Christmas in Shanghai is a time for the city’s commercial hubs and malls to flex a little razzle-dazzle by building unique (and gigantic) Christmas tree installations to lure shoppers inside for some seasonal spending. For the past several years, Xintiandi has unveiled the most avant designs solicited by the world’s leading architectural and design firms. Trumping last year’s cubist conceptual tree from French firm 1024 Architecture, Shanghai’s original and most posh shopping and dining district last week returned with this year’s tribute to the holiday gods. Presenting “Rolling X”, a RMB 2 million+ interactive Christmas tree plus snow globe currently dazzling the crowds in the South Block plaza.
A dazzling snowball of LED lights, the 15-meter high Rolling X contains a crystal-like Christmas tree, an all-white ball pit, a slide (for adults too!), and four methods of electronics interaction for visitors who can touch panels to manipulate the lighting display of the globe. It's also got its own custom conceptual ambient soundtrack from Shanghai producer L-N. It’s pretty bonkers. In a wondrous, Christmas-with-TRON kind of way.
The Rolling X installation comes as a collaboration between Shanghai-based media and design agency Dogma Lab, New York agency Anyways, Here’s the Thing, and 100 Architects in Shanghai for construction. SmartShanghai got a “making of” photo tour of Rolling X and spoke with Dogma Co-Founder Vivian Xu about bringing the inspiration to fruition.
"The idea of the globe was to create a winter playground for passersby. Using the snow globe as a model, we wanted to bring people together (such is the spirit of Christmas) and through playful interaction and collaboration, light up the Christmas tree and enjoy the holiday experience with family and friends."
"The best way to consume this installation is to go with family and friends — you will have a better experience than going by yourself. People can go inside to both upper and lower floors."
"The steel structure was a big challenge. It was difficult to find a team that would take on this job with the short building time of two weeks. Then we ended up finding had experience building the torch for the Beijing Olympics in the Bird’s Nest and building the steel structure for the Beijing West Train Station. They did an amazing job for us."
"Another challenge was the short install time for the acrylic and LEDS. We had over 300 acrylic panels for the globe, and the tree has another 100 or so. Each piece is a slightly different shape and needed to be matched. The workers in four short days, installed acrylic panels, LEDs, cocked the globe, and deconstructed the scaffolding."
"Ben Bacon (Dogma Co-Founder) completed almost the entire interaction action design and executed it by himself. He worked day and night for over a month, with the last week spent living on the site and working in the rain with the help of Henry Lamm, our colleague from New York. It was this dedication from the team’s lead that I think spurred respect from our construction team. They really pulled it all together for us."
Rolling X is receiving vistors 8am to 10pm daily. It's in the South Block of Xintiandi.
Pictures with this article by Andrew Rochfort.