What to get an Architect for Christmas (2011)

December 6, 2012 — 1 Comment

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 (yesterday) and 2011 (today) with the unveiling of the 2012 shopping list to debut next Monday. Feel free to email me any recommendations should you have some inspiration.



Let’s see …

400 square feet of glass mosaic tile, labor to install, elongated 1 piece toilet, large soaking bathtub, 20 hours plumber labor, 60 hours carpenter labor, tape, bed and texture … wait a minute, that’s my Christmas list!!

.Life of an Architect Christmas

Ho Ho Ho!! Once again it’s that time of year to let that special architect you’ve been ignoring for the last 3 years know just how much you care … at least enough to buy them a present. If you are like most people, you know that shopping for an architect isn’t any fun because we are generally self-righteous about quality and routinely look down our noses at mass-produced items. My wife groans every time I keep her from getting an item we desperately need simply because I want to wait until we can buy something extremely particular and generally (always) above my pay grade.

Oh well, I say quality still counts for something and the nicer something is and the longer I have to wait to get it, the more unlikely it is that I will run out and “get the next cool version” of whatever it is that I have been saving and waiting to get for the last 17 3 years…

I came up with a list of what to get an architect last year – cleverly titled “What to get an Architect 2010 list” and since almost everything on that list is still good I momentarily thought about just changing the title and reposting it – but that’s not my style! So … let’s get to the all new, super fresh and current list of What to get an Architect 2011



Architectural T-Shirts from Life of an Architect

Architectural T-Shirts from Life of an Architect $20 – $30

Yes, it’s the Periodic Table of Design from everyone here are Life of an Architect World Headquarters. There are 17 unique designs in total and if I didn’t think you would like them, I wouldn’t have put them on the list. So far, these shirts have been shipped to Belgium, Poland, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Netherlands, Italy, Malaysia, Switzerland, United Kingdom, France, China, Scotland, Ireland, Czech Republic, … and right here in the United States. That is amazingly cool. I tell everyone I can (who buys one of these shirts) to send me a picture of them in it and I will place it with great honor on the Life of an Architect Facebook page. I’ve already received a few – one picture is from the Great Wall of China!



Sennelier Watercolor Travel Box 8 TubesSennelier Watercolor – Travel Box 12 Tubes $60

Architects like to watercolor and if they don’t, it’s because they can’t … and if they can’t, it’s because they don’t have a decent watercolor set. Even if they tell you they don’t want watercolors for Christmas they are lying and just need some encouragement to pursue the dream that they already have … that one day they will be able to sketch with 5 pen strokes, lay down some watercolor and people will stop and nod their head in approval.

pointing at 5 pen stroke and quick watercolor drawing and talking to small French child (but in English) “See that sketch right there … Magnificent!! They must be an architect! Here is €150 (handing money to architect) just because you are awesome”



Eames DVD The Architect and the Painter

Eames: The Architect and the Painter DVD $25

If you are looking for a gift for the Mid Century Modernist in your life this is it. ( I know for a fact that they will not have this… it just came out in select theaters and was only released yesterday (Dec 7th).

Narrated by James Franco, (I promise he won’t cut his arm off in this one) the film goes in depth into the world of the Eames studio and chronicles the amazing husband and wife creative career which defined mid century modern. I’d write more about how awesome I think this movie is going to be but then I’d just be wasting time trying to re-write the description on the films website.


Sennheiser CX 300B MK II Headphones

Sennheiser CX 300B MK II Stereo Headphones $33

Using my own office as an example, everyone except those with offices have headphones that they routinely wear. Not only will your architect wear these headphones to the funky beat of their own mix, it will keep them from killing the people they are sitting next to because they don’t have to hear that person’s mix of funky beats. Buying these headphones will actually save someone’s life – or at the very least, save them from getting a computer mouse shaped laceration on the back of their head. Don’t worry about the fact that your architect probably already has a pair of headphones, they will get destroyed sooner rather than later. (Architects go through headphones like Interior Designers go through box wine.)



Architectural and Interior Design Magazines

Magazine subscription(s) $14 to $180

One of my favorite gifts for many reasons….

As a giver…

– It’s an easy last minute gift that you can pick up at the check-out stand in the grocery store

– There are an infinite amount of subjects to choose from to suit the fancy of your recipient

– Big bang for your buck (especially if you don’t actually send in the subscription card, come on, you’ve done that before)

As a recipient “It’s the gift that keeps on giving all year ‘round”, but unlike the Jelly of the Month Club, magazines will add to your library of reference material that you will feel an overwhelming need to hoard for the rest of your life (and probably end up spending thousands of dollars on bookshelves or storage unit rental fees to house them).

Magazine suggestions for the designer/architect…

Dwell GOOD Interior Design Abitare Wallpaper Juxtapoz Make



Eames Hang it all rack

Ray and Charles Eames – Hang it all $169

Some things stand the test of time and having them is akin to a secret handshake between members of a secret society. Anything by Ray and Charles Eames is cool and the Hang-It-All has been granting passage into secret hipster clubs since 1953.

“Hey Teddy, how’s it hanging?”

“Well, Fritz, it been (winking and air quote fingers) Hanging-It-All since 1953.”

“Nice. Welcome brother, cocktails are on the buffet located around the corner next to Tiffani.”

See what I mean?



Anchor Brewery Holiday Beer

Christmas Ale $9-$12

Beer is the universal language for “kick back, relax and have a good time” or “get belligerent and go on a rampage”. Since 1975 Anchor Brewing Co has been making their Christmas Ale…each year they slightly modify the recipe and change the tree on the label. This beer features a very festive and well designed label and an even better crafted taste. Hopefully giving this fine brew will result in a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!



Kerry Woollen Mills Blanket

Kerry Woollen Mills – Blanket $83 (€63.38)

I know what you’re thinking – that has waaaaaay too much color in it for an architect but hear me out … I’m never wrong about these things. It’s mostly brown in tone with muted shades of color. It has no texture (other than “woolly” and has an indeterminable pattern. Plus, it’s 100% wool from 100% Irish sheep and made in Ireland where they know a thing or two everything about sheep and wool. Besides, I am speaking from first hand knowledge because this my 100″ x 90″ blanket that I bought in Ireland 8 years ago and I still love it as much today as the day I made my wife get this one instead of the one she wanted.



iPhone photo Lenses

iPhone Camera Lenses $11

So you’re looking for the perfect gift for your iPhone / photography addicted Architecty friend…well, look no further. Insert the Telephoto, Macro and Fisheye lens attachments. I use my iPhone camera more than I use my point and click or my DSLR so why not maximize the iPhones full potential with one (or all) of the lens attachments. I don’t know if these really work but they look awesome.



dieter rams design as little as possible from phaidon

Book – Dieter Rams: Design as Little as Possible $60

If for no other reason, you should get this book for the following quote:

‘Indifference towards people and the reality in which they live is actually the one and only cardinal sin in design’ – Dieter Rams.

I do feel a little guilty about putting a book on here that costs $170 but this is more than a coffee table book and your architect will keep it forever. This is not the sort of book you ever find at the used book store … maybe an estate sale … and it won’t be marked down.



Case Study Houses - The Complete CSH Program 1945 - 1966

Book – Case Study Houses The Complete CSH Program 1945 – 1966 $195

Yikes!! This book is crazy expensive … but is possibly the most awesome book you could get your architect (if you really love them that is). I actually have this book and look at it with great frequency. It’s a massive book full of pictures, drawings, stories … it’s everything that an architectural book should be (and its owner will brag about that fact to the people they don’t even know). This is an over-sized book, 440 pages and checking in at 4 lbs!! Worth every cent, all 14,000 of them.



Joey Roth Desktop Speakers

Cool Desktop Speakers $495

Architects spend a lot of time at their desks on a daily basis… pumping cad, sketching or surfing the internet pretending to pump cad. Listening to music can help break up the monotony of L, spacebar, mouse click, 3’-4”, mouse click, ESC, ESC, TR, spacebar, spacebar, mouse click, Etc. Cranking up some good music can definitely help slip you into the creative zen state you need to be in while checking shop drawings.

Ok, you don’t have to spend $500 on handmade ceramic speakers but make sure that the speakers you are purchasing have an input for a computer or MP3 player/iPhone and that it has an earphone jack so you can plug in your headphones and drown out your coworkers.



The Mushroom Kit

The Mushroom Kit $19.95

I bet you think I am going to make a psychedelic drug joke here….well I’m not (cause I’m better than that).

There are a lot of architects out there that love to cook….and the ones that I know are obsessive about cooking. It’s an art form to some, like an extension of the architecture profession (If anyone can find a source for a black turtleneck apron I’d love to see it).

What a conversation piece this Home Startup Mushroom Kit would be at a dinner party…

“Hey Bob, smells good in here…Wa!? What the hell is that?” Bob’s dinner guest stops mid sentence as he notices a box with mold growing out of it on the counter.

“That’s my home mushroom growing kit…do you want to eat some shrooms and go on a magical psychedelic trip?” Bob whispers with raised eyebrows.

“Um. No.”

Bob’s dinner guest slowly puts his drink down and briskly walks out the front door. What a shame … Bob had made some delicious oyster mushroom risotto and now it’s gone to waste.



Taa-DAH!! That’s this year’s list and I have to say I’m pretty proud of it – a little something for everyone (who is an architect). Please stay tuned for a special message to start in 3 …2…1…


Scott Taylor and the Lion Avatar


This is Scott Taylor … some guy in the next cubicle a good friend of mine.

Scott will be joining me here at Life of an Architect from time to time to add some diversity, style, and flavor because I feel like things have become somewhat stagnant and fetid over the last few months. It has taken me a long time to find and cultivate the right person for this “Life of an Architect: Field Correspondent / Gator Wrassl’r” position. I have been working with him night and mostly days on his run-on sentences and social awkwardness and I think Scott is ready to finally start contributing to society. In fact, Scott prepared half of today’s post and for the most part, I think you would be hard pressed to know which items I selected and which items I told Scott to select.


In his own words, Scott’s description of Scott …

I endeavor to learn how to make anything and everything….from welding to woodcarving.

I have recently grown a winter beard, not necessarily in solidarity for “Movember” but in an attempt at the not-too-well-celebrated “Creeptober” “®”.

I secretly wish I was a hipster but I am too much of a wuss to get a tattoo or give up my Brooks Brothers slim fit non-iron dress shirts.



Please welcome Scott into the fold and make him feel as welcome as you have made me feel.

Well, not quite as welcome but a close second.




Bob AIA signature


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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  • Well, which of these gifts did you receive? I actually now have those 3 iPhone lenses. You can be nice and see if I’ll loan them to you.