Not all subscription boxes follow a tried and tested formula. Designer Box is one of these unconventional alternatives, advertised as a service that surprises subscribers with a beautifully made design item each month. It unquestionably has a specific customer in mind: a discerning individual who revels in sleek, decorative ornaments to enhance their living space. It has amassed accolades from every glossy design magazine that you can imagine, ranging from Wallpaper* to Elle Interior. Despite its narrow focus, this box could be the perfect choice for a trendy creative who craves a subscription box choice with substance.
I received box # 26. Each box is numbered and can easily be identified on the website’s online catalogue. For every box, an internationally recognised designer has contributed a bespoke decorative item for the home. The star object arrives in a ‘showcase’ wooden box and is accompanied with an Iconic newsletter and a certificate of authenticity. My items were designed by Maarten Baptist and were a pair of golden tripods- described in lofty terms as “a pair of astounding trays, each standing on three golden feet […] to ennoble nibbles and sweet bits to the state of precious things to delicacies.”
The wooden box itself is ornamental and I will reuse this for an eye-pleasing storage container- it’s sturdy, beautifully crafted and provides the most visually interesting packaging for a subscription box that I have seen to date. It has the number of the box- #26- imprinted on one of its ends. The tripods were securely packaged in tissue, brown paper and cardboard to ensure that they arrived in tact. The box itself was much too large to arrive through the mail slot, but given the delicate nature of the contents inside, I was happy to pick it up.
Designer Box # 26 Unboxed:
- 2 golden tripods
- 1 Iconic newsletter
- 1 wooden box
- Certificate of authenticity
- Artist’s drawing/blueprint of object
The concept of the box centres on the decorative piece(s) inside and there are no further embellishments other than a gold elastic band. Once the tripods were unpacked and admired, further information relating to the designer and the design were included in the newsletter. The paper is printed in both English and French, giving it a very continental and ostentatious quality. It is written in a flowery manner, but it does provide a necessary background to appreciate the contents of the box.
In this case, Maarten Baptist is labelled as a Dutch “designer of new experiences” and has made an international reputation for himself by reinterpreting traditional aesthetics through a fantastical visual approach- he ultimately creates designs that are meant to be used and that are humane, according to Iconic. The golden tripods are based on an earlier design that he contributed to- tripod wine glasses- and intend to complement the earlier design as an ornate dish for nibbles to complete the wine-tasting experience.
Very interesting indeed, but as with most unconventional designs, it wasn’t immediately clear what the tripods were. They were very elegant, small glass trays with their legs tipped with gold. After consulting the newsletter, their use then became evident. It was interesting to read about Maarten Baptist and his vision, especially as a complete novice to the world of interior design!
A single one-off box is priced at 35€ plus a 3.90€ shipping fee- this works out to be approximately £28 in total. There are discounts available for 6 month and 12 month subscriptions as well. Given the nature of the contents, this price point isn’t unexpected, but it this still on the high end scale of subscription boxes. However, again, this is what you would expect to pay for an objet d’art from an acclaimed international designer.
The key reservation that I have with Designer Box is the element of surprise and specifically not knowing whether the item received will be practical- it’s an investment for a purely decorative piece for someone like me. I would therefore question the value of potentially amassing nice items that I have no real use for.
As for the golden tripods, I am using them as candle holders- they are touches of refinery now on my mantelpiece. As trays, they are far too delicate and small for this purpose (in my humble opinion). With limited ability to appreciate great and beautifully conceived things, the concept of Designer Box is perhaps lost on me. But if you have or know someone with a keen interest in design, this might just be the one subscription box that will appease their trained eye and taste.