This morning Kate gave us her holiday gift list — she was focused on gift ideas for someone who doesn’t want more stuff. Me, I wanted to spotlight ideas for gifts that are still made from original midcentury designs and designers. The “real deal”, not interpretations or knock-offs. Following are my top-10 ideas, not in any particular order.
1. Eva Zeisel floating picture frames
My first pick is a set of three Eva Zeisel floating picture frames (closeup shown above). These were designed by Eva when she was 104. What is particularly super cool about these is that you can change out the artwork they showcase very easily — the frames are set out from the wall, and the artwork is adhered with strong magnets. Beautiful and supremely useful, too — now that is great design! These look to be on sale for $90 for the holiday season, from Wexel Art.
2. Vintage Vera Neumann tablecloth
I also love my Vintage Vera. It’s kind of hard to keep track of where you can find housewares and clothing based on her design. Every time I go to look at all my complete source list for Vera Neumann designs, the product line and links have changed. This time around, my favorite is the Vintage Vera Flowering Branch table cloth from Bed, Bath & Beyond. There are matching serviettes, too. I can always use more tablecloths!
3. Eames House of Cards set
Ray and Charles Eames’ delightful The House of Card sets were first produced in 1952. Each card — which is printed with playful images — has six slots — and you can build the cards into structures. Hours of fun for the kids (of any age) — and no batteries or digital headaches (imagine that!) involved. They come in three sizes, small, medium or large:
The Gainey Cylinder Planter has been in production since the early 1960s, with minor tweaks. Still Made-in-the-USA, still family-owned.
These are spendier; I never said this was a blog only about the cheap-and-cheerful; sometimes it’s a blog about the green-with-envy really expensive designer stuff. I wrote a big story about Lagardo Tackett planter designs a year ago: “In 1998 Vessel USA resurrected the iconic ceramics originally made famous by Max and Rita Lawrence’s Architectural Pottery company beginning in 1950. These LaGardo Tackett planters — which comprise the largest portion of Vessel USA’s line today — accessorized the famous Case Study houses, and were featured in a Museum of Modern Art exhibit as early as 1951.”
I want to marry the planter above.
7. Festivo candlesticks by Timo Sapraneva for iittala:
I don’t need any more glass candlesticks, but if I did I would ask for these: Festivo candlesticks designed in 1966 by Timo Sarpaneva for iittala. At Finnstyle — which has little round candles made just for these candlesticks — and other places online.
Some time in the late 20th century, the famed illustrator Charley Harper designed a series of travel posters for the National Park Service. You can still get the last of these posters — the original stock — from the U.S. Government Bookstore — at great prices — several sizes — free shipping — no taxes. This is gonna be a really cheap and cheerful — yet still authentic midcentury — gift. Continue to keep it affordable by checking out our recent story, 9 afforadble ways to hang a picture or poster.
Psych! I am still hunting for my # 9 and #10 picks for my 10-item gift list this year. I’m being picky. I am always picky.