by Marisa Marcantonio

Welcome to the first of several gift guides, starting with gifts for the tech savvy design enthusiast. This year, great new designs have emerged in unique categories that harness technology and the direct to consumer model, that cuts out the middleman which means better prices for luxury goods. From toothbrushes to luggage, practical design-forward gifts can be appreciated daily, making them the perfect gifts. Ahead, my top 7 tech and non tech presents that will make gift buying easier this holiday season. 



Photo courtesy of Apple

Photo courtesy of Apple

Either you are an early adopter or you take a wait and see approach when it comes to tech and gadgets. The 2nd version of the Apple Watch comes equipped with GPS so you can leave your iphone at home when you go for a run or ride. I am partial to the sleek new white ceramic Apple Watch Edition that will set you back $1,249 and the Apple Watch Hermès selection that came out in September.  


Photo courtesy of Dyson

Photo courtesy of Dyson

When I first heard design guru James Dyson had designed a hair dryer, I jumped for joy. He knows a thing or two about world class product design, form and function, and if he could take on this arduous daily task with an elegant solution, he had my ear. Well, a sleek, beautiful design, low noise and heat safe temps make the Supersonic great, but is it worth the $399 price tag? They spent $67 million to develop and engineer this cool newfangled tool, but I think it is more of a luxury than anything else. But if it makes the job at hand easier, then it's worth it in my book. 

Photo courtesy of Goby

Photo courtesy of Goby

Why not add some great design to your morning routine? This new Goby rechargeable electric toothbrush (it debuted in October)  is big on style and low on price. As the first toothbrush to go the direct to consumer Dollar Shave Club route, Goby comes in fun colors and the price, at $50 with $6 replacement heads can't be beat in the electric toothbrush market. It has easy USB charging and attractive storage, and I can't wait to try it and support a woman founded startup (with an investment from Susan Lyne-headed Built By Girls Ventures over at AOL). 


Photo courtesy of Sonos

Photo courtesy of Sonos

Listening to music makes me happy. That is why I am asking for the Sonos Play 1 speaker for Christmas. I am a longtime Bose loyalist, but since my Bose bluetooth speaker stopped working, I have come to embrace a new game in town, the mini and mighty Sonos. It's all about that bass. 


Photo courtesy of Starbucks

Photo courtesy of Starbucks

Now that the cold weather has arrived, its time to take hot coffee and tea seriously. With Ember's insulated to go cup, you can keep your drink at the exact temperature you like. The price tag is steep, but for commuting, nothing beats it.


Photo courtesy of Allbirds

Photo courtesy of Allbirds

Want to wear the hot shoe everyone in Silicon Valley is buzzing about? Allbirds, made from New Zealand Wool are lightweight, machine washable and comfy. They are the kicks to be wearing now. Technology helped make these sneakers, but they are low tech in their minimalist design. 

Here's something for the jet setter on your list. Or, Merry Christmas to you. Two former Warby Parker execs, Jen Rubio and Stephanie Korey started a well priced direct to consumer luggage brand, Away. With a minimal hard-case design and iphone charger on top, this bag is light, meets carry on size standards and is well designed. For the personal touch they are offering hand lettered monogramming on bags that take two weeks to arrive.  I've been considering this luggage and just saw it in action at LAX, so I think I am going to go for it. 


by Marisa Marcantonio

Twice a year, design editors, buyers and interior designers flock to Paris to see what is new at Maison & Objet, the influential home decor and design trade show. Launches there can provide a stylistic bellwether for the next year of trends in design. In January, the same group spends time in the 6th arrondissement in St. Germain at Deco Off, now in its 7th year, taking in the new fabric launches displayed in pop-up and permanent showrooms centered in this delightful neighborhood. However, the buzz at the trade fair Maison this January wasn't as loud. Editors claimed the show, where accessories are the main draw, was lacking in inspiration and I have to agree, there was not something to amaze and delight around every turn, as I navigated my way from one diagonal aisle to the next in Hall 7, themed Scenes D'Intereur. Why this lack of design mojo? A downturn in the European economy, for starters. But lo and behold, I found design inspiration worth getting excited about, and here are a few key trends worth noting. 


Oversized birds and florals in a re-colored Asian-inspired tree of life archive design Songbird has been digitally printed at Dedar 


Photo courtesy of Pierre Frey

Photo courtesy of Pierre Frey

Tropical motifs, including palm fronds and tribal patterns in energized colors co-mingled at Pierre Frey's island style showroom display


Reissue alert! This playful catepiller-like chair comprised of separate, modular color-blocked pieces was originally designed by Frenchman Pierre Charpin in 1996 and was brought back by Cinna, a division of French contemporary brand Ligne Roset


Citrus! All shades of yellow were spotted, and this citron yellow fabric on a classic bergere from Grange looked so energized.


Photo courtesy of Jim Thompson

Photo courtesy of Jim Thompson

Sumptuous silks in spicy colors and a zesty yellow abstracted ikat from Jim Thompson in their "Bonsai of The Vanities" Collection 


A beautiful regal Egret strutted across the window of Nobilis

Another great Deco Off window with an amazing bird leg table and a mix of graphic geo and classic damask prints

Yet more birds and florals spotted in the de Gournay showroom. It is always such a pleasure to see hand-painted scenic wallcovering hung in a setting with a residential feel. Just gorgeous.


Bethan Gray.jpg

I've been admiring the accessories and table designs of Brit Bethan Gray for some time. She plays with the feminine and masculine in her work, and also was an early champion of using marble in a graphic way. Her blush colored marble table top adds just the right dose of girly, and the painted wall in her booth was the perfect shade of petal pink.


I can count on Gaston Y Daniella to bring back graphic geometrics. Here, they have tented their pop-up showroom space with eye-catching red, black and white prints


More amazing displays at Rubelli, where they had fun with pattern on pattern in a black and white print

It seems you can always make a good argument for black and white design in Paris. Someone is always doing it well. Here, Laurence Brabant and Alain Villechange's op art hand-blown glasses in a graphic black and white twist.


Photo courtesy of Osborne and Little

Photo courtesy of Osborne and Little

Directional trends are what I love to find, and Osborne and Little introduced Cubiste, a strong angular distorted digital pattern influenced by avant-garde Cubist greats Picasso and Braque. 


One of my favorite design discoveries was the new furniture and lighting of Magic Circus Editions. The scallop backs and dainty legs on these blue velvet covered designs were captivating, along with the hand crafted lighting designs that harkened back to the 1920's and 30's.

 Diminutive chairs inspired by 1940's and 50's designs covered in lush velvet...See a trend here? Almost everything from Portuguese furniture company Ginger and Jagger was interesting and directional.

Round light fixtures from Gubi, the Danish design company, shone brightly in metallics and black and white finishes. These pieces were originally designed by Louis Weisdorf in 1972. Esteemed companies with great archives are turning to them for inspiration and re-issues. 

Coralie Beauchamp's orb lights were industrial and cool

Martin Huxford, an English designer who works primarily in metals,  had this amazing Eclipse convex round mirror in black on a chain that looked like a giant pendant necklace on the wall

Hands-down the most inspired and creative design I came across was from a design idol of mine, India Madhavi. Everything she designs is whimsical, unique and totally original. She created a new collection of curved and linear metal hardware called "Bubbles" for Vervloet, the sumptuous luxury hardware maker. The handles and pulls can be found in the US soon, at ER Butler.

This compact curvy Palette desk captured my attention at And Tradition, designed by Spanish designer Jaime Hayon, it pairs two distinct shapes in white marble and brass.  This is an other Danish design company bridging history and innovation.


British designer Nick Munro is known for his sleek, art deco inspired barware. He introduced his Trombone bar accessories in copper, a material that is huge right now stateside.

Gleaming brass Basalt hexagonal tables from Martin Huxford