Meet Zoe Chan of Chan and Eayrs, Acclaimed Architects and Masters Of Minimalism

The London designer shares with us her philosophy that when it comes to giving gifts, less is always more
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Zoe Chan, Merlin Eayrs and their daughter at home. Image: Taran Wilkhu

Zoe Chan, one half of the architect duo, Chan & Eayrs discusses the more considered approach she takes to present giving.

What is the best present you’ve ever received?

Probably a Faye Wei Wei painting my husband Merlin gave me on my daughter’s birthday. We love giving each art work. It’s lovely to have that gift up on the wall, something that you can really enjoy every day, will pass down and make you think of that person in a very special way.

So what makes the best gift?

The best gifts are elevated versions of the items you use every day, things you wouldn’t necessarily indulge yourself in. Also, gifts that have been truly considered by their maker and been made with consummate passion and care.

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Artwork in the home of Zoe Chan and Merlin Eayrs. Image: Taran Wilkhu

How do you think the way we shop for presents in recent years has changed?

It’s easy to forget that celebrations – anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas – are about the coming together of the people you love. Rampant consumerism can make many of us feel a bit queasy. I think it’s fair to say we all probably have too much stuff.

The way I think about shopping for gifts chimes with the way I think about shopping in general which is to buy stuff you actually need. We’ve found that for our daughter Max, the thing that makes her most happy is the time we spend with her.

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The pair bring calm to their bathroom with candles. Image: Taran Wilkhu

But it’s also to value the now and think about how you can help the planet and gifts that will make a difference to our future. For gifts, I ask for things I would have bought anyway. For my daughter, I buy her books or things that will help to further her mind. I particularly like objects which have had another life. I also enjoy going to vintage or charity shops. It’s the things that are really good quality or have been cherished and you want to pass on that have often made it into those shops in the first place.

It’s also about the gift of time, not being so caught up in yourself. You can touch someone’s life just by talking to them or even just with a smile.

Zoe's gift wishlist from The Garnered

Left: Great for unwinding in the bath but equally good creating atmosphere on the dining table! We love candles and have them everywhere at home.

Middle: We also like to give art as gifts - this Lake of Hope by Spencer Fung is lovely.

Right: This hat by Anthony Peto is beautifully made.