In the chic midwinter
Christmas is no time for Minimalist restraint
MY first job was on an interiors magazine that ignored Christmas. While competitors filled their December issues with ever more inventive things to do with holly, mistletoe and lengths of ribbon, ours was very much business as usual. I’m not aware that the editor was a fervent Humanist (or indeed that Humanists are especially prone to fervour). Instead, I suspect her approach acknowledged the fact that classic Christmas decoration and quiet good taste are incompatible.
‘Even the icily cool hipster generation is being thawed’
Since then, those of a Modernist persuasion have sought to confound this stance with a paredback approach that is sympathetic to their Minimalist sensibilities— a lonely string of fairy lights trailing across a mantelpiece, a few artfully placed tea lights and, if they’re feeling devil-may-care, an illuminated deer’s head. ‘Yes,’ they say, ‘we are quite Scandinavian in how we do Christmas decoration.’
This approach fails to recognise that the only restrained religious festivals are Lent and Yom Kippur. Almost all the others, from Easter to Diwali, are about fun. Two retailers that recognise this fact are OKA and William Yeoward. The latter’s current range includes everything from squirrels to a distinctly hirsute, light-up yeti church. The centrepiece of OKA’S 2016 Christmas offering is a snowy-owl tree decoration (main picture) that can be put to all sorts of inventive uses.
All this revelling in frivolity no longer appears to be just for a nostalgic older generation, either. There are signs that it’s even beginning to infiltrate Shoreditch, one of London’s achingly fashionable boroughs; the House of Hackney’s Christmas offering includes baubles in the shape of hippos (bottom right) and flamingos—evidence, perhaps, that even the icily cool hipster generation is at last being thawed by the spirit of an over-the-top Christmas.
Snowy owls, flamingos and hippos add a touch of festive flair and frivolity for those who like to make a statement at Christmas