For Steelcase’s annual Wreath and Menorah Design Competition and Charity Auction, SOM created two prototypes that re-envision these archetypal forms. SOM’s menorah, crafted from solid wax and a wooden base, won first place.
The menorah traditionally commemorates the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem and the “miracle of the container of oil,” in which a one-day supply of olive oil lit the Temple’s eternal flame for eight full days. SOM’s menorah is a cast piece of solid wax that mimics the liquidity of the ancient consecrated oil. As the menorah burns, the 8x8 framework is revealed. The melted wax falls onto the wooden base and paints a pictorial timeline of the Hanukkah celebration.
The wreath is a traditional Christian symbol of the circle of life and immortality. SOM’s design reinterprets the wreath as a torus, a surface generated by rotating a circle on an axis. Conceived as a lattice frame, the 80 individual parts are deliberately rotated off-axis, evoking the hand-crafted nature of traditional wreaths made from tree boughs. The SOM wreath is composed of layered walnut veneer (symbolic of mental strength and endurance) and a single mirror that reflects the semi-torus lattice, visually completing the circle.
Both prototypes were auctioned off at Steelcase’s Chicago Showroom. Proceeds were donated to the Children’s Place Association, an agency that assists children and families whose lives have been affected by disease and poverty.