We know it, you know it: Designers and design lovers can be notoriously difficult to shop for. But while guaranteed hits – a subscription to Azure, anyone? – are few and far between, our curated selection of holiday gifts is sure to please even the most discerning tastes. From housewares to timepieces, totes and panettone tins, these 13 covetable pieces cap off 2020 in style.
Supernovas, a circular design and lifestyle company based in Milan and London, has just launched the vibrant Volta collection of tableware and desk accessories by Italian-Brazilian designer Paula Cademartori. Just as appealing as the line’s 3-D printed, multi-hued, Lego-reminiscent aesthetic is its material makeup: recycled PET plastic waste. Shown is Medio, made from “the equivalent of 50 discarded plastic bottles” — a lovely solution for stashing work tools, like cables and charges, as well as jewellery.
For the person on your list searching for something to do with their extra time this holiday season, Build Your Own Desk is a DIY template for building — you guessed it — a desk. Materials are not included (the design recommends Baltic birch plywood) so what you’re paying for is cutting instructions and other digital files for creating a mini or large version of the furnishing, no tools required.
For every BYOD sold, Uhuru will be donating a desk to a child in need, in collaboration with the Red Hook Community Justice Center. And from November 27 to 30th, the design studio is also offering up to 15% off sitewide.
A 1960 icon by legendary American designer Richard Sapper, STATIC was originally fashioned from surplus torpedo stock. This year’s reissue by Italian brand Lorenz, however, was crafted with the help of Matteo Ballardini, leather-maker Davide Albertario and a network of artisans. The seemingly floating table clock, with its protruding dial and glass covering, creates the illusion of stretching towards the person reading its face. It’s a futuristic design from the past, and one that remains compelling and highly collectible to this day.
If you can’t get your hands on Konstantin Grcic’s AZ Award-winning Noctambule luminaire for Flos, the German designer’s new collaboration with Berlin-based Verdeq is a striking (and sartorial) runner up. Dubbed SOFTOTE, the elegant bag is comprised of upcycled off-cuts from automotive manufacturing. (The petal-like enclosure affixed to the central pouch are both salvaged scraps from the roofs of convertible cars.)
Available in three configurations (monochromatic black, grey pockets on a black base or a red core with a black surround), the overall design is intended to “allude to [the] original source material,” according to Grcic. Raw edges, exposed stitching and two leather handles give the piece its distinct industrial edge — qualities fitting (and required) for the uncertain year ahead.
As kitchens continue to become offices and bathrooms moonlight as break rooms, London-based designer Philippe Malouin has expanded his Arca lighting series with a portable fixture that adapts to the increasing strain on domestic space. The handsome luminaire, produced by Brooklyn manufacturer Matter Made, consists of a slender arm with a miniature opal glass globe and is equipped with a plug-in feature as well as a lithium battery for added versatility. This means that the charming design can easily transition from task light to illuminating bath-side reading at a moment’s notice. Four settings — night, ambient, reading or task — make this latest addition to the Arca family an ideal and giftable WFH ware.
Aluminum may be one of the most ubiquitous metals on the planet, but the alchemical transformations it undergoes in the hands of contemporary designers continue to amaze. Take, for instance, the Spun Vessels by Vancouver-based duo Pommet Kendall, which explore the bespoke results of metal spinning.
Combining industrial techniques with a natural variation inherent in the fabrication process, each metallic flower vase consists of a ribbed base that spills out into a rippling, uneven and unique lip. The playful vessels are offered in three heights and a selection of one-of-a-kind finishes (matte tones or chrome).
This sculptural limited-edition design might inspire even those of us who stopped grooming back in March to shave again. Available in the US and the UK (sorry, Canadian readers!), the razors come in two shapes, each reminiscent of a stylized chess piece. One has a true aluminum finish, the other a black anodized coating, their finishes complementing their weight and texture. Here’s to smoother surfaces all around!
Anything that enhances a good night’s sleep these days is a gift. And for pure (slumber-related) bliss between the sheets, it’s hard to beat Vancouver-based Sömn’s luxury sustainable bedding. Made of 100-per-cent natural flax, a renewable fibre grown without the need for herbicides or pesticides, Sömn’s linen offerings are especially alluring. In addition to being super-soft, moisture-wicking and antibacterial, these sheets, shams and duvets come in an array of elegantly earthy tones, from Desert Pink to Cinnamon to Charcoal Grey. And because they’re stonewashed, there’s no need to iron them. Talk about dreamy.
Another collaboration between a design studio — this time, it’s the experimental Netherlands-based Italian duo Formafantasma – and a storied brand, the True Square Formafantasma watch officially launches on November 30. Crafted with Rado’s True Square high-tech ceramic, the piece conceals all but a tiny peephole of the sapphire crystal clock face. Who’s keeping time these days, anyway?
Shopping local is important this year, but so is supporting global artisans contributing to mindful product creation. Leading the charge for so-called slow design are companies such as Obakki, a “purpose-driven lifestyle brand” beloved by none other than Gwyneth Paltrow. Obakki’s most recent collaborations include a line of clay objects handmade by a pottery collective in Oaxaca as well as the most gorgeous upcycled brassware crafted by a small Nairobi co-op out of discarded taps, padlocks and coins. The Kenya collection consists of chunky rings, arrowhead cuffs and even long, slender spoons — perfect for stirring those well-earned holiday cocktails.
These two Milanese icons make a delectable pair. Acclaimed architect and designer Piero Lissoni teamed with Italian flour-maker Molino Pasini to give this season’s panettone packaging an elegant new look. A holiday classic, the cupola-shaped sweetbread originates from Milan, a heritage that inspired Lissoni – himself a Milan-based designer born in nearby Seregno – to adorn his streamlined new tin with a tribute to the city’s architecture. The monochrome pencil sketch is a collector’s item for design lovers, and a rare souvenir of 2020 we’ll look forward to taking into next year and beyond.
Toronto-based førs’ inaugural 51-piece bone china dinnerware collection is a subtle standout. Delicate and understated yet durable enough even for commercial use, the grace and subtlety of each piece more than earns the design’s poetic moniker. Available in four shades – white, grey, coral and rose – each element, from the carafe to indented cups to serving bowls with angled lips, shares elegantly resolved curves that feel just right. It is, in førs’ words, enough, which is plenty.
In a year of more subdued holiday celebrations, a spirit of healthy competition can be a good way to liven things up. And what better way to test your core architectural skills – especially after a drink or two – than with our luxe set of AZURE-embossed stacking blocks. Hand-crafted in American walnut with a single accent block of white maple, this limited edition 54-piece set is produced in Edmonton, Alberta, by acclaimed Canadian furniture manufacturer IZM. Doubling as an intriguing small sculpture when not in use, the blocks are finished with a zero-VOC, child-safe oil.
With the holiday season upon us, our editors round up an elegant wish list – ranging from stocking stuffers to showpieces.