Attendees at the 86th annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in New York.

It’s common knowledge here in New York that when the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center occurs, a logistical hellscape emerges in Midtown. Police barricades, blocked-off streets and thousands of attendees create somewhat of a pickle around Fifth Avenue and 49th Street. But with VIP access, all that madness was avoided at the party inside the Sea Grill at Rockefeller Plaza on Wednesday night, celebrating the iconic tree lighting — from the comfort of the bar and restaurant. Hosted by Tishman Speyer, the party was extra special this year, owing to the fact that Swarovski redesigned the crystal star tree topper for the first time since its unveiling in 2004. The architect Daniel Libeskind teamed with Swarovski for the redesign, and also created a Swarovski pop-up shop located in Rockefeller Plaza called the Swarovski Star Boutique. There, consumers can purchase special-edition Swarovski ornaments for the holidays codesigned by Libeskind.

The founder and principal design architect of Studio Libeskind — who also designed the master site plan for Ground Zero and the National Holocaust Monument in Canada — attended the party at the venue below the ice skating rink. Pushing his red-rimmed square glasses further up on the bridge of his nose, he explained why it was significant for him to be tapped for a project like this.

“I was born in a homeless shelter in a Communist country. My parents were survivors of the Holocaust. I was an immigrant to the Bronx,” the Polish architect said. “How amazing for me to get a star, which is the most iconic emblem of unity of the world. Just like the star, there’s a variety of proportions in the rays in New York. There’s a microcosm of differences. But it’s altogether, a harmony of light.”

He added that he’s got some collaborations with other fashion and accessories brands in the works, but couldn’t comment further. All he’d offer was this philosophical message: “The world of design is really a world of everyday life, and that’s the most important thing: to celebrate everyday life.”

Guests of the party were treated to a special view of the tree lighting and performances from artists like Kellie Pickler.


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