Making the Christmas Tree Modern

Making the Christmas Tree Modern

“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, and concentric circles of light and shadow danced in a modernist tableau, all over the ceiling.” Wait, what? If you’re accustomed to old-fashioned fragrant evergreen trees, sticky with sap and heavily laden with ornaments and string lights, the spare glow and futuristic lines of the modern Christmas tree will knock your proverbial stockings off. The first thing you might notice about these trees is that they look “Modern” with a capital M—as in postwar, midcentury design. Yet they’re not vintage, and they weren’t manufactured until fairly recently. While these novel trees were designed by engineer and builder Lawrence Stoecker in the 1960s, they were not produced until Stoecker’s grandson Matt Bliss launched The Modern Christmas Tree in 2011.

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Designing Disneyland

Designing Disneyland

In the mid-1950s, when Walt Disney’s long-planned, eponymous California theme park was taking shape, he found himself butting heads with a member of the his construction crew. “One of the contractors on the job tried to substitute plastic for wrought iron, and Walt insisted on authenticity,” says Chris Nichols, whose new book Walt Disney’s Disneyland (Taschen, $60) lavishly illustrates the creative process of the park’s creation, from drawing board to ribbon-cutting. “Imagineer John Hench said that if the design elements were not authentic, guests would have a harder time suspending disbelief and placing themselves in the story,” Nichols tells AD PRO. That, in a nutshell, is what sets Disneyland apart from the scores of other amusement parks, fairs, and attractions that both presaged and followed its 1955 debut: No other park of its kind was designed with so much emphasis on the idea of transporting visitors, both physically and narratively, into another world, as though a teacup ride might actually sweep one down the rabbit hole and into Wonderland.

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Philadelphia Spotlights Design That Solves Problems and Builds Community

Philadelphia Spotlights Design That Solves Problems and Builds Community

The term “design fair” may call to mind a particular mise-en-scène: a constellation of temporary gallery displays full of limited-edition works by boldface-name designers, glossy catalogs, perhaps a few celebrity sightings, and the clink of Champagne glasses at an invitation-only vernissage. That may do for New York and Miami, but in the City of Brotherly Love, each October, the design festival belongs to the entire city: DesignPhiladelphia, organized by the Center for Architecture and Design, which this year packed more than 120 events into 11 days running October 3–13. Its programming emphasizes innovation, business-civic partnerships, and adaptive reuse. This year's theme, “Design Purpose,” sought to showcase emerging designers who are thinking globally and prototyping their ideas locally. Now in its 14th year, DesignPhiladelphia hit a new level of chic this season with dazzling light installations by Klip Collective, a keynote talk by graphic design legend Paula Scher of Pentagram, and tours of the city’s many distinct design- and antiques-rich neighborhoods.

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