Presents of mind

What do you give a designer for Christmas? Matthew Valentine unwraps their secret desires and discovers that a coal scuttle could be the perfect gift

As even the most disorganised of minds turn to the question of Christmas shopping, one worrying fact becomes apparent. Designers are extremely difficult people to buy presents for. As the ones who design the things everybody else uses, designers have, of course, a highly attuned sense of form and function. Give a designer a hastily chosen gift from the last shop open on Christmas Eve and it will be consigned immediately to the nearest dark cupboard.

Graphic designers will spot immediately that, whatever it is, it isn’t fashionable enough. Product designers will know that the mark two model is currently being developed. New Media designers will have seen a better version for sale on the Internet.

So what is the ideal present for a designer? An Eames chair? Clothes from Prada? A car from Porsche? Thankfully none of those asked have come up with such predictable requests.

Matt Round, of product design group Tangerine, bizarrely chooses a coal scuttle from Sainsbury’s Homebase. “It’s nicely balanced when you pick it up,” says Round. It also, he insists, delivers coal easily and accurately on to an open fire, resulting in a good efficient blaze. Round places the scuttle as second only to a ticket to Hanoi on his Christmas wish-list. A spokeswoman for Homebase was unable to supply much information on how such a design icon came into being, but we will suspend cynicism and assume it wasn’t created by Tangerine.

Bryan Edmonson from SEA says he would trade ten years of Christmas presents for Blackburn Rovers to win a match; while several designers requested either hangover cures or this year’s must-have accessory, an Apple iMac, which might say something about the relative attitudes they have to their careers.

Interior designer Marcus King of Dalziel & Pow claims to crave a chrome carrot sharpener. He even purports to know of somebody who is designing such an object at this moment. King’s colleague Kevin Noel, a graphic designer, has more modest desires, even if they do involve an acknowledged design classic. He will be overjoyed should he find a Bic pen in his stocking next week.

It may be something design group heads don’t want to hear, but many designers simply want gifts to make their long hours at work a little easier. Monitor stands which don’t wobble, sharp pencils and chairs with equal-sized legs were all requested.

Aziz Cami, managing partner at The Partners, follows the lead of motoring legend Henry Ford with his ideas. He suggests you can buy a designer anything for Christmas. As long as it’s black.

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