AKQA Tree of Lights

AKQA Tree of Lights

Role: Art Director - concept, design & motion graphics.

This project started from the insight that not everyone has the space or the time to have a Christmas tree in their living room during the holidays. Our goal was to plant a tree in every home using AR and at the same time break a few classic Christmas tree traditions along the way.  

In our research phase we realized the Christmas trees found in most holiday apps looked the same. Visually, most apps tried to achieve a photo-realistic tree. In order for our app to stand out it needed to offer something different. Our solution was to create a tree that is fully customizable, making each creation one-of-a-kind. 

Our success was not depended on photo-realism. Instead, we wanted to create an artistic experience where colors, shapes and sounds blend into a single piece of virtual art. 

Our biggest challenge was creating the tree. Initially we explored many art treatments in 3DMax. Once we landed on a direction, we rebuilt the tree in code within Unity. Many hours were spent crafting and refining object dimensions, gravity intensity, colliders and object choreography. Our goal was to match the tree as close as possible to the original concept art whilst giving complete freedom to then let anyone create their own. 

We used Apple's ios11 AR-Kit to trigger the experience. Since this kit is still in it's early stages, getting it to detect the floor correctly involved a lot of trial and error. After multiple internal user tests we were able to create detailed visual instructions for users to successfully scan their surroundings to trigger the AR experience. 

In parallel with developing the back-end of the app we worked with different designers within our agency to create the logo and key visual.

In addition, for every app downloaded we committed to plant a real tree in natural areas that need it the most. Donations are made through the World Land Trust, an international conservation charity that works in partnership with local organizations to protect the planet’s most biologically important and threatened habitats.

Lead Team

Associate Design Director
Carlos Bernal

Art Director
Ian Liu

Chief Solution Scientist
An Doan

Senior Software Engineer
Jeff Paries

Executive Team

Group Creative Director
Ginny Golden

Director of Technology
Chris Maddock

Design Director
Dom Murphy

Executive Delivery Director
Alia Burley

Support Team

Senior Project Manager
John Martin

Associate Creative Director
Riaad Merwe

Design & Photography
Kira Hodgson & Matt Firman

Music
Kid Yoshi

London Team

Chief Executive Officer
Ajaz Ahmed

Global Head of Strategic Partnerships
Gyve Safavi

Brand Manager
Liliane Osborne

Senior PR Manager
Haley Hammerling

Senior Marketing Manager
Amelia Okell