Don’t Call it a Gift Guide

Q&A | Dec 2015 | BY Tali Jaffe

We’re not one for gift guides, but we are fans of advice and tend to look for inspiration from the artists, architects, designers and the many other creative folk we’re so privileged to encounter every day. We thought you may feel the same way, and with that in mind, we bring you our Cultured Gift Guide.


Giffen Ott, Co-Founder, Better for Living

“Like any self-respecting American lad, I have massive quantities of large, well-polished wooden objects.  I am constantly making more, and planning more as I wait for more wood to dry.​ One particularly lovely wooden object—this chair—has been promised to my mother. Using a chainsaw, this hand-hewn black walnut stump was ergonomically formed (using a 3D print of my own backside as reference) and relentlessly sanded to a mirror finish. It’s incredibly comfortable to sit in.”


Jean Pelle, Co-Founder, PELLE

“This year, I’m gifting most of my family and friends Folly soap that I’ve been making in the studio. They’re sculptural soaps that are all handmade by me and I feel great about presenting gifts that I can make and package myself.”

WardellMilan_portrait_outside studio_credit Rachel Chandler

Wardell Milan, photo by Rachel Chandler

Wardell Milan, Visual Artist

“Microsoft’s new tablet is slim-fitting and can function as tablet or a laptop; being able to run desktop software makes the product very attractive. Also, the touch interfacesthe use of a pen or pencil—makes this tablet ideal for a visual arts. I find it exciting to have the ability to sketch or design on a tablet that successfully mimics the experience of drawing with pencil on paper.”


Melanie Courbet, Founder, Atelier Courbet

“I’m gifting the Marie Antoinette bowl by Sèvres to my close friends; I like that it embodies the French heritage of both savoir-faire and savoir-vivre. It is fabricated by the former royal ceramic manufacturers of Sèvres responsible for the ceramic pieces of Versailles since Louis XV. The piece was a commission by Marie Antoinette who had asked the ceramicist to cast a mold of her breast so they could fabricate a bowl for the guests of her little dairy farm cottage to drink their milk from the Queen’s breast. The manufacture has kept the mold and do a small run of bowls every year. It s a fun story piece that is precious at the same time as casted from the original molds.”

pencilsCarlos Arnaiz, Principal, CAZA

“Pencil of the month by Caroline Weaver. You receive a different pencil every month from a different part of the world. Caroline describes the where’s, who’s and how’s. It’s wonderful to learn about another place and its culture through a piece of lead-embedded wood.”


Tiana Webb Evans, Founder, ESP PR

“I fell in love with Jose Parla’s work when I met him at The Standard a number of years ago. My love affair with his work has only grown over the years, so when I saw this awesome pillow, I became obsessed. The trouble is that it was made from one of his scarves produced by The Shop at The Standard, that my friend had made into a pillow. In true Tiana fashion, I always want what I can’t have… unless someone makes me a pillow!”

jane schulack

Jane Schulak, Founder, Culture Lab Detroit

“A gift I recently gave was to my very dear friend David Stark. I gave him a chicken wire cloud made by the Italian artist Benedetta Mori-Ubaldini for Magis. We both love this artist’s work, and this was a special thank you that I know he would cherish.”


Odili Odita SCAD MOA lobby final documentation. SCAD MOA. 01/08/13. Shot by Matthew McCully.

Odili Donald Odita’s Heaven’s Gate, 2012, at Savannah College of Art and Design

 Elisabeth Sann, Director, Jack Shainman Gallery

“One day—in a bigger better apartment—a wall installation by Odili Donald Odita. His installations completely transform space with color. His solo exhibition at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York is currently on view until January 30, 2016.”

gachotChristine Gachot, Founder, Gachot Studios

 ​​”I recently discovered that the Shinola notebooks have a secret cult following! I found this out the hard way when I accidentally picked up someone else’s from a meeting (they took really good notes). This lead me to tag my notebooks with my initials. Turns out the customization was a hit! I have been getting requests from all over. Send me your initials and I’ll reach out to Shinola Santa!”


Sabrina Buell, Partner, Zlot Buell

“One of the best gifts I ever received was an Ara Peterson Backgammon board from Ratio 3 Gallery. Yves [Behar] is half Turkish and backgammon is a huge thing in his family. Every night after dinner we and the kids play on the board. The colors make it especially fun for the kids.”

sonat 2Sonat Birnecker Hart, Co-Founder, Koval Distillery

“An amazing gift I have received is this copper plate relief etching called The Well, exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1981. It is by my mother, Charlotte Hart.”

ONY_BOXITSELFSET1_FINAL.inddLisa Cooley, Founder, Lisa Cooley gallery

“One thing on my wish list is a William Onyeabor box sets. But the best gift I ever received was a set of framed pictures of my grandparents from my cousin. I grew up in a different state, and my cousin is about a decade older than me, so we wanted to be close, but distance made it more difficult. I have a very small family and I love each of them intensely. I look at these pictures every day.”


Helen Toomer, Director, PULSE

“I know I should be choosing a gift for someone else, but after a wonderfully wet Miami I’m dreaming about the gift I should have gotten myself! The piece I shouldn’t have left behind at PULSE Miami Beach was London based artist Henry Hudson’s epic plasticine jungle creation presented by TJ Boulting Gallery. I love the colors and the unusual medium and technique. It’s small but I know I would never get bored of getting lost in the tropic wonderland he created.”


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