Talented Shortlist Unveiled in the Global Competition to Design the Celebrated Oxford Street Christmas Illuminations for 2018

A global competition, launched to create the new design for the Christmas Illuminations across Oxford Street, which is visited by over 30 million people during the festive season, has reached its exciting second stage. New West End Company, who commissioned the competition, has unveiled a shortlist of four ambitious concepts from across the world for the first new installation on the world-famous shopping destination in five years.

The shortlisted entries feature innovative and intricate uses of design and light from four talented artists and lighting specialists. The designs, two from UK studios, one from Portugal and a collaboration between two studios from Germany and Austria, have taken their inspiration from themes such as the Northern Lights and swarming flocks of birds. Each design has been created to enable passers-by to personally interact with the display.

This is the first time a global competition has ever been undertaken to find a designer to take on this illustrious project. Over 40 entries were submitted, with participants from the UK, Europe, Australia, the USA, and the Middle East among those to put forward their artistic visions for Christmas on one of the world’s most famous shopping streets.

The competition has been arranged by New West End Company and facilitated by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The judging panel, made up of experts from the arts and design industries, includes the British fashion designer Anya Hindmarch and Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, Justine Simons. The winner, set to be announced at the end of May, will have the opportunity to showcase their work to over 30 million festive season visitors between November 2018 and January 2019 when the display will be showcased on Oxford Street.

The competition to secure a world-leading festive installation for Oxford Street is the latest example of how Oxford Street and London’s West End have their sights set on providing an unrivalled experience to visitors, especially during the magical Christmas season. The Oxford Street lights form part of New West End Company’s ambitious programme of events, activations and transformational projects designed to continue to enhance the reputation of the West End as the best place in the world to visit, shop, dine and explore.

Jace Tyrrell, Chief Executive of New West End Company said: “Oxford Street’s Illuminations are synonymous with Christmas in London, launching the festive season and drawing crowds from across the globe to the West End. The shortlisted entries are all outstanding, creating opportunities for people to interact with the installations in a new and innovative ways that have not been seen on Oxford Street before. Selecting the shortlist was incredibly difficult, but looking at the four potential winning designs, it’s certain the lights this year will be spectacular, giving all our visitors the opportunity to experience a special festive moment here on Oxford Street.”

Chris Wilkinson, OBE, Director, Wilkinson Eyre and RIBA Adviser says, “Oxford Street’s Christmas lights are world renowned, and this year a designer from this incredible shortlist will deliver an installation that eclipses anything that’s come before. The standard of entry has been wonderful and selecting a shortlist was extremely hard, but these four entries stood out in terms of their quality, and the inspiring stories that underpinned their design concepts. I’m really excited for the final stage of the competition from this amazing shortlist, and, whoever wins, I have no doubt there will be an amazing Christmas spectacle for visitors to Oxford Street to enjoy this Winter.”

The complete 2018 judging panel is:

  • Anya Hindmarch, Designer and Trustee of Royal Academy Development Trust
  • Chris Wilkinson, OBE, Director, Wilkinson Eyre and RIBA Adviser
  • Jill Entwistle, Executive Editor, Lighting Magazine
  • Jace Tyrrell, Chief Executive Officer, New West End Company
  • Justine Simons, London Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, Greater London Authority
  • Julia Corkey, Director of Policy, Performance and Communications, Westminster City Council

The shortlisted entries are:

  1. Gia Equation with Peter Fink Studio, Harry Dobbs Design & Eckersley O’Callaghan, London –KaleidoSCAPE is an immersive interactive experience of light and colour inspired by Aurora Borealis, the fragile spectrum of colours on the surfaces of bubbles and the light refraction through prisms.
  2. Castros S.A, Portugal – This entry, entitled ‘The Polar Christmas’ will create a welcoming, tender Christmas display by combining inspiring shapes and colours, with one of Christmas’s most popular icons, the reindeer. The Polar Christmas is inspired by a magical tale created by the designer which describes how a famous jeweller was reminded of the preciousness of family by an encounter with a majestic reindeer on a dangerous polar expedition.
  3. 3DReid, London – The designers’ North Pole-inspired design incorporates a ribbon geometry that never repeats and 500,000 LED lights that will allow flexibility for the lights to smoothly curve around the street through a ‘ribbon and star’ field.
  4. Herr Meier Licht, Germany & MK Illumination, Austria – Taking inspiration from flocks of birds in the sky ‘The Swarm’ will use a 3D calibration to allow every light to follow its own behaviour. The simulation will last 24 hours and will change in colour.

IMAGE: 3D Reid