The Best Artist Collaborations to Give as Gifts This Year

Art fiends are hard to shop for. Here's some help.
Photos courtesy
On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the formation of Magnum Photos, British design firm Plinth has partnered with the cooperative of photographers to bring some of their images to life—albeit in unusual ways. This tray, which presents a traditional English fry-up documented for posterity by Magnum President Martin Parr, is made from melamine and features deep edges that are sure to keep your bacon and beans from sliding off the side during breakfast in bed. Also featuring a photo of Parr’s is this makeup pouch, with a perhaps too-close-for-comfort snap of what could go wrong if you don’t take the time to properly apply your lipstick.
Magnum Photographers Breakfast Tray, $55, plinth.uk
Plinth
Made specially for the New Museum in an edition of 50, these utilitarian (yet still stylish) shirts designed by Pia Camil were made of unwanted fabric from Mexico City, where the artist is based. Recycling and reuse is very in keeping with Camil’s practice; for her 2016 New Museum installation, Camil invited viewers to take one of the many objects hung on bright red scaffolding in the museum lobby, so long as he or she left an item of personal value in its place. Just in time for the holidays, Camil has created two designs: a work shirt with a multipurpose sack and a party shirt with a strap appendage that can be used as a bag. They were made in in collaboration with British-born, Mexico City-based designer Erin Lewis, who specializes in sustainable fashion.
Pia Camil Utilitarian Shirt, $350, newmuseumstore.org
New Museum
The Little Sun project is a collaboration between Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson (known for his experiments with elemental materials) and solar engineer Frederik Ottesen. Their first product, the Little Sun Solar Light, came about as a way to fund an initiative to bring clean, affordable and reliable light to the 1.1 billion people worldwide who do not have access to the electrical grid. Selling solar-powered products in the developed world was a way to build capital for their project. The range has grown to include a portable solar charging device for your smartphone and the recently released Little Sun Diamond, which is a pocket-sized light that features a faceted lens—allowing you to cast a fun pattern of dancing dots wherever you shine your light.
Olafur Eliasson’s Little Sun Diamond, $30, littlesun.com
Little Sun
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This dinnerware was designed by Sol LeWitt in the 1980s, after the artist was inspired by the pottery in the region surrounding Spoleto, Italy, where he and his family had recently purchased a farmhouse. The pieces he conceived were manufactured in the nearby hillside town of Deruta, known for its maiolica—a vivid, hand painted style of ceramics. Artware Editions has now revived his patterns in a recently-released set, in all the colors that the artist originally used. Remaining true to his original concept, each of these pieces are made by hand.
Serving Bowls by Sol LeWitt, $110, artwareeditions.com
Artware Editions
SPRZ NY is a Uniqlo range that merges artists from a range of historical periods with the company’s signature casual wear. These room shoes are a collaboration with the estate of legendary husband and wife design team Charles and Ray Eames, featuring patterns of their original design like Ray’s Crosspatch and their recognizable Small Dot textile fabric. The slippers are selling fast, but each pattern is also also available in a fun fleece blanket that can convert to a cozy winter poncho.
Charles and Ray Eames Room Shoes, $14.90, uniqlo.com
Uniqlo
This silk scarf was created exclusively by Rachel Whiteread to mark her 2017 exhibition at the storied institution, Tate Britain. Made from lightweight and sheer material, with a rolled hem, it features a colorful pattern that is maybe more evocative of the artist’s works on paper than her large scale installations—like the real life house that, in 1933, she filled entirely with concrete and peeled away the walls, causing much controversy and for which she is best known.
Rachel Whiteread Scarf, $105, shop.tate.org
Tate Britain
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Coinciding with the recent Robert Rauschenberg retrospective, which wowed New York audiences at MoMA this summer, West Elm launched a partnership with the estate of this master of sculptural collage. Showcasing sections from his 1985 homage to the humble chicken, painted in acrylic on copper, there are four different versions of this chair available. In keeping with the artist's generous spirit, 10 percent of the purchase price will support the foundation he established in 1990, which not only provides grants to artists, but also professionals working to combat climate change and bring art education to schools.
Robert Rauschenberg Chair, $75, www.westelm.com
West Elm

Art lovers: we all know one. But with tastes that refined, they can often be the hardest person on your holiday gift list for whom to find a present. Sure, there’s a bevy of art books that might fit the bill, but year after year, giving another gift for the coffeetable gets a bit old. And after all, the real way to an art lover’s heart is through a unique work of art.

Here are holiday gift items that not only feature the work of world-renowned artists, but that he or she (or if they’re sadly departed, their appointed representatives here on earth) actually had a hand in creating.

Check out all of Observer’s 2017 gift guides, here.

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