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Habitus Christmas Gift Guide: Design favourites

Habitus Christmas Gift Guide: Design favourites

The last in our Habitus Christmas Gift Guides series, editor-at-large Gillian Serisier shares her design favourites.

Christmas is suddenly upon us and so are the gift buying emails that list a whole lot of things that are nice, sometimes really nice, but do you really want them?

I mean a really great scented candle is excellent but unless you are doing the sniffing it’s hard to know which scent is right for whom.

These are the things I’ve been thinking about that would definitely find a place in my home, and yes there may even be a scented candle in there, maybe even two.

Maison Balzac

So this one is easy, anything from this brand is wonderful. Glass pebble incense holders, pink champagne glasses with amber balls – how cute! Clear ones with multi-coloured balls – better yet. Glass prawns, a hand embroidered on a hand-shaped napkin – fun.

This is a range of whimsy and delight with fabulous fragrances, incense, candles and the bibelot of a well-decorated life. The coloured tumblers are exceptional, as are the vases, particularly the pale mint green one.


Bloom by A&A

It’s always best to aim high with an extraordinary piece by A&A (Adam Goodrum & Arthur Seigneur). Arguably the pre-eminent art/design practice to create objects for the home, Bloom is a cabinet, but also an artwork.

Moreover, it is straw marquetry craftsmanship and colourist skills at their best. This particular piece has already been purchased by the National Gallery of Victoria, but with representation by Tolano Gallery, there is always something new to long for.


Pierre Hardy for Hermès

There is something about the packaging Pierre Hardy has designed for the Hermès makeup range that is just so right. The cylinder of three stripes fits perfectly in the hand, while the colours are beautifully odd in combination such as chartreuse and black, burgundy and sky, tangerine and mauve.

Yet the solid white of the upper portion and gold end stamp balances any oddity to deliver a visual treat. The satisfying click of the magnetic clasp is heavenly, and they are also easily refillable.


Tilly Editions Sculpture 01 from Sean Studio

It’s hard to think of a small sculptural piece more delightful than this fabulous little gem. Handmade by Sean Wadey as a cast reproduction of the original sculpture by the late Tilly Kubany-Dean, the finish is white gloss glazed earthenware with gold lustre detail.

Sean’s Turbo vases are also in the league of total fabulousness, as are his banded cups. If something is not editioned, but sold out, pop your name on the waiting list.


Linnut by Magis

These rather fabulous light sculptures/table lamps are just about as insouciant as the design world gets. Developed in collaboration by Magis, Iittala and Oiva Toikka who designed the first blown glass birds for Iittala in the ‘70s, the glow is warm and friendly and somehow familiar. Moreover the daytime colours and folkloric forms are oh so much fun, and with the names Sulo, Siiri, Kirassi and Palturi, who could resist?


Fritz Hansen mirror

Designed to reflect light, this is an extraordinary collection of mirrors that sit somewhat closer to design or art than a functional object. Handmade from painted aquarelle graphics, the mirrors shift between mauve rose and greens, with the Studio Roso design process ensuring that every mirror is a unique and glorious creation.


Flowers by Dr Cooper

When it’s all about the flowers, it’s all about the fabulous Dr Lisa Cooper. Working her magic with all of our favourites, from cascading orchards to peonies and the sweet sweet scent of carnations and lilac, roses, honeysuckle, violets, geranium, iris, delphinium and gardenia. She has also been known to create a meadow of perennials with floating blossoms bathed in sunlight. Yep, when it’s all about the flowers, she’s the one.


Rasymatto teapot by Marimekko

Maija Louekari’s Räsymatto pattern, designed in 2009, is emblematic of the artist’s concerns about sustainable living and the joy of working with your hands. On a teapot, cup or bowl the stark drama of a repeated black-on-white motif is irresistible. And, Marimekko stoneware is always of an excellent quality.


Kelly Brown ceramics

Sculpture and ceramics are the hottest tickets this season with artists and craftspeople creating some incredible work. Kelly Brown’s particular interest lies in nature and the organic forms of the environment. Working with layered glazes and shifting attention to the negative spaces, her work is always beautiful, as is all the work from the artists at Kil.n.it.


VL Studio table/floor lamp by Louis Poulsen

This divine orb of light is not going to be static, rather the brushed brass surface is deliberately untreated to patina with time, so while the bling of its shiny gold lower portion may be quite Christmassy, by next year it will have settled into a lustrous glow that will only get better with age. The globe is a mouth-blown three-layered affair of opal glass, meaning the light is diffused and soft. Lovely on the floor or table.


Eames House Bird by Vitra

This is one of those iconic pieces that continue to speak of what good design can be. It is a small wooden bird, but the proportions are just right, the grain of the wood, the feel in the hand, the balance between craft and realistic rendition.

Designed in the 1930s by Charles and Edna Perdew, the bird was bought by the Eames’ on their travels and made popular when Charles Eames added it to a photo shoot of the Eames Wire Chairs. In 2007 Vitra editioned the iconic bird and it has been a design favourite ever since.


PowerGear by Fiskars

This is a fairly specific selection for gardeners because what we really love are tools that work. These are in fact an excellent piece of engineering with three times more force and three times less weird face pulling strain! Precision-ground stainless steel blades and a friction-reducing PTFE blade coating gives an excellent cutting edge. And, the soft grip handles don’t leave your hands raw after a day battling the big pruning jobs. Also, the orange handles rock!


Branch Vase by Dinosaur Design

The organic form of this glorious vase just calls out for some wildflower arranging – a pair of artichoke flowers or tulips versus fluffy topped grasses. Of course, they are wonderful with traditional arrangements, but surely something extraordinary deserves an extraordinary response. The colours too are divine, ranging from luminous emerald to sky blue, bubble gum, sand and amber.


Fir by Trudon

So here is the candle, and it’s not just any candle, it’s by Trudon so the scent is impeccably incorporated into the unique wax paste that Trudon has developed since 1643. Moreover, the scents are constructed like perfume with evolving layers.

No wonder these are the candle makers of Royalty, Hermès, Dior and Guerlain etc. Fir has a top note of Leather, Siberian Pine, Fir Tree; a heart of Gaiac Wood, Chinese Cedar, Myrrh; and a base of Spanish Cistus, Absolute Incense, Patchouli. Very Christmassy!


Read our other Christmas Gift Guides, curated by Habitus editor Aleesha Callahan, covering Homewares and Entertaining.


Gillian Serisier

Gillian Serisier is an editor-at-large for Indesign Media Asia Pacific, where she covers all corners of design and art across the Habitus and Indesign network. Gillian has contributed to many outstanding publications, and her extensive knowledge and sharp words make for compelling storytelling.