Holiday Gift Guide: Unique Design Treats

Holiday presents needn’t be expensive, extravagant or impractical—and, really, the less quirky, the better. If none of the suggestions at department stores or in gift guides quite cut the Christmas pudding, it’s worth spending a little extra time looking into clever ideas and well-designed objects. When it’s the thought that counts, then it had better be worth thinking about, so here’s a guide to well-considered gift ideas that won’t disappoint.

For grid-skipping travelers who need to be prepared for any context or climate, look no further than Dutch denim emporium Tenue de Nimes and umbrella brand London Undercover’s recent collaboration on a denim umbrella. Using the traditional look of a London umbrella—complete with natural beech woodwork handle and stem—the inside is marked with cotton flower illustrations by Japanese illustrator Hiyoko Imai, while the exterior features the store logo and is finished in medium dark wash denim. Alternately for someone who’s always on the go, Steamline Luggage’s utility-friendly, vintage-inspired bags rework the idea of classic leather cases in bright colors and brilliant textures.

For the well-tended home, there are plenty of stylish options from around the world. Furniture designer Sjoerd Vroonland maintains the avant-garde approach to practicality for which his native Netherlands is known. Reconstructing 19th and 20th century classics, Vroonland has designed the kapstokstoel as part of the collection “revised craft.” You will never leave your coat and hat behind again. German porcelain company Nymphenburg’s latest collaboration artist Ruth Gurvuch—they have previously teamed up with forward-thinking fashion designers such as Gareth Pugh and Vivienne Westwood—has yielded an ethereal collection of tea cups, vases and bowels, that beautifully use East Asian landscapes, waves and brushstrokes.

If you’re looking for something in the pampering vein, check out Australian brand Wheels and Dollbaby’s sumptuous boudoir robe, which features a satin lapel and fastenings, gathered shoulders and an embroidered chocolate box at the back. Not a bad compromise for comfort. Alternately, Butt Magazine’s new signature beach towels are finished with the magazine’s signature pink hue and feature past pinups—certainly the most interesting thing to lay on at the beach.

For similarly memorable gifts that are more indulgent than practical, keep an eye out for the uniquely offbeat. Alber Elbaz’s reinterpreted set of playing cards, for instance, features his characteristically jovial illustrations—and the affordable pack serves as a perfect keepsake of his enduring and unforgettable era as Lanvin’s artistic director. Designer band-aids, meanwhile, can make for a fun treat that you’d probably never lavish on yourself, but which work as a perfectly playful gift option. Cynthia Rowley’s first aid-friendly designs are a chic and elegant choice.

And if you’re working toward a better planet, the Join the Pipe organization looks to ridding the world of plastic water bottles by instead encouraging the use of these ceramic ones instead. After purchasing part of the pipe, log online to the organization’s website to join the longest waterpipe in the world. A world, now free of one less plastic water bottle.

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