While researching potential gift ideas for this year’s 7th Annual What to Get an Architect for Christmas, I found a lot of lists that were full of really icky and terrible gift ideas that were clearly NOT put together by an architect. You know what architects don’t want?
They don’t want blueprint cuff links, blueprint business card holders, or a paperweight made to look like a wadded up blueprint!
Luckily, last time I checked, I am a real architect and I know what other real architects want – at least I know what this architect wants for Christmas. So take a chance with those highly questionable gift lists put together by “not-an-architect”, or follow my lead and get that extremely picky architect in your life something they’ll actually not make fun of behind your back for buying.
Everlane – Twill Weekender Bag $98
I already have this bag, but consider this my personal request for people to get rid of their roller bags in favor of a classic style weekender bag. I have flown 18 times for work this year – somewhere in the neighborhood of 40,000 miles – and my average trip lasts no more than 3 days. Unless I am packing 3″ D-ring binders and stone samples, I prefer to carry a bag with some style.
Chisel & Mouse – Venice Cityscape $270
This is the second time I have included Chisel & Mouse on my Christmas shopping list – it’s because I enjoy their plaster models that much. I have 3 of these models in my own house and I have given two additional casts away as gifts to really good friends of mine. Not only are they extremely well received, but my non-architect friends seem to enjoy seeing them in my house – like they expect to see them there.
There are many different models available, not just the Venice Cityscape I showed above – that’s just the one I currently want the most.
When I told my wife I was going to include an electric kettle on my list … she made “a face” and asked me “Why?” Well, let me tell you. I don’t drink coffee, and in my office, 40% of the people are like me and drink tea (some in addition to their coffee). What makes this electric tea kettle so nice is that you can properly make your tea using boiling water. I could also argue that boiling water is particularly handy for architecture students so they can eat those oh-so-delicious $0.99 ramen cups at 2:00am when they realize they are starving and everything is closed … and they have no money.
If you have a tea drinker or want to broaden the experience of a future tea drinker, what better way than to literally spice things up a bit and make it more interesting than simply dropping a generic tea bag into your mug of hot water. Instead, pony up and get a Stainless Steel Loose Tea Strainer ($7) and a Loose Leaf Tea Sampler ($30). Most of the architects I know are foodies and frustrated chefs, so this is a gift I know they’ll appreciate even if they don’t give up their coffee addiction.
Sonos Play:3 $270
Almost every single year I have included some sort of speaker system, whether it be headphones or compact BlueTooth speaker systems, and this year is no different. Say hello to the Sonos Play:3
More and more of my residential clients are foregoing a built-in music system and simply buying a handful of these portable speakers, and once I heard them for myself, I can’t say I blame them. Did I mention that the system is scalable so you can keep adding to your system over the years? Setup over WiFi, control using your smartphone and kick the party off.
North Face Mens Gordon Lyons 1/4 Zip $65 and up
It’s no secret that I make this list every year made up of things I either want for myself or items that I already have and would recommend to others. I have this particular pullover from The North Face, and yet I want more of them … even in the same color.
For what it’s worth, dark gray is the new black.
Robin2 Plain Edge Knife by Spyderco byrd Robin2 Plain Edge Knife $21
Most men I know (sorry ladies) either carry a pocket knife or wish they carried a pocket knife. At only 2.5″ long when closed, even people like me who hate having stuff in their pockets can carry this around. The other positive to have a pocket knife only 2.5″? People won’t look at you like a psychopath for carrying it.
Books For Architects
I have a lot of books … but by the standards of most architects, I run kind of light in terms of actual numbers. The difference is that if I get a book that I don’t like or don’t find any value in owning after I’ver read it, I give it away.
All of the books I have on this list are keepers. While I enjoy a good picture book as much as the next person, I don’t tend to buy them. What I want from my architectural books is context … meaning plans, sections, details – things that support the pretty pictures presented in the book.
Detail in Contemporary Residential Architecture 2 $43
Authors: David Phillips and Megumi Yamashita
Detail in Contemporary Concrete Design $40
Authors: David Phillips and Megumi Yamashita
Detail in Contemporary Staircase Design $43
Author: Paul Barton
Detail in Contemporary Timber Architecture $50
Author: Virginia McLeod
Mid-Century Modern Architecture Travel Guide: West Coast USA $25
Author: Sam Lubell
Brunelleschi’s Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture $11
Author: Ross King
Never Built Los Angeles $38
Author: Greg Goldin and Sam Lubell
The Business of Design: Balancing Creativity and Profitability $28
Author: Keith Granet
These are the gold standard of stocking stuffers for architects. When I was a kid, Santa would put a bunch of fruit in our stocking – most of which had to get removed so we could see the stuff that we really wanted. I can promise you that these items have real value to your someone special architect … and none of these gifts cost more than a few cups of coffee.
Moleskine Cahier Journal (Set of 3), Extra Large, Plain, Black, Soft Cover (7.5 x 10) $15
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.
Tombo Markers (10 piece Gray Scale $15) (10 Pack Landscape Colors $15)
These pens will take a mediocre drawing and make it fabulous (and who doesn’t want that? Maybe a CPA …) I use these markers myself and I never cease to be amazed how just a tiny bit of color on a sketch makes it look like a pro did it … Oh, guess what? I am a pro (or at least now I can look like one).
Sharpie Ultra Fine Tip pens $6
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
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.
Ho Ho Ho
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 will have something you’re looking for –
What to get an Architect for Christmas – 2015
What to get an Architect for Christmas – 2014
What to get an Architect for Christmas – 2013
What to get an Architect for Christmas – 2012
What to get an Architect for Christmas – 2011
What to get an Architect for Christmas – 2010
That wraps up the 2016 list of ‘What to get an Architect for Christmas‘. Shopping for overly-picky, demanding, self-righteous architects isn’t necessarily fun but if you follow the items on this list, I can reasonably guarantee that you’ll 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, most will take you to Amazon where you can buy (or shop further for less amazing options) for the items I have listed.