the divide between the different departments at the school—a project suspended on a truly interdisciplinary platform. Taking it to the next level and addressing an open invitation to professors, staff and outsiders wasn’t that far off—but rather the more appealing. Absolutely anyone could take part in the project: no guidelines, no selections or short-listings, no limitations on submissions.
• The topic »Christmas tree« seemed fitting, intuitive more than planned: everyone would know what it was about. Anyone could pick out an image, a memory of or an association with a Christmas tree. At the same time, the image of the Christmas tree was abstract enough to be reworked in any manner of ways and with all assorted media—we could invite graphic and product designers, media artists, art historians and scenographers. The field offered enough space for texts, pictures, posters, sound installations, objects and other production methods.
• It only really became clear how perfectly suitable the subject was in the proceeding years. There are few objects that are so spot on as the Christmas tree. On one hand, it embodies such a specific, distinct and popular image—a cone-shape covered in green needles, (red) balls and (white) candles. On the other hand, it encompasses a symbolism that alludes to so much at large. As both a pagan and Christian symbol, it stands for fertility and commerce, stands at Christmas markets and supermarkets, in the living room and on the main square—in Stockholm and Cape town, Miami and Peking—featuring different faces according to different positions and perspectives.
• Considering that this tree is rooted in foundations that are religious, profane, commercial, formal, historical, familiar, and social—among others—and that despite all of this, it has still grown to become such a distinctive and unmistakable evergreen icon, seems to have given participants the grounds for idealisation, ironic critique, critical analysis, collage, persiflage, re-drafting, malapropism and other forms of refiguration.
•»Some of the best exhibitions are ones that don’t take themselves too seriously«—so read the headline of Wallpaper magazine’s web article on the trees this summer—hits the needle on the head: the exhibition should be fun, anyone and everyone can show what they want and what makes them happy, can think about it as much as they like or don’t, work diligently or not. And so it goes—hopefully all over again!
jjoo - Johannes Marmon & Johannes Müller
Oh Tannenbaum - Designer Christmas trees Book:
A book with essays and 25 Christmas cards with motives from the annual Christmas Tree Exhibition. You can order the book here.
Johannes Marmon & Johannes Müller
Christmas Tree Exhibition