Throughout the year, the Azure team visits furniture fairs all around the world in search of standout sofas, lights and office chairs that warrant our editorial endorsement. And once the holiday shopping season hits, we approach stocking stuffers with the same exacting eye. Even a wine glass or soap dish can come with a rich backstory, making it worthy of its place on design enthusiasts’ wish lists. Because while some might say that design industry folks are overly choosy, the truth is just that they crave great executions of strong concepts.
To streamline this year’s search for the perfect gift, we’ve grouped our recommendations into five categories that correspond to some of our favourite design personalities. If you recognize yourself in any of these descriptions, you might want to forward this page to your Secret Santa to provide some helpful inspiration. And if you’ve arrived here struggling with what to buy the architect or interior designer in your life, you’ve come to the right place.
But before we get to our gift selections, may we also recommend adding a subscription to AZURE to your shopping list? To celebrate the season, one-year print subscriptions are currently available for just $25, a limited-time 58 per cent discount from our cover price. After all, stylish stocking stuffer ideas are great, but sooner or later even design experts need recommendations for their upcoming projects. And Azure editors know their way around those, too.
With all that said, here are the best gifts to buy for every type of design lover:
With a penchant for bold colours and wild shapes, fans of ’80s postmodernism make a case for thinking outside the box. These offbeat items of domestic decor match their playful beat.
Assembly desk set by Areaware
Twergi tableware by Alessi
Alessi’s recent relaunch of 1989 designs by Ettore Sottsass includes this wooden corkscrew, which feels tailor-made for charismatic holiday party hosts. Similarly funky spice grinders and vessels round out the geometric collection. $155
Arc towels by Lateral Objects
The best way to get someone’s day off to a good start is with an upbeat bath towel. These sunny textiles inspired by California pop art should do the trick nicely. $150
The pared-back silhouettes of these carefully crafted homewares make them a perfect choice for deep souls with an appreciation of timeless simplicity.
Wine glass by Departo
Everyone has a side hustle these days — even Yabu Pushelberg. This year, the design firm’s accessories line grew to include a refreshingly robust take on a wine glass. Choose from clear or smoke-grey finishes. $20
Brass hand shower by Goodland
Pebble candleholders by Hollis + Morris
As much as we love an LED, come winter solstice, nothing beats the warm glow of a few classic candlesticks. Prop them up in this handmade trio of wood-and-metal spheres. $325
Aluminum sling clutch by Rimowa
G. Ponti-1 by Oliver Peoples
Architects are known for their eyewear — and Gio Ponti was no exception. Taking inspiration from the Italian designer’s clean lines, these sunglasses feature beveled temples and a distinctive titanium top bar. $995
True Square Tej Chauhan by Rado
Even for those who embrace an all-black wardrobe, the occasional high-contrast accent can’t hurt — especially when it takes the form of this retro-futurist ceramic timepiece. For inspiration, designer Tej Chauhan looked to sets from 2001: A Space Odyssey. $2,400
These intriguing novelties will give your erudite giftee something to ponder when they aren’t off assessing the merits of flashy new architectural landmarks.
Gravity Paperweight by Salvatori
Italy’s natural stone specialist has introduced 12 orb-shaped desktop objets — one for each astrology sign. In other words, they’re the perfect gift for anyone who holds star charts as sacred as building codes. $275
Blue marble soap dish by Binu Binu
Not only do the ridged lines of this richly veined vessel evoke the rippling waves of the ocean, but they also help to secure slippery bars of soap in place. $110
Bernadotte Vase by Georg Jensen
The tubular shape and elegant fluting of this vase might resemble a classical column, but its polished stainless steel finish keeps the design at home in more contemporary environments, too. $130
Wondering what year the Womb Chair debuted in? No need for an Internet search — this scholarly trivia master has it memorized. Continue their education with some fresh library materials.
Organic Forms poster by Herman Miller
Herman Miller delved into its archives to reissue a series of retro artworks as elegant modern wall decor. We especially love this groovy graphic by designer Philip Mitchell, originally displayed in the manufacturer’s showrooms and offices back in 1972. $745
Dig It! Building Bound to the Ground by Taschen
Architect Bjarne Mastenbroek (founder of Dutch firm SeARCH) reflects on a building’s relationship to its site and the earth by looking at Indian temples dating back to 756 CE, as well as more recent projects like Cape Town’s Zseitz MOCAA. $190
Woman Made: Great Women Designers by Phaidon
This encyclopedia of more than 200 women product designers celebrates historic talents like Ray Eames and Florence Knoll alongside the 21st-century creatives making their mark in the industry today. It’s authored by Jane Hall, one of the founders of design collective Assemble. $75
Kick off your holiday shopping with our expert assortment of 15 gifts that balance form and function.