Decorations seen around the city often add to the feelings of holiday cheer. We sat down with Michael Gurl from Holiday Collective to discuss how they create magical displays while keeping sustainability in mind.
Q: Can you give us some background on Holiday Collective and the work you do?
A: Holiday Collective is a holiday design firm focused on decorating for the commercial sector. Located in New York City, our firm was created after discovering a niche need for high-quality holiday decorating services. We make the holiday cheer by creating magical displays for office lobbies, restaurants, hotels, plazas, and residences during the holiday season. Using live and faux greenery, trees, and wreaths accompanied with led lighting and ornaments, we are able to transform a client’s space for the holiday season. When our clients want an atypical or elaborate display my design team will make it a priority to use recycled and eco-friendly items to create those magical moments. We only use LED lighting for all of our projects because it is much more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent lighting.
Q: Can you tell us what you do with real trees you use for your clients after you take them down following the holidays?
A: We encourage our clients to use live trees and greenery whenever possible. Nature creates a wonderful variety of plants and trees that we are able to use for garlands, wreaths, centerpieces, and Christmas trees. Many of our restaurant clients love to install a 15-foot Christmas tree in front of their businesses. That’s a lot of tree to recycle! After the season, we take all of our live trees and greens to be recycled with local municipal programs. The NYC Parks Department has a great program to recycle NYC trees, and cities outside of NYC also make recycling trees a priority. We work with them as often as we can.
Q: Can you tell us about some sustainable decor projects you’ve worked on for your clients?
A: For 2020 we were fortunate to work on several large-scale special projects. During the planning stages for these projects I made it a priority to ensure we were as eco-friendly and energy-efficient as possible.
Pulitzer Fountain Installation – For this project with the Fifth Avenue business improvement district, we created a stunning display of holiday items inside of the Pulitzer Fountain. We used live Christmas trees, recycled lumber, and LED lighting to spread the holiday cheer and create an instagrammable moment for residents and visitors to the city. This environmentally friendly installation is creating smiles every day!
Meatpacking District – Our installation at Gansevoort Plaza for the Meatpacking District is one of our most eco-friendly installations. In Partnership with New York artist Tom Fruin, we installed the “Bombora House” in the center of Gansevoort Plaza. This atypical holiday display consists of a large house structure with seven miniature houses located throughout the plaza. The house was made with recycled steel using precise steel cutting technologies to reduce waste material. The “stained glass” is made from recycled plexiglass. The plexiglass comes from recycling centers and is entirely repurposed material. Some plexiglass was even sourced from a local Chinese restaurant that replaced their signage-Tom saw an immediate opportunity to reuse their sign.
Q: How do you make sure your work with the many different types of materials is sustainable?
Donations: We often donate unused and retired decor to the Materials for the Arts foundation. In lieu of sending old decor to landfill, we love to support this foundation because they repurpose our items.
Lighting: We only work with LED lighting. LED lights use 75% to 90% less electricity than traditional incandescent lighting. The technology also allows us to connect more lighting sets together, using less material for each project. On a larger scale, this reduces power consumption on our electrical grids.
Wood: A lot of our displays require us to get crafty and use lumber. Our carpenters use recycled wood as often as possible. We save all scraps for reuse on new projects.
Live greens: We use live greens as often as possible. Any scrap material is then reused for other projects or recycled.
Fuel and energy consumption: Our work requires many hours put into the preparation. Our workshop is energy efficient, using LED lighting and organic and recycled cleaning materials.
Transportation: To get our decor from our workshop to our client’s sites, we need to use trucks. Energy efficiency is a priority, encouraging our drivers to take eco-friendly routes requiring little idle time at traffic lights. We also prohibit idling and all trucks are turned off when not in transit.
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