Holiday Gift Ideas from Our Design-Centric Friends

Whew! While we can almost close the door on 2020, we still have the holidays to celebrate. And even though this year has seemed to be never-ending, if you’re anything like us, you still have a bit of shopping to do. Luckily our friends have come up with some thoughtful and fun gift ideas! And better yet, this year’s gift guide is 100% shoppable online, so grab a drink, get comfy, and dive in!

From Annie Kantor of Modern Metal

Estelle Colored Glass is a Black-owned business owned by Stephanie Summers Hall. Her pieces are vintage-inspired, yet refined and modern. Her aim with this store is to start a “revival of colored glass that is reminiscent of a past time.” The stemware sets are like little jewels for your table, and I love that she was inspired by her grandmother, who served her jello with whipped cream as did my mother! 

Oaktown Spice Shop is a local gem here on Lake Merritt in Oakland. A feast for the senses as you stroll through the shop. Jars and jars of exotic spices, which the local team will measure and grind for you right on the spot. They even tuck recipe cards into select gift boxes. I am giving this box of local favorites to some of my friends this year. Who doesn’t need an update to their spices? Bring on the aroma! 

Roav‘s global mission is ” to deliver incredible eyewear that empowers people to explore more, worry less, and live always in the moment.” I was inspired! I bought these sunglasses in a pop-up shop in Venice and had a chance to speak with the owner who also took my order. And not only did he provide superior service, but I got the feeling that it was his personal project. I love the sunglasses. They are so tiny that they can fit in the palm of your hand when folded and easily slip into your jacket pocket. Stylish, fun, and a California company!  

Huldra of Norway has these playful, fun pillows that are offered in an array of great colors, and I believe a little bit of an intriguing tactile textile is always a good thing! Also, I have a soft spot for anything Norwegian because I was an exchange student in Norway.  

From Gari Sprott and Gunnar Burklund of G2

There is a unique fragrance in some old, quiet, dimly lit European cathedrals that evokes a sense of familiarity. We found that embodiment in Le Labo‘s Laurier 62 fragrance, and we’re partial to their vintage candle. From their website: “We believe in the soulful power of thoughtful hands: hand-picked roses, hand-poured candles, hand-formulated perfumes, and handshake agreements.”

Bernard Maisner is an internationally renowned calligrapher and his bespoke stationery items will end up as keepsakes by those fortunate to receive your announcement or letter. Think fine art, mixed with calligraphy, humor, elegance, and wit. “His signature script is a modernized blend of Spencerian & Copperplate writing with intricate flourishes.” Our pick is the Easel & Canvas hand-painted notecards. Sold as a set of eight, each notecard is first engraved in gold and then individually hand-painted by Bernard, creating eight original miniature masterpieces.

At Far Leaves Tea, it’s ALL about tea. Step into the quiet of this humble shop on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley and your nose will thank you. The aroma of teas: Green, Oolong, Black, Puer, White & Herbal Infusions will pique your curiosity, open your senses, and send you into another world. “Slow down. Pay attention. Savor life.” We’re particularly fond of The Horse & Dragon Celebration puer cakes which have notes of maple, date, and cinnamon.

Sara Japanese Pottery is Kumi Oniki and Naoki Uemura’s well-curated, specialty shop on New York’s Upper East Side that offers high-quality Japanese tableware, sculptures, paintings, photographs, and more. This is our ‘go-to’ for honest and remarkable handmade things. From single one-off vases, tea/sake cups, chopsticks, lacquerware, linens, and other objects, the offerings always make us feel like we have encountered something magical, reconnecting us to our humanness in this fast and digital existence. With over forty artists represented, we recommend anything in the store — you won’t be disappointed!

From Nilus de Matran of Nilus Designs: Architecture

Super You is an iOS app that transforms your friends in AR. This free app, by Universal Everything, Ltd., is easy to use: simply aim your phone’s camera at your friend and watch them transform as you swipe to change their costumes. Perfect to have on your phone for family gatherings and get-togethers with your socially distanced pods. Everyone, kids and adults alike, is guaranteed to have fun with it.

Acute Art is another fun, must-have app that utilizes AR (and this one is available on both iOS and Android platforms). Acute Art offers “a new way to discover, experience, and collect interactive artworks in augmented reality by the world’s most celebrated artists.” Download the app and place Eliasson and Kaws in your living room or garden!

Costco’s Photo Center is worth checking out! Transform your family’s old 8mm film and VHS tapes to DVD and/or USB; as an added bonus, each order includes a digital copy, which you can download to your computer. A thoughtful gift that keeps family memories alive. Perfect for when we’re able to get together again to watch old family movies gathered around the Christmas tree!

Morla : Design is a fantastic book that highlights the 40-year career of designer Jennifer Morla. A celebrated, award-winning graphic and contemporary designer, her work includes print projects, branding, packaging, web, and retail store design. Published by Letterform Archive, a “nonprofit center for inspiration, education, publishing, and community” and which is a great San Francisco institute in their own right, so win-win!

Gagosian is a global art gallery that specializes in modern and contemporary art. They were the first gallery to establish a publishing house (in 1985) with the Gagosian Quarterly. A subscription provides “unique access to artists in their studios and homes through insightful interviews and profiles of and by leading art world professionals”—perfect for the art lover on your list! 

From Gary Hutton of Gary Hutton Design

The party supply company Oh Happy Day has some of the most beautiful paper plates, cups, and décor. The super plain metallic silver plates are really beautiful! And they were designed right here in San Francisco!  They come in twenty colors and large and small sizes, along with many other color-coordinated accessories. I would love to get any of these as a gift!

When the pandemic started, Lisa Chadwick of the Dolby Chadwick Gallery sent out via email a picture of a piece of art and included a poem that related to it. As the pandemic loomed, the emails continued. I became hooked. I looked forward to those emails every week. After eighty-eight emails over the course of seven months, these have been compiled into a book: Stay Inspired: Shelter in Place 2020. This beautiful volume is not only inspiring, but 50% of the sales price will be donated to No Hungry Kid. (Also available as a limited edition with a black hard-cover.) 

Ted Muehling has been one of my design heroes since the early 1980’s and Les Ateliers Courbet, a NY-based design gallery, is showing his latest silver candlesticks. Made by Wiener Silver Manufactur in Vienna that did the silver for Joseph Hoffman, these candlesticks are simply sublime. These silver candlesticks look as though they would walk across the table and say hello.

From Katie Storey of Storey Design and the GFDA

Kindness for your skin. Metta Goods is a woman-owned, socially minded, San Francisco-based business that focuses on producing small-batch, hand-made skincare products using ethically sourced ingredients. I recommend the rose cardamom bath salts.

Abacus Row is an independent brand of understated jewelry. Thoughtfully designed and meticulously crafted in-house at their studio and showroom in Nob Hill in San Francisco. I recommend the Kern necklace

Ver Unica (“one of a kind”) is a vintage clothing store, that offers a curated collection of vintage and modern pieces. For twenty-three years, they’ve offered hand-selected, carefully chosen items to make your shopping experience fun and easy. Check out their website and IG page for now; they’ve had to close their Hayes Valley store due to the pandemic. I recommend anything here, inventory is always changing and always unique. 

The GFDA Marketplace is your one-stop shop for new or gently used designer furniture and accessories. Officially, it’s a consignment shop for GFDA members and the design community at large. I recommend the Loggia tufted floral sofa. Check out what else the GFDA Marketplace has available on our IG page!

From Jeff King & Company

The SolarPuff Outdoor Lamp is not only a cool idea, it also supports a great cause. This is a compact, foldable, lightweight, solar-powered lamp that’s perfect for your next camping trip. After 8 hours in the bright sunlight, it’s fully charged and will provide 8-12 hours of light. Ten percent of proceeds go toward providing light sources for those who need them most.

After the year we’ve all just experienced, who couldn’t use a little levity? John Kenney, a NY Times best-selling author and frequent contributor to The New Yorker, is back with a brand new collection that confronts life in the office with the same “brilliant wit and biting realism” of his other Love Poems collections. Check out this article for an excerpt.

This holiday season, why not send a cake (who doesn’t like cake?!), that doubles as a work of art, to loved ones in lieu of in-person celebrations. And not only are Butter& cakes beautiful, swoon-worthy works of art, and delicious (not overly sweet like most buttercreams; check out their flavors, here), they’re also on a mission to be the best employer in the food industry by ensuring ethical employment. Sounds pretty sweet to us!

And our final gift idea is another pandemic-inspired one: Seeing as more people are out enjoying our parks this year, why not consider giving a membership to the San Francisco Parks Alliance? Your contribution to the SF Parks Alliance helps provide essential services to the more than 100 community groups that actively improve our parks and open spaces throughout the City. (And if you’re not an SF resident, consider a membership or donation to the local parks in your community.)

Happy holidays from all of us at Jeff King & Company!