Gift Guide for Design Snobs

By Kelly Turner

Buying presents for visual creatives is a dangerous business. I mean, this is a group that gives you side-eye just for using the wrong font—sorry, typeface. With that in mind, Create Magazine asked a few trusted insiders what's on their wish list. The resulting finds are sure to please the pickiest names on your shopping list—even if that’s you.

While we've listed full retail prices in the guide, many of these items are on sale for less.


Stagg EKG | $119-$159

Perfectionists, rejoice! You can brew your favorite tea or pour-over coffee at the ideal temperature—and look fabulous doing it—with this sleek electric kettle, which comes in black, copper, steel, and a limited-edition white. 

A knob on the base lets you dial in a precise temperature and a hold option will keep it there for an hour, so it’ll still be ready after your “quick” team meeting. There’s also a built-in stopwatch to track your brewing process.

Ember Copper Mug | $130

Some of us spend so much time carrying around our cup of coffee that it counts as a fashion accessory. The newest edition of the Ember smart mug lineup adds a touch of glam to its tech know-how with a warm copper finish. Like other Ember mugs, this special-edition model lets you use your phone or other smart device to set the prefect temperature and maintain it for up to an hour, so you might actually get to drink the whole thing.


Muller Lacquered Trivets | $120

Created by Belgian design duo, Muller Van Severen, these gorgeous, minimalist trivets do more than merely protect your table from the ravages of hot dishes. When hung together on the wall, they create an abstract artwork. You might just find yourself in the kitchen looking for an excuse to use them.

Marble Apple Watch Dock | $130

Do you need a solid polished marble charging dock for your Apple Watch? Who am I to say? But you’ll have trouble finding a sturdier, more beautiful accessory to grace your bedside table than this one by Native Union. 

The brushed metal arm holds your watch in place with magnets and rotates so you can see notifications from any angle. Lay it horizontally, and your watch switches to Nightstand mode.

Story Clock | $799

Story is a minimalist timepiece by the Swedish design firm Flyte that's more than just a fancy clock; it’s a gravity-defying piece of art that lets you define your own concept of time. A digital display built in to the wooden base lets you keep track of conventional passage of hours and minutes, while a floating orb traverses the perimeter at whatever interval you desire. It can measure out the days until your next product launch, the months to the birth of your first child, or the years until retirement. You set the interval through an app. Story is expected to ship in December.

Quip Toothbrush | $55

OK, a toothbrush isn’t exactly glamorous. But a beautiful smile is—as is a clutter-free sink. The Quip is a meticulously designed electric toothbrush that skips the cables, charger, and bulky handle. The limited edition All-Black model even comes with some good karma: Each purchase through January 2019 helps support the ADA Foundation, which provides dental care to disadvantaged families.

Evocateur Canyon Cuff | $348

Long days in the office can have you missing the great outdoors. If you can’t be out in nature, you can at least wear an eye-catching reminder that it exists. The Evocateur is a chunky brass cuff with agate detailing and layers of 22K gold leaf. Dress it up or dress it down, you’re sure to get compliments—even if you haven’t seen sunlight for a week.


Ystudio Tape Dispenser | $77

Stop hunting for rolls of tape in the back of your drawer; instead, upgrade to a solid brass dispenser you’ll be proud to keep front and center. Built to last a lifetime and with the heft you need for one-handed pulls, this tape dispenser doubles as a statement piece.

Kaleido Trays | $20-$65

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the odds and ends that mysteriously multiply in any office space, you need a little intervention from Danish design studio Hay. Its collection of colorful steel Kaleido trays nest into one another to create a completely custom storage system that you can quickly reconfigure as your ever-growing collection of odd and ends requires.

Nanoleaf Canvas | Starts at $250

When it comes to lighting, why limit yourself to just one color? This new, interactive lighting system lets you create custom light displays that can instantly change from practical daytime lighting to a funky light show that responds the music or touch. Simply snap together Light Squares to create a custom canvas and then program the display through the Nanoleaf app. Preorder now for mid-December delivery. If the Canvas delivery timing doesn’t work for you, we can also recommend another Nanoleaf product, Light Panels—they're in the Create office!

Mario Kart Grand Prix Artwork | Starting at $30

Alex Pearson of Familytree studio offers a whimsical take on vintage Monaco Grand Prix posters by inserting Mario Kart characters into the fray. The archival-quality giclée prints commemorate the 20th anniversary of Mario Kart’s arrival on the Nintendo 64. Whether you’re Team Toad or Team Luigi, there’s an option for you.


Brand by Hand by Jon Contino | $25

Graphic designer Jon Contino has earned his reputation as a branding powerhouse by blending New York street art with classic hand lettering and his own minimalist style. He’s worked with some of the most iconic companies in the world and won numerous awards. In Brand by Hand: Blisters, Calluses, and Clients: A Life in Design, Contino reflects on his challenges, his career, his inspiration, and art itself. The pages are filled with examples of his prolific work.

Artist Socks | $10

While you’re kicking back with your feet up, keep your toes cozy with a pair of artist-inspired socks by UK brand Chatty Feet. From the disapproving glare of “Frida Callus” to the dreamy gaze of “Vincent van Toe,” there are nearly a dozen famous artists and artworks to choose from. It would almost be a shame to wear shoes.

Custom LACMA Book | Starting at $19

Have you ever stood in a museum gift shop wishing you could buy just a few pages from all the books? The Los Angeles County Museum makes it possible to do just that. Their online Collator service lets you pull from more than 1,100 works in the museum’s collection to build your own hardcover book. Choose your favorites or dream up a theme for a one-of-a-kind coffee-table book.

Spectrum Playing Cards | $13

If your books are organized by color rather than author, Fredericks and Mae has a deck of playing cards for you. From the back, they look like any other set, but turn them over and you get the full color spectrum. I could try to think of a good reason for color-coding each suit, but we both know you don’t need one.

Office Life Coloring Book with Blackwing Colors Pencils | Book, $9; Pencils, $20

Don’t get me wrong, some clients are great. They listen to your ideas, are clear about what they want, and don’t change their mind hours before the project is due. But for all the rest, there’s Office Life: A Snarky Coloring Book for Adults. Work off the day’s stress with this sarcastic take on the mandala coloring book craze. And because you deserve some nice tools to get the job done, include a pack of coloring pencils by the beloved Blackwing brand. As they say: A picture’s worth a thousand silent screams.   

Lensball | $40

The Lensball may be a one-trick pony, but who cares when that trick is so darn neat? The solid crystal glass ball is manufactured to produce a flawless inverse image of the world around it. The result is a new way to get creative with your camera.


Leather Charger Roll Up | $49

Charging cables and earbud wires were deviously designed to immediately sink to the bottom of any bag and tie themselves in triple knots. Foil their plans—and save your own sanity—by tucking them away in this leather organizer that neatly rolls up to keep everything in its place. Available in 16 colors.

G-RO Carry-on Luggage | $445

If you’ve ever tried to drag a wheeled suitcase along snowy sidewalks or through cobblestone alleys, you’ll understand that this eye-catching bag also has a practical appeal. The large wheels can handle all types of terrain, and they sit on the side rather than the bottom on your bag, leaving more room for your stuff inside. There’s also a removable USB charger built in, so you won’t have to fight with fellow travelers for an outlet during your next layover.

Que Bottle | $25

No one wants to contribute to the ecological disaster of single-use plastic bottles, but carrying around a large metal bottle isn’t always practical. The Que bottle is a great alternative. This lightweight silicone container expands to hold up to 20 ounces and then collapses to fit in your bag. It comes in more than a dozen shades and is dishwasher-safe.

Nebula Capsule Mini Projector | $300

Never be held hostage by your hotel’s TV-channel lineup again! About the size of a soda can, the Nebula Capsule mini projector lets you take your favorite movies and shows wherever you go and project them on any flat surface. You can download apps to stream content from Netflix or Hulu or mirror content from your phone or laptop.

December 4, 2018