What to get an Architect for Christmas

Bob Borson —  December 5, 2012 — 14 Comments

In the tradition of the season, I am putting together my annual list of items an architect might want for Christmas. Since this is the 3rd year I’ve done this, I thought I would gear everyone up by taking a look at the architect shopping lists from 2010 (today) and 2011 (tomorrow) with the unveiling of the 2012 shopping list to debut next Monday. Feel free to email me any recommendations should you have some inspiration.

bob@lifeofanarchitect.com

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The only thing worse than shopping for someone who has everything is shopping for an architect. They suck to shop for because they are exceedingly particular and you know that they think your taste is garbage. So what is the well intentioned gift giver to do? Architects also like doo-dah’s but this is a slippery slope. It has to be a timeless doo-dah and one that is very well made – as proof of their awesome taste and worldly knowledge.

That’s where I come in with my list of things to get your architect for Christmas! Really, the smart angle here is that since I myself am an architect, if your “architect” doesn’t like a gift off this list you can blame me. How can you lose?! Let’s get right to it shall we?

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Moleskine – Legendary Notebooks – $13.50

The all time classic sketch book. This is a safe present to get an architect (or an architect in training) because it is timeless and very well made. I have several of these and what can you say – they are the best. I prefer the large plain notebook (5″ x 8.25″) with a hard black cover for my sketches. These run about $18 each and are available at a myriad of places – I promise your recipient will appreciate this gift.

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Lamy USA – $26.50

For less than $30 you can get a great fountain tip pen that has some style to it. This is another worthwhile gift because it looks great, performs great and it’s cost will not break the bank. This is the exact pen that I have had for the last 16 years. Despite having several others, including those with far higher price tags, this one is still my favorite and the one pen I have that never fails to receive some sort of comment of admiration.

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Taschen Basic Architecture Series – $10 per title

Let’s admit something we all know … architects like books. The Taschen Basic Architecture Series is the gift that keeps on giving. There are new books being added to this series every year and although each book is small (approx 7″ x 9″, 120 images and 96 pages), they are surprisingly detailed. One of the best features is that the appendix includes a list of complete or selected works, biography, bibliography and a map indicating the locations of the architect’s most famous buildings. (Hard to beat that price as well)

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Lego Architectural Monuments – around $20 but the Falling Water set is $96 (Damn that Frank Lloyd Wright!)

These are really casual gifts but I can’t think of an architect that doesn’t have some connection to Lego’s at some time in their lives. I am not a Lego fanatic by any stretch of the imagination but I do have the Seattle Space Needle model sitting on my shelf at work. My nephew Eddie got this for me last Thanksgiving and it was an activity that he and I shared together. Once he went home, the model made it’s way up to my office.

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MoMA Store: Rodrigo Torres Chip Paper Clip $60.00

Hard to go wrong with a doo-dah from MoMA. Everything they have to offer is significant in one way or another. I happen to appreciate this paper clip holder as an item of need and finesse. Admit it … your paper clips are either kept in the cardboard box they were originally packaged in or have been moved into a rectangular plastic cube with a magnet around the opening. Boooor-ringgg.

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George Nelson Ball Clock from Vitra $365

Yes, I know $355 is expensive for a wall clock. It’s even more painful to pay that much when you know the parts that make up this clock cost $10. But don’t worry about that – this clock design in a classic and any fan of modern architecture wants one. Can’t explain it but it’s true. (I got mine for Christmas last year!) George Nelson designed a great many wall clocks to choose from but I like this one the very best.

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Tolomeo Classic Table Lamp by Artemide – $300

This is a fantastic lamp – a designer’s lamp. Designed in 1989 by Michele De Lucchi & Giancarlo Fassina for Artemide, the Tolomeo table lamp won the Compasso d’Oro award for Italian industrial design. There isn’t a whole lot to say here … get this lamp for your architect and they will love you.

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Crane Stationary – Flat Correspondence Cards

It doesn’t have to be Crane but stationary is a really nice gift. I prefer to have the flat correspondence cards instead of a fold-over for the simple reason is that there is less room to write and I can drop someone a nice and thoughtful note without it having to be a real paragraph worth of adulations.

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Jack Spade Nylon Canvas Computer Field Bag – $195

Part of the Architects uniform is a decent messenger bag – and this is a particularly good one. I have this exact bag so you can be like me or you can get it because it’s well made, simple yet classic. The bags are detailed with finished seams that retain their shape and compliment the softened corners and the interior is lined with nylon rip-stop, which is both lightweight and long lasting. Life of an Architect tested and approved.

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Money

We all know times are tough and occasionally it’s okay to dole out the lucre when someone needs a helping hand. Generally speaking, everyone appreciates the effort that goes into finding the right gift, something that resonants with the recipient … and sometimes getting a crappy gift is worse than getting no gift at all. I was at an office Christmas party a few years ago when there was a blind gift exchange and someone actually took broken golf tees and golf balls and wrapped it up. That is some serious bullssst so if you don’t have the time or energy to do it properly, play nicely and pass along the option of what to get to the recipient.

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

from

Life of an Architect

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even better

  • Yamen

    Well, I only liked the books, Lego, Lamp & off course Money ! I would suggest watches too !

  • niaz

    Architects hate Clocks

  • Arsh.itect

    I’ll add a pack of Prismacolor Markers!!

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    I even told my friends to take a look at your blog and in fact your blog is already bookmarked on my computer. Hope to see more of this.

  • L E Schwering

    Regarding the selection of legal tender (money) as a gift. It always fits and is always the right color, but what I have done in the past is to take crisp bills and fold them (origami). There are many folds that can be done with currency. The internet and you tube are full of them and as an architect you are expected to be creative!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      my favorite are the Ben Franklin Swans … nobody really likes the George Washington football triangles

      • http://twitter.com/remarchitect Robert Moore

        I believe going GREEN is is essential to the sustainability of our profession.

  • http://www.facebook.com/marcia.n.kellogg Marcia Nesci Kellogg

    Very good suggestions. I’ve actually gotten my husband (architect) most of these!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ron.barkey.7 Ron Barkey

    I’m an architect, my wife is an architect. Your article on gift shopping for an architect hit the mark. In fact I was just online looking for a gift for my wife when your email arrived. Damn those architects!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      yes – damn them. Today and tomorrow are the lead up to the 2012 Christmas List for Architects – luckily there are always new groovy things to buy.

  • Eric.vandenberg@kohler.com

    I’d say you would like some completed floors in your home?……

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      luckily for me, Christmas came early and I have completed floors in my home.
      Utility room?… not so much

  • Paul Scharnett

    Sadly, even as an aspiring architect (who appreciates modern architecture), I don’t really like the clock. Too many circles, I guess. But I love pretty much everything else!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      there are several George Nelson clocks designs one could choose from – my other favorite is the starburst clock
      http://amzn.to/YEyt9p