For designers, Christmas comes early every year… usually around August. While you were probably unpacking your suitcase from a summer holiday and wondering how to get the most out of your tan before it faded away, your humble designer was probably already knee deep in snowy imagery and doing his best to avoid as many Christmas cliche headlines as possible. Probably without success (I’m sure there’s ample data out there proving that no new creative Christmas copy has been written since Charles Dickens penned ‘Bah Humbug!’).

But what if you’re unfortunate enough to know a designer personally. They’re generally very difficult people to be around at this time of year. Prone to complain about the poor design quality of their Christmas cards, or the choice of paper on the presents under the tree. But they do like a good list… so with that in mind, we’ve decided to put together a list of ten gifts that would cheer up any designer at this difficult time of year.



Available from Counter-Print and pretty much any stationery shop.

Let’s face it, designers love pencils. And they go through them like crazy. Either sketching in their little notebooks or simply writing their lists of people who have wronged them. Either way, they’ll never say no to another pencil. As an added bonus, they’re pretty cheap.


The RGB Cloud.

Available to purchase here.

At the other end of the price colour spectrum (no pun intended), how about an RGB cloud for the digital designer in your life? The RGB Cloud is an interactive lamp that produces light at your command, or in time with whatever music you’re playing. Functions include music visualisation (think: lightning to the beat), motion sensing (clap for color!), and ambient light displays. Designed and created in New York, each RGB Cloud is handmade to order. I anxiously await their CMYK thunderstorm for more traditional print designers.


Dieter Rams Silk-Screen Prints

Available from here.

Designers love a good poster. And these limited edition A2 screen prints of the iconic works of Dieter Rams are especially good. Designed by renowned designer, Build, these prints were designed to accompany a new documentary about Dieter Rams, also available to purchase.


The Print Shop, by Alice Pattullo 

Available from Design for today.


This beautiful concertina book of 14 double sided panels illustrates the passage of a book from design to the finished product. Every panel shows off a different printing technique, with some panels die-cut, others embossed or blocked, with tipped in examples of risograph printing, Pantone colour chips. Especially useful for the designer just starting out on their career.


Helvetica and the New York City Subway System

Available to order from your favourite local bookshop (probably)

Designers tend to either love or loathe Helvetica. So before you buy them this, it may be worth checking which typographic camp they fall into. But in a nutshell this book details how New Yorks subways signage evolved from a “visual mess” to a uniform system through the use of Helvetica. Trust me, its riveting.


The Typographic Ticket Book

Available from

Designers find hard to express their anger. Their quiet, unassuming nature often hides a complex whirl of emotions that can be triggered by any inappropriate use of comic sans (ie any use of comic sans at all). This typographic ticket book is a useful way for designers to release some of that pent up frustration at multiple design infractions, each with an appropriate penalty. Authoritatively typeset in Helvetica to provoke maximum anxiety, and jarringly printed in retina-scorching orange, each Notice of Violation contains fifty tickets, each neatly perforated for a satisfyingly loud rip prior to presentation. Bound in soul-deadening municipal pressboard, with a heavy-duty 100pt millboard backing, and foil stamped with an official-looking clip art emblem in gold. The item description says its for novelty use only which I can only assume is a mistake.


Paperclip Sampler

Available from Present and Correct

By their very nature, designers are fastidious people. They work in millimetres, points and pixels and like nothing better than a clean and tidy desk. But they’re also oddballs, and like things that are unusual and differ from the norm. Which is why this sample pack of weird and wonderful paperclips will appeal to them.


Letraset: The DIY Typography Revolution

This, and many other fantastic design books, is available from Unit Editions

Even if you’re not a designer and of a certain age, you may be familiar with Letrast already. Messy, difficult to use, Letraset was the rubdown lettering system that revolutionised typographic expression loved by (old-school) designers everywhere. The book tells the Letraset story from its early days as a difficult-to-use wet system, to its glory years as the first truly democratic alternative to professional typesetting. The book also looks at Letraset’s present-day revival amongst a new set of admirers who recognise the typographic excellence of the system’s typefaces. A central essay by Adrian Shaughnessy examines the typographic and cultural impact of the system.


Pantone Postcards 

Available from various online retailers.


Designers find it very hard to resist anything with a Pantone logo. Pantone mugs, Pantone bags, Pantone journals, Pantone usb drives etc. Hell, I still get excited by a Pantone colour bridge book. Now you can treat them to another Pantone product, the humble postcard. Now your favourite designer can send a postcard expressing his mood in colour alone to all his friends. I wonder how many shades of black there are…


Crack & Cider

Available here.

Despite their obvious problems ie; lack of social skills, aversion to light, general grumpy misdemeanour etc designers tend to be quite socially conscious. So rather than buying them a present, you can alway donate to a charity of their choice. CRACK + CIDER is a store where customers can buy useful items for homeless people in the UK. On the website you’ll find a shopping list of the most essential items a homeless person might need. You simply choose which item you want to give, purchase it and they work with local, independent shelters and soup kitchens to get your purchase into the hands of those most in need. 

So there you have it, some quirky, interesting and genuinely necessary things any designer would appreciate at this time of year. All that remains is for me to wish you all, a very design-orientated Christmas and a typographic New Year. And stay warm…

By: Phil Regan