It’s almost that gift-giving time of the year and if you have an architect in your life, you know that getting them a gift is not the most amazing experience since they are excruciatingly specific – but that’s why we’re here. Now in its 13th consecutive year, Life of an Architect is putting out the increasingly difficult yet still definitive gift guide for architects, just so you don’t have to figure these things out for yourself. Welcome to Episode 114 “Holiday Gift Guide for Architects (2022)”.
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Best Gift for your Car jump to 3:45
Andrew’s Selection – $40
I know this one is a bit SUV centric, but this one may be for anyone who has a hatchback or even smaller SUV-type automobile. This has several types of pockets (even a cooler bag) for you to store a wide variety of stuff in the rear area of your auto. I think that it’s nice to have this on the “back” of the seat, and it leaves the actual “floor” space in the hatch still open for you to place other items. I would store my first aid kit, some tools, and a few other always-in-the-car items. I might even store my job site boots/shoes in here, so they are always in the car.
Bob’s Selection – $99
I don’t actually want a lot of stuff in my car so trying to identify stuff that you might actually want, or in this case, “need” this gift is about as good as you can get. This is a lithium battery that you can use to jump your own car. As the parent of a teenage driver, one of the things that is constantly lurking in the back of my mind is that my daughter is out running around and comes out to find that her car battery is dead and she is stranded despite being surrounded by people – all of whom don’t carry jumper cables in their car.
Best Gift for your Bar jump to 8:38
Bob’s Selection – $12 – $60
What can I say other than I make cocktails and for that, you need ice cubes. Rather than just pull generic, cloudy, crescent-shaped cubes out of the ice maker, I choose to make my ice cubes so that the entire cocktail experience reflects the attention that I’ve put towards the making of the cocktail. While it might sound a bit “extra” I am okay with that … which is probably why I felt it necessary to put three different kinds of ice cube makers on this year’s list. There is the single serving ice spheres – which are inexpensive and get the job done, followed by a clear square ice maker (more cubes and a bit fancier since they’re clear) and then the over-the-top, no-fuss clear ice sphere maker. I have the first two and feel like I still need the 3rd version (read into that what you will …)
Andrew’s Selection – $55
A geeky twist on a bar equipment necessity. This one is simply a Hawthorne strainer with (in my opinion) a supercool metal cut-out on the top. It does the job of a basic strainer in style! The company, Mover & Shaker, also has a wide array of cool designed strainers like this. But this would be a definite conversation piece in your bar setup. While this one is a bit expensive for a strainer, it also brings a mood that is unquantifiable!
Best Gift for your Desk jump to 14:58
Andrew’s Selection – $54
This one has been on my list for quite a while. Although this one is a new update because it has the additional “sidelight” that shines light on the desk surface from a separate direction. I think this feature is the biggest selling point for this item. This is an LED fixture, so the light source should be strong and white but can be adjusted to your preference. It also has a fairly large three-part arm that also helps you get just the right light. This one clamps to the desk, so you will need a proper edge for it. It is moderately priced and has enough features to justify it.
Bob’s Selection – $16
Of all the items on this year’s list, this leather desk pad is arguably both the best gift and the worst gift to advocate for … and getting a picture of this pad that would excite anyone is pretty much impossible so I had to dig into the media library and pull out an image from the “What’s on my Desk” post to provide a little context (hopefully you can recognize the pad as item #4 in the image above). The reason this is a good gift is that the pad is large, consistent in thickness, and is exactly what you need if you work on a desk. The main selling point is its size – coming in at 36″ long by 17″ tall. There are fancier desk pads available but the “juice per squeeze” for a $16 desk pad is pretty awesome.
Best Gift for your Kitchen jump to 24:55
Bob’s Selection – $160
If you listen to the podcast episode associated with this post, I think it is clear that this was the most divisive gift on this year’s list. Andrew actually has one, albeit a model that is several years old, and the one that I just came in contact with is pretty much the latest and greatest. This is a gift that two types of people would like … people who like lettuce and those who like herbs. I fall into the latter category and I would appreciate being able to have fresh mint and basil year-round, both for cooking and for making cocktails. I honestly don’t think this thing would grow enough lettuce fast enough for the amount that is consumed in my house, and I’m not interested in having one out of 3 weeks’ worth of salads be homegrown. The appeal of this device for me is definitely in growing specific types of herbs – all you have to do is pay $5 in December for 4 sprigs of mint to feel my pain.
* per the podcast, I did verify that there is a water monitor so that is no longer a maintenance challenge
Andrew’s Selection – $29
This one reveals a bit about my tendencies. I like to be organized to a certain degree. The big one here for me is the need for all of my spices to be the same size. I seem to have so many various sizes of these in my cabinet it drives me crazy, and I tend to knock them over as I reach for the item I need. Also, the stacking of the containers is, at best, a precarious build. So this is a set of 36 square 4-ounce jars with a large set of pre-printed labels with spice names. I think it is important that they are square jars with round lids. This makes access and organization so much better. I can’t have enough of these!
Best Gift Under $20 jump to 32:35
Andrew’s Selection – $19
My kids have a very similar lamp in their rooms. They are just great for them to chill out and not have overly bright light sources. This is a small lamp that can sit on a table and provide a limited level of light. Also, this one, since it is LED, can change to emit various colors. This could also be used as a night light to put in the kitchen or bathroom. For the price, you can get multiple of these and place them around the house a small light sources. Its just fun and an easy way to set a mood, especially in a small room.
Bob’s Selection – $13
I was sitting here trying to decide what I wanted to say about this gift and … what can I say? Architects like legos and coffee so this seems like a no-brainer to me. I even sent this out to a couple of my architect buddies, all of which responded that they would actually like having this mug.
Best Tech Gift jump to 36:15
Bob’s Selection – $42
On the surface, I know that this looks as though it is a boring gift, but do not make the mistake of confusing practical for boring. I have one of these and you would think that once you have something like this in place, it does its job and you simply move on and you would forget about it. NOPE! Can I just tell you that at any given moment, I have a billion things that need to be plugged in at my desk? Not just the apparently obvious things like my docking station and computer monitors, but I have wireless headphones, my iPad, occasionally my phone, a desktop fan (that would also be a good gift by the way), and my desktop lamp. That is 7 things my friends, and we all know that most people use a nasty generic power strip that undoubtedly is on the floor which requires getting on your hands and knees to crawl under the desk to plug stuff in. Don’t even get me started about trying to poke the cable from below the desk up through some grommet, only to have it slip back down to the floor – Argh!! – so frustrating. Problem solved with this particular power strip.
Andrew’s Selection – $89
This one is a direct response to the current situation in our work world. Also, I think this comes from all the podcast interviews we have done over the years. I am now someone who prefers a bougie microphone for all the online discussions that we conduct. This is a moderately priced microphone that uses a USB to interface with your laptop. I can certainly say that Shure makes quality products, as they are the mics that we use here on teh show. Not only will your colleagues appreciate the improved audio quality, but if you ever are recorded for any reason, you will sound like a pro!
Best Gift for a Young Architect jump to 41:03
Andrew’s Selection – $150-225
While I am not a proponent of headphones in the office, I am placing this on the list as a great gift for a young professional. I think they have become more necessary in the office now due to the nature of all the online activities that now occur. These are relatively priced right now for the holidays, it seems. I bought a set of these for my oldest daughter last year, and she loves them. She wears them around the house when she is cleaning or doing laundry. I know they have a pretty good connection range. Also, it has become important for most of us to exclude some of the office noise and focus on the work at hand. Again I will still state that you should not have these on all the time in the office. You can learn indirectly from other conversations around the office.
Bob’s Selection – $375+
I took a very specific approach when selecting this particular category of gift. Yes, this is an expensive item but the idea is that a young architect either wouldn’t or couldn’t get this item for themselves because of the cost, but it would be something that they would keep for the rest of their lives. How many gifts can you think of that will be kept and appreciated forever? Seems to me that this is a pretty inexpensive gift to have that sort of staying power. I can also confirm that I bought a handful of these sorts of furniture items when I was in my 20’s (and yes, it was painful but I spent $1,325 then for what would cost you $3,725 now). The additional kicker is that my items are “vintage” and they are actually worth more than their brand-new counterparts.
Best Gift for a “Seasoned” Architect jump to 46:18
Bob’s Selection – $425
Just like my selection for the “young architect” this is the sort of gift that will stick around and be appreciated for as long as your “seasoned” architect is around. Even when they don’t have a desk anymore, they will still find a place to put this particular desk lamp. The only absolute requirement is that you have to get the aluminum base and NOT the desk clamp. Believe me, it makes a difference.
Andrew’s Selection – $50-70 for 1-year
I chose this due to the level of stress that seems to be flooding into the profession at the moment. But more because I think that the longer you are in the profession, the more responsibility and stress you seem to have in your life. So this is a method to possibly manage this situation. At the moment, it is on sale, and could definitely be an inexpensive experiment for a year to try. Or to gift to someone you feel may need some relaxation. My hope for this one would be to help me turn my brain off as I attempt to go to sleep each night. It just seems that many of us could use some help in slowing down and de-stressing.
Best Gift Nobody has Heard of jump to 52:35
Andrew’s Selection – $70+
This one is a customizable map that can be as general or specific as you can imagine. The site allows you to put in a city or even an address and then produces a map of that location. Then you can customize the “zoom” of the map, the color, the font, and the type of identification. Also, you can choose sizes up to 20″ x 30″ and be on canvas or placed in multiple frame finishes. This one just seems like it could be a very personal gift for someone if you know them well enough. It could be their home, their school, their favorite city, or so many other possibilities. Have fun with it!
Bob’s Selection – $$ varies based on size
Of all my selections of items on this year’s list, this one is probably my favorite. I have two of these in my own house and they are pretty awesome as they are both graphically pleasing, and they say something about my personality. While I d not believe that I will ever walk into someone else’s house and see the same poster on their wall, if I did, I think we would become best friends. I have the one that is in the middle on the bottom row, and the second one I have is a secret – you’ll just have to find a way to get invited to my house to find out for yourself.
As a quick side note, most people do not know how to size art for their walls – and the process is pretty easy. Take the area you are working with and measure it left-to-right and top-to-bottom (the exposed surface – don’t include the part of your wall that is behind the couch or is covered by lamps, etc.)
|Wall Height||Wall Width|
|dim x .6 =min. height of art||dim x .6 min. width of art|
|dim x .75 = max height of art||dim x .75 max width of art|
Just follow this math and you will be very happy with the results.
Andrew and I both have covered architecture books at length at various times on this site and to make our lives easier, we just have a running list in place that reflects our current favorites and recommendations. At some point, I will have to start branching out because my library feels pretty complete and I don’t love most of the architecture books that are coming out these days. I am a little tired of the “collections” or themed books that appear to represent the vast majority of publishing efforts these days. Give me a book dedicated to a single architect or firm, full of pictures AND drawings and I’m a happy guy.
Of course, as an architect, I have a large collection of books. I also have a list of books over on the kit.co site. I have the All-Star Edition list that is linked from the image, but I also have recently added a 2022 List of Books that are more recently released. I hope this list to only include books from 2021 and 2022 that I either already own or want to add to my library. I think that an architect can never have too many books.
On My Desk
Stuff that is on my desk is a constant consideration – things like sketchbooks, desk lights, pens and markers, cutting boards – everything.
If sketchbooks, pens, pencils, rolls of trace paper – typical architect supplies, I’ve got you covered. This ongoing list (titled Pencils/Pens + Sketchbooks) is curated every time I find something new that I decide is worth using.
What the Rank jump to 58:08
Holiday version today … it’s based on anything that you might typically consume during the holidays and without requiring it, we both associated our choices with the Christmas holiday and did not include Thanksgiving (otherwise mashed potatoes would have been on both of our lists …)
Today we are ranking [drum roll please] ….
What are the Best Three Holiday Treats?
|Bob’s Best Holiday Treats||Cocktails||“Holiday” meatballs||Prime Rib Roast|
|Andrew’s Best Holiday Treat||Egg Nog||Sausage/Cheese Balls||Homemade Chex Mix (Texas Trash)|
I will concede that listing “cocktail” as a choice is pretty non-committal, but if you’ve been around here long enough you know that I will try to develop a cocktail specific to this particular year’s holiday season, such as “The Aalto“, the “Hard Cranberry Holiday Fizz“, and the myriad of other drinks that I’ve come up with over the years. Andrew and I also have to recognize that there is certainly nostalgia associated with our selections and for the most part our selections had very little to do with quality.
114: Holiday Gift Guide for Architects (2022)
Ho-Ho-Ho and we are done. After twelve years, I am feeling pretty good about the content of this year’s list, and other than 1 (or 3) gifts of mine, this is a cost-friendly collection of architect-approved gifts. We put this list out 2-weeks earlier than normal so that you have plenty of time to deal with the shipping issues and get these gifts wrapped and under the tree (or wherever you put your holiday gifts). If you feel that we have missed the mark, feel free to search through any of the other 12 years’ worth of guides I’ve put together (sweater vests, in particular, can be found here).
Cheers and Happy Holidays!
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