The Nice List: It’s Nice That’s guide to the best independent makers this Christmas
From ceramics to papier-mache lamps, cards to corn on the cob candles, we’ve pulled together a list of unique gifts to suit all of your loved ones this Christmas.
Can you believe it’s that time of year again? While we may all be well and truly getting into the Christmas spirit, it does really feel like it’s come around very quickly. Luckily, we’ve got you sorted with a gift guide of amazing makers, small shops and charities, so that you can spend more time with loved ones drinking mulled wine and eating mince pies rather than stressing about presents. So this Christmas, put your money where your heart is and support small-scale makers.
@ Nata Concept Store
@ Emmely Elgersma
A candle shaped like a piece of Farfalle pasta; a corn on the cob and a slab of butter; this may sound like a candle-lovers fever dream, but it’s in fact just a few of the pieces on offer from London-based Nata Concept Store. Founders Anna and Tatiana create candles in the most unexpected of shapes. Oh, and they’re all soy-based and eco-friendly to boot!
Emmely Elgersma’s papier-mache lamps are like nothing we’ve seen before. A sculptor, ceramicist and football coach based in London, Emmely uses PVA glue, a load of newspaper, and a healthy dose of humour to create an “absolutely serious and utterly unserious” approach. Safe to say we’re serious about wanting one of her lovely colourful, bumpy lamps.
Duck Ceramics is an independent pottery studio run by Alice Duck, based in Brighton. With “simplicity and function” at the core of the Duck Ceramics ethos, the pieces are striking and artfully simple. Coffee cups, plant pots, bowls and candle holders are finished in a satisfying matte, dual colour finish.
The artist and scientist-led Pioneer Works is a nonprofit culture centre in Brooklyn that “builds community through the arts and sciences to create an open and curious world”. The online shop is full of considered and well-made goods, from coffee, apparel and books.
While glass blowing may be an age-old craft, Jochen Holz manages to inject a contemporary feel into avant garde pieces. Specialising in wobbly pieces in an array of kaleidoscopic colours, Jochen makes drinking glasses, jugs and even ventures into neon light. The perfect present for someone who likes things on the abstract side.
Then there’s Christmas cards from the brilliant Joe Lycett. Need we say anymore?
@ Canopy and Stars
Wooden toys have had something of a revival in recent years, but few are as endearing or well made as Cubebot. Taking a traditional approach to making moveable robots out of blocks, Cubebot also makes robodogs. We know these are made for kids, but we certainly wouldn’t be upset if they turned up below the tree for us…
Wild Cards is a project from Canopy and Stars that aims to help individuals tune in with nature, and explore ancient lore and simple rituals. Developed alongside human ecologist Zoë Laureen Palmer and illustrated by Sophie Hollington, the cards are both beautiful and inspiring.
We love a graphic knit, and little do it better than one-woman brand Emilie Flora. From wavy scarfs, flowered bucket hats and zig zag cushions, Emilie takes pride in making truly “funky”, 70s-inspired patterned apparel and homeware that will brighten up any outfit or living room.
Barbara Frankie Ryan is the Amsterdam-based artist and art director whose eclectic work centres around all things floral. To replace the “tragic” event of flowers dying, Barbara’s beautiful acrylic plastic sculptures are an attempt to “immortalise” bouquets. Know someone who loves flowers? Get them some that will last!
There’s nothing better to kick off the new year than a fresh calendar (alongside a smooch, of course), and illustrator Lauren Doughty’s very own edition is sure to set any nature lover’s heart a flutter. Featuring some great recent work, with autumnal hues and natural iconography, the calendar is also Risograph, just to add that extra bit of unpredictable charm.
@ Max Machen
@ Janie Korn
This beautiful selection of 12 Risograph cards is organised by the Manchester-based illustrator Deedoubleyoo, featuring a wide range of creatives from Chelsea Waites to Anna Mills, and finished in a striking pink and green palette. All proceeds from the sales of the cards will be donated to Manchester Central Foodbank and The Proud Trust.
Ever looked at your partner, parent or pet and thought ‘God, you would look brilliant as a candle’? Well, now you need to speculate no longer, as Janie Korn is the New York based artist making custom candles of your nearest and dearest. Nothing says Christmas like lighting fire to your boyfriend’s head.
Using old plastic bags, recycled wood and glass, the South East London-based Baglady makes the most exquisite lamps. In a truly sustainable fashion, Baglady manages to craft something both utterly unique and striking. With some featuring patterns and some with more simplistic block colour effects, there’s also a wide range of choice. Want to be more eco this Christmas? Look no further than Baglady.
Totally Okay is a graphic design and illustration studio that specialises in large typographic prints. The prints are a bold, tongue-in-cheek statement for any lover of type.
A new year calls for a fresh start, and nothing says fresh start like new stationary. Bene are a brand providing various storage containers like pots, trays, boxes and stands all made from pre-used packaging materials and plant-based plastics. Coming in a load of colours and interesting shapes, any desk would look better with some Bene on it.
@ Clara Perez
@ John Molesworth
Clara Perez is a Spanish-born, London-based painter whose mixed media artworks explore natural shapes and bring us joy. Using a palette of soft pinks, blues and yellows, the array of prints will be the perfect feature to any wall in need of some colour. To support the South London community, 10 per cent of all purchases made between October and the end of the year will be donated to Lewisham’s Food Bank.
Artist John Molesworth is known for abstract figures, flowers and butterflies. Realised in a rustic painterly style, such patterns can be found across numerous items, including ceramics, socks, wood ornaments and prints.
Manda Comisari is an illustrator and author from California. Unusual Animal Messages is a recent project that functions as a guidebook of “uncommon and occasionally overlooked” animal messengers – not to mention the lessons we, as humans, can learn from them. The cards include a unique message and is finished with a lovely illustrations.
Lamptissue’s work is perhaps most identifiable by the wacky characters often realised in comical situations, picking their nose or doing a funny dance. The maker’s prints, cards and stickers are perfect for someone who loves to see the lighter (and maybe slightly weirder) side of life.
Laura Liza is a Rotterdam-based potter known for their “love for objects”, and their hand-thrown pottery pieces are about as satisfying as it gets. Personally, we can’t get enough of their tall, dual colour egg cup holders – eating eggs just got a whole load more fun and colourful!
@ David Hockney: My Window. Published by Taschen
@ Martyna Makes
Perhaps one of the most widely loved artists of the 20th century, David Hockney is a painter who’s always looking to innovate. In a book recently released by Taschen entitled My Window, you can see 120 of his iPhone and iPad drawings alongside observations from the window of his Yorkshire home. The perfect edition to any Hockney lovers bookshelf.
Known for the humour and warmth she injects into her work, Martyna Makes is a South London-based illustrator who’s earthy but bright colour palette and use of thick, bold black lines makes her work so unique. Her cards and prints are sure to light up anyone’s day.
Good Squish (great name) is an independent scrunchie business with a difference. Made in London, these oversized hair accessories double up as a friend and a pillow. Coming in an array of Gingham colours, from more understated blue and blacks to neon green, these scrunchies are perfect for your fashionable loved one who adores making a statement.
We love a good vase here at It’s Nice That. But what we love even more is a wobbly vase. Ceramic Room is a Leeds-based ceramics shop creating pieces that are completely unique, with everything hand-crafted by Nina Godfrey. In block colours, stripes or chequered patterns, each Ceramic Room piece is full of wobbly charm.
Nothing screams Christmas like the Treehouse in Hereditary. Wait what? In a spectacular turn from A24, the company has released a make-your-own hereditary treehouse gingerbread house – spooky person climbing up the ladder and all. The tasty festive activity you didn’t know you needed, but now you do.
In a world saturated with ceramics, standing out from the crowd can be hard, but Milo Mckeand’s pieces certainly do. In Milo’s trademark style, their pieces often feature ridged bottoms and sweetly rounded handles, all finished off with a bright pop of two colours.
@ Ana Curbelo
@ Naomi Anderson-Subryan
We’ve been a long-time fan of Naomi Anderson-Subryan’s collages and prints, so we were over the moon to hear that she had ventured into ceramics. From a pair of pastel ‘Kitty Cats’ to a ceramic clown dog, Naomi has perfectly transferred her charming style into physical form. Who wouldn’t want one of these cuties on their mantlepiece?
Ana Curbelo (aka Untepid) is a London-based illustrator whose pieces pack a punch. Regularly depicting her subjects naked, her works are tender, powerful and funny to boot. Alongside her prints, this festive season Ana’s also got together a pack of four Christmas cards, featuring her trademark humour. Boobs doubling up as a Santa sack? Yes please!
Arthouse Unlimited is a charity that presents the artistic talents of adults living with complex neuro-diverse and physical support needs. Their shops offer an array of wonderful and stylish gifts, from chocolate with hand illustrated packing, graphics scarfs and candles. This Christmas they’re also offering Christmas gift sets and illustrated cards.
The clue to the ethos of Slowdown Studio is all in its name; it collates ethical, independently made items – including blankets, candles, vases and many other homeware items – that facilitate slow living. With such a plethora of items on its site, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
@ Arthouse Unlimited
@ Arthouse Unlimited
If you’re looking to purchase a unique item for a ceramic lover, look no further than Plop Pottery, a pottery studio based in Bristol. Made in small batches, each collection may have the same colour scheme of vague pattern but each piece is charmingly individual.
From Nashville’s legendary letterpress print shop Field Notes (c.1879!), these notebooks are a brilliant edition to any wordy person’s stocking. In an array of patterns, each of the many Hatch notebooks are adorned with historic letterings from the type archive.
Christmas often comes with a very divisive table-top activity: board games. While they may sometimes cause a rift in the family, jigsaws are usually a safe bet – especially when they’re as lovely as Sulo’s. Featuring the work of some of our favourite names here at It’s Nice That – Tess Smith-Roberts, Jean Julien, Manshen Lo and many more – you can while away the festive hours by looking at some wonderful illustrations. Win win!
@ Field Notes
@ Jiayi, Sulo
Products shown: David Hockney's My Window published by Taschen; Janie Korn's candles; a ceramic mug from John Molesworth; Jiayi's puzzle, Obsession, from Sulo; Naomi Anderson-Subryan's ceramics; and an illustrated chocolate bar from Arthouse Unlimited.