The Best Gifts For Architects (And Architecture Nerds)

From the perfect pen to a Zaha-designed cuff, here are a few selections for the architect on your list.

The Best Gifts For Architects (And Architecture Nerds)

Architects are a fussy sort–a symptom of a job that involves minute tolerances, heady theory, and a culture that often takes things way too seriously. So shopping for an architect can be especially daunting. We’ve rounded up a handful of objects for the architect or architecture fan on your shopping list, from affordable stocking stuffers to fantasy gifts.

[Photo: Darren Bradley/courtesy Phaidon]

An Architecture Buff’s Dream Road Trip
The progressive ideals of Modernism were no stronger than in the post-war era, which gave rise to some of the best architecture in America–much of it in the west. In the new book Mid-Century Modern Architecture Travel Guide: West Coast USA ($35), author Sam Lubell takes readers on an armchair road trip through the best homes, offices, schools, parks, and more in California, Oregon, and Washington. With original photography commissioned specifically for the tome, the book was intentionally structured as a travel guide so architecture nerds can admire these structures IRL. You can order a copy on

The Ultimate Ballpoint Pen
Shigeru Ban designed this retractable $90 ball-point pen to feature the three units of measure typically found on an architect’s scale. So even if today’s architect does most drawings on a computer, the pen is a nostalgic reminder of the profession’s past–and a handy writing implement to keep in your pocket. Order one here.

A Desk Lamp For Burning The Midnight Oil
Architect Achille Castiglioni originally designed the Taccia lamp in the 1950s, but the Italian lighting manufacturer that’s closer to his concept than the product it released over 60 years ago. Thanks to LEDs, which emit less heat than traditional bulbs, FLOS was able to create the acrylic shade Castiglioni had always intended; the lamp originally launched with a glass shade after all plastic prototypes melted. As late nights are a norm for architects, this lamp, which retails for $995, is a handsome option for providing ambient light whilst toiling away on drawings. (If you’re feeling especially generous, Herman Miller’s Aeron task chair got an update this year and would make a fine gift, too.) Head over to FLOS for more.

An Organizational Homage To Constructivist Design
Architects tend to appreciate order–just look at their handwriting–so give the gift of tidiness with this wood desk set whose abstract forms are inspired by famous Constructivist buildings from the Soviet Union. The set costs about $60.

Sculptural Renditions Of The World’s Best Buildings
British company Chisel and Mouse produces gorgeous plaster scale models of iconic buildings and cityscapes from around the world. Chances are the company has a piece in the your gift recipient’s favorite style, from Art Deco power stations to Bauhaus schools and contemporary masterpieces. Prices start at around $270.


For The Brutalist Devotee
Brutalism has had a banner year, with a slew of books and style-section essays that profess an appreciation for this oft-maligned style, so named for the use of exposed concrete (beton brut is French for raw concrete) and not its harsh–some would say ugly–appearance. , compiled by architecture writer Deane Madsen for Blue Crow Media ($10), chronicles the unsung masterpieces in our nation’s capital. It’s like an architectural scavenger hunt through D.C. Buy one here.

A Game For Builders At Heart
Lego bricks are often the gateway into the world of building and Lego has an impressive assortment of architectural sets, which are usually on sale for a limited time before a new roster of structures is added. New from the Danish toy maker for 2016 are kits for the U.S. Capitol, Buckingham Palace, Venice, Berlin, and New York City. Check them out at

Bling For The Flashy Set
File this $3,000 cuff under fantasy gifts. Before she passed away this year, architect Zaha Hadid–who was just as prolific with design objects as she was with buildings–created the Lamellae Collection for Danish silversmiths at Georg Jensen. “Working with Georg Jensen presented an opportunity to express our ideas in different scales and through different media,” she said of the collaboration. Made from sterling silver, gold, and rhodium, the line interprets the “organic structural logic found in nature”–a recurring inspiration for Zaha’s dynamic buildings. Head over to Georg Jensen to see the collection.

About the author

Diana Budds is a New York–based writer covering design and the built environment.