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Internet decor legends redefine the Christmas tree

The floating Christmas tree, created by Marco Zamora and Juan Renteria, is suspended from the ceiling with the help of three shower curtain tension rods and fish line.
Marco Zamora
The floating Christmas tree, created by Marco Zamora and Juan Renteria, is suspended from the ceiling with the help of three shower curtain tension rods and fish line.

Forget the real or fake debate — social media just wants to know if your Christmas tree floats.

That's the new bar that's been set by Los Angeles-based creatives Marco Zamoraand Juan "El Creativo" Renteria. The pair have become internet Christmas decor legends, redefining what makes a Christmas tree with their fantastical spiral sculpture that gives the illusion of being suspended in the air.

Zamora, a 27-year-old interior decorator/design DIY-er, told NPR the delightful creation was the result of months of brainstorming and finding the perfect collaborator.

"Last year I made the stencil tree and it was this huge viral sensation," he said, referring to the noble fir he draped in sparkling silver tinselthat had more than 3 million Instagram and TikTok users swooning.

This time around, the goal was to make nothing less than a work of art, he said.

"I really wanted to do something that's architectural and different. And I also really wanted it to have a floral element to it," Zamora explained, adding that until now, he hasn't worked with flowers much.

That's where Renteria, who runs a burgeoning LA-based floral business and counts Neiman Marcus among his top clients, came in.

The two had formed the beginnings of a friendship on Instagram. Renteria joked that he "fan-girled out" in a DM to Zamora, saying he'd love to work with him if ever an opportunity arose.

They got together in Zamora's 1920s Mid-City apartment where there "were no bad ideas," Renteria said laughing. Together the pair pushed each other to be outrageous and daring.

"It's literally like we both put our minds together to create this magical thing," Renteria said.

How did they do it?

It's a little unclear who came up with the idea for a gravity-defying tree — both said that it just sort of happened.

"It was this beautiful, like, back and forth and creativity and ingenuity to even get it suspended from my ceiling," Zamora said.

Eventually, they devised a plan of attack. It involved three shower curtain suspension rods that are wedged between two hand painted beams on the ceiling, fishline and the unsung hero of all large floral installations, chicken wire.

"She is your best friend when you're doing install work," Renteria said, disclosing the secrets of his trade. "And the cool thing with fishline is that you can photograph it from different angles and it won't come out. It looks fully suspended."

The spiral "tree" is draped in a variety of imported foliage and flowers, including Japanese pine boughs, Japanese pine boughs, Hawaiian orchids, and Amaranth from Ecuador.
/ Marco Zamora
/
Marco Zamora
The spiral "tree" is draped in a variety of imported foliage and flowers, including Japanese pine boughs, Japanese pine boughs, Hawaiian orchids, and Amaranth from Ecuador.

Next came the pines and flowers. Zamora was shooting for a woodsy, fairy forest vibe with sumptuous deep reds, and little sparkle and snow. Renteria said he was fully on board; he sourced imported Japanese pine boughs, Princess Pine and other foliage to create the swirling Christmas-tree like base. Then draped the whole thing in bouquets of a variety of flowers, including burgundy-colored orchids from Hawaii, red and maroon anthuriums, and loads of dangling, purplish Amaranth from Ecuador.

"The Amaranth is our hero flower because that was like the icing on the cake," Renteria said of his vision.

The process was chronicled in a series of TikTok and Instagram videos that have now claimed more than 10 million views — far surpassing Zamora's bold expectations at the start of the project.

He adds, "It's everything I wanted it to be. It is living art."

Advice for the DIYers

Across social media, people are fawning over the floating illusion. Words like "magnificent," "magical," and "dreamy" fill thousands of comments. Many even say they'd like to try their own versions.

To those Zamora and Renteria have a few words of advice: Be prepared to spend a little money. Especially people hoping to recreate the duo's version, with all of the imported greens and flowers. Those particular varieties are pricey, they warn. Of course, they suggest looking for less expensive flowers for anyone working on a tighter budget. Or, Renteria said, "You can keep it green and call it a day!"

Also, as it is a living creation, be prepared to mist and mist and mist, to keep the foliage green. They also suggest using water tubes for individual flowers to help lengthen their lifespan.

"We are so happy that people say they want to try something like this next year," Zamora said. "It's a great compliment that they feel inspired and want it in their home."

It's not just regular people who want the tree. The retail chain, Banana Republic, reached out to Zamora and Renteria. "OMG we love this! Let's talk," they wrote in a message. They wanted an even bigger version for one of their Los Angeles flagship stores.

The result is a 14-foot tall winter wonderland version that fills the storefront window.

The pair are already apprehensive about next year.

The pressure is on, Zamora admitted, flashing a wide, bright smile. "I mean, how am I going to top this?"

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.