Secret Santa – £15 and under
Pantone Espresso Cup – from £8.50
This neat 4oz Pantone Espresso Cup is sure to impress any designer. Ranging from neutral tones of warm grey and brown to bright hues of yellow and green, the gift can be tailored to any kitchen colour scheme. Pantone boasts a range of kitchenware gifts, but this miniature is perfect for Secret Santa, priced between £8.50 to £10.25 on the official Pantone website.
Kickstart Creativity: 50 Prompted Cards to Spark Inspiration, by Bonnie Smith Whitehouse – from £10.99
Creative block comes to us all, but this budget-friendly gift could help designers break through it. The idea is to draw three cards when starting a project: an action card, a perspective card, and an intention card. Action aims to teach creatives a new skill while perspective should encourage them to see things in a new light and influence seeks to inspire more mindful choices. Designers can use as a solo exercise or get their co-workers involved. The deck is available to buy on various websites.
Food and Drink Logos Handbook, by Present /&/ Correct – £10
Published by Counter-Print, this pocket-sized book is a collection of food and drink logos, trademarks and symbols from around the world. It features emblems used by fruit and vegetable companies as well as fast food restaurants, detailing the company name, the year it was designed and who designed it. Check it out on the Present /&/ Correct website.
Courses and experiences
National Art Pass Membership – from £45
Why not give a gift that lasts a whole year and help to support UK museums in the process? With a National Art Pass membership, the designer in your life would have access to hundreds of museums, galleries and historic houses in the UK for free, including up to 50% off of major exhibitions. The Art Map which comes with the membership acts as a guidebook to what is on, while the subscription to Art Quarterly – included in the membership price – gives access to exclusive features. Along with the standard individual pass, the Art Fund offers discounted prices on student passes, under 30s passes and double passes for creative couples and friends who live at the same address. Browse the options on the Art Fund website.
Surrealism and Design: From Dali to AI, by Design Museum London – from £17
This three-part online course will explore a century of surrealist design through live online lectures, contemporary studio visits and insights from the Design Museum’s current exhibition Objects of Desire: Surrealism and Design 1924 – Today. Beginning in 1920s Paris, the first lecture will delve into early Surrealism and how different design disciplines interacted with the movement’s revolutionary ideals. The second session will focus on Surrealisms influence on fashion, from the early collaborations of Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali and fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli to the designs of Jean Paul Gaultier in the 80s. The final lecture follows Surrealism’s relationship with interior design and architecture, which offered contrast to the logical and minimalist aesthetics of 1920s Modernism. The course will run from 18.30 – 19.30 on 18 and 25 January and 1 February from 18.30 – 19.30. Tickets are available at discounted price on the Design Museum website until 31 December.
Gadgets and stationery
Kimono Cranes Notebook, by V&A – £10.50
This beautifully patterned and reasonably priced notebook stands out among the V&A’s design-inspired stationary collection. Its cover showcases the intricate detail of a Japanese wedding outer kimono, known as a uchikake, from the Japan 1980-2000 V&A collection. With lay-flat binding and colour end papers, this notebook balances luxury and affordability, making it the perfect gift for a designer. It is available to buy on the V&A website, with a further 10% of for members.
Nix Mini 2 Colour Sensor – from £55.50
With the ability to recognise 250,000 colours through scanning technology, this Nix Mini Colour Sensor is a must-have for designers. As well as being pocket-sized and easily portable, the linking app which gives details of the exact colour hue is free and even provides digital colour values. After scanning, the app will show users examples of colour matches as well as listing similar colours. Other impressive features include its month-long battery life and how the technology organises results into folders, making it easier to share with colleagues and clients. It is compatible with Pantone, RAL, and NCS and available to buy on The Gadget Flow website.
Ampi, by Vitra – £185
Vitra emerged into the world of powered tech products with compact charging station Ampi, designed by Layer studio. In its simplest form, the compact desk charger provides wireless induction charging for a phone. Opening a drawer halfway reveals a USB-C and two USB A ports, for fast-charging devices such as headphones, tablets and cameras, while opening the drawer fully uncovers a further two ports which can power larger devices such as monitors or laptops. The sleek charging port is available in two colours – basic dark and soft grey – and is available to buy on the Vitra website.
Homeware and lifestyle
Rambler Insulated Mug, by Yeti – from £25
Coming in eight colours and three sizes, this practical insulated mug is a great gift that your designer friend can use all year round. Its double vacuum wall insulation keeps drinks hot or cold for hours and the kitchen-grade stainless steel makes it puncture and resistant free, increasing its longevity. Another bonus to is that it will help them ditch the cardboard and plastic coffee cups. Mugs are available to buy on the Yeti website.
Idyll Daily Planner, by Papier – £25
Papier’s design partners, ceramicists, illustrators and identical twins Liv and Dom, have created a collection, which includes diaries, planners and calendars. Within the collection is the Idyll Daily Planner, which gives designers an opportunity to collate ideas, plan the coming week, reflect on the past week and create organised to-do lists. The cover is decorated with Liv and Dom’s signature style. Adopting a similar style to their ceramic pieces, the twins illustrated the planner with liberating, lively depictions of women. Shop the planner and Liv and Dom’s wider collection on the Papier website.
Twenty Earth Candle Medium, by Tom Dixon – £125
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Tom Dixon has launched a limited-edition Elements range. It includes the Twenty Earth Medium Candle and the Twenty Earth Diffuser, both featuring the new black-grey platinum applied design. The candle’s scent combines top notes of green leaves and mint and base notes of warm amber and citrus from the guaiac wood and cedarwood. A woody, balsamic fragrance of galbanum resinoid and humus sits somewhere in between. Shop the range on the Tom Dixon website.
Accessories and clothes
Set of three patterned socks, by Yinka Ilori – £55
In true Yinka Ilori style, this trio of socks is sure to make a statement. Named ODODO, IRAWO & IJO – Nigerian Yoruba words which loosely translate to flower, stars and a member if an indigenous group in southern Nigeria – the socks demonstrate how Ilori takes his British-Nigerian heritage and applies it to contemporary designs. These evocative patterned socks are available to buy on Yinka Ilori’s website.
Arkose 20L Modular Backpack, by Urth – £120
Urth’s Arkose Backpack is the perfect gift for any designer who commutes to work. Among its 12 storage zones are padded laptop and tablet pockets, a stylus pen inserts, and pockets for small valuables. Designed to be weatherproof, its recycled nylon outer shell is sure to keep belongings dry on rainy days. Urth has also committed to planting five trees for every bag sold, so while the manufacturing of the bag creates 13.8kg of CO2 emissions, the trees planted will absorb 1537.5kg in their lifetime. This eco-conscious accessory comes in black or ash grey and is available to buy on the Urth website.
Ongata Gold Plated Sun Moon Adjustable Ring, by Yala Jewellery – £60
Ethical African jewellery brand Yala was the first jewellery brand in the UK to become B-Corp-certified because it is committed paying collaborators fairly and using eco-friendly materials. The Ongata ring continues a sun moon theme seen in many Yala pieces and was made by a brass artisan called Victor, and his team, in a workshop just outside of Nairobi. The jet-black material in the moon side of the ring is repurposed cow horn and the ring itself is 24k gold plated. If you’re still not convinced, each piece is made in small batches giving it an element of exclusivity for a very fair price and the jewellery comes in a gift box and protective pouch, which means less Christmas wrapping! Check out the Ongata ring and other pieces on the Yara website.
The History of Graphic Design, Vol. 2, 1960–Today, by Jens Müller – £60
Written by Vista design studio creative director and graphic designer Jens Müller, this book explores the last 70 years of graphic design and its relationship with society’s cultural aspirations and values. While the book includes around 3500 examples of design from across the globe, from the establishment of International Style to the revolutionary digital age, Müller provides a more in-depth analysis of 80 of them. He also includes 118 bibliographies on who he deems the most important designers of that era, such as Massimo Vignelli, who designed the New York subway wayfinding system, and Austrian graphic designer and typographer Stefan Sagmeister. The multilingual hardback edition with text written in English, French and German is available on the Taschen website.
The Design Book, by Phaidon – £15
This is the newly revised edition of Phaidon’s compilation of innovative and influential products, showcasing five centuries of designs that have shaped society in some way. Existing entries include pieces by Hungarian-born modernist architect and furniture designer Marcel Lajos Breuer and Italian architect and designer of furniture, lighting, radiograms Achille Castiglioni. It also features anonymously designed objects like the deck chair and the whisk. While existing entries have been refined and updated, this edition includes 30 new entries of products designed in the last 15 years. Available to buy on the Phaidon website.
Work for Money, Design for Love, by David Airy – from £25.99
How do I find new clients? How much should I charge for my design work? When should I say no to a client? What should I be sure to include in my contracts? These are just a few of the questions that graphic designer David Airey seeks to answer in his second book, Work for Money, Design for Love. Airey has run his own Northern Ireland-based independent studio since 2005, making him pretty well qualified to be giving this sort of advice. It would be a great gift for early-career designers and is available to buy on the Waterstones website.
Graphic Design Play Book: An Exploration of Visual Thinking, by Sophie Cure – £14.99
Paris-based designer Sophie Cure’s Graphic Design Play Book is exactly what it says on the tin. It gives young aspiring designers a chance to get acquainted with graphic design in a fun and engaging way. Puzzles and visual challenges cover different strains of graphic design, such as typography, signage, posters and branding work. Bonus content includes solution pages, a glossary, sticker sheets, die-cut templates and coloured paper. It is published by Laurence King and available to buy on its website.
Architectural Moon Chalk Drawers, by Nikolas Bentel Studio – from £10
Designed by Nikolas Bentel Studio, these moon chalks are a great gift option for under 10s. It comes in two unique shapes – Cosmic Pollen and Lunar Rake – and is intended to be used on a variety of surfaces, from chalk boards to pavements. The chalks are easily washable and non-toxic and available to buy on the AreAware website.
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