December 21, 2016 / Luxury Lifestyle

The Greatest Gifts of All

An international cast of leading designers, hoteliers, and jewelers reveal just what they would like to receive this year as the perfect present


The wonderful thing about a well-chosen gift is that it can last a lifetime. Classic design is just that – classic, and enduring. Beautifully crafted items, for decorative or everyday use, will bring you pleasure from one decade to the next. Luxury Defined dipped into its global address book to ask key figures in the design world what they are putting in their letters to Santa Claus, or otherwise dropping hints about this holiday season.

A miniature marvel
Leyla Abdollahi, founder and creative director, Leyla Abdollahi London:

A limited edition of just 12, Reuge's Olbia music box – decorated with birds and insects in 3,849 individual inlaid wood and mother-of-pearl pieces – features eight cylinders, bells, and drums. “I have very particular taste – and nothing makes my heart flutter more than a well-designed product that merges function with aesthetics. In this regard, my luxury item has got to be an Olbia music box from Reuge – a company whose heritage dates from the 1870s. I simply adore the flawless beauty and impeccable craftsmanship of these stunning creations, and this particular model – in vavona burr and mother-of-pearl – is a striking example of the superior skill set required to create something so evocative and decadent. I have a deep emotional connection with old music boxes, as we had one in our house when I was growing up. The sound of that light, wistful music still plays in my head, and evokes many memories and emotions. And the best thing about these things is they never go out of fashion.”

It’s a wrap…
Bea Tollman, president and founder, The Red Carnation Hotel Collection:

Le Kasha's unisex travel set contains matching socks, eye mask, and large travel blanket with discreet buttons; the bag itself becomes a pillowcase.“I travel regularly around the world, to visit our hotels in Switzerland, South Africa, the USA, UK, and Ireland – and it’s important for me to feel comfortable and rested when I fly, so that I am fresh for everything we need to go through when I arrive. So, this year I’m hoping to receive a cashmere travel set from Le Kasha. It's the perfect gift – something one wouldn't really buy for oneself. The cashmere wool is from Inner Mongolia, and divinely soft, and the set comprises a cashmere blanket, eye mask, and socks (within a lovely cashmere bag, too.) So, I have everything I need for a warm, comfortable sleep on long flights. There is something very cozy and indulgent about cashmere, and I like receiving and giving it. To thank everyone at our Red Carnation Hotels for their hard work and commitment throughout the year, I give personally selected gifts to all 2,000 of our employees, and there’s always an item of cashmere in the mix – be that a rug, gloves, or a scarf. It’s the ultimate luxury.”

Mirror, mirror
Marco Credendino, founder and managing director, Artemest:Ghidini 1961's wall-mounted Sunset Mirror, a "declaration of the true summer paradise scenario lingering just below the surface of the present moment,” features a 50-inch surface in the embrace of two polished-brass palm fronds."I would love to own the Sunset Mirror by Ghidini 1961. It’s a timeless and refined item that would look good in any home – so would always move with me, no matter where I lived. I have always admired Ghidini pieces, as they bring together the savoir-faire of more than 50 years of experience in craftsmanship and innovative design. This exquisite mirror is the creation of a Slovenian-born designer, Nika Zupanc, and is from her “Take Me to Miami” collection. The two elegantly rendered brass palm branches crossing at the bottom give the mirror a suspended look, which is very effective. It is a glamorous, modern design piece – a product to fall in love with.”

In three dimensions
Lee Broom, furniture and lighting designer, Lee Broom London and New York:

Magnus Gjoen aims to change preconceived notions – "Something potentially extremely destructive can be made into beautiful yet fragile works of art."“Under my Christmas tree this year, I would love to find He Lived Like a Devil and Died Like a Saint, a 2001 lenticular by Magnus Gjoen. I own quite a few pieces of his work, and I like this piece in particular for its 3D element. I like the way his work explores and mixes the macabre with decorative ornamentation – and how he uses these two opposing contradictions to create quite haunting, but beautiful and evocative art.”

Take a seat
David Scott, founder, David Scott Interiors:The Pippa collection of furniture by Hermès, crafted in leather and wood, includes a folding armchair as well as a stool, bench, occasional table, and writing desk.“I'd love a Pippa folding stool from Hermès. The whole collection is exquisitely crafted and so useful. Made of Hermès saddle leather and pear wood, and finished to perfection, these stools enhance any room. The Pippa designs are based on campaign furniture that travels with you, so they're easy to move around. They’re super-chic and elicit the feeling of being on safari; incidentally, that’s also on my list! As is a mint-condition, 1963 Mercedes 230SL in dark tobacco brown, with a camel soft-top and interior. But in the meantime, I’d be delighted with the Pippa stool.”

Rare and unique luxury gifts for your beloved


  • Interiors & Design
  • Style & Fashion

Xenia Taliotis
is a regular contributor to Luxury Defined, as well as Economia magazine,, and the New Zealand Herald