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The Miami Design Community Celebrate “Design Connections” with Interpretive Christmas Trees

2013 FIU Festival of the Trees {The Tree Topper (CC BY-ND-NC)}

The Miami Design Community Celebrate “Design Connections” with Interpretive Christmas Trees


Twenty-seven teams consisting of members of Miami’s architectural design community did creative battle this week. Their weapons were interpretive representations of the holiday spirit taking inspiration from Christmas trees.

The rules were no more than 24″ in width and depth, a height limited by only their creation’s stability, and a weight of no more than 80 lbs. The event was the 27th annual Festival of the Trees, produced by Florida International University’s Department of Interior Architecture. The long running event is a Miami tradition. This year’s theme celebrated “Design Connections”. At stake were awards for the categories of Most Elegant, Most Creative, Most Illuminating, Most Progressive, and People’s Choice.

But those award titles were not the primary motivators behind why people choose to participate. The annual event is a fundraiser for FIU’s Department of Interior Architecture. Funds generated from sponsors, tickets sales, and sale of the designs themselves are used to provide scholarships and special programs for students.

”Eccentric
”Evanesce
”Global
”Invisible
”Majestic
”One
”Tree
”World

Select an image to enlarge and then step through each in sequence.

Radiance Squared

Setting Up Radiance Squared at the 2013 FIU Festival of the Trees {The Tree Topper (CC BY-ND-NC)}

Manufactures who sell to the design community work with the designers as Tree Sponsors to cover material costs and often collaborate as creative partners. Johnsonite, a commercial flooring manufacturer, worked with a team from HOK, a global architecture firm, to create Radiance Squared. The design is formed by interlocked tiles of rubber flooring materials. Johnsonite had the tiles speciality made at their factory using a sonic cutter, an ultrasonic knife for cutting and trimming materials such as paper, cloth, leather, plastics, and even carbon fiber. It was a surprise to the team when they discovered their finished design had the side effect of producing the religiously significant hexagram shape, commonly known as the Star of David.

Radiance Squared {The Tree Topper (CC BY-ND-NC)}

Bézier

Bézier {The Tree Topper (CC BY-ND-NC)}

Partnerships extend beyond working with new materials and processes, it is the networking and collaboration between sponsors and designers that is more valued. Patchcraft, a commercial carpet and flooring manufacturer, taped VIA Design Studio for the studio’s first entry to the Festival. The team worked on their design since June, having worked countless hours and on multiple prototypes before perfecting their Impressive design Bézier.

Host Venue- Coral Gables Museum

Coral Gables Museum Main Entrance {The Tree Topper (CC BY-ND-NC)}

The venue for the Festival is the Coral Gables museum where the designs will remain on display until December 8, 2013. The location is an appropriate venue as the Museum’s mission centers around the civic arts of architecture, urban, and environmental design. The building was originally the city’s fire station and jail, now repurposed into a LEED Certified civic arts complex.

Gala Opening

Organizers Janine King and Lisette Boosooboy with Judges {The Tree Topper (CC BY-ND-NC)}

After months of working on their designs and a frantic setup of the design gallery that lasted all day on Wednesday, the designers gathered on Thursday night with Miami’s most well-known figures in real estate, arts, architecture, Miami-Dade government, and FIU students, faculty, staff, and alumni to celebrate at an opening gala.

Playful Connections {The Tree Topper (CC BY-ND-NC)}

Gala attendees stood shoulder to shoulder to gaze upon the aesthetic and engineering accomplishments of the designers. As with the designs, this was not the usual wine-and-cheese gallery opening. After one attendee snuck in beer one year it caught on. This year Gold Coast Beverage Distributors was a sponsor, providing craft beers for the event at discount. With the number of participating designs and gala attendees growing year after year the event is likely to need a larger venue in the future.

2013 Florida International University’s Festival of the Trees Christmas Tree Design Entries

Select an image to enlarge and then step through each in sequence.

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2013 Design Winners

Most Elegant

Bézier by VIA Design Studio, sponsored by Patcraft.
Honorable Mention: Sentient Connection by UM Architect’s Office, sponsored by Knoll, Spinneybeck, FilzFelt.

Most Creative

Futureproof by Mohammed Shanti Design, sponsored by Hansgrohe.
Honorable Mention: Different Journeys by LIVS Associates, sponsored by Centiva / Tandus.

Most Illuminated

Playful Connections by Studio 5 Design + Architecture, sponsored by Shaw Contract Group.
Honorable Mention: World Design Connections by PDT International, sponsored by Porcelanosa.

Most Progressive

See. Help. Give. by RTKL, sponsored by Humanscale / Bretford.
Honorable Mention: Cascades by Habify, sponsored by FIU Alumni Association.

People’s Choice

Invisible Bonds by G Alvarez Design Studio, sponsored by Haworth / JC White.

Congratulation to this year’s winning design teams!

Geek Factor

Six pointed stars have also been found in cosmological diagrams in many religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. The reasons behind this symbol’s common appearance in Indic religions and the West are unknown. One possibility is that they have a common origin. The other possibility is that artists and religious people from several cultures independently created the hexagram shape, which is a relatively simple geometric design.

The Star of David, known in Hebrew as the Shield of David or Magen David, is a generally recognized symbol of Jewish identity and Judaism. Its shape is that of a hexagram, the compound of two equilateral triangles. The hexagram has been in use as a symbol of Judaism since the 17th century, with precedents in the 14th to 16th centuries in Central Europe, where the Shield of David was partly used in conjunction with the Seal of Solomon (the hexagram) on Jewish flags.