Anniversary Gifts for Design Lovers: How to Celebrate Each Milestone

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By Kelsey Keith / Published by Dwell
Who says traditional anniversary presents have to hew to the norm? We’ve rounded up eight unusual takes on classic gifts for your next relationship milestone.

1st Anniversary: Paper

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1st Anniversary: Paper

Table Model Lamp 24N from the Akari Light Sculptures collection by Isamu Noguchi, $250

Newlywed status no longer applies after a first anniversary. Skip the obvious paper gift—stationery—and cement your union with something unexpected, like Isamu Noguchi’s paper lanterns, which blend Japanese handcraft and modernist form. 

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3rd Anniversary: Leather

T904 bench by Gastone Rinaldi for Poltrona Frau, from $1,580

In 1951, Noguchi began designing his handmade washi paper lights (called Akari, a term loosely translated as "weightless illumination"). The sculptural lanterns have been produced for over half a century by the same company in Gifu, Japan, and are sold through the Noguchi Museum Shop in Long Island City, Queens, as well as Vitra. The collapsible shell is formed by bamboo ribbing and paper stretched taut around a metal frame, then lit from within by a 40-watt bulb. The designer’s boundless vision extended to more than 100 table, floor, and ceiling shades, though we especially like the triple-bubble table lamp version known as 24N.

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5th Anniversary: Wood

CH28 easy chair by Hans J. Wegner for Carl Hansen & Søn, $3,970

Table Model Lamp 24N from the Akari Light Sculptures collection by Isamu Noguchi, $250 

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8th Anniversary: Pottery

Small Oblique vessel by Cody Hoyt, $250, and Light Herringbone vase by Dana Bechert, $485

3rd Anniversary: Leather

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11th Anniversary: Steel

Pitcher by Aldo Bakker for Georg Jensen Living, $380

Italian manufacturer Poltrona Frau prides itself on its leather: the company has produced its Pelle Frau hides the same way since 1912, using natural full-grain leather that is dyed right through. 

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15th Anniversary: Crystal

Fulcrum candlesticks in Clear by Lee Broom, $450 each

While the color range is impressive—there are more than 160 hues—the neutral shades sing, especially on the tight, tailored upholstery of Gastone Rinaldi’s minimalist T904 bench. Originally designed in the 1950s, the versatile poplar, ash-veneer, and tubular-steel seat was reintroduced in 2013. Its midcentury lines still look fresh today, ensuring its position as a contemporary heritage piece.

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33rd Anniversary: Iron

1958 Le Creuset Cast Iron Casserole by Raymond Loewy for Le Creuset, $375

T904 bench by Gastone Rinaldi for Poltrona Frau, from $1,580
  

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50th Anniversary: Gold

Beauty Mirror by Michael Anastassiades, $2,656

5th Anniversary: Wood

Denmark is so renowned for its history of woodworking that the term "Danish modern" is eBay shorthand for anything made in solid wood with a simple, Scandinavian-influenced silhouette. When it comes to celebrating a fifth wedding anniversary, though, don’t take a gamble on Internet auctions. Instead, consider investing in a piece of furniture from one of Copenhagen’s storied cabinetmakers. 

The Danish design great Hans J. Wegner—who would have celebrated an anniversary, his 100th birthday, in 2014—was both a master carpenter and a prolific designer, creating more than 500 chairs in his lifetime. His sawback CH28 easy chair is made by hand at the Carl Hansen & Søn factory in Aarup, Denmark, and comes in solid oak as well as a walnut and oak version finished with natural oil, shown here.

CH28 easy chair by Hans J. Wegner for Carl Hansen & Søn, $3,970

8th Anniversary: Pottery

Ceramics are having a moment in the current trend cycle, but let’s be honest: When has pottery ever been out of style? Here are two options to add to your grandmother’s collection of 19th-century creamware and your mother’s midcentury studio pieces.

The new wave of potters are applying cutting-edge techniques to time-tested materials. Cody Hoyt, a designer and painter based in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, combines different earth-toned clays into striped and marbled sheets, then handforms the planes into geometric vessels (opposite). Dana Bechert, a sculptor based in Baltimore, riffs on Native American Acoma Pueblo motifs. She throws vitrified English porcelain on a wheel, then applies dark gray slip clay to the unglazed exterior before carving away the slip to reveal the white underneath.

Small Oblique vessel by Cody Hoyt, $250, and Light Herringbone vase by Dana Bechert, $485 

11th Anniversary: Steel

The venerated Georg Jensen, founded in 1904 by a silversmith of the same name, is known for its heirloom-quality tableware. By the mid-20th century, the company began making some of its serving ware in stainless steel to appeal to the everyday customer. Polishing silver for a formal dinner setting isn’t terribly practical in this day and age, but why skimp on style when it comes to setting the table?

For those moments when subtlety won’t do, this steel pitcher, part of the collection that Aldo Bakker, the Dutch designer, created for Georg Jensen Living in 2014, marries art and utility in an unearthly shape. 

Pitcher by Aldo Bakker for Georg Jensen Living, $380

15th Anniversary: Crystal

Crystal, typically seen in the form of candlesticks or stemware, provides a certain tactile pleasure: It’s weighty and serious in its purpose while adding an enchanting dose of refracted light. 

British product designer Lee Broom is staging a modern comeback for crystal, starting with the cut crystal bulb pendant he introduced in 2012. He continues his streak with the innovative Fulcrum candlestick (shown here), which is fabricated from "optical crystal" composed of synthetic materials. The resulting surface is harder than the natural stuff, which means it can better withstand cuts, bevels, and high polishing. The candlestick comes in two sizes and two color washes—blue and yellow—in addition to a brilliant clear.

Fulcrum candlesticks in Clear by Lee Broom, $450 each  

33rd Anniversary: Iron

A good cast-iron pot is the workhorse of wedding registries: It cooks anything and lasts for generations. Le Creuset’s matched sets are a perennial favorite, but for the midcentury-loving bon vivant, we suggest the company’s limited-edition release by Raymond Loewy, the celebrated industrial designer. 

Loewy—whose dynamic aesthetic helped define a modernized look for Lucky Strike, Greyhound, and Sears, among others—designed a five-quart casserole dish called La Coquelle for Le Creuset in 1958. The company has reissued the pot in a limited run of two retro-appropriate enamel colors: turquoise and burnt orange. The generous shape and domed lid of the multifunctional piece allows stewing, braising, simmering, and baking. 

1958 Le Creuset Cast Iron Casserole by Raymond Loewy for Le Creuset, $375

50th Anniversary: Gold

London-based lighting designer Michael Anastassiades has made his career inventing the most restrained lamps, sconces, and chandeliers imaginable. It comes as no surprise that his take on a wall mirror is equally minimalist.

The stainless-steel form, plated in polished gold, is a cross between a vanity object and a sculpture by Anish Kapoor. The surface is reflective, so it’s not entirely without purpose, but the ornament-free orb will upgrade an interior wall more than just any old looking glass. 

Anastassiades’s American dealer, David Alhadeff of The Future Perfect,couldn’t wait for a 50th anniversary; rather, he gave it to his brother as a "beyond incredible" wedding present. 

Beauty Mirror by Michael Anastassiades, $2,656