Snøhetta designs Christmas stars for the Norwegian Cancer Society

Tasked with creating decorative stars for the Norwegian Cancer Society’s Christmas campaign, Snøhetta launches two paper decorations and a brass candle holder, reflecting on the multiple meanings of a star

Snøhetta Christmas Stars
(Image credit: Courtesy Snøhetta)

Snøhetta has designed a collection of three stars for the Norwegian Cancer Society’s Christmas Star Campaign, which marks its tenth anniversary this year.

The campaign has been selling decorative Christmas stars to hang in the windows of hospitals, businesses and homes in Norway since 2012, raising NOK200 million  (around €19.3 million) to date. 100 per cent of its proceeds go towards funding lifesaving cancer research. 

Snøhetta christmas star candle holder

(Image credit: Courtesy Snøhetta)

Snøhetta’s trio of designs explore the multiple meanings of a star. Rather than a traditional polygonal shape, the designs highlight specific aspects of stars, such as reflection, movement and presence. They also reflect on the concept of time, and how hospital patients, who are by necessity distanced from the outside world, tend to experience time differently.

Two of the stars are made out of paper. The smallest one – meant to be accessible to everyone – is available in green, gold and silver, and needs to be assembled by the buyer. ‘It’s about spending time and attention on something, and being present in that moment,’ explains Seppe van Heusden, product designer at Snøhetta. The star can be used to decorate a Christmas tree, but also doubles as a to-and-from note for Christmas presents.

Snøhetta Christmas star

(Image credit: Courtesy Snøhetta)

A larger ‘hospital star’, similar in form, material and construction, is intended for hospital windows, designed with the aim of connecting the patient to the outside world. Its reflective surface brings light from the outside into the hospital room, reminding patients that other people are keeping them in their thoughts. Van Heusden adds that the design shows how ‘time is not standing still, because it catches wind and it moves a little when it is hanging in front of the window’.

The final design – released in a limited edition – is a candle holder, handmade by expert artisans at TH Marthinsen, a metal workshop in Tønsberg, southern Norway that dates back to 1883. The design team reasoned that a candle’s flame is in many ways like a star: it lights up when everything else is dark, it can create an emotional connection, and has a natural beauty. Made in untreated brass, the candle holder will patinate over time. ‘You can always polish it back to its original state, but if you leave it be, it will age beautifully with time, lasting for generations,’ explain the design team.

Sustainability is fundamental to all Snøhetta’s projects, and so all three designs are produced in Norway using locally sourced materials, and they avoid any use of plastic. Additionally, the paper stars can be shipped flat, which reduces carbon emissions associated with transport and storage. ‘At Snøhetta, we believe that design is a tool to change the world for the better, and therefore when we start our design process we always try to adapt the design to the values we stand for,’ explains product designer Francesca Giulia Poli.

To reach a wider audience, Snøhetta has created an online template of the little star along with instructions for assembly, which anyone can download, with the option of donating an amount of their choice.

Snøhetta christmas stars in progress

(Image credit: Courtesy Snøhetta)

‘Every Norwegian has a connection with the Norwegian Cancer Society, and in many ways, the campaign has become an important part of the Advent season and Christmas for many of us, concludes Hedda Foss Lilleng, managing director of Snøhetta Design. ‘Hopefully, our design can contribute to raising money for vital cancer research.’

The Norwegian Cancer Society’s Christmas Star Campaign launched Tuesday 15 November. Little star, NOK120 (€12); hospital star, NOK300 (€29); candle holder, NOK3,500 (€338)

TF Chan is a former editor of Wallpaper* (2020-23), where he was responsible for the monthly print magazine, planning, commissioning, editing and writing long-lead content across all pillars. He also played a leading role in multi-channel editorial franchises, such as Wallpaper’s annual Design Awards, Guest Editor takeovers and Next Generation series. He aims to create world-class, visually-driven content while championing diversity, international representation and social impact. TF joined Wallpaper* as an intern in January 2013, and served as its commissioning editor from 2017-20, winning a 30 under 30 New Talent Award from the Professional Publishers’ Association. Born and raised in Hong Kong, he holds an undergraduate degree in history from Princeton University.