Design Gifts Filled with Significance

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What ascribes meaning to an object? We asked several people are in the business of making and selling “meaningful objects.” Jeremy Levine, Joel Chen, Lorca Cohen, Jonathan Adler, Simon Doonan and Oliver Furth all give their takes on what makes an object meaningful. And if you're still looking for that special something to give someone, especially someone who loves good design, we also have some specific recommendations. 

Human Zoos

First off, in the realm of books, who better to ask than Lee Kaplan? He is the co-owner of Arcana Books on the Arts, a beautiful store designed by Johnston Marklee in Culver City where you can find amazing and sometimes obscure books about fashion, architecture, music and photography. We asked Lee to single out one meaningful book currently in the store. His pick might surprise you: Human Zoos, a riveting look at Western man's exploitation of non-Western men, from freak shows to circuses. 

The trailer for "The Unfinished Swan" video game

One of the huge sellers this year will of course be video games, many of them very violent, if brilliantly created. But some game designers are trying to create another kind of alternative universe, explains Brent Gordon, video game enthusiast who once served as fanboy host for Sony’s Playstation network. He recommends two video games: "The Unfinished Swan" by Giant Sparrow, and "Journey" by That Game Company.


The Rolex 1977 GMT

And where would Hannukah or Christmas be these days without a cartload of pods and pads arriving in the house? But this year men in particular might be yearning for gadget with deeper meaning, as we learned from the debonair Cory Lashever, who recommends a vintage Rolex 1977 GMT. Or, if you're in LA, perhaps you'll discover something old or new at Lashever's pop-up Storefront Bazaar, in downtown’s Arts District.

Vintage chairs

Vintage chairs at Storefront Bazaar


Linens for sale at Storefront Bazaar


Vintage furniture dealer Lorca Cohen (holding glass) at the opening of Storefront Bazaar

Lashever is co-presenter of Storefront Bazaar, which is selling vintage and handmade goods, including chairs collected by Lorca Cohen (above) through January 15 at 821 E. 3rd Street, Los Angeles.

Side Street

Kids woodworking on the Side Street bus, which brings art programs to students

And finally, we return to Jeremy Levine, architect and chair of Side Street Projects, which represents another kind of meaningful gift that won’t add to the clutter at home: a donation to a nonprofit. Side Street is one of many non-profits looking for financial or in-kind donations that are committed to bringing the arts and design into children’s lives.

Top image: Opening night at Storefront Bazaar