50 designers reinvent the Christmas tree ornament

The designs are being auctioned off to benefit an organization that promotes underrepresented groups in creative fields.

It’s easy to get lost in the all-out consumerism that the holiday season has come to equate. Coming off the frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, you might find that you’ve ended up with a lot of products that you don’t need. And though those unofficial American holidays in celebration of materialism seem to become bigger and bigger every year, there’s also an opportunity to make more purposeful buying choices.


Online design showroom WorkOf, the “home for contemporary design,” has a gift-giving remedy. For the third subsequent year, the studio has launched an online auction that offers up one-of-a-kind ornaments crafted by 50 independent designers, including lighting designer Bec Brittain; interdisciplinary studio Malka Dina; and furniture design firms Green River Project, Another Human, Uhuru, Slash Objects, Crump & Kwash, and Zeray Studio.

Uhuru [Photo: courtesy WorkOf]

Ornament designs range from the understated to the tongue-in-cheek. Arielle Assouline-Lichten, the designer behind Slash Object’s brass, concrete, and silk ornament, “Adornment,” brought brutalist inspiration to Christmas decor. “I wanted to create a very clean and simple piece that is geometric but also a bit whimsical,” said Assouline-Lichten in a statement. “I love the idea of a kind of lite brutalist concrete tassel that is heavy and at the same time, elegant or cheerful.”

Base Modern’s “Holiday Hang/Over,” made of gray acrylic draped over a brass cylinder, is a sophisticated visual representation of the feeling you might have after a night of too much eggnog. The result is an understated keepsake, rather than a memory you’d rather forget.

Zeray Studio [Photo: courtesy WorkOf]

Zeray Studio’s “Bag in a Tree” ornament falls on the other end of the spectrum. It’s a tiny, white PET plastic bag (recyclable, if you really wanted to) with “thank you” written in red lettering across the front. If you’re a bag half-full type of person, it might remind you of 30 Rock‘s Liz Lemon defiantly telling off a bag in a tree: “You know what, Mr. Bag? I will have a nice day!” If you’re more the bag half-empty type, may it serve as a reminder that you should avoid the kind of wasteful single-use plastic bags that get stuck in trees if you want to stay on the nice list. Cheerful, I know. Either way, you won’t be finding an ornament like this at Macy’s anytime soon.

Bidding for each ornament begins at $50, and proceeds from the sales will be donated to talent development agency Scope of Work, which has a mission to support underrepresented young people within the creative community and, in the long-term, make the industry more inclusive and equitable. The final gavel drops on the auction at 5 p.m. ET December 17, and if the three examples above don’t suit your fancy, the good news is that there are 47 more to choose from. So place a bid, and in a small way, you can make the design industry a more inclusive place—and give a gift that keeps on giving.


About the author

Lilly Smith is an associate editor of Co.Design. She was previously the editor of Design Observer, and a contributing writer to AIGA Eye on Design.


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