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Gift Guide For the Selfish

By Terri Stone

At this time of year, gift guides pop up like mushrooms after a rain. When you don’t know what to get someone, they can come in handy. But if we’re being honest, I’ll bet your first thought when you see an appealing item is often “I want that!” So let’s cut the bull—this gift guide is about indulgences for ourselves.

HOUSEWARES

LandCarpet | $1,200 to $2,100

These rugs are 25% satellite images, 75% works of art, and 100% New Zealand wool. While designer Florian Pucher says he was inspired by the landscapes seen from plane windows, the rugs are more dreamy abstracts of an idea than faithful reproductions. There are two sizes (5'9"x3'9" and 7'9"x5'9") and multiple destinations (Europe, Africa, Netherlands, United States, etc.).

Iikone Coffee Brewer | $699 

There are pourovers and then there are pourovers. Place this device on your kitchen counter and you’ll be the envy of coffee connoisseurs everywhere. Just don’t be in too much of a hurry; at press time, the stainless steel brewer is “coming soon.” 

Ember Smart Mug | $149 

When your to-go mug has more tech than a NASA rocket, you know it’s special. Think of it as a climate-controlled home for hot beverages, where you choose just the right temperature and a battery-operated system maintains it for hours. It’s expected to ship in April 2016.

The 25 Lamp | €249

So simple, yet so gorgeous. This small pendant light (roughly 12”x9”) from Sweden’s Kovac Family design firm is beautiful on and off. In case you were wondering, it’s named “25” because it’s made of 25 pieces of wood. Take your pick of oak, ash, or birchwood. 

Garden Igloo | €899 

Get one of these geodesic domes and you too can laugh at the elements. Put the clear PVC cover on top of lightweight frame ad you have something that can keep you or your plants comfortable outside even when the thermometer dips. In the summer, add the canopy cover (an additional €349) for instant shade. Buckminster Fuller would be proud.

memobottle | $22 to $25 

Oh, I can hear you. “You think a water bottle is an indulgence?!” Maybe it’s not an indulgence, exactly, but the memobottle is a thing of beauty that you’ll be proud to use, and not just because of the eco-points you’ll score. The 375ml version is $22; the 750ml container is $25. Go ahead and get them both — you deserve it.

Merella Lounge Chair | $3,410  

While the price may seem steep for a chair that doesn’t even have any legs, JUST LOOK AT IT. It’s art, really; art made out of plant vines. And by purchasing an objet d’arte, you’re supporting artists. And by supporting artists, you’re making the world a better place. Everyone wins!

TECH

The Cube | $999 to $4,900  

There are a lot of desktop 3D printers on the market, but many of them are ugly. If you’re going to have something taking up desk space, shouldn’t it be as good-looking as the objects you design? Not only does the Cube earn its spot next to your other sleek electronics, but it can output objects in several materials and many colors. The six models range from the $999 Cube to the $4,900 ProJet 1200.

Glowforge  | $4,000 to $8,000 

Despite the confusing description of Glowforge as “3D laser printer,” it is not a Cube competitor. It cuts and engraves relatively thin sheets of material (acrylic, cardboard, fabric, leather, wood, and many other materials). It’s compatible with Adobe software and even has an onboard camera if you’d rather use a pen to guide the laser’s cuts. The three models will range from $4,000 to $8,000; at press time, you could pre-order them for 40% off retail.

Olloclip Camera Phone Lenses | $50 to $120

Too often, camera phone accessories are lacking in quality. The olloclip lenses buck that trend. They mount securely on your phone and enable its built-in lens to capture high-quality macro, telephoto, and zoom photos. The only downside is that most of the lenses are for Apple’s iPhone, though there are a few options for the Samsung Galaxy. Prices run from $50 to $120.

L16 Camera | $1,699

Are you tired of hearing products described as “revolutionary”? Me too, but in this case, it might be warranted. The creators of the L16 camera claim that its plastic lenses are not just as good as glass, but better. Each image combines as many as 10 shots — captured simultaneously, not sequentially. And you can change depth of field and focus after you capture a photo. If all of that kicks your gear lust into overdrive, pre-order the L16 now for a $400 discount. The camera is scheduled to ship sometime in 2016.

Nuzzle GPS Pet Collar | $189

Nuzzle is a technological tour de force that lets you monitor your pet’s location, activity level, and body temperature when you’re away from home. You access that data through an app designed, like the collar itself, by the renowned Ammunition studio. Nuzzle only weighs about an ounce, even with the rechargeable battery in place, and includes an LED light for safety. You don’t pay a monthly fee for the GPS service; Nuzzle offsets the cost of the cellular service by partnering with Embrace pet insurance, which you can (but don’t have to) buy in the app.

BOOKS

Alternative Movie Posters II: More Film Art from the Underground | $35 

Movies are big business, so the bean counters rarely allow designers to take risks with film posters. That’s one reason why fans have stormed the genre in full force, designing posters that are far more exciting than what you see in the theater lobby. This book documents that trend in 203 color illustrations created by almost 100 artists. Pair with Alternative Movie Posters volume 1 if you didn’t buy it for yourself last year.

The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Whiskey Know-It-All | $22

A gift guide for the selfish must feature an item as frivolous as a scratch-and-sniff book about whisky. But even die-hard beer drinkers will enjoy artist Wendy McNaughton’s clever illustrations. 

The Steal Like An Artist Journal: A Notebook for Creative Kleptomaniacs | $12.95

Austin Kleon’s advice to “steal like an artist” has been a speech, blog post, book, TED talk, and now a journal. Many of the journal’s 224 pages contain exercises that help you identify, record, and build on inspiration in the world around you; other pages are blank. As one Amazon reviewer said, “It gives you a nudge in the right direction and then gets out of the way so you can do your own thing.”

Unsolicited Advice Weekly Planner 2016 | $12

This is the fifth year that artist/designer/illustrator/Internet phenom AdamJK has self-published a weekly planner, and it keeps getting weirder better both. It manages to be positive without being cloying, and there’s just enough humor and recognition that life does indeed suck sometimes to keep you going throughout the year. 

OTHER

Trip to Australia’s Karijini National Park | Varies

Nature photographers and adventure seekers will love Karijini, a park that covers almost 2,500 square miles of Western Australia. The contrasts will amaze you: blue waters and red deserts, flat valleys and high mountains, and frosty nights and scorching days. But if you don’t have time to plan this trip, check out other travel packages offered by This World Exists, with such destinations as Tanzania Peru, and Papua New Guinea.

Plume Mudguard | €30

This mudguard is attractive and smart. When the weather’s dry, it stores in a small roll underneath your bike seat. If it should start to rain, simply uncoil the silicone rubber guard and continue. Either way, you look good.

Lego Guggenheim Museum | $100

Here’s a 208-piece Lego kit that takes geek chic to a new level. You can build the mini museum at the office and tell your coworkers that you’re studying a design masterpiece. That alone is worth $100.

American Giant Hoodie, Classic Full Zip | $89

You could buy a hoodie for a lot less, but you wouldn’t, not when American Giant makes such sturdy versions that are tailored to complement your skinny jeans so nicely. Both men’s and women’s models come in several colors.

Kid Power Band | $40

And finally, because you can’t always be selfish, there’s UNICEF’s Kid Power Band. It’s a wearable fitness tracker that pairs physical activity with helping others. Children earn “kid power points” by moving, and in return, corporate sponsors, family, and others agree to give UNICEF money that buys food for severely malnourished children.