The season for giving and gifting is upon us. For the design aficionados in your life, we’ve rounded up 10 gifts that are right up their well-appointed alley—well. These are 10 well-recognized, celebrated, totally gift-worthy icons of design, each with a story behind them. So not only are they perfect for design-minded friends, they’re each a great option for that person on your list who “really doesn’t need anything.” There’s much more to explore in the name of good design gifts, but here are our favorites to get you started:
The Eames House Bird by Vitra was taken from a piece of folk art that resided in the home of mid-century design duo Charles and Ray Eames. Where the original came from remains a mystery, but this recreation of it brings a slice of the Eames home into yours.
A quintessential design from British designer Tom Dixon, this in perfectly giftable form. Like many of Dixon’s designs, the Etch Candleholder was inspired by mathematics, with acid-etched square and hexagonal panels that fit together and create a beautiful light and shadow pattern when a candle is lit inside.
Also a mid-century designer, Alexander Girard is famous for the color and textile work he produced in the 1950s and 1960s. With sculptural shapes and semi-abstract styling, his collection of Wooden Dolls reflect Girard’s interest in Folk Art, with visual elements inspired by cultures all over the globe.
Is it…a bug? Something supernatural? A little reminiscent of an other-worldly creature, designer Philippe Starck’s Juicy Salif is one of the icons of design in the 1990s. The unconventional design earned it a spot in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York’s MoMA, and a number of other collections around the globe. Although it’s fully functional as a citrus squeezer, its intriguing physique makes it a display-worthy piece for the kitchen as well.
The Kettle with Bird Whistle by Alessi is one of the most well-known icons from architect Michael Graves, which he designed in 1985. The design mixes classical and pop influences, with simple geometry and a playful bird that whistles cheerfully when the water is ready. This year, Alessi also introduced a fierce new version of Grave’s famous kettle in honor of the design’s 30th birthday. The Tea Rex Kettle, replaces the happy songbird with a dragon in shiny copper or lively green.
Back in 1994, Tom Dixon designed a “sitting, stacking, lighting thing,” a light inspired by the children’s toy and made from polyethylene so it could withstand said sitting and stacking. The far-more-wrappable Cast Mini Jack is less than 5 inches tall and made from hefty cast iron, making it an ideal paperweight, doorstop or simple objet in ode to Dixon’s design brilliance.
Danish design house Menu offers a number of designs for the bartender or budding sommelier, and this is one of our favorites. Designed by Norm Architects, the Wine Breather Carafe aerates wine in an instant. Simply connect it directly to the bottle and invert it for a fully aerated bottle in under 2 minutes.
This gift of light is more than just that. The Anglepoise Original 1227 Task Lamp is British icon, originally created in the 1930 by George Carwardine, an automotive engineer and inventor of the 3-spring mechanism seen in this very lamp. The mechanism allows the lamp to be smoothly repositioned to focus light on the task at hand.
Yet another famous piece from the Italian design factory. The Anna G Corkscrew by Alessi was originally introduced in 1994 and maintains a strong cult following today. Designer Alessandro Mendini created this lovely lady as a tongue-in-cheek homage to a real woman and spun off into a number of likenesses in objects for the tabletop and kitchen.
The Cylinda-Line AJ Cocktail Shaker first debuted in 1967 as part of a comprehensive barware collection, but it fits right into an at-home bar today. The sleek and minimalist cylinder in matte stainless steel is part of a tea/coffee/bar collection that was awarded the ID Prize (now known as a Danish Design Award) in 1967.