Holiday decorating can pose a real challenge for many design lovers. While some are happy to embrace charmingly kitschy tree decor, those with more minimalist tastes are left hunting for understated Christmas ornaments that won’t clash with their modern home decor. Thankfully, Santa’s elves (with a little help from their colleagues at companies like Vitra and Moooi) have spent the past few years introducing plenty of sophisticated seasonal trimmings. Here are 10 Christmas ornaments that offer a shortcut to a modern winter wonderland — with a side helping of equally chic Judaica.
Sure, the ultra-minimalist move might be to opt for a bare tree. But Vitra’s simple metal ornaments (treated with a polished brass-effect finish) still keep things sufficiently understated. Each one is based on a classic design by Alexander Girard, with several modelled after wall art that the designer developed for Santa Fe’s Compound Restaurant during its 1960s heyday.
Following traditional Bauhaus principles by embracing clean lines and simple geometric forms — not to mention basic primary colours — IC Design’s set of handcrafted maple ornaments revives 1929 designs by Bauhaus architect Johannes Gabriel. (Bauhaus historians will also note the set’s fun resemblance to the costumes that Oskar Schlemmer developed for the Triadic Ballet.)
Moving into the 21st century, these 3D-printed designs deliver a contemporary update on traditional glass-blown baubles. Each ornament hangs from a satin ribbon loop, with a wide assortment of shapes and colours available.
$35 for two at ssense.com
If watering a poinsettia or amaryllis feels like too much work during an already-busy season, opt to bring some red blooms to your tree instead. With this ornament set, Marimekko recreates the floral designs from two of its famed prints — Siirtolapuutarha and Unikko — in red-glazed stoneware. A leather hanging loop adds a distinguished accent.
$40 for two at finnport.com
Each year, Georg Jensen introduces a full collection of limited-edition Christmas collectibles. This year’s ornaments include angels, bows and bells — but our favourite is a bauble designed by Sanne Lund Traberg as an artful balance of solid and void. Plated in 18kt gold, it’s available with either an off-white or red ribbon.
Danish artist Amanda Betz designed these dainty paper ornaments to hark back to homemade Christmas decorations. And while you’re free to use them as inspiration for your next paper snowflakes, you may find it difficult to recreate their intricate designs without some seriously fancy handiwork (and a very sharp pair of scissors). Perhaps best just to add them to your cart instead.
$60 at mjolk.ca
Continuing its tradition of releasing a limited-edition ornament each year, Iittala introduces this 2022 glass bauble featuring Oiva Toikka’s graphic bird print rendered in thick black lines. If you can’t make the whole “partridge in a pear tree” thing happen, this is your next best bet.
$25 at finnishdesignshop.com
Designers Marcello Jori and Massimo Giacon reimagine familiar Christmas imagery like a toy marionette, a present, and a cozy winter cabin through the lens of blocky video game graphics. Each fun, cartoonish design is created in blown-glass and decorated by hand.
Christmas thrives on nostalgia, and Moooi’s ornaments are perhaps the most nostalgic of all. The company’s decorations pull from its Museum of Extinct Animals, which catalogues fantastical creatures imagined with some help from archival drawings of long-lost species. The Blooming Sea Dragon and Armoured Boar shown are two of the 10 offerings.
$35 USD at moooi.com
Ceramist Greta Jonckheere and designer Alexandra Gelinas from Montreal ceramics workshop Studio Minéral created this matte porcelain ornament as a symbol of their friendship. Inspired by the geometry of snowflakes, it’s meant to be the start of a new annual tradition, with each year ushering in another unique collaboration.
For its latest introduction, modern Judaica brand Via Maris teamed up with glassware designer Sophie Lou Jacobsen. Working with temperature-resistant borosilicate glass, the two developed a transparent chanukiah designed for use with oil (rather than typical wax) candles.
$235 USD at via-maris.com
Shaped from a marble and resin composite, this mountainous menorah by L.A.-based designer Hannah Polskin includes brass candle cups fitted for use with dripless, standard-sized Hannukah candles.
$1,250 at hannahpolskin.com
Rochester, New York-based designer Josh Owen devised this solid cast iron menorah with an integrated base for catching drips and resting used matches as they cool down. Recognized as an enduring modern classic, it’s in the collection of both the National Museum of American Jewish History and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
$230 at themodernshop.com
Starting with a block of solid Carrera marble, designer Brad Ascalon introduced eight facets — one for each night of Hannukah — at 18-degree angles to symbolize the Hebrew word for life, “chai”. This design is another favourite of the National Museum of American Jewish History, which has the piece in its permanent collection.
$345 at dwr.com
Minimalist tree decorations and contemporary Judaica offer fun updates on traditional December designs.