A Designer's Holiday Wishlist
Designers can be difficult to shop for sometimes. They love quality and functionality, but also despise excess. Here is a list of gift ideas that will have the designer in your life feeling happy and appreciated.
Gifts Under $100
Sensu Solo Brush:
Sensu Solo Brush Stylus is a paint brush styled stylus that works on most electronic devices. Created for those artists and designers that want to kick back and paint for a bit, but also want to work on a tablet. The Sensu Solo is crafted from a single piece of aircraft-grade aluminum and is designed to emulate the feeling of an actual brush.
New Mac Candle:
Most designers love their Apple products, and there is something ceremonial about opening a new box and unwrapping the beautiful aluminum piece of art. The New Mac Candle was created by the people at Twelve South for Apple fans to relive that moment. A candle is a great sensory gift for any designer that will bring a little bit of calmness and nostalgia to their workspace.
Funko Pop! Vinyl Figures:
As designer's we love to show off our personality in our workspace. Usually design books, art posters, and knick-knacks are carefully placed to show off our prized possessions. A great way to bring a bit of fun to any office is by adding a Funko Pop! Vinyl to a desk or bookshelf. With over 1,000 different figures ranging from Marvel & DC Comics, movies, music, television and Star Wars there is a Funko Pop! Vinyl for anyone.
2017 CMYK Color Swatch Calendar:
Two things every designer loves are fonts and colors. Peter von Freyhold released the first color swatch calendar in 2014. Each day is assigned a unique CMYK combination representing a color. The pages are a collection of seven colors and as each day passes you tear out the tab. Instead of throwing the tab away, you collect them. Each page has a hole punched in the top left corner so you can create a small Pantone style color swatch collection. It really is a new take on a calendar and something that will make any designer smile.
Moleskine Creative Cloud Connected Notebooks (2 sizes)
From the cover to the paper weight, I really love the quality of a Moleskine notebook. Though I use my iPad Pro for note taking these days, I also enjoy writing or drawing in these popular notebooks. One thing the folks at Moleskine have created is the Adobe Creative Cloud Notebook. It is perfect for the artist who still loves to draw pencil to paper, but also recognizes the benefits of digital artwork. There are small grey squares in the corners of each page. Draw a picture like normal and download the Moleskine Creative Cloud app on Apple iOS or Google Android. The magic happens when you line up the squares on your device's camera screen, snap a picture, and within seconds the image is opening on your computer to edit or refine seamlessly.
Oh Crop Coffee Mug:
Most designers spend hours at their workstation and it isn't uncommon for a designer to work 10 or even 12 hours at a time. If they are anything like me, they use caffeine to fuel their work day. I have an unhealthy obsession with coffee and there is nothing better on a desk than a great coffee mug. Every coffee lover has that one mug they love to use, and with the tongue-in-cheek designer humor of this mug, it is sure to be your designer's favorite coffee sidekick.
Ampersand Art Print Poster:
I'm not exactly sure why designers are infatuated with the ampersand, but I must say I fall victim to the famous design symbol as well. This poster doesn't only celebrate the ampersand's form but also the varieties of typefaces. The clean and creative design spotlights 36 separate ampersands to add a bit of inspiration to any office. Give the designer in your life a bit of ampersand love this holiday season.
A stylus is not just a stylus. Yes, the general functionality tends to be the same, but they all vary in shape, feel, weight, tip construction, and material. Every once in a while a stylus is created that stands a bit above the rest. The Apple Pencil is one of those styli. It has pressure sensitivity, palm rejection, tilt capabilities for shading, and quick charging. It is the most responsive stylus I have ever used. With close to zero lag, it is the closest experience to paper and pencil I have had while using a tablet in this digital age. The Apple Pencil is a must-have accessory not just for designers but any iPad Pro owner.
Gifts Over $100
A little over a year ago Apple released the iPad Pro and I was most excited to use it as drawing tool. They originally released it with a 12.9" screen and later released the smaller 9.7" version. After the launch it was extremely hard to find the true star of the release, the Apple Pencil. Using the Pro was just like using a regular iPad until, I could finally get my hands on an Apple Pencil and it changed the whole experience. Now a year later and it has changed the way I work completely. In that time companies have released even more helpful accessories and apps that have been refined to really use the power of the iPad Pro. If you are really looking to make a great impression with the designer in your life, then an IPad Pro is a no brainer.
Sonos Play 1:
In my opinion, music is the number one inspirational source for any creative space. It gets your brain and body going depending on the song. My go to studio item is my Sonos Play 1. It is a compact speaker that packs a punch of sound. Using the Sonos app you can load almost any type of streaming service under the sun. The nicest part is that over time, as your studio grows, so can your system. You can connect all the speakers to stream the same content or play individual playlists depending on the zone.
Studio II Office Chair:
One of the most important pieces of furniture in an office, besides a desk, is an adequate chair. Designers spend most of their time sitting at their desk. The Studio II Office Chair is constructed from bungee cords making it ergonomic but also distributes weight so you can sit for hours and not feel sore. It's sturdy build gives you the stability you would want from a chair but the cords give you a feeling of freedom that you don't get from most chairs. I've owned this chair for a year and a half with no wear on the bungees. I would definitely recommend this chair. Your designer's back will thank you!
Now most people would probably wonder why an Apple TV is listed here but it is actually really useful for a designer. There are a few great applications that have been created with designers in mind. One of them being Behance. Log in and you can access your whole portfolio which makes presenting to potential clients very slick. Adobe also created the Lightroom app that can be used for viewing images on a large screen. It can also be used to stream presentations from a MacBook or iPad. There are several education apps for learning new skills as well. Though it doesn't seem like the obvious choice, an Apple TV can be used in some interesting ways.
Pantone Solid Guide Set:
A big part of design is color theory. It is important to make sure you know that the color on the screen looks the same when it is printed. One major tool to make sure those colors match are Pantone guides. There are several styles like swatch books, tiles, and binders. They are invaluable tools for any designer but they can be a bit pricey. You can also purchase a subscription to the Pantone Studio app as well, which allows them to access all the different swatch collections that Pantone has to offer. No matter how you cut it, anything from Pantone is a great gift for any designer.
Sphero Star Wars Battle-worn BB8 Robot:
All work and no play makes Brian a dull boy. I have mentioned some professional gifts that could help out the designer in your life but I wanted to end this holiday gift list with something fun. The Sphero BB8 robot is an enjoyable app controlled robot that is perfect for studio decor when not in use and a cool diversion when you just need to rest your eyes for a few minutes.
Those are my picks for the 2016 holiday season. This list has gifts for every type of designer from the local business partner that you want to pick up a small thank you, to the very special designer that you want to spoil. With so many cool toys for designers, I'm sure there are things that didn't make this list. If you have a great gift idea, add them to the comments below. Now head out and get that special someone something great. Safe shopping and Happy Holidays!
About The Writer
Brian Anthony is the Creative Designer at Bigger Creative Agency. A comic book nerd who loves everything about design and technology. Born and raised in Brooklyn, like most New Yorkers, he isn't afraid to speak his mind. Brian is an outgoing designer who has had his work featured in USA Today, New York Fashion Week, and CES. He finds inspiration in everything and loves to throw on any tune and get to work.