Gift ideas for the design conscious

Okay, I have succumbed like everyone else to a Christmas list only mine is really something of a personal wish list. To be perfectly honest I have already bought one or two of these beautiful pieces simply because I couldn't wait until the special day. While there is a high probability that these small but perfectly formed products will not be ready to ship at a moments notice to whatever side of the world you happen to live on, I always feel it is better to get something you really want no matter how long it takes rather than fill your life with stuff that is just okay. Maybe I am a design snob but it's not about cost - just quality. 

 'Ring Tray' by Josep Vila Cadevila for Spanish brand Aparentment is from a large collection that shows the simple beauty of marble. 

'Ring Tray' by Josep Vila Cadevila for Spanish brand Aparentment is from a large collection that shows the simple beauty of marble. 

The list compiled here is a personal selection of small objects that have made a big impression on me over the last 12 months or so. It's not intended to be a definitive list - that would end up being a MEGA post, so it just represents small items that I like that might be suitable as a special gift. There are no tables, beds, sofas or anything else that big as these would be just too hard to wrap and beyond the remit of the postal service.

 Another item from the Aparentment 'Marblelous' collection, 'Stairs' celebrates the candle ritual. It works well in groups too  - back to back, side by side....... 

Another item from the Aparentment 'Marblelous' collection, 'Stairs' celebrates the candle ritual. It works well in groups too  - back to back, side by side....... 

There are a huge number of cool young designers turning their hands to this traditional noble material. Virtually anything carved from marble has a wonderfully precious quality about it but with Spanish label Aparentment, simple forms in this ancient stone remain affordable. The ‘Ring Tray’ and ‘Stairs’ candleholder are my personal favourites from the large range which includes bottle holders, towel rails (although to call it that does not do it justice) mirrors and table lights. Aparentment was founded in 1999 by Josep Vila Capdevila and is based just outside Barcelona. An online shop is opening soon but until then you an email to find out pricing and shipping – info@aparentment.com 

 Sue Pryke's MRr& Mrs Collection has recently been added to with accessories in hand-spun pewter and turned timber. 

Sue Pryke's MRr& Mrs Collection has recently been added to with accessories in hand-spun pewter and turned timber. 

Well-known British ceramicist, Sue Pryke, has released a new collection of hand made slip-cast teapots and beakers with complimentary pewter jugs and turned wooden bowls. The Mr & Mrs Collection uses Parian porcelain in standard white but with some additional elements such as the teapot lid in soft grey. The handle of the teapot is in steam bent oak and the collection has some hints of natural leather in the form of a little loop on the sugar bowl and teapot lids. Individual pieces start at £20 but the 9 piece Mr & Mrs Studio tea set can be purchased for £240. The set comprises of a teapot, 2 tea bowls, a tea caddy spoon, a tea strainer, milk pourer, lidded box with oak lid and open sugar bowl and comes with a long 2 handled serving board for presentation. 

 The 'Affi Stool' by Guilio Iacchetti for Internoitaliano. Show is the walnut and beech variation.

The 'Affi Stool' by Guilio Iacchetti for Internoitaliano. Show is the walnut and beech variation.

Designed by Guilio Iacchetti for his own brand Internoitaliano, the ‘Affi’ stool can be used as either a side table or stool and has a round slot in the seat that works well as a handle for moving the stool around. Made from a beech or in a combination of beech and walnut, the design features a beautiful 'H' shaped leg structure manufactured economically through the use of multi-axis c’n’c (computer controlled cutting technology). The stool appears deceptively simple from a distance but is actually a complex little piece once you examine it closely. The square section legs meet machined cross braces in a round shape and the end of each leg meets the seat/table top in an extremely precise manner allowing for a beautiful exposed detail. The stool sells for 225 euro through the Internoitaliano website. See Design daily's profile on the brand here.

 The 'Aureola'  tea pot by Lera Moiseeva & Luca Nichetto for Mjölk. Shown with two stacked cups.

The 'Aureola'  tea pot by Lera Moiseeva & Luca Nichetto for Mjölk. Shown with two stacked cups.

The unconventional shape of the ‘Aureola’ tea set by Lera Moiseeva & Luca Nichetto for Canadian brand Mölk. The combination of a special dark red coloured porcelain and wood offers an honest raw palette but the shape of the tea set is beyond extraordinary. Originally from Tarusa, Russia, Moiseeva has come to design via a sociology degree then a degree in product design from IED in Madrid. 

 The 'Aureola' tea set  from overhead.

The 'Aureola' tea set  from overhead.

Her career has come on in leaps and bounds since she met the Venetian designer Luca Nichetto in 2013 and was offered a chance to work on a new Casamania showroom project in New York. Since then she has designed the wonderful ‘Sucabaruca’ coffee set for Mölk and the ‘Cheburashka’ cooking pot for Dymov Ceramics (both with Nichetto) along with the ‘Dot’ table for Casamania. She has also collaborated with Nichetto and Joe Graceffa on the ‘Sofa4Manhattan’ (couch) for Berto.

 The shape is not the only extraordinary thing about the tea pot. The craftsmanship is quite amazing too. 

The shape is not the only extraordinary thing about the tea pot. The craftsmanship is quite amazing too. 

Photography of 'Aureola' tea set by Juli Daoust Baker

 Fort Standard cup and beakers (medium and large). designed in New York.but made in Bone China in England.

Fort Standard cup and beakers (medium and large). designed in New York.but made in Bone China in England.

Fort Standard is a young design studio founded in 2011 by Gregory Buntain and Ian Collings. Their work pairs timeless materials with modern process to create interesting versions of objects that have a sense of timelessness – a bottle opener, a chopping board or beakers and bowls. ‘Standard Ware’ is a series of fine bone china cups, vases, pitchers and bowls commissioned by 1882 Ltd and produced in Stoke-on-Trent in England. The fine translucent quality makes the pieces appear extremely fragile but they are designed for everyday use. The exterior is left matt and unglazed for a highly tactile feel, while the interior is glazed providing a beautifully subtle contrast. 

 The 'Standard Ware' beaker and vase by Fort Standard for 1882.

The 'Standard Ware' beaker and vase by Fort Standard for 1882.

The various cups and beakers employ three fractal segments that create the form from ten wide flats at the bottom increasing to 40 flats at the lip to create a rounder more pleasant drinking experience. Prices start at £25 and can be purchased from SCP in the UK or from Fort Standard in the US ($78 for a set of 2 cups).

Photos by Brian Ferry (presumably not THAT Brian Ferry).

 The 'Fins' stool by Formafantasma for French label Moustache - quirky but extremely cute.

The 'Fins' stool by Formafantasma for French label Moustache - quirky but extremely cute.

Italian design duo Formafantasma have a unique way at looking at most things - even the humble three-legged stool. At Rossana Orlandi this year, French brand Moustache launched a large new collection that included an extremely eclectic mix of objects from futuristic lights of Jean-Baptiste Fastrez to Formafantasma's 'Fins' - a simple wooden stool covered with Salmon skin. The third leg is shaped like a fin and while the salmon skin sounds unappealingly wet and slimy it is actually very beautiful and soft. The stool also comes in Perch skin if this is your preferred fish skin leather.

What appeals to me so much about the stool is the almost primitive nature of its roughly formed legs and the unusual texture of the skin. It is almost as if a fisherman living in a remote village created it to sit on while fixing his nets.

 Vitamin 'K Lamp' in white glazed stoneware and natural terracotta. 

Vitamin 'K Lamp' in white glazed stoneware and natural terracotta. 

Vitamin is a British design brand founded by brothers Chris and Andy Vernall. Starting in 200 the studio situated in London’s East End is devoted to producing products functional beautiful and original objects. Their ‘K Lamp’, released at London Design Festival in 2014 utilizes two interlocking softened cone shapes of either white glazed earthenware or terracotta with and interior white glaze to act as a reflector in the hood. The light is made in Stoke-on-Trent using a slip-cast process and houses an LED bulb. 

 Two pieces from the 'Georg' range from Danish brand Skagerak. The stool has been a favourite for some time.

Two pieces from the 'Georg' range from Danish brand Skagerak. The stool has been a favourite for some time.

Made in oak, the ‘Georg’ by Christina Liljenberg Halstrøm is part of a ‘Georg’ collection that includes a bracket console style table, a bench, a mirror and a clothes rack with hangers. The stool and the matching bench feature splayed legs and a wool seat cushion that are elegantly attached with leather cord. Simple and refined these two pieces in particular have a Japanese sensibility about them. Skagerak is a Danish company The stool sells for around the 225 euro mark in oak but a limited edition version (limited to 80 pieces) was released in Oct 2014 with a black lacquered oak stool and sealskin seat cushion. Before anyone gets up in arms about the poor seals I must ensure you that the seals are sourced from the Greenland Inuit and are a killed as part of a constant kulling process that goes on as the seal population grows. This version is considerably more expensive at 449 euro however.  Australia customers can purchase here. 

 Jaime Hayon always manages to surprise. This time around it was with his 'Aballs' lights for new brand, Parachilna.

Jaime Hayon always manages to surprise. This time around it was with his 'Aballs' lights for new brand, Parachilna.

Parachilna is anew Spanish lighting brand that launched at Ventura Lambrate in April this year. The

'Aballs' lights by Jaime Hayon were yet another reminder of his ability to create subtly glamerous objects as well as the more outrageous that he is has become well known for. Australian customers can purchase from here.

 The Meshmatics floor lamp and pendant by Rick Tegelaar

The Meshmatics floor lamp and pendant by Rick Tegelaar

Dutch designer Rick Tegelaar has experimented with some rather underated and commonplace materials (chicken wire and bamboo paper) and a number of very manual skills to produce a beautiful range of delicate looking paper lights. ‘Meshmatics’ is a range of floor, wall and pendant lights made using the same artisan methods of forming metal mesh over a wooden mould and covering with bamboo paper. The floor lamp adds solid ash into the materials mix. At 180cnm tall it’s a substantial light but physically and visually light. I first saw these lights at Ventura Lambrate in April in a group show of Dutch designers called Workmates and was hugely inmpressed by how Tegelaar had taken basic materials and due to the precision of his work turned them into something exquisite. Priced at 795 euro direct from the designers website. For a in depth look at the process check out the video below: 

I hope this round up of interesting and beautiful small products has given you some inspiration for the person in your life who is a lover of design or perhaps motivates you to buy something special for yourself.