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The Wishlist: 20 Best Gifts For The Designer

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In an ideal world, everyone — including product designers — would have impeccable taste. In practice, however, that’s just not the case. Furthermore, what’s considered “good design” to one person doesn’t necessarily translate to the next. What we can say is this: usually, when a piece of gear, equipment, furniture, etc, is exemplary, there’s a general consensus that tends to agree with that fact.

With that in mind and knowing that discerning lovers of functional art can be notoriously difficult to shop for, we’ve wrangled together a collection of what we (and a bevy of others) think are some of the most stupendously well-designed items available for purchase. That includes pocketable everyday carry, home furnishings, technology, books, and so much more. These are the 20 best gifts for the designer.

Nixon Custom Watch Shop

With a trio of available models — the Sentry, Time Teller, or Arrow — the folks at Nixon now offer an online Custom Shop where you can make your own one-of-a-kind timepiece. That means you choose the design of the case, dial, hands, band, and you can even have it custom engraved. Plus, if you prefer an in-person experience, you can customize your own watch — built for you in Encinitas, California — by visiting Nixon’s locations in Encinitas, Berkeley, or varying events at dealer locations that feature the brand’s mobile custom booth.

Purchase: $80+

Field Notes Three Missions Pocket Notebooks

Aaron Draplin’s brainchild, Field Notes undoubtedly makes some of the most beautiful and useful pocket notebooks in the world. But this special-edition is especially close to our hearts, as it celebrates a trio of NASA’s most important manned space missions. They’re also still made in the USA from premium materials and come in a handy 3-pack.

Purchase: $13

Coffee Table Books

Nothing helps get the creative juices flowing like a bit of inspiration, which can be found in spades within the pages of these gorgeous coffee table books. From Standards Manual, there’s the Parks book: a look at the advertising, maps, brochures and other ephemera from over 100 years of the USA’s National Parks. Or, for movie-minded architecture-lovers, there’s also Lair: a collection of blueprints from some of cinema’s most villainous haunts beautifully rendered in exacting detail.

Lair: $55
Parks: $55

Grovemade Task Knife

True creatives and designers understand the value of keeping a cutting tool on hand. Unfortunately, most utility blades are quite ugly. That’s definitely not the case with Grovemade’s absolutely stunning one-piece Task Knife. You’ll be proud to display this all-metal cutting tool on your desk, even when you’re not using it.

Purchase: $60+

Braun BNC017 Classic Wall Clock

The largest wall clock produced in Braun’s long and storied history, the BNC017 is reminiscent of the brand’s Bauhaus-inspired minimalist timepieces, but in a much bigger home-friendly format. And if you’re worried about it falling off the wall, don’t be; it also features shatterproof plastic glass.

Purchase: $80

Hardgraft Rich Leather iPhone Cover

The iPhone 11 with its triple camera system, A13 chip, and gorgeous HD display is by-far Apple’s most advanced smartphone ever. But it’s lacking a bit in the style department. That can be remedied, however, with the addition of Hardgraft’s gorgeous premium leather iPhone Cover. Spice up your smartphone with this timeless case.

Purchase: $83

Maxx & Unicorn Rectangle Valet Tray

Everyone needs to empty their pockets at some point, but you also need a place to keep your everyday carry safe and organized when you do. That’s where Maxx & Unicorn comes in with their stunning, American-made, all wood Rectangle Valet Tray. Best of all, it has a separate smartphone compartment with a slot for your charge cable.

Purchase: $88

Craighill Jack Puzzle

Puzzles and desktop oddities are excellent for building focus and finding inspiration, but a lot of them are markedly ugly and sometimes cumbersome. By contrast, Craighill’s Jack Puzzle is a beautiful piece of desktop art that also poses a mental challenge for those times when you just can’t get your thoughts in order.

Purchase: $95

Ember Smart Mug 2

If you’re like us, you sometimes forget you’ve got a hot cup of coffee whenever you’re deep in your work — which can result in a disgusting cup of luke-warm brew. If you’ve got the handsome Ember Smart Mug 2, however, you can keep your cup of joe at the exact right temperature until you’re completely done with it. And you can manage that with simple app-based smartphone control.

Purchase: $130

Inventery Modular Pocket Fountain Pen

Sometimes, versatility is given up in favor of good design. But the mark of a truly wonderful product is one that looks good and doesn’t sacrifice any functionality. That’s exactly what Inventery’s Modular Pocket Fountain Pen has to offer — a number of interchangeable caps (including a stylus), a full-metal body, refillable ink cartridges, and more.

Purchase: $135

Bellroy Designers Edition Collection

Everything Bellroy has to offer — from bags to wallets and everything in-between — is exceptional. But they really broke the mold when they unveiled their Designers Edition collection. All of these products are somehow even better than ever before and they make perfect gifts for any lover of design.

Purchase: $139+

Shinola Dominoes Set

One of the most classic tabletop games of all time, dominoes is approachable, fun, easy to learn, and hard to master. And while you don’t need an exceptionally-designed set in order to enjoy it, it definitely doesn’t hurt — especially when it’s as gorgeous as this Shinola offering.

Purchase: $195

The James Brand Duval Knife

The James Brand’s very-first front-flipper folding EDC knife, the Duval is an absolutely spectacular gentleman’s knife in every sense of the term. And while there are three different versions — all with the same silhouette and frame lock — we’re partial to this ultra-premium one with its titanium handle and Damascus steel blade.

Purchase: $375

Persol 714SM Steve McQueen Sunglasses

Inspired by none other than the King of Cool himself, Persol’s 714SM Steve McQueen sunglasses are dripping with retro styling. And while these acetate shades would be an excellent style piece in any format, their utility is boosted by the fact that they also fold down to a pocket-sized format for easy storage when you’re not using them.

Purchase: $480+

Herman Miller Eames Eucalyptus LTR Table

Charles and Ray Eames are absolute legends of the world of design. And while there’s a huge catalog of their designs you can purchase to this day, few are quite as special as this Herman Miller table. That’s because this Eams design is actually constructed from wood sourced from the couple’s actual estate.

Purchase: $795

Artifox Desk 02 Black Edition

Whether you deal in design, architecture, artwork, or some other trade, you need a space on which to work — like the Artifox Desk 02 Black Edition. This minimalist, solid white oak work desk features a tech-friendly adaptable design intended to help hide all your unsightly power cords. Plus it has a built-in dock that stores your phone and tablet and it assembles in minutes.

Purchase: $1,390

Killspencer x David Wiseman Fletcher Briefcase

An even more elite option in Killspencer’s already-premium briefcase lineup, this limited-edition collaboration with David Wiseman is crafted in the USA from full-grain leather and bull hide leather, has an exclusive signature top handle, is fully-lined with Alcantara, has a laptop slot, and is individually-numbered with a bronze identification plate.

Purchase: $1,700

Apple MacBook Pro

The most advanced MacBook ever, this Apple laptop features the largest Retina HD display ever put in a folding computer — measuring up at 16 inches. It also comes with a standard 16GB DDR4 memory, up to a terabyte of hard drive space, and so much more. This is a designer’s dream laptop if there ever was one.

Purchase: $2,399+

Transparent Sound Steel Speaker

You might not know it with just a quick glance, but this gorgeous hi-fi speaker was actually forged by master blacksmith Jonas Majors in his workshop on the island of Mörkö south of Stockholm, Sweden. However, it’s limited to just 10 examples in total, making this an ultra-exclusive Bluetooth speaker only an extremely select few will ever get to appreciate.

Purchase: $2,750

Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) ‘Leitz Wetzlar’ Camera

Created to celebrate the legacy of Leica’s fearless leader, Ernst Leitz, this ultra-premium camera is limited to just 150 examples. But, while it pays homage to the brand’s past, it’s also loaded with high-tech and modern features — like full-HD video functionality, a high-strength magnesium alloy body, and compatibilities with Leica M (Typ 240) accessories, as well as R lenses with a Leica M-Adapter-R.

Purchase: $7,595

The 30 Best Online Furniture Shops

Furniture and design don’t always go hand-in-hand — just look at a college dorm room and you’ll see what we mean. But if you’re an uncompromising professional who wants a home that reflects that, you can make it happen by having a look at the offerings of our list of the best online furniture shops.