Minimal Nativity Set made of plain wooden
blocks by Emilie Voirin


London designer Emilie Voirin has created a minimal nativity set where characters in the Christmas story are represented by wooden blocks with their names printed in plain black capital letters.

Minimal Nativity Set by Emelie Voirin

"The characters have lost their features and colours for a modern appearance that could appeal to both believers and atheists," said Voirin.

Minimal Nativity Set by Emelie Voirin

The contemporary nativity set is handcrafted in beech. It includes blocks with different proportions to represent Mary, Joseph, three wise men, an angel, a sheep and a donkey, plus baby Jesus,placed on a slightly lighter block representing a manger.

Minimal Nativity Set by Emelie Voirin

"The holy scene that has been broadly reproduced is here recognisable by the names only, giving free rein to people’s imagination," the designer added.

Minimal Nativity Set by Emelie Voirin

The Minimal Nativity set comes tessellated in a square black box and Voirin is selling them via her website.

Minimal Nativity Set by Emelie Voirin

She graduated from the Royal College of Art earlier this year and her work focusses on re-choreographing traditional Catholic iconography.

Minimal Nativity Set by Emelie Voirin

You might also want to check out Sebastian Bergne's nativity set where characters are represented by wooden blocks and identified by colour.

Minimal Nativity Set by Emelie Voirin

  • Luke

    Damn it… I knew those off-cuts were good for something. Coming to a car boot sale near you, alongside potatoes with faces drawn on them.

    • Richard

      Don’t forget those stockings with lawn seed in them that grow like hair.

  • rohtmuz

    And there was me just writing them on bits of paper, a printed block of wood is a much better idea!

  • ewanalston

    Hmm… Nothing on Sebastian Bergne’s.

  • Joaquín Tuduri

    OMG… this is ridiculous.

  • “The characters have lost their features and colours for a modern appearance that could appeal to both believers and atheists.”

    Or they now appeal to no one.

    Minimalism doesn’t have to be ugly. You can abstract the geometric proportions and rely on colour and placement to express who the characters are. Why label the figures? If you need the labels, then you have lost the conversation.

    • amsam

      The real problem is that it adds nothing to the 2008 Fabel project (below). But all of your “critiques” could be applied to that Form Design award-winning project too. So maybe the fact that they don’t appeal to you doesn’t mean they don’t appeal to a lot of other people, ditto about their “ugliness”, and maybe labelling the figures starts a different conversation.

    • Rocka-Billy-Jean

      It’s not because they are not appealing for you that they can’t be appeal to others. Label is a choice of design. Could be strange to be called Liberty disciple and have to get “design orders”, what to do, what not to do!

  • poly

    Almost identical to the nativity set of Oliver Fabel from Berlin. In 2008 he received the Form Design award for it.

    • pozz

      Ouch! That’s bang on.

    • Miguel

      I got one from her a few years ago. Not to defend the similarity but at least God knows who had the idea first.

    • miguelito

      I got one from Voirin a few years ago. God knows who started first. A chair is a chair anyway.

  • Jonathan Tuffin

    That’ll cheer things up.

  • pipo

    I don’t see how this will appeal to atheists. Doesn’t change the contents of the story does it.

    • amsam

      I dunno, I thought it was pretty funny.

  • Jojo

    Quite dull I think…

    • antony

      Dull comment.

  • fil

    Bonjour tristesse.

  • Camilla

    To me that is all about the question of representation in the Bible.

  • JayCee

    It can’t be that minimalist if you have to write the bloody names on the blocks.

  • iag
  • NN

    They all look like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

  • Rocka-Billy-Jean

    It’s very sad to see that, even on one of the world’s most seen design blog, the critics could be so poor. This particular project IS interesting, because it’s RAW. HARD. Not cute like the Bergne project. The Bergne project is a design blog object, all the people will say “oh, the colours are so nice!”, and the shape!

    Sorry but I’m not very interested by this.
    The Voirin’s one is much more “defined”. It’s the real minimalism, you even have to WRITE on it the block to guess who is who. And regarding the project of Oliver Faber, no offence but from an aesthetic point of view (box, golden letters, the box itself, font on it), it’s totally different on quality. The Voirin’s one is much more “mastered” from forms, even if they don’t exist.

    • pipo

      I don’t see anything particularly raw about this project. It comes across as rather frivolous and not very well thought through. If you mean raw in the sense of poor craftsmanship; visible saw marks, then yes maybe.


    Honest and funny!

  • miki

    This needed to be “designed”?

  • roy

    Minimalism is starting to become such an over used excuse to come up with some seriously ridiculous nonsense.

  • Alessandro

    How to delete the magic of Christmas. I would like to propose for next year a wooden panel with a written christmas tree. That would be minimal and super gorgeous. Come on, please! And select the news please.

    • Mika

      Relax mate, here it’s not about the magic of Xmas, it’s deeper than that.

  • zeavran69

    Or you can just have a big block with the label “nativity set on it”. Boring.

  • MauriceB

    A chip off the old block! See “The Nativity (scientifically accurate version) :-) by Dean Burnett in today’s Guardian.

  • Julie G

    But will the cats like it? Because they’re the real judges of good design.

  • lukas

    Sorry but this is nothing new… last year I bought something similar.

  • Andreas Moser

    This is just lazy! For real hot-shot nativity scenes, you must come to Sicily

  • Maryam

    How about you make a cube and write a food on it and try to eat it! That would be even more creative!

  • FlørQ

    The text makes it so sad and obvious. Minimal is this:

    This one is just poor.

  • Emil

    Regrettably, this came to mind.

  • pulpe

    This is not Minimalism, this is Cubism.