Have you ever tried shopping for an architect? I bet you hated it … because architects are kind of snobby (and I can say that since I am an architect). I have been assembling this list for about 10 months and spent a chunk of my weekend pulling it all together – putting some new things on the list, and taking some old things off. When I counted everything up, I only had 21 times on here and, well, what sort of number is 21? It’s a non-architectural number that’s what it is. No balance, no symmetry … heck, it doesn’t even have hierarchical asymmetry!
Can’t have that … so since a large percentage of my family was in for the Thanksgiving holiday, I asked them to help me:
My Sister: I know, how about a ______?
Me: What!? That’s stupid.
My Sister: You’re stupid.
Me: No, you’re stupid.
My wife: Okay, okay … relax. Why don’t you put a ______ on there?
Me: Uhm, because I don’t want this list to suck?
My wife: You are stupid.
Needless to say, I put this list together basically by myself so if you think I’ve missed the mark, I can’t blame it on anybody else.
So now that I’ve put everybody in the proper holiday mood, I think I should simply get on with the list. There are gifts on my 2015 list that should fit just about anybody’s budget and it is all architect approved. I either want, or have, everything on this list.
Ho Ho Ho!
Shinola ‘The Runwell 41mm’ – $550
This is first for me because I don’t actually wear watches, but if I did, this would be the one I would want. In fact, this particular watch is making me reconsider my position about not wearing watches. It’s simple, well made, black and stainless steel … which makes it a natural for any architect. This is a gender neutral fashion gift as well – bonus points!
This is a gift that I’ve had my eye on for a while – even made a comment to my wife about the apparent resurgence of old-fashioned typewriters (which she said “uh-huh” like it was common knowledge that old-fashioned typewriters are making a comeback.) A few years ago, I suggested personalized stationary as a gift – I still do actually – because I believe that thank you cards and personal letters are far better received than emails. If your handwriting over the years has suffered as a result of not using it, consider this portable typewriter as an excellent alternative … AND you’ll be ahead of the “cool” curve.
Yeti Tumbler 30 oz – $30
I know what your thinking – $30 for a drink tumbler is INSANE!! Well, that’s only if you get the 30oz tumbler (which you should). I already have this tumbler and I am a walking billboard in support of every person owning one of these. All I can say is that it is Holiday Amaze-Balls.
Fitbit Surge Superwatch – $200
Another watch?! Heck yeah! I spend more time than I care to admit sitting in front of a computer screen and the years have mysteriously slipped past me and I can no longer get away with eating an entire pizza and getting zero physical activity. This is a nice piece of tech that can act as a gentle reminder that I need to get off my ass. Also, as an extremely intriguing side benefit, this watch will monitor your sleep patterns.
Not sure I really want to know just how bad my “sleep patterns” might be …
I have had a smart phone for a long time and only once have I done something foolish enough (like jumping in to a swimming pool or dropping from the second floor of a building) where I damaged my phone beyond repair. Needless to say, $600 later, I know think about making sure that my phone is protected from life’s unexpected drops. This particular model also includes a 2,600-mAh battery for 2x battery life, with auto-stop charge once your phone reaches 100%. An excellent feature when you find yourself in day long meetings with no access to an outlet.
Pretty obvious object for an architect to own. I have owned three tripods in my life and this one is the best of the three … and at $40, it’s a bargain. It is aluminum construction – which means it is light – and when fully extended, reaches a height of 61″. This is not the best choice is you consider yourself “a pro” or plan on putting it through its paces several times a week. This model works for me considering I will probably use mine about 10-15x a year.
WigWam Wool Socks – Approx. $12
That’s right … wool socks. You know that you are going to get some crappy clothes as gifts, so if you are going to get socks and underwear as a gift, it might as well be some worth owning. I currently own two pairs of these babies and there are a few times a year when I wish I had three more pairs so I could make it through the week. Now that I am going to have job site meetings this winter in the snowy hell known as North Wisconsin, this might be the most important gift on my list.
I already have an orbital sander – pretty good one too, but since I spent half of my weekend sanding wood blocks which will be used in my playhouse trophies, I was particularly happy that I had one. As it turns out, I have used my orbital sander A LOT since I bought it those many years ago. I highly recommend adding one to your tool kit if you don’t already own one.
Speaking of tools worth owning, a quality shop vacuum is another must have item … they are infinitely useful.
Stainless Steel Bar Set – $28
Not to send the wrong idea with these next few items, but I believe that mixing cocktails is more fun and definitely more social. I like this particular set because it contains all the necessities, including a “muddler” (the wooden baseball bat looking item on the bottom left). You can’t make mojitos without a muddler.
After finally deciding to post my now world-famous margarita recipe, I imagine there are a bunch of people out there that need to pick up a salt rimmer. This is exactly the sort of thing that adds that ever-so-important finishing touch that will take your margaritas from ordinary to extraordinary … and isn’t that exactly what it means to be an architect?
Every architect should have about 30 scales … just because. if you – or that special architect in your life – doesn’t have that many, this gift should be a no-brainer. Just don’t buy metal scales … they are loud, clang-y, and irritating to everyone sitting within earshot of someone who owns one.
The flat bevel scales are good for architects who leave the office to do their architect-ing – it’s easier to pack one in your bag or suitcase.
I’m a big advocate of sketching, despite the fact that I am not particularly adept in my own sketching “style”. I get a lot of Moleskine journals as gifts but the one I’ve listed above is my favorite. These journals are small enough so that my “doodles” can fill the page. I also like that these journals have a heavy card stock cover rather than being leather-bound. I personally feel that the really nice ones can be a little intimidating to sketch in – they seem a little precious to me. Since half of my sketches are total clunkers, the cahier journals seem just a bit more forgiving.
These are the pens I use for all my sketching and they are – without a doubt – the very best.
and for some pen weight … get Sharpie Fine Tip pens – $6
White Trace Paper – $10
Trace paper, bum wad, onion skin, trash paper – whatever you want to call it, it’s the life blood of a designer. Trace paper is just what it sounds like – semi-transparent paper that allows you to layer drawing upon drawing on top of one another, which allows you to evolve your design through iterations.
Every architect likes books … literally EVERY architect LOVES books and when the opportunity presents itself to increase the size their architectural library, you should seize it without hesitation. Over the last few years, I have put together what I like to call “amazing” gift book selections and this year’s list is no slouch.
I only have three of the books on this years list and so I fully expect to add a few more to my collection.
Brad Cloepfil / Allied Works Architecture – $60
by Brad Cloepfil, Sandy Isenstadt, and Kenneth Frampton
BIG Little House: Small Houses Designed by Architects – $40
by Donna Kacmar
Tom Kundig: Works – $36
by Tom Kundig
Listening: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Houses 2009 – 2015 – $54
by Peter Bohlin, Alexandra Lange, Michael Caldwell, and Rick Joy
Jørn Utson: Drawings and Buildings – $40
Michael Asgaard Andersen
Le Corbusier Redrawn: The Houses – $24
by Steven Park
Concrete – $32
by Leonard Koren and William Hall
A Field Guide to American Houses (Revised) – $22
by Virginia Savage McAlester
The Genius of Japanese Carpentry: Secrets of an Ancient Craft – $19
by Azby Brown
Peter Zumthor: Buildings and Projects, 1985-2013 [5 Volume Set] – $185
by Thomas Durisch
If you’ve gone through all of these items and still can’t find something that suits your needs, maybe something from the previous Christmas list posts have something –
So Ho Ho Ho! That wraps up the 2015 list of ‘What to get an Architect for Christmas‘. Shopping for overly-picky, demanding, self-righteous architects isn’t particularly fun but if you follow the items on this list, I can reasonably guarantee that you will have success. I’ve tried to make this as easy as possible, if you click on any of the images or descriptions in this post, it will take you to a website where you can buy (or shop further for less amazing options) for the items I have listed.