Los Angeles-based blogger and influencer Tommy Lei is a fan of Scandinavian interior design, Alvar Aalto’s lighting and crisp, clean lines. Design Stories asked Lei to pick his favorite gift ideas from the Finnish Design Shop selection.
Hi Tommy! You recently did a dining room makeover with Finnish Design Shop. What’s your connection to Finnish and Scandinavian design?
“My connection (or rather, love affair) with Finnish and Scandinavian design started many years ago when I first learned of the concept of hygge; since then, my life has changed for the better. I’ve traveled to various design destinations within Scandinavia over the years — Helsinki, Stockholm and Copenhagen are just some of them — acquiring investment items from Acne Studios, Marimekko, Artek, and AYTM.
I am definitely a modernist through and through with a touch of Eastern influences from my Southern Chinese upbringing. I love clean lines with a touch of vibrance and whimsy.”
Do you have any holiday traditions this season?
“Growing up in a Chinese immigrant household, we didn’t put too much emphasis on the holiday season compared to my more Westernized peers. Our equivalent is Chinese New Year, which usually happens between January and February depending on the Lunar calendar. We’d host banquet-style dinners either at restaurants or in our own homes – it was always festive and celebratory! I just have these incredible memories of feasting on delicious foods, as we watch the adults gossip and banter. These moments created such tight bonds amongst me and my immediate family.
Covid-19 has certainly put a dent on these traditions this year but we plan to keep it alive in our own special way – virtually, of course, through Facetime and Zoom!”
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
“The best gift we can ever get is this: the present. It’s why they call that it. Time is our most precious commodity!”
Tommy Lei’s six holiday gift picks:
For the friend who has everything
“The sheep that doesn’t follow the crowd is this: Viggo Boesen’s Little Petra lounge chair. It was once one of the rarest designer pieces ever produced (only 30 pieces of the original existed and sold off at auction houses). Thankfully, this iconic lounge chair has been restored to its former glory in an authentic, Danish funkis style by &Tradition. I’d say this chair is covetable down to its last strand of soft, sheepskin upholstery, making it the ideal gift for the friend who seems to have everything.”
For the voracious reader
“A quiet, comfy reading nook has become an essential of mine during this quarantine. And what better way to create the perfect ambience than this striking dark red A201 pendant by Alvar Aalto? Just the right amount of concentrated light as you flip through the pages.”
For the DIY person in your life
“For the hands-on, do-it-yourself loved ones in our lives, Hay’s rice paper lantern shades are made for those who love a good, crafty project. Use one for a pendant or string many together for a layered cascade of lanterns – the possibilities are endless. And at this price, this gift is a fit for any budget.”
For the stay at home couples
“This Ferm Living dining table is made for all couples who are currently cooped up at home. It’s multifunctional enough to be used for dining, working or any leisurely activity. It’s also a stunner to look at no matter where you have it in the home. A dining table that will surely bring all the couples together.”
For the design connoisseur
“As a self-proclaimed design connoisseur myself, I believe this Artek beehive pendant is a personal favorite for anyone who is design-forward in your life. It embodies the essence of Finnish design, from its organic but bold structure down to its brassy details. A gift that will satisfy any fastidious aficionado of great design.”
For the vino lover
“I can’t get enough of this carafe set and champagne glasses from Ferm Living. The mouth-blown glass exudes so much sophistication; and better yet, they are stackable and made for modern living. Whether it’s a cocktail or crisp, bubbly champagne, this is the best gift for those who love a delightful drink throughout this holiday season.”
Text: Design Stories Photos: Manufacturers