In 2003, Josh Rubin and Evan Orensten created Cool Hunting to capture and share things that inspire them. Over the years they have built a fantastic editorial team that seeks out stories of creativity and innovation from a broad range of categories — art, design, technology, travel, cars and food. Check out coolhunting.com and follow them on Instagram, Facebook and Twi
Finding gifts for your well-informed, creative friends can be a daunting task. You want to get them something different, unique or unexpected and you also want to get them something personal and long-lasting. We love to scour Etsy for such items and have found an assortment of highly giftable pieces from some very talented makers. That’s the added benefit of gifting from Etsy — you’re supporting indie creative folks, and the person you’re giving a gift to can learn more about the person who made it.
Veteran photographer and ex-sailor Tim Irving mined his deep knowledge of knots to design the perfect heavy-duty camera strap — a tough, textured tube of military-grade parachute cord, tied by Irving himself and finished with leather tubing and a Celtic knot for luck (opart, $55). Like your favorite pair of raw-denim jeans, the stiff cord (available in black, gray, khaki and olive) will break in naturally over time. Buy it here.
There are only a few things that can tear people away from their phone screens these days — and a boomerang might just be one of them (NemoWoodArt, $59). This one-of-a-kind wooden number, crafted by second-generation boomerang shaper Nemunas Pakalnis and adorned with original artwork by one of Pakalnis’s artist friends, looks as good soaring through the air as it does on display at home. Throwing skills not included — but written directions are. Buy it here.
Fashioned in Warsaw from super-buttery leather, morelebags’ tote is more than just an attractive bag (morelebags, $95). With additions like a magnetic snap closure and reinforced handles (so you can carry heavier items, including your laptop), it’s a clever, pragmatic piece that effortlessly balances utility and aesthetics. Buy it here.
Inspire daydreams about a manned mission to Mars with this miniature Mars Lander model kit (ThomasHouhaDesigns, $20). The build-it-yourself spacecraft comes laser-cut and ready to assemble, detailed interior control panels and all — the only thing you need is a little glue. Who knows, it might even spark an obsession with space travel that could land your aspiring astronaut on the Red Planet one day. Buy it here.
Concrete Project’s handmade bowls find unexpected beauty in composite concrete (Concrete Project, $20 and up). There’s something assuring about the bowls’ weight and sturdiness — miniature pieces of brutalism that contrast with the delicate, eventually decaying fruit they might hold. Made in Sultan, Washington, the bowls are available in various shades along the gray spectrum, from charcoal to white. Buy it here.
Thanks to a considered design by recycling-driven Polish studio Crea-re, this wooden lamp makes a stunning virtue of simplicity (CreaReDesign, $109). Finished only with beeswax (to show off the ash wood grain) and a textile cable (for a pop of color), the eco-friendly Fingerprint Lamp doesn’t even require tools for assembly or adjustment. What could be more beautiful than that? Buy it here.
Help a friend’s DSLR stand out from the pack with a personalized camera strap from Viveo (viveo, $44 and up). Made from slim, hand-cut strips of leather, the straps can be embellished with hot-stamped tags bearing the recipient’s name, initials, Instagram handle or creative motto (or anything else up to 25 characters long). Mount rings included for free upon request. Buy it here.
Frauklarer’s edgy concrete planters are made entirely by hand — so there are zero telltale mold seams to interfere with their clean, minimal lines (frauklarer, $26.50). Plus, they’re sealed inside to allow for actually growing succulents and other small specimens, not just displaying air plants and the like. Our pick is the octahedron, but there are several geometry-inspired shapes available. (Icosahedron, anyone?) Buy it here.
Useful luxury: Many of the best gifts fall into this category, and an organic Australian cashmere blanket from Hokoda epitomizes that ideal (Hokoda, $180). More than beautiful, it’s functional (and even washing machine-safe!). There’s also a nice blend of traditional and modern design elements — but ultimately, the real value lies in cuddling up with something so soft and cozy. Buy it here.
For the art pottery lover on your list, look no further than Bay Area-based Very Oakland Vintage, where you’ll find gems like this impeccable Troika Pottery slab vase (Very Oakland Vintage, $600). The 6-3/4” ceramic piece features all the hallmarks of the British design group’s sought-after work: a smooth blue glaze, decorative circular motifs, and a hardened, sculptural aesthetic. It’s also marked HC for Honor Curtis, who worked at Troika from 1969 to 1973. Buy it here.
From South Carolina’s Martha & Ash, this made-to-order dog bed comes in three sizes and six fabric colors (all on washable, heavy-duty cotton), so you can customize a cushion fit for a king — Charles spaniel or otherwise (MarthaAndAsh, $110 and up). And for that little extra bit of royal treatment, you can order a monogram of the pooch’s name in the color of your choice. Buy it here.