Lawrence "Bud" Stoecker spent his life running a modest family business building A-frame cabins in the Rocky Mountains. At home, he was a practical engineer, too. One winter in the 1960s, Stoecker designed a sleek, cone-shaped series of connecting concentric circles that hung from the ceiling -- his own shiny version of a Christmas tree.
He cut and assembled prototypes of the collapsible form from industrial cardboard and Masonite before settling on Plexiglas, determined each year to decorate this space-age tree differently with new ornaments and trinkets.
Fast-forward to 2011, when Stoecker's grandson, Matt Bliss, decided to update the design and share his grandfather's holiday home architecture with the world. "He just made them for the family, but I thought it was one of the coolest things that I had ever seen," Bliss says.
By then, Stoecker's health had deteriorated significantly -- he suffered from Alzheimer's -- so Bliss couldn't get any input or feedback from him. But guided by detailed notes and photographs, he was able to honor his grandfather's vision, building two display trees that he showed at the 2011 Denver Modernism show. "I wanted to give him the recognition that he didn't get and didn't care about," says Bliss.
The response was phenomenal, Bliss says, so he went to work producing more trees. In September 2012, Stoecker passed away. A few days later, Bliss received the patent for the design. Less than a month after that, the Disneyland Hotel called and requested sixteen custom Modern Christmas Trees for display.
Bliss says he has also received orders from such far-flung places as Ireland and Dubai.
Each fully decorated tree has his signature laser-engraved in the bottom rung, and a portion of sale proceeds goes to the Colorado Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. To see more of the Modern Christmas Tree or to purchase one, visit the company's website.
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