Designers can be a tricky bunch to buy Christmas presents for. Phoney fonts and naff products are all too prevalent on the high street, so this festive season let us help you out with some certified high-quality, sure-to-please, designer-approved gift ideas, to suit all tastes and budgets.
Alternatively, if there's a budding designer you need to buy for, take a look at our round-up of the best creative christmas gifts for children (you might just find something in there for yourself too!).
Best Christmas gifts for designers under £20/$25
Enamel pins are for life, not just for Christmas! This is one bit of flair you'll be proud to wear. In fact, I love pins so much I had to include two... StudioCult based in NYC with their Pantone picking pin, and TwoGirlsCo in Bristol with their Designers Rule measuring pin have both created brilliant visual puns no designer will want to take off.
Craig Oldham is not only one of this generations finest designers, he's also one of its sharpest and most vital voices – he writes brilliant books that are both useful and beautiful – no matter what career point you find yourself at. This book from Laurence King books is particularly helpful for the designer trying to figure out what's next, so it might just be the most valuable gift you could give.
We couldn't resist sneaking this set in, because its an absolute bargain for the use you'll get out of it, and every designer needs a reliable (and virtually everlasting in this case) pencil in their pocket.
Want more art supplies? Don't miss our list of the best pencils available to buy right now.
Best Christmas gifts for designers under £50/$75
Uni POSCA markers are simply the raddest pens out there, their water-based pigment ink is lightfast, water-resistance and writes on virtually any surface without nasty bleed-through. Whether for an amateur doodler or a professional letterer, this set of 7 black pens with nib sizes ranging from 0.7mm to 15mm will be sure to go down well, but beware, they are addictive.
Following a successful Kickstarter campaign you can now order these smart designdice, which are the brainchild of Andy Neal. Give them a shake when you’re unsure where to start, are stuck and need a change in direction, or want to take a sideways leap in your thinking. They sadly can't do all your work for you, but they're basically the next best thing.
Almost a year ago House Industries co-founder (and one of the nicest guys in design) Rich Roat suddenly passed away. This fantastic book is a testament to the incredible company he, Andy Cruz and Ken Barber have created, and delves right into their process and portfolio. It is a beautiful piece of print you will probably want to order a couple of – one to keep and the other to give away.
Best Christmas gifts for designers under £100/$125
The Slim Folio from Logitech transform 5th and 6th generation iPads in to a laptop with just the click of a button. This robust, all-in-one keyboard case not only does a brilliant job at protecting your device, it also pairs via Bluetooth super-fast so you can enjoy hours of comfortable typing. The keyboard also comes complete with a full row of shortcut keys, so you can perform all your favourite iOS-specific actions. The perfect Christmas gift for busy artists and designers who are always on the go.
Our sister magazine Computer Arts offers insight and inspiration for the global design community. And it's not just for Christmas either – buy your designer friend a subscription and they'll get a new issue through their door every month.
Every copy includes in-depth analysis of trends, working practices and business issues, incisive opinions from the design world’s thought leaders, an inspiring roundup of the very best new work from the global design community, profiles of influential agencies, and behind the scenes access to cutting-edge design briefs. Plus, there are some ridiculous offers on this holiday season, so now's the time to buy!
Earlier this year Formfiftyfive did a little pivot and became Made By Folk, with a focus on offering more beautiful prints and products. This typographic treat from lettering maestro Loz Ives (aka IdleLetters) is a limited edition Giclée Print that would look right at home on a wall in any studio, office or den, and is a mantra every creative will relate to.
Design can be a lonely profession at times – long hours spent staring at the screen or travelling – and sometimes you need more than a radio station, playlist or podcast for company. Audiobooks can let you travel the world, encounter new people and expand your mind without leaving your seat, and for around the price of a burger per book, this is a great value gift that will last well beyond Christmas day.
Another gift that keeps on giving, Stack is a curated magazine subscription service which has been delivering the best of independent publishing to doors every month for over a decade. You'll discover all kinds of weird and wonderful things throughout the year, and each time one lands on your doormat it's like a little mini Christmas all over again.
Tyler Deeb creates unique and beautifully designed miscellaneous goods, or as he puts it, "products with practical purpose – keepsakes which are set apart" manufactured in America and shipped around the world. From leather wallets to playing cards, hip flasks to deodorants – these are some of the most desirable goods money can buy.
It's almost impossible to put together a gift-list and not include a Unit Edition, the incredible design-publishing company founded by living legends Adrian Shaughnessy and Tony Brook. Their latest offering, still fundraising on Kickstarter at time of writing, is sure to be on every designers wish-list. Finally we get a book about the influential Sheffield studio The Designers Republic.
Best Christmas gifts for designers over £100/$125
Field Notes, co-founded by Aaron Draplin & Jim Coudal, probably needs no introduction... these useful little notebooks have become the industry standard, and no designers pocket is truly complete without one. This Desk Kit includes a planner, 10 notebooks of various sorts for all your doodling and designing needs, a leather cover and pen – and it rules.
There's little more infuriating for the train-travelling coffee-shop-hopping designer of today than running out of battery mid-work. This travel-friendly power pack will give your laptop the boost it needs to get you through the day, and with 3 USB outputs, you can also charge your phone/tablet at the same time.
We all know hunching over our work is doing terrible things to our bodies, so with a bit of Swedish help you can now set your skeleton free for a reasonable price with a standing desk from Ikea. This smart bit of kit transforms easily (and electronically) from a standing to sitting position, meaning you can keep things flexible – in more ways than one.
Another staple of the wish-list, Apple continue to produce industry leading gear and the new iPad Pro line is hard to ignore – liquid retina display, intuitive gestures, 'all-screen' design, face ID, a super-duper 'bionic' brain (well, chip) and lots of other fancy features... With the news that Adobe apps are finally coming to the tablet in 2019 and the new Apple Pencil actually charges in a sensible way, this might be the time to sell that hardly used kidney and make someone very happy indeed.
Give the designer in your life some style this Christmas with this gorgeous Slim Backpack from Bellroy. The elegant design holds laptops up to 15 inches and has extra compartments for water bottles and chargers. There's also a handy discreet zipped pocket on the side for safe storage and easy access to your phone or pocket-sized notebook.
The classic Timor Perpetual Desk Calendar designed in 1967 by Enzo Mari has remained in production by Danese Milano ever since. This desk accessory will not only look great but more importantly help keep the designer in your life on schedule and hitting deadlines.