Building the Festival of Trees

(holiday music) – I get to be creative. That’s really what’s asked
of me is be creative. Create something new that
we haven’t seen before. And we will build it. And that’s probably the
best feeling for a designer to be able to put something
on paper and then see it come to fruition. – Here at Phipps we have
a planning committee that’s made up of individuals
from every department so they really get a say
during the design process. – The process begins about
a year in advance when we start planning the shows. We come up with kind of a theme for what the show is going to be. – The theme for this year
is festival of trees. It’s a wonderful time of
year to bring the outside inside, and that’s
really what were evoking with festival of trees. – Each room has a concept plan. We start looking at plant catalogs, trying to use plants in a way that we haven’t used them before. – I also design all of the props that were gonna be building for the show. – We’re presented with a
sketch of what she would like to see happen in
the show with dimensions. And then it’s our job to
produce it in real life. – I focus on those small
details that make holiday magic come to life every year. – Phipps was established in 1893. It was a gift to the
city from Henry Phipps, a prominent industrialist. Over the first few decades
you see it build into a sort of a pilgrimage of
tradition for Pittsburghers. In their initial days it
would be reported in the newspaper that 20000
people or more might come on a single day. – We know what has been
successful for us in the past. There is some sense of
visitor expectation. – We really talk about
what would have the biggest impact, the biggest wow
factor, what our visitors might want to see. For me, it was exciting to
take on the winter flower show, because it’s honestly my
favorite time of year. – We have a carousel that
will be going in in this show so we’ll be working on programming
some lighting for that, figuring out how we can make
it look as if it’s moving without it actually moving. And there are chandeliers
that hang from the palm court and where we were required to bend pipe. – Our east room will
feature a forest feast, very cute whimsical
display of bears and birds decorating a tree. – [Peter] We will be building
the woodland table here where the creatures will be
having their holiday feast. – We also balance that
whimsical with formal. – The green mesh corresponds to the bright green color of the
plants that are going in the broderie room where
these are being installed. Every piece is wired
separately onto the wreath. This is very contemporary
design this year. It’s really gonna carry
across the large room. It’ll be lovely. – Our serpentine room, it’s
a snowy birch forest with a sprinkling of topiary reindeer throughout. The antlers of the topiary
reindeer are made from the dried bunches of fruit
from some of our palms. Once those berries dry up and fall off, you’re kind of left with
this really cool kind of dried branch that looks
a lot like an antler. We really do a lot behind the
scenes and without the support of a really cohesive
horticulture team and talent and our volunteers, you know, we would not be able to put on the shows that we do. So it is definitely a team effort here. When we come together it really shows. The amount of work that goes
into putting in these shows, and then to see it completed,
and then to see people, 175000 people enjoying
it, it’s spectacular. (folksy music) – When you take the beautiful
horticulture that is Phipps’ signature and you combine it
with illuminated displays, there’s really nothing
like it anywhere else. And to have that all
together in a 126 year old Victorian glass house, there’s no other holiday ticket like it. (folksy music)

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