gift guide: craig olson’s finds for the modern man

{Editor’s Note: This year, I’ve asked a few of the people whose style I spend all year admiring to share their holiday wish lists. Stay tuned – we’ll have a new expert every day for the next two weeks!}

No offense to Mr. SMC, but Craig Olson might be the hippest guy I know. So, it’s no surprise he was my very first choice for a men’s gift guide. Craig (along with his parter in crime, Sean Igo) is the genius behind Portland’s Canoe and the brand new Spruce Apothecary. Craig and Sean were at the forefront of Portland’s hip-ification when they opened Canoe, a store that’s still beloved across the country for its modern aesthetic and hyper-sophisticated selection of home goods and accessories. Not only would I blindly trust Craig to pick a gift for anyone on my list, but I’ve often begged him to do just that. He has a perfect track record with every person on my shopping list, and judging from this list of picks, he’s going to remain the undefeated champ of men’s gift ideas.

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  1. Hida Tool, located in Berkeley, California is a great source for Japanese-style tools designed with grace and beauty. This indispensable, all-purpose garden tool is ideal for weeding, breaking up soil, or cutting out roots – and, let’s face it, it’s just cool. Hori hori means ‘dig, dig’ in Japanese – these tools were originally used to collect bonsai specimens from rocky cliffsides. Hori-Hori Garden Tool, $45
  2. Often in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, my hometown of Detroit now garners attention as a new hub for urban pioneers who are remaking the city against all odds. This book of photographs captures daily life in Detroit just before its well-documented decline, offering a fascinating glimpse into another place and time. Detroit 1968 by Enrico Natali, $35
  3. Japanese camping lifestyle brand Snow Peak makes outdoor equipment that doesn’t ignore good design principles. This small torch is hands-free, LED and avoids the bulk of lanterns and headlamps. Ideal for outdoor activities ranging from “dawn patrol” surf sessions to heading out to the firewood pile for replenishments. Snow Peak Lapel Torch, $60
  4. This robust beer mug designed in 1973 is still a favorite, now made exclusively for Crate & Barrel by Finland-based Iittala. I can vouch for the fact that beer just tastes better from a nice mug (especially straight from the freezer), and this version is cast-molded for an interesting woody texture. Iittala Krouvi Beer Mug, $8
  5. Every guy needs a good notebook to jot down lists or make a quick idea sketch. These slim Italian-made notebooks feature pages made from Repap, a paper made from recycled calcium carbonate. The production process uses less natural resources than regular paper requires, and the finished product is waterproof, tear resistant, and provides a super-smooth writing surface. Ogami Professional Notebooks, $18+
  6. Noise-canceling headphones are a necessity for modern day air travel, but most of them are too bulky and take up too much space in your luggage. These provide all the usual noise-canceling properties but in a slim, lightweight package that is more practical and looks a lot better too. Tivoli Noise Canceling Headphones, $159
  7. The Willamette Valley produces America’s best Pinot Noirs, and my personal favorite comes from Antica Terra, where winemaker Maggie Harrison produces terrific wine from hard, rocky hillsides with difficult soils. Splurge on a bottle of their latest, and enjoy the good looking label as well – Harrison’s husband creates the artwork for them. Antica Terra Pinot Noir, $100
  8. Filson make durable and stylish clothing and gear that reflects their roots in the Pacific Northwest. This waxed jacket is perfect for rainy weather, and the Black Watch plaid is a classic. I’d wear this jacket with jeans and even over dressier stuff for a rugged look. Filson Seattle Cruiser, $385
  9. We always enjoy showcasing American-made products at Canoe. After a number of years in closure, Minnesota’s Faribault Woolen Mills is once again producing sturdy scarves and blankets in their home state of Minnesota where they began operating in 1865. These scarves feature soft, heathered colors and look great with any jacket or sweater. Faribault Mills Scarves, $50
  10. Salishan Spa, overlooking Siletz Bay on the Oregon Coast, draws on its location for inspiration with a rustic/modern cedar and stone design that any guy would feel comfortable visiting. It’s worth a walk up the hillside to visit Salishan Lodge itself, designed by mid century modernist architect John Storrs. Salishan Spa, services from $120+ {If you’re not in the Pacific NW, this is a great site to track down other spas guaranteed to keep your macho man’s ego intact.}

Thanks so much, Craig! For more of Craig’s (and Sean’s) flawless gift picks, check out Canoe…and sign up to be first on the list when Spruce Apothecary opens for e-commerce!

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2 comments on “gift guide: craig olson’s finds for the modern man

  1. jillian

    my sister-in-law lives in portland and LOVES canoe…shes pretty hip 🙂 this list is great! pinning a few pieces for my husband!xo jillian

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