A Magical Pairing: Modern Christmas Tree & Stahl House
Architecture & Interiors
It may be safe to say that when you live in a house like this one, every day must feel like Christmas. The masterwork known as Stahl House, has been around since 1960, when the architect Pierre Koenig’s contribution to the Case Study Program became the unofficial emblem of Mid Century Modernist architecture, its glass walled perfection and killer hilltop views immortalized once and forever in Julius Shulman’s black-and-white photographs. Since then, Stahl House has remained so consistently and tantalizing photogenic, it became all but impossible to imagine anything adding to its timeless allure. Enter, Matt Bliss, founder of the Denver-based company, The Modern Christmas Tree, who managed a breathtaking coup when he secured permission to install one of the company’s abstract acrylic Christmas trees in a cantilevered corner of the legendary Hollywood Hills house—creating and capturing a brief moment in time that can be described, purely and simply, as magic.
JC Buck, an architectural photographer based in Denver, accompanied Modern Christmas Tree founder Matt Bliss to Stahl House earlier this year, where Buck captured the installation of the company’s patented Christmas tree in the house’s glass-walled corner. “For me personally, working in architecture and interior photography, it was a surreal experience. Matt and I were filled with emotions as we visited the residence the day prior, to plan our shots, to the moment we fired off the first exposures the following day. As the sun went down, the tree came to life, even the owner was in awe of seeing his famous childhood home lit by Matt’s tree. He pulled out his cell phone, taking pictures and texting family. It was a moment we both will cherish.”
Like Stahl House, the patented Modern Christmas Tree design was a product of the 1960s. Designed by Lawrence ‘Bud’ Stoecker, a Boulder, Colorado craftsman, the tree’s A-frame arrangement of acrylic concentric circles was an original invention. “The tree was originally made of cardboard, then Masonite board before he finally settled on Plexiglas,” explains Matt Bliss, Stoecker’s grandson. “He refined the design as well throughout the 1970’s and 80’s.” Bliss revived (and subsequently patented) his grandfather’s invention in 2011, sowing the seeds for his company’s unique offerings.
Photographed earlier this year by Denver-based architectural photographer, JC Buck, Pierre Koenig’s Stahl House is captured at night and at dusk (below), overlooking Los Angeles—with a Modern Christmas Tree on full display, shimmering in tandem with the city lights below.
Via JC Buck