Standby, retrieving information, this process may take a moment.

Best Bets: 10 Holiday Gifts for the Design Enthusiast

For the modernists in your life, we’ve rounded up 10 well-recognized, celebrated, totally gift-worthy icons of design, each with a story behind them. So not only are they perfect for design-minded friends, they’re also a special something for that person on your list who tells you each year that they “really don’t need anything.”

Written by Sarah Schaale

Wooden Dolls by Alexander Girard for Vitra

Mid-century designer Alexander Girard is famous for the color and textile work he produced in the 1950s and 1960s, much of which reflected his keen interest in folk art. With sculptural shapes and semi-abstract styling, his collection of Wooden Dolls reflect that same vibrant aesthetic, with visual elements inspired by cultures all over the globe.

SHOP NOW
Wooden Dolls by Alexander Girard for Vitra

Juicy Salif Citrus Juicer by Philippe Starck for Alessi

Is it…a bug? Something supernatural? A little reminiscent of an other-worldly creature, designer Philippe Starck’s Juicy Salif is one of the icons of design in the 1990s. The unconventional design earned it a spot in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York’s MoMA, and a number of other collections around the globe. Although it’s fully functional as a citrus squeezer, its intriguing physique makes it a display-worthy piece for the kitchen as well.

SHOP NOW
Juicy Salif Citrus Juicer by Philippe Starck for Alessi

Kettle with Bird Whistle by Michael Graves for Alessi

The Kettle with Bird Whistle by Alessi is one of the most well-known icons from architect Michael Graves, which he designed in 1985. The design mixes classical and pop influences, with simple geometry and a playful bird that whistles cheerfully when the water is ready. This year, Alessi also introduced a fierce new version of Grave’s famous kettle in honor of the design’s 30th birthday. The Tea Rex Kettle, replaces the happy songbird with a dragon in shiny copper or lively green.

SHOP NOW
Kettle with Bird Whistle by Michael Graves for Alessi

Cast Mini Jack by Tom Dixon

Back in 1994, Tom Dixon designed a “sitting, stacking, lighting thing,” a light inspired by the children’s toy and made from polyethylene so it could withstand said sitting and stacking. The far-more-wrappable Cast Mini Jack is less than 5 inches tall and made from hefty cast iron, making it an ideal paperweight, doorstop or simple objet in ode to Dixon’s design brilliance.

SHOP NOW
Cast Mini Jack by Tom Dixon

Aalto Vase – Emerald by Alvar Aalto for Iittala

To commemorate the 90th year of Alvar Aalto’s famous vase design, Finish glass factor Iittala created his signature piece in a rich, emerald green. Inspired by waves of water, the curvaceous design is a stunner from any angle.

SHOP NOW
Aalto Vase – Emerald by Alvar Aalto for Iittala

Miniature Plywood Elephant by Vitra

This iconic piece is made teeny tiny as part of Vitra’s collection of miniature furniture replicas. The Eames Elephant was created by Charles and Ray Eames from bent plywood, though the design was only released to the public in plastic. The mini version here is crafted in that original material—in one-sixth the size of the orginal.

SHOP NOW
Miniature Plywood Elephant by Vitra

Original 1227 Task Lamp by George Carwardine for Anglepoise

This gift of light is more than just that. The Anglepoise Original 1227 Task Lampis British icon, originally created in the 1930 by George Carwardine, an automotive engineer and inventor of the 3-spring mechanism seen in this very lamp. The mechanism allows the lamp to be smoothly repositioned to focus light on the task at hand.

SHOP NOW
Original 1227 Task Lamp by George Carwardine for Anglepoise

Cylinda-Line AJ Cocktail Shaker by Arne Jacobsen for Stelton

The Cylinda-Line AJ Cocktail Shaker first debuted in 1967 as part of a comprehensive barware collection, but it fits right into an at-home bar today. The sleek and minimalist cylinder in matte stainless steel is part of a tea/coffee/bar collection that was awarded the ID Prize (now known as a Danish Design Award) in 1967.

SHOP NOW
Cylinda-Line AJ Cocktail Shaker by Arne Jacobsen for Stelton

Dressed In Wood Tray by Marcel Wanders for Alessi

What started out as a series of porcelain serving pieces from Dutch design superstar Marcel Wanders has grown into a versatile line of kitchen items bearing the signature pattern. Here in laser-etched beechwood, the Dressed In Wood tray can be used to present party nibbles or serve as a pretty piece of home décor.

SHOP NOW
Dressed In Wood Tray by Marcel Wanders for Alessi

Knowledge in the Brain Bookends by Karim Rashid for Menu

For the bookworm on your list, these quirky bookends will corral any collection. Designer Karim Rashid used his own head as the model and added a peek of gold on the inside “cavity” for those golden ideas that sit between.

SHOP NOW
Knowledge in the Brain Bookends by Karim Rashid for Menu

Want More?

SHOP GIFT GUIDE
Shop Gift Guide
FeedbackFeedback