The Best Gift Shops
In the age of Amazon, it’s completely feasible to cross everyone off your list from the comfort of your desk. That said, so long as you don’t find yourself somewhere too overcrowded, there’s really nothing that inspires holiday spirit more than a day spent picking up special, unique pieces for loved ones in person. Here, our favorite shops for perusing with an armful of shopping bags in tow and Christmas music playing in the background (plus a few online favorites for emergencies).
Darkroom52 Lamb's Conduit St., Clerkenwell | +44.20.7831.7244
Primary colors, geometry, and the Bauhaus prevail here. This is a full-on lifestyle store for the geometrically obsessed. There are handcrafted leather goods, hand-bound notebooks, colorful pillows and throws, all within the very tasteful bounds of the owner's aesthetic. Expect to find many a British brand you haven't heard of yet.
Formerly known as L’Arco Baleno, here you'll find globe-trotting, design guru Ambra Medda’s high and low finds. It might be the perfect wood slat bench or an ombré dip-dyed vase from Copenhagen.
All the best-made goods for the grown up boy (or girl) scout. And by that we mean that you'll find the perfect pen knife, Caran D'Ache pen, or Sell Marchell canvas and leather backpack.
Here you'll find well-designed, well-priced, and utilitarian goods for the modernist, whether it's the perfect French candlestick, or notebooks to organize your thoughts.
The Ghostly Store
This mini-shop from the very well-loved independent record label, Ghostly, is definitely geared toward guys—specifically guys who love both music and design. There are backpacks for minimalists, prints from artists who often do album artwork, and plenty of stationery.
As its name suggests, the focus here is on brain games, from backgammon to chess, to marbles.
Rockett St. George
Here you'll find unusual and affordable home goods with just the right amount of quirk and character—it all has a slightly gothic, but gorgeous, sensibility. There is a by-appointment showroom, should you want to see some of the bigger pieces in person.
Brook Farm General Store
We were bummed when Brook Farm General Store—a long-standing Williamsburg go-to full of deeply American home goods—shuttered. But thrilled when we discovered it was to move a bit out of the city and focus on their online shop. The array is better than ever, from cutting boards to checkered aprons, to the perfect teapot.
Jewelry designer Caitlin Mociun is best known for her jewelry—signature clusters often in unexpectedly asymmetrical or haphazard arrangements—in the coolest possible way. Her shop, of course, makes her full line of jewelry available, but Caitlin also curates a selection of great gifts and accessories—she's got an excellent eye for geometric, Bauhaus-inspired ceramics—including a slew of clean beauty brands like S.W. Basics, Earth Tu Face, and Mermaid hair oil. She also has a shop in Brooklyn.
Alder & Co.
Alder & Co., which has its brick-and-mortar in downtown Portland, Oregon, is known for artisan products with various provenances—the owners are big travelers, and constantly bring back unique items from abroad, but they also have great relationships with local Portland designers, who are prominently featured both in-store and online. There's always a great selection of home décor pieces, like glass bud vases and wooden baskets for storing fresh (or dried) flowers and blankets. They also have a tight edit of apparel from far-flung designers, like Japanese Ichi Antiquités (they specialize in flowy, patterned dresses) or Me & Arrow (for block prints and cropped tops).
It was probably only a matter of time before there was a digital location for high-end smoking accessories, and Tetra delivers with an astonishing array of product. (Seriously, who knew there were so many designers making gorgeous pipes?) What you'll find: gold and silver Zippo lighters, sleek vapes, gorgeously packaged incense, and way-nicer-than-a-medicine-bottle containers for storing the good stuff.
Founded in Melbourne by Danish transplant Christina Fedders, Designstuff has an intense focus on Scandinavian goods, in the form of kids toys, art, furniture, and home accessories. Fedders has a great eye and is fastidious about curating, so it's hard to find anything on her site that's not worthy of a corner in your home. Her collection makes for great gifting for anyone who's just moved into a home or office—our picks include ceramic serving bowls, gilded Skultuna bookends, paint-speckled spoons, and a dustpan that's beautiful enough to display.
Of a Kind
Founded by best friends Erica Cerulo and Claire Mazur, Of a Kind sells limited editions by up-and-coming designers, whose stories are meticulously told on the site in an endlessly witty and likable voice (built by Cerulo, who is a former editor). Offerings range from alpaca-lined slippers in an art deco print, to a delicate, golden plant mobile, to brightly patterned dresses. The limited-edition program means that you won't find these pieces elsewhere, so they make great gifts.
The Cooper Hewitt Museum is New York's longstanding design museum, so it's no surprise that their corresponding store has an excellent selection of design-focused products. The brand selection is a great mix of high-end and low-brow, with a buy that includes Hay and Muji, plus a slew of books and one-off design items. Best of all, the museum itself is still a nonprofit, so all proceeds go back into the institution.
Contemporary art museums always have the coolest stores, and some of the best have come online in recent years, making shopping them a bit easier—especially in the case of the Minneapolis-based Walker Art Center. The buyers here have a great eye for quirky, hard-to-find design items, not to mention more commercially accessible pieces from the artists that show at the museum. Currently in our cart: Delfonics stationery, dog balloon wall decals, and Louise Gray quilts, which are designed in Minneapolis.
With so many publications struggling to make the jump from print magazine to online content provider, it's hard not to applaud Wallpaper's decision to jump headfirst into building an e-commerce destination. The shop, which launched in 2015, is everything you'd expect from the design-focused brand, sourcing furniture, home goods, beauty products, and other miscellaneous items, all with a sleek, Scandinavian-esque clean-ness. The vases, candy dishes, and tea sets all make great gifts for nesters.
Think of Stacy Anne Longenecker's online store, which is based out of Brooklyn, as the home accessories shop for the modern (and a tiny bit hipster) home. Her home and kitchen wares include bright, colorful ceramics, woven decorative baskets, and cooking utensils made by skilled artisans, and the selection is rounded out with colorful mid-priced jewelry, journals, stationery, and a robust kids shop. The art section is perfect for outfitting a new home on a reasonable budget, and the holiday section has exactly the kinds of items that make homes look festive without being over-the-top—starting with the cleverest ornaments we've seen.
Photography is a big part of the appeal of New Zealand-based designer and interior stylist Katie Lockhart's online showroom—each piece is beautifully photographed on a tonal dark and light green backdrop. Come here for great home accessories, like vintage linens, architectural iron bottle openers, and cutting boards made from salvaged wood. Lockhart has a brick-and-mortar in Auckland, as well.