They speak to Adobe software like a petulant brother, organize bookshelves by color for “fun” and fill photo albums with typefaces. They find calm through arranging objects in right angles (whether it’s their property or not) and take pleasure knowing that they’ll always notice the details we philistines ignore. “They” are designers of course, that segment of society whose diamond-sharp sense of aesthetics makes them the worst possible gifting target for the impulse shopper.
If you know a guy who fits the description, there’s no need to panic. We’ve gathered a set of tasteful selections that even the most fickle will covet — and may even claim was their own idea sometime down the road. We’ll all know who really made the call though, and in the end, that’s all that matters.
Looking for more men’s gift guides? Be sure to check out all of our gift guides for men for plenty of inspiration.
1. Philips Hue Lightbulbs
In creating ambiance, Philips Hue LED Lightbulbs are unprecedented tools. Each bulb, through 11 LED lights, can emit over 16 million colors; brightness is also controllable. Select a preset lighting template, or tinker and create your own using Phillips’ smartphone app. Each bulb lasts 15 years, so they’ll be no jokes concerning how many aesthetes it takes to change one.
2. Axis Typographic Map
Axis Typographic Maps are the Sistine Chapels of topography — with a twist. Because the folks at Axis maps painstakingly created city layouts using only text, the project took them several years to complete. Text gives these maps a living, busy, “I’m walkin here!” feel, which epitomizes city life. Boston, San Fran, Madison, London, Manhattan, D.C. and many more options cover a good chunk of the places urbanites might reside. They’ll have no more excuses when they get lost.
3. Allied Maker Walnut & Maple Desk Lamp
Handcrafted goods and quality materials make design types foam at the mouth — so stand far back if you get them an Allied Maker Walnut & Maple Desk Lamp. This lamp features a single joint of maple on top of a smoky walnut base. Throw solid brass hardware into the mix and you’ve got one sexy light.
4. DWR Flight Recliner
This ain’t your grandaddy’s La-Z-boy. The DWR Flight Recliner is ergonomic and sleek enough to fit in any room — and who doesn’t love the embracing comfort of an overstuffed chair? Mid-century aeronautic design is just that much better to pass out in; you’ll be all too happy to oblige after you’ve paid for it.
5. Jurri Storage Jars
Sure, Jurri Storage Jars will keep things extremely fresh — but so does some overpriced tupperware. What will really get a design nut’s sleek lines moving are the futuristic style and ingenious duality of both glass jar tops and bottoms. A flexible silicone collar that ensures freshness is just icing on the cake.
6. Scrabble Typography Edition
Words With Friends has simultaneously destroyed sit-down game nights and made a generation of damn talented scrabble players. But Scrabble Typography Edition has something that app never will: style. Beside an array of beautiful fonts, the game comes in a set of solid walnut drawers in a birch case and includes walnut game tiles. Even when you’re getting your ass beat by grandma, that’s fun you can appreciate.
7. Caran D’Ache 849 Silver Metal Pen
We have all the respect in the world for white gold MontBlancs and platinum-nibbed Watermans, just not the cash. Though you can’t buy an ink status symbol, you can easily afford a fine writing piece like the Caran D’Ache 849 Silver Metal Pen. This hexagonal ballpoint metal jotter writes cleanly and feels comfortable and accurate in the hand. Arthur had Excaliber and Dirty Harry had his .44 Magnum; designers, choose your weapon carefully.
The design minded don’t have to be organized, but they can accept help. Gridbooks keep your unique ideas inside the box, format-wise. These hardy notebooks are split into 15-point dot grids on the recto page with helpful checklists on the verso side. Next task for the disorganized: not losing these clarity tools amid a messy desk.
9. Lego Architecture Set
Sometimes inspiration is just a building block away. That’s the beauty of Lego Architecture Sets — you don’t need to be Frank Lloyd Wright to get the pleasure of designing Falling Water. Big Ben, The Guggenheim, the Sydney Opera House and more are just a fun build away. Unfortunately, destroying them is just as fun, so keep away from brats/dogs/mean friends.
10. Mobee Magic Mouse Charger
Clone-stamping dust particles out of family photos or the latest product shoot takes its toll on a designer’s trusty soap-bar extension. Mobee’s Magic Charger eliminates the hassle and inconvenience of battery pit stops by wirelessly juicing Apple’s Magic Mouse while it rests on the pad. More importantly, it blends perfectly with Apple’s official gear, so as not to disturb the Feng Shui of any desktop shrine to Jobs.
11. Fuji Film X-E1
Fuji film’s latest modern-day digital shooter wrapped in retro clothing, the X-E1, evokes lust from photographers and bystanders alike for good reason. Behind those classic good looks resides a 16.3 MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor capable of capturing beautiful shots as well as 1080p 24p video. Tack on an OLED viewfinder, a battery good for up to 350 shots, full manual controls and a 2.8-inch LCD screen — and you’ve got a show-stopping gift that should guarantee you free design help for life.
12. The Yamazaki 18 Year Single Malt Japanese Whisky
Finding a neat niche in a classic product is the perfect surprise for a well-worn aesthete. The Yamazaki 18 Year Single Malt Japanese Whisky, from the venerable Suntory Distillery, will hit the spot. With tasting notes like “black chocolate, strawberry jam, fudge, spice”, this dram is sure to be one of a kind, putting the finish on a well-engineered day.