Apple design guru Jony Ive designed a Christmas tree without any decorations

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In the autumn of 2015, Apple design guru Jony Ive said that if he wasn't working for Apple, he might create Christmas decorations.

"If I wasn't doing this, I think I would just be drawing or making stuff for friends," he told interviewer Charlie Rose. "Maybe it would just be Christmas tree ornaments, I don't know." 

Ive, if you're not familiar with him, is the head honcho of design at the Cupertino technology company. He frequently appears as an ethereal, disembodied voiceover on Apple's promotional videos talking about its iconic design.

Today, 49-year-old British knight continues to work for Apple. But he's gone and decorated a Christmas tree anyway.

This is Claridge's. It's a posh hotel in central London. Every year, it gets famous designers to design Christmas trees for its lobby. In 2015, it was Christopher Bailey for Burberry. Dolce & Gabanna, Kally Ellis of McQueens, and John Galliano for Dior have also had a go. 

(Rob Price/BI)

But in 2016, it's Jony Ive's turn! He designed it together with frequent partner-in-crime Marc Newson, as well as set designer Michael Howells. So how does it look? Well ... it's a tree. There's nothing on it.

(Rob Price/BI)

"Is it finished?" I cautiously asked a Claridge's staff member. The answer: Yes. There are smaller trees dotted about too — also without any decorations on. But then, what do you expect? Apple is famous for its ultra-minimalist design.

(Rob Price/BI)

The unfurnished firs are accompanied by a lobby bedecked to look like a winter wonderland. Fake snow lines the floor alongside real tree trunks, under a leafy canopy and shifting light-scheme. "Our aim was to create an all-enveloping magical experience that celebrates our enormous respect for tradition while recognising our excitement about the future and things to come," Ive and Newson said to design mag Wallpaper."There are few things more pure and beautiful than nature, so that was our starting point, layering various iterations of organic forms with technology," they added.

It is very pretty. And the birdsong and forest noises are a nice touch. But the closest thing to a traditional Christmas tree is this little one in the corner with some fake snow on. No decorations to be seen anywhere!

(Rob Price/BI)

Visitors seemed to like it, happily posing for photos in the installation room. At one point, a choir even turned up (though they're not an official part of the installation). It was positively idyllic.

(Rob Price/BI)

But yes — the tree is just a tree. There's no headphone jack, wifi, USB-C ports or HDMI output either, which is a bummer.

(Rob Price/BI)

Ive's tree comes off the back of another unconventional project — a $300 book containing nothing but photos of Apple products. It was developed over an eight-year period, and Ive said Apple had to invent new kinds of ink and paper to do it justice.

(Rob Price/BI)

So what's next for Jony Ive? It's not clear — Apple is famously secret about unannounced products. But rumour has it the legendary designer is working on a beautiful new set of clothes for the emperor. We can't wait!

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