A Pair of Modern Nativity Scenes

By Aaron Britt / Published by Dwell
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Whether you prefer your Christmas decor splashy or humble, this pair of nativity scenes from a two fountainheads of modern design should see you, Mary, baby Jesus, and all the wisemen through the holiday season. They're a study in contrasts (the Bauhaus set couldn't be more minimal, the Girard more ornate) and price. I'll let you guess which one costs about $35 and which goes for $800.

On the truly abstract end of the spectrum is this nativity scene from Oliver Faber available through the Bauhaus Archive in Berlin. It comes in 11 wooden pieces and is about as reduced as a nativity set could be. In fact, it reads more like a criticism of modernism, a parody of the urge to deny all representation. If all we have to differentiate Mary from Joseph is text, if form gives us no clue to meaning, how is this really a nativity set at all? Conversely it's also really funny and maybe a good choice for the design-loving apostate in your life.

On the completely opposite side of things, this nativity set from House Industries is a 3D evocation of an old Alexander Girard design. The 13-piece set is hand-stamped in the firm's Grand Rapids, Michigan, studio and hits all the right notes for colorful mid-century design. It's certainly not cheap at $800 but you could imagine deckign the halls with this stunner every year from here on out.

Aaron Britt


Aaron writes the men's style column "The Pocket Square" for the San Francisco Chronicle and has written for the New York Times, the Times Magazine, Newsweek, National Geographic and others.

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