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a gingerbread man for display at Golden Square in Warrington, for example. And at Liberty Romford, the design of the winning schoolchild’s drawing was printed onto vinyl, attached to a giant bauble and hung above the centre’s Christmas tree. “You have to use a bit of artistic license to

translate the drawings into something suitable for design but the results can be unbelievable and the centres often have a grand unveiling full of parents and families so it has a real community feel,” says James Glancy. “Getting the community involved in the design is a way to make the decorations work harder rather than just plonking them into the scheme - it really works.”

Colour is one of the most noticeable

elements of any Christmas display. Seasonal Transformations director Roger Saunders says while white lights will always be popular, he’s seen a move away from ice white towards warmer, more traditional tones. And in terms of materials he says acrylic is one to watch: “We’re seeing acrylic as an added decoration material as well as baubles. It can be used equally well indoors and outdoors and it’s allowed us to introduce a lot more colour, particularly citrus colours - yellows, oranges and lime greens. Other popular colours we’re seeing a lot more of this year are what I call Quality Street colours, particularly warm purples and ambers.” For Adrian Ford, managing director at Springfield Decorations & Display - whose clients include Harrods, John Lewis, Cheshire Oaks and The Atrium in Camberley - iridescent whites, silvers and golds will continue to be popular.

LIGHTING For Chris Thornton, director at Abraxus Lighting - which manufactures and supplies Christmas lighting products as well as selling directly to clients, DMX lighting is one to watch. DMX (an abbreviation of DMX512 as it is know by specialists) is a platform for controlling lighting and effects and is used extensively in the theatre for linking controllers, dimmers and special effects devices such as smoke machines and moving ‘intelligent’ lights. In recent years, it has been used to control interior and Christmas lighting. “It isn’t a new technology but it is becoming more and more popular,” says Thornton. “It’s a way of programming lights to create a show, or a story. It can

be programmed to accompany music and animated characters and it’s easy to change from day to day or from year to year - you might have one colour scheme one day, with green and red lights, and purple the next, or you could set the lights to change colour every five or 10 minutes. And because it’s an ever changing and dynamic visual experience, it’s a good way to get people through the doors and keep them there.” The Brunswick shopping centre in London,

one of Abraxus’ clients, chose to embrace DMX for the first time last year, as centre manager David Plumb explains: “We’d worked on installations with Abraxus before and knew they could deliver but we weren’t 100 per cent confident in the light show because it’s very difficult to image what it will look like until it’s up and running. But we took a chance and the gamble paid off - it’s the best lighting display I’ve ever seen in a shopping centre. The colours, the way it worked - it was just brilliant. Plumb and his team choose the colour scheme, which rotated every five minutes, to match the centre’s static decorations but he says it’s so versatile, they could have had almost any effect they’d wanted. “It was revealed to the public at the Christmas light switch on

and we heard a wave of people saying ‘wow’,” he says. “We’d had the same lighting scheme for three years and it was starting to get stale so it really had that wow factor. It isn’t every day I get excited about Christmas decorations but this really was something special.” Springfield’s biggest selling lighting

product was its new LED flexible light garland which allows endless designs to be made up. They created ornate chandeliers and candelabras for Harrods, giant wreaths and cone structures for Tunsgate in Guildford and trees for Birmingham Airport. “The flexible light branch can then be

dressed with whatever colour requested by the customer creating a truly unique decoration for each location,” explains Ford. Saunders has also seen a big emphasis on lighting, particularly DMX schemes, and modern lighting sculptures, which he says featured heavily in the Christmasworld exhibition: “That’s an interesting trend because there’s scope to bring in more of a design influence,” he says. “It’s more creative, more flamboyant than the traditional garlands.”

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