Design Gift Guide

Designers and appreciators of good design have no shortage of options for amazing gifts in the DMV: this is an area filled to the brim with bookstores, museum gift shops, and regionally-focused retail. There’s a wealth of artists and designers who create their own products and art, and buying from them rather than a big box store or online retailer means supporting our local creative ecosystem. Some of these makers are even AIGA DC members!

Shop Made in DC, VA, and MD

The “D,” “M,” and “V” all have their own Shop Made In stores that feature products from local creatives, as well as plenty of examples of hometown pride. The retail group just opened a Maryland location in College Park this month, which boasts a circuit breaker crab ornament by Circuit Breaker Lab and Maryland flag-inspired designs by Not Jane on glasses and onesies.

Circuit Board Ornament (MD Crab) – Circuit Breaker Labs from Shop Made in Maryland

At Shop Made In VA, find bars of soap that are almost too pretty to use from Lemon & Whim and snazzy dog collars designed by Luna Blu Creates. Shop Made In DC carries bottle openers made from recycled bike chains courtesy of Bicycle Trash, funky tarot deck designs from Kaleidadope, and a pin to shout out the whole DMV from Aster and Tulips. All locations carry gift boxes themed around food, crafts, or holidays, as well as offering art and craft classes. 

Bike Chain and Cog Bottle Opener from Shop Made in DC

Pyramid Atlantic Art Center

Pyramid Atlantic is a community art space in Hyattsville, MD, that features a gallery, private artist studios, workshops, and a store of items created by its members. Find cards for any holiday, seasonal coasters, and unique handmade wrapping paper to assist your holiday to-do list. Browse books and prints for something special for an art appreciator, or better yet, give an experiential gift of Pyramid workshop in screen printing, bookbinding, letterpress, or paper-making. 

Silver Snowflakes multi set of 10 Coasters from Pyramid Atlantic Art Center

Merry Pin

Merry Pin is a forthcoming woman-owned craft store slated to open early in 2024 in Northwest DC. They currently operate an online store with embroidery kits and merch that proclaims the wearer’s craftiness. 

District of Crafting Embroidery Kit Gift Set from Merry Pin

Transformer FlatFile collection

Transformer is a DC-based non-profit that offers artists resources, support, and opportunities to show their work. Their FlatFile program hosts prints and original artwork from over 40 emerging artists. All works are 16” x 20” or smaller and reasonably priced at under $500, with many works available for $25 or less. 

Museum gift shops

Museum gift shops offer artful and distinct presents with visual flair, and you can shop online or stop in after enjoying some art. Snag a copy of Menu Design in Europe from the National Gallery of Art, a Frank Lloyd Wright light-up lantern from the Phillips Collection, and building model toys for architecture lovers from the National Building Museum. 

Frank Lloyd Wright – March Balloons Luminaries by The Phillips Collection

Educational and intersectional design books

Mahogany Books is a Black-owned and family-operated bookstore in Southeast DC that highlights books by Black authors and frequently spotlights local writers. They offer a range of design books, including Now You See Me: An Introduction to 100 Years of Black Design, Design After Capitalism, Black, Brown + Latinx Design Educators. At the National Museum of Women in the Arts gift store, find titles like Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli, Woman Made, Great Designers, and Extra Bold: A Feminist, Inclusive, Anti-racist, Nonbinary Field Guide for Graphic Designers.

Dream In Color

This book was curated and designed by DC-based designer and typographer Tre Seals and includes 30 removable posters created by Black artists. The book doubles as a coffee table book or a selection of stylish wall hangings and won an AIGA 50 award. Find it at Loyalty Bookstore, Politics and Prose, or People’s Book.

AIGA DC merch

We’d be remiss if we didn’t shamelessly plug AIGA DC’s own store. Fierce eagle designs by formerly DC-based illustrator Travis Piestch adorn t-shirts, tote bags, and baby onesies. Proceeds support AIGA’s programming and operational costs and allow us to keep on giving to DC’s thriving design community!

By Stephanie Rudig
Published December 20, 2023