This holiday season you may be wondering what you should gift to the designer in your life. Whether they’re your partner, spouse, friend, or colleague, creative professionals can be extremely difficult to buy for. They probably have most of the latest tech already, and often express an affinity for things that are relatively obscure. So, instead of adding to their ever-expanding collection of coffee mugs, or buying them yet another gift card to iTunes or Starbucks, cast your eyes down the following list and see if there’s something to bring a smile to their face. And, if your favorite designer happens to be you, well, go ahead! Of course you’ve worked hard all year and deserve to treat yourself to something nice…
MacBook Pro Sleeve from Byrd & Belle
Designers take their laptops everywhere. Whether the conference room or the coffee shop, this sleeve provides the perfect combination of style and safety and still fits in a backpack. Add a matching case for a charger to really showcase that designer swagger.
Coffee Sleeve from Faribault Woolen Mill
Look carefully at the fine print on any piece of design work and you’ll always notice a tiny disclaimer stating, “fueled by coffee.” For people working thousands of hours in close proximity to hot beverages, these wool sleeves will prevent them from burning their mouse hand on a cup of their favorite pour over. As an added feel-good bonus, the sleeves are made of re-purposed scraps from blankets and throws.
Website Stencil Kit from UI Stencils
This stencil provides welcome assistance for any designer whose sketched boxes turn out more like parallelograms than squares. Stencils are great for quickly and legibly sketching common elements when brainstorming ideas for apps or the web.
Medium Hardcover Notebook from LEUCHTTURM1917
While many tools have changed over the years, the notebook has remained a mainstay in the designer’s toolbox to this day. This particular make of notebook has numbered pages and is a perfect companion to the laptop in a backpack. A wise word to the trend-seekers: be sure to get dotted or squared pages, never lines.
Eco Dry Highlighters from Stubby Pencil Studio
Highlighters are a great tool for accentuating key points in books or notes so you can go back and easily find them again. These are highlighter pencils, which helps avoid the nightmare scenario of bleeding through to another sheet of paper, the other side of the page or unintentionally smearing some of the ink.
Apple Pencil Charging Dock from Lefon
A lot of designers have transitioned from traditional pen and paper to a digital workflow. Without a somewhat bulky cover, the OG Apple Pencil is difficult AF to store without feeling like you might lose it at any time. It’s even more awkward when it sticks out of the laptop’s Lightning port to charge because it feels like it can easily snap off. This charging dock solves both problems while sitting comfortably on your desk.
Wireless Charging Pad from Grovemade
Many devices now have the capability for wireless charging using a charging pad. A lot of the chargers leave a lot to be desired in terms of appearance but not this one from Grovemade. Known for their beautiful and functional design aesthetic, this artistic platter looks great in the living room or the office whether charging a device or not.
AirFly from Twelve South
The AirFly gives you the superpower to connect to the in-flight entertainment center and send the audio to your wireless headphones. This is a great gift for the designer who spends a lot of time traveling for vacations, customer research, or to visit offices across the coast. Imagine how happy they will be to skip renting movies that never fully download on the slow hotel wi-fi yet still be able to use their AirPods or noise-cancelling Bose headphones instead of the $2 airline pair that only allows you to hear the grumpy chatterbox in 22B.
Premium Aluminum Ampersand from Twelve South
The ampersand is a popular symbol dating back to the first century AD. This is a perfect statement for displaying anywhere in the home, office, or even that collaboration space in the open-floor-plan design studio. Once you have this unique, high quality aluminum and wood ampersand in your hands you’ll be glad you didn’t settle for a generic, mass-produced version from one of the big retail stores.
Adventure Sticker Sheet by Martina Martian
If you use Instagram or Snapchat, you’ve probably used Martina Martian’s illustrations as stickers on your photos. Whether virtual or physical, designers love stickers. This particular sticker set was inspired by Martina’s four month solo trip around the globe. Decorate your laptop, luggage or anything else you want to stick a sticky sticker on.
United Pixelworkers T-Shirt from Cotton Bureau
Cotton Bureau recently re-launched the United Pixelworkers brand after a 4-year hiatus. These shirts are a favorite within the design community and pay homage to whatever place you happen to represent or call home, even if that place is the moon.
Berlin Mitte Hoodie from Raubdruckerin
Hoodies are pretty much the unofficial uniform of the designer. These garments are printed with ink directly on a Berliner Wasserbetriebe manhole cover in Berlin. No two pieces are exactly the same and there are multiple designs to choose from.
Enamel Pins from Draplin Design Co.
Two words, thick lines. Whether you are a fan of the Space Shuttle, food, condiments, the State of Oregon or a slice of pizza, Aaron Draplin has designed a logo for it. Add some flair to your favorite trucker hat, jean jacket or backpack with these pins.
The Existential Calculator from Kelli Anderson
Kelli Anderson makes things out of paper. She's the author of This Book is a Camera, which literally turns a book into a functioning camera and This Book is a Planetarium, the mind-blowing book where every page turn reveals a new paper gadget. This is quite the fun analog tool that can be used to help decide on whether or not to accept that new job offer.
Various Books from Various Authors
Books happen to make great gifts for everyone, and designers are no exception. This year a lot of great books were released, covering a wide variety of relevant design topics. Here are a few that come highly recommended.
(Click each image to view gift details)
‘Kanye West Can’t Be Managed’ from Framed Tweets
Your designer’s Twitter feeds will be full of designer beefs, letting some great celebrity quotes go unnoticed. Framed Tweets will frame any tweet you choose. They have compiled a list of the best (and by ‘best’ I mean best and worst) for inspirational or comical enjoyment. If for any reason this particular quote, or any other doesn’t resonate then just the frame alone is worth the price.
Nintendo Gameboy Schematic Print from Retro Patents
These detailed schematics are great for geeking out on a favorite toy/electronics gadget. Decorate your walls with iconic inventions such as the Gameboy, the iPod, the Walkman, the NES, etc. There’s even a Gmail interface schematic for designers who prefer the digital side of things.
Traps Cards Deck from UI Tenets & Traps
Not your typical deck of cards, the UI Tenets & Traps deck offers a fun way to learn attributes of good design. From helping designers easily identify UI problems to providing a different spin on evaluating and critiquing interfaces, designers will put these cards to such good use that you might want to order an extra set.
Within Magazine Subscription
Within Magazine is a great resource for identifying and empowering women who are currently, or who are aspiring to become, leaders in our design industry. It is a voice for creating a more diverse and inclusive future for all designers. This subscription is a powerful gift to give to anyone in the fields of design and technology.
Adobe XD Software from Adobe
Adobe XD allows you create and share designs and prototypes in a single application. It’s is perfect for designers of all skill levels to design simple interfaces, animate complex interactions, or easily create voice interactions.