The New East may not spring to mind when you think start thinking about stocking fillers. But think again. The New East is full of small studios producing alluring design classics that could make the perfect gift. We’ve picked out the best yuletide options from across the region, with something for both travellers and fashion lovers — and everyone in between.
Sometimes, we all need a gift in the real spirit of Christmas. And that means a present to smooth over the existential angst that comes with spending quality time with as many relatives as you can squeeze around the kitchen table. Based in Budapest, Logideez makes tactile, 3D puzzles from concrete. Comprised of just 16 pieces, the puzzles aren’t terrifyingly time consuming, but don’t let that fool you into thinking this is something for kids. These puzzles let you build miniature copies of your favourite places: including the Alps, the Grand Canyon, and even the Hungarian capital itself. Now, that’s something that will keep Uncle Terry busy before he hits the whisky.
Communist Apartment Block Tiles (And Stickers)
When we featured Gyva Grafika’s apartment block themed tiles back in March, the surge in traffic almost crashed our site. If you’ve always wanted a bathroom that looks like a Soviet suburb (why wouldn’t you?), let us provide some reassurement: you are not alone. Not content to leave their many fans out in the cold, Gyva Grafika has set up its own e-shop. They’ve also branched out to provide Soviet apartment block stickers, as well as the original tiles. They’re available in sets or individually — perfect for making sure that all your home decorating dreams come true.
Socialist-style Ceramic Czech Yogurt Pot Cups
Created by Czech artist Eva Pelechová, these ceramic cups are styled to look like branded pots of yogurt and jelly straight from the country’s socialist era. Available in 15 patterns, the cups themselves are a tribute to designs that have disappeared — and most importantly, they’re just as versatile as the original plastic pots they’re modelled on. As Prague’s Hidden Factory design store puts it: ”A fat cat, the spring sun, young pepper and tomato plants on Granny’s kitchen window ledge – this is what I imagine when looking at old yogurt pots.”
Zupagrafika: Brutal East
It’s 3pm on Christmas Day. You’ve finished the turkey and have two hours to kill before the 28th annual re-run of Home Alone. What you really need now is a little — just a little — peace and quiet. This is when your latest gift from Zupagrafika steps in. Brutal East is a kit of cut-out paper models celebrating the post-war architecture of Central and Eastern Europe. With a bit of delicate folding, you can reconstruct some of the most controversial edifices erected behind the Iron Curtain: from housing estates to post-Soviet behemoths. It isn’t really a family activity, but if you need a moment to yourself, then what could be more restful than constructing a model of Kaliningrad’s beloved House of the Soviets?
Created in Warsaw, Who’s She? is the latest in a blossoming range of products reinventing old-school objects with a feminist twist. Styled after the 1970s classic Guess Who, the game challenges players to guess the female icon picked by their opponent from a cast of 28. But, instead of asking appearance-based questions to whittle down potential candidates, players focus on each woman’s achievements to hone in on the correct answer. Think less “is she wearing flowers in her hair?” and more “did she redefine Mexican folk art in the first half of the 20th century while questioning gender and colonialism?”
Blue Crow Architecture Guides
When the last piece of Christmas pudding has been eaten and all the presents unwrapped, you might want to start thinking about some festive cheer in 2019. And if you’re already planning next year’s travels, then you could do worse than the latest travel map from Blue Crow Media. These guides focus on design gems tourists wouldn’t otherwise see, including the controversial modernist and brutalist architecture icons that shape the cities of the New East. Different versions are available for cities across the globe, including Skopje, Moscow and Belgrade. Think city break meets architectural adventure.