DnA’s 2014 Gift Guide for Procrastinators

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Gift ideas for the design-oriented procrastinator.

Still looking for that stocking filler or Hanukkah gift — with inimitable style and smarts?  DnA delved into the past year’s coverage of LA designers, authors (and social historians) to create this gift guide for procrastinators. Some gifts can be overnighted on Amazon, picked up at your local bookstore or found with the information below. Happy Holidays!

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1. Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires and Riots: California & Graphic Design 1936 – 1986

Worth buying for the cover alone, Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires and Riots: California & Graphic Design 1936 – 1986 recalls a time when orange “was rarely utilized by serious graphic designers east of the Rockies.” Designer and CalArts professor Louise Sandhaus spent ten years on this subjective, sumptuous opus about California graphic design in the pre- and post-war years of the 20th century. 400 eye-popping pages show work of known and lesser-known California designers (including Merle Armitage, Alvin Lustig, Herbert Matter, Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, April Greiman and Deborah Sussman). Michael Worthington, Lorraine Wild and Denise Gonzales Crisp contribute illuminating essays. Read DnA’s interview with Louise, here.

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2. Hedley and Bennett Apron

Ellen Bennett is the former line-cook who turned her dislike of her workplace apron into an exploding business: designing and manufacturing (in Los Angeles) aprons that are now worn by hundreds of restaurateurs nationwide (in L.A.: Trois Mec, Providence, Animal, Son of a Gun, Baco Mercat, Rustic Canyon, Melisse among others). Her company Hedley & Bennett (Hedley was her “rocket scientist” grandfather’s name) has produced over 60 designs and you can buy some of them. Read DnA’s interview with Ellen, here. You can pick up one of her aprons at her store in downtown Los Angeles.


3. Gardens are for Living: Design Inspiration for Outdoor Spaces

Recent storms in the Southland have not gotten us out of a drought. So you might want to add xeriscaping the yard to your list of New Year’s Resolutions. And the job is made easy and inspiring with landscape designer Judy Kameon‘s new book, Gardens Are For Living, part photo-diary, part how-to guide, part memoir that delves into her passion for designing outdoor spaces, with an emphasis on ditching the lawn. Read our conversation with Judy here.


4. Linus Bike

It’s not the most affordable bike on the planet but it is one of the more charming. Adam McDermott and Chad Kushner co-founded Linus Bike, a Venice, CA-based company that specializes in durable city bikes that evoke the image of European two-wheelers. Inspired by the desire to encourage more cycling for shorter trips, they designed a line of functional bikes whose color palette was inspired not by other bicycles but by. . . 1960s automobiles. If the pushbike is out of your price range, Linus also makes many sleek, utilitarian accessories. Read DnA’s interview with Adam and Chad, here.

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5. Coolhaus Ice Cream Book 

Part cookbook, part guide to some of the world’s most prominent buildings and architects, by partners in life and ice-cream Natasha Case (a UCLA architecture grad) and Freya Estreller (onetime real estate developer). Founded five years ago, Coolhaus’ organic ice cream desserts with punning names like Buckmintster Fuller, Frank Behry and Teadao Ando are now sold online, at mobile trucks, in Whole Foods and over 2,000 gourmet grocery stores, restaurants and hotels. Their cookbook, Coolhaus Ice Cream Book, co-written with Kathleen Squires, was designed by Laura Palese, with architectural illustrations by Design, Bitches. Read and hear DnA’s interview with Natasha and Freya, here.

Ben_Medansky_-_PEACE_MEDIUM6. Ceramic Pipes by Ben Medansky

Silver Lake-based Ben Medansky was trained as a fine artist but found himself making cups and bowls and his “bread and butter:” ceramic high-end marijuana pipes that he doesn’t “sell in head shops” but rather at stores like Assembly in New York, and 10 Over 6 and Lawson-Fenning in LA. He told DnA earlier this year, “a lot of nice fashion boutiques are selling ceramics because homewares are very in right now.” But he saw that pipes were the one niche “not filled by other artists and ceramicists.” Read DnA’s interview with Ben Medansky, here, and check out his pipe custom-designed for KCRW members, above and on the station’s store, here. You can find Ben Medansky’s wares at his many stockists.


7. The Burning Room

You can’t go wrong with a good mystery novel, and if you want murder with an L.A. flavor who better to turn to than writer Michael Connelly and his rough-edged but nobel LAPD robbery-homicide detective Hieronymous (Harry) Bosch. Bosch is now coming alive, played by Titus Welliver, in an Amazon TV production to stream next year. Meanwhile, Bosch’s latest adventure, The Burning Room, in which Boyle Heights and Mariachi Plaza play a prominent role, is available in bookstores now. Hear and read DnA’s interview with Michael Connelly, here.

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8. Grover

Grover is a menswear company based out of the Arts District in downtown that sells locally made mens basics, almost exclusively as a subscription service – meaning you give them your size, and they decide the rest. Every month is a surprise in a box. It’s safe to assume you’ll receive one of their T-shirts (they have regular T-shirts pocket tees, henleys, tanks, and v-necks) in each box but as far as other items go, one month you might get skincare products, the next month you may get a rain coat or even a wallet. Buy your loved one a subscription, or purchase some of their designs from their local outside vendors). Read DnA’s interview with Matt Jung, CEO/Creative director of Grover, here. You can buy clothes by Grover in time for the holidays from their stockists.

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 3.17.12 PM9. Costco Jewelry and Gifts that Give Back

On this DnA, we talked about social entrepreneurship and the notion of supporting a good cause as you spend. We asked our guests — Jeff Denby, Nelson Lichtenstein, Sasha Straus and Rick Cohen — to pick a holiday gift that fit this definition. Labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein picked jewelry from Costco, above, on the grounds that the company pays workers reasonably well, it’s partially unionized, and jewelry is still handcrafted. Jeff Denby recommended gorgeous Teysha custom boots, handmade by a collective in Guatamala, but they might be tricky to acquire in time for the holidays. Hear and read about the show, here.

10. Grand Budapest Hotel 

Love a movie with oodles of style? Consider the gift of a DVD of Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson‘s critically acclaimed depiction of the adventures of Gustave H, concierge at the eponymous hotel in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka between the first and second World Wars. Also high on style, this year’s Snowpiercer. Check out DnA’s ongoing coverage of production design in TV and film, here.

This is just a shortlist of some terrific products designed in L.A.; for more gift possibilities, check out our other LA Designers