The New Tradition Collection: Stephen Hendee redesigns the Christmas candle

30 November 2016

Bombay Sapphire has commissioned a number of artists to rethink traditional decorations of the festive period. The New Tradition Collection invites each collaborator to recreate a Christmas product in an unconventional way. It’s Nice That will be previewing the creations in the weeks leading up to Christmas that will culminate in a special New Year’s Eve showpiece designed by Bompas and Parr.

“The brief provided a number of possible projects – the candle was a natural fit since I often work with light,’ says designer Stephen Hendee of his Free Form Candle. Stephen was encouraged that Bombay Sapphire asked him specifically to collaborate, rather than asking another artist to create a pastiche of his style: “The intent to initiate creative dialogues with artists and acknowledge the creative input of their collaborators is refreshing.”

“Coincidentally, this December is the 20th anniversary of my first use of illuminated polyhedral geometry in an installation — the work I’m most known for — This Evening’s Webcast Live From Oblivion at New Langton Arts in San Francisco."


Stephen Hendee: Laser cutting process


Stephen Hendee: Work in progress


Stephen Hendee: Work in progress

In the spirit of the project Stephen looked to refresh his idea and explored new technologies to execute the brief. Using black polished perspex to define the lines of the piece and blue LED lights and gels inspired by the Bombay Sapphire bottle, the candle’s polygonal shape shimmers in the darkness. “Initially I came up with eight renderings, several as lantern versions of my previous sculptures or geometry I’ve used in installations and a few based on more traditional holiday lanterns,” explains Stephen. “I designed the three sculptures with CAD software, laser cut the parts and assembled them by hand. LED lighting is included inside each sculpture, though the specific finish of the objects was chosen so they are interesting to look at whether lit or not.”

Stephen made the candles in Open Works, a new makerspace in the centre of Baltimore. “I have been looking forward to a space like this opening here for greater and more affordable access to digital fabrication tools and other fabrication tools but am also feeling inspired by the people and atmosphere there,” he says. Developing the candle allowed Stephen to work swiftly and trust his design instincts. “This was a great project to work out a new production flow. Short projects necessitate more streamlined movement through ideas or new fabrication methods. Whether or not there’s a commission, they are essential to moving my work forward."


Stephen Hendee: Perspex structures ready for assembly


Stephen Hendee: Prototype candles

Each of The New Tradition collection is accompanied by a new festive tipple developed by mixologists at Bombay Sapphire. Each mix provides an update of a classic gin drink. Here you can find out how to make the Spiced Apple Warmer.


120ml Bombay Sapphire
300ml Hot apple juice
Cinnamon stick
Star anise

1. Heat the apple juice in a pan
2. Add the measure of Bombay Sapphire
3. When it reaches a simmer, remove from the heat
4. Pour into a mug or glass with handle
5. Stir with a cinnamon stick
6. And finish by floating a single star anise on top

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