The Ultimate Gift Guide for Designers

Designers can be tough to shop for (or so I’ve heard). Apparently, it’s a bit like cooking a meal for a chef. How do you impress someone with such high standards in their field of expertise? And if you’re a non-designer that thinks salmon and peach are the same colour (they’re not), well, you’re going to need all the help you can get. And maybe an eye exam.

So to save you from gift giving hell and being mocked mercilessly by those more design endowed, I’ve enlisted the help of my friends in the design industry to provide some top-notch gift ideas that any designer would love. Even the pretentious ones.

This guide is pretty long but if you don’t want to be the one who buys the nodesignsensewhatsoever gift, I suggest you read it all.

Let’s get to it!

Designer Extraordinaire: Mari Richards, extremely original toy designer, mama and blogger who finds the latest and greatest for the little ones, which you can find at Small For Big.
Awesome Idea: Fisheye, Wide Angle, and Macro camera phone lens.
Says Mari: “This is one of those silly slightly techie gifts that designers love, well at least I’m pretty sure they do. I know I do! I’ve become addicted to playing with all the creative photo apps for my iPhone, and I now need to take the addiction to the next level. Plus, I’m a sucker for anything mini!”
Price: $40.
Where to Buy: Photojojo


Designer Extraordinaire: Fiona Richards, owner and designer of Cartolina Cards, an environmentally friendly paper products company based in Nelson, BC. And blogger of Cafe Cartolina.
Awesome Idea: A subscription to Uppercase Magazine.
Says Fiona: “There’s nothing else like it. It’s the most inspiring and creative publication and it’s Canadian! There are features on designers from every facet of the industry – illustrators, crafters, typographers, painters – you name it. Each issue is a collector’s item and holds the coveted centre position on our living room coffee table.”
Price: $72 for four issues or $18 each.
Where to Buy: Uppercase


Designer Extraordinaire: Lori Dunbar, owner and designer of Marzipan Inc.,  a fab paper goods company, a wicked photographer and blogger of Paisley Wallpaper.
Awesome Idea #1: Photoshop actions. (Actions are recorded steps that you perform on an image; these steps can be saved and replayed on another image at a later date.)
Says Lori: “Actions are a great way to add a variety of looks to your photography. It’s a super-great gift for the photographer in your life.”
Price: $149 for a set of 50 different actions.
Where to Buy: Totally Rad!


Awesome Idea #2: Camera straps.
Says Lori: “I never realized it until I got my first DSLR, but the straps that come with your camera really wreak havoc on your neck. A super-fun camera strap cover would be a really thoughtful gift for any photographer.”
Price: Around $30
Where to Buy: 1. VMJESS 2. Eclectic Whatnot 3. Cotton Candy by Natalie


Awesome Idea #3: Camera bag.
Says Lori: “These are the most amazing camera bags I’ve ever seen! The fabric just blows me away! I don’t know any photographer who wouldn’t want one of these!”
Price: Starting from $115
Where to buy: Stash


Designer Extraordinaire: Lesley Stenning, owner and designer of the most lovely fabric totes, buckets and blankets at Smidgebox Designs, and blogger of http://smidgebox.blogspot.com/
Awesome Idea #1: Classes!
Says Lesley: “Whether it’s letterpress, screenprinting, woodworking, textiles/weaving, or digital SLR, I can’t think of a creative person who doesn’t like learning a new technique or mastering something they’ve been dabbling in. Check your local trade and art schools, or experts in their field often offer workshops at their studio.”
Price: Varies by topic and duration.
Where to Look: Locally here in Vancouver there’s Blim. Another good option is The Hive at 511 in Virginia.


Awesome Idea #2: Subscription to Anthology Magazine.
Says Lesley: “I love reading magazines, and totally devour them almost the minute they land in my mailbox. While there are a ton of online mags these days that offer loads of inspiration and great ideas, there is nothing quite like thumbing through real pages, over and over again. One of my current faves is the new Anthology magazine out of California. I just got my first issue of Anthology and LOVED it.”
Where to Buy: Anthology


Designer Extraordinaire: Vana Chupp, owner and designer of elegant silhouette creations at Le Papier Studio. Whether you’re looking for prints, jewelry or items for the home, Vana’s creations are so personal and fantastic.
Awesome Idea: Wacom Intuos4 professional pen tablet.
Says Vana: “This is the ultimate little gadget every illustrator should have. And since I’ve been expanding my line of illustrations recently, I’ve been thinking this will make the process of creating them a breeze.”
Price: $229 – $469 depending on the size.
Where to Buy: You can buy directly from Wacom or check your local Costco, Walmart or Officemax.


Designer Extraordinaire: Helen Jerlach, owner and designer of Numsi which specializes in contemporary modular wall art, clothing and other great design items for babies and children and the adults who live with them.
Awesome Idea #1: Pantone color matching system chip book.
Says Helen: “Probably the most helpful designer-y thing that I could ask for, would be a Pantone color matching system chip book. I know I’d be happy to receive it and it would certainly get used very regularly.”
Price: $259
Where to Buy: Pantone


Awesome Idea #2: Pantone mug.
Says Helen: “However, what I would reaaally like would be the entire range of Pantone mugs! Imagine every day choosing a mug to match your mood, or your work, or your outfit. Sweet. I genuinely think that seeing a cupboard full of these beauties would make me happy every single day. It doesn’t get much better than that, right!”
Price: $14.99
Where to Buy: Pop Deluxe


Awesome Idea #3: Nooka Zub Zayu watch.
Says Helen: “A special treat would be this ridiculous and awesome watch. How could you not be inspired to use time wisely when you get to look at that every few minutes!”
Price: $175
Where to Buy: Nooka


Designer Extraordinaire: Marc Desbiens, a freelance web designer who’s all about usability, great graphics and solid coding.
Awesome Idea #1: Hardboiled Web Design by Andy Clarke.
Says Marc: “With all the excitement around HTML5 and CSS3, industry veteran Andy Clarke’s recently published book Hardboiled Web design would help any web designer stay ahead of the curve by learning all the latest techniques.”
Price: £16.00 – £38.00
Where to Buy: Five Simple Steps


Awesome Idea #2: Field Notes graph paper memobook.
Says Marc: “It sure would be handy to have a small notebook to jot down ideas when they come to me. The graph paper means it’s great for sketching out web interfaces too.”
Price: $9.95
Where to Buy: Field Notes


Designer Extraordinaire: Christine, my partner in crime in this crazy game called stationery.
Awesome Idea #1: Moleskine Recipe Journal.
Says Christine: “What a better way to hit two passions with one gift – food and stationery. Food calendars, measurements, conversions, and room to sketch a frying pan – this looks like it has everything I need (including a style of journal I would want to take with me everywhere)! What designer doesn’t like Moleskine?”
Price: $15
Where to Buy: Amazon


Awesome Idea #2: Wood Lace Jewelry.
Says Christine: “Normally anything that has wood combined with metal captures my eye. But this time, it was the intricacy and overall design that really made me take out my Visa – think lace-like patterns cut into wood. The necklace was designed by Henderson Dry Goods, a company founded by local Vancouver designer Alex Henderson. I’m sure any designer would show extreme enthusiasm for this if opened on Christmas Day.”
Price: Worthwhile
Where to Buy: Various stores throughout Canada


Designer Extraordinaire: Myself (Cassie), although I’m not quite sure about the extraordinaire part.
Awesome Idea #1: Lomo Fisheye Camera.
Says Cassie: “Fisheye pics are always so cool but let’s be honest, how many can you take? Certainly not enough to justify a several hundred dollar lens. This camera is the perfect mix of fun and fisheye functional.”
Price: $40
Where to Buy: Lomography Shop


Awesome Idea #2: Credits for Veer.
Says Cassie: “Most designers are font freaks so credits toward their favourite font site would be a huge win. Veer is a great choice since they carry fonts from most of the popular foundries but they also have some cool-enough-for-designers merchandise too.”
Price: $18+
Where to Buy: Veer

Phew, you’ve made it to the end! Any of these gifts will guarantee your status as cool gift giver who may actually know a thing or two about design. Glad we could help! If you’re still not feeling inspired by any of these fab choices then you really do need an eye exam, or just new friends.

Thanks to Mari, Fiona, Lori, Lesley, Vana, Helen, Marc and Christine for contributing!

~ Cassie

p.s. If you’re looking to send greetings this season the Cartolina iPhone App is perfect! Not only is it eco-friendly but it won’t get lost in the mail and is super easy to do. You have no excuse now! Click here for more details.

{ images from respective sources }

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