Sketch, Le Corbusier (circa 1962)
Picked By: J. Robert Hillier, FAIA, principal, Studiohillier
Acquired: From a Paris gallery in 2005
Why I Love It: This maquette sketch was done as a test sample for the porcelain pilgrimage entry door at La Chapelle de Ronchamp. Corbusier painted the sketch on a steel plate in the shop where the door was made. To have the test sketch that led to that door’s creation is very, very special. It is the one and only piece, which makes it significant—it inspires me, but then, all of what Corbusier has done inspires me.
Sharpwriter with #2 lead, Papermate
Picked By: Ann M. Beha, FAIA, principal, Ann Beha Architects
Why I Love It: This is a staple of my daily world. You can buy it everywhere, and use it on trace, paper, or the Sunday crossword. Smooth, perfectly sized for my hand, with a soft eraser and good lead, this pencil moves across paper with speed and no resistance—it may have a mind of its own! The language of drawing requires simple tools. As you hold it, you gently rotate the combed plastic head to lengthen the lead. I have dozens.
7" × 10" Field Sketchbook, Canson
Picked By: Jim Olson, FAIA, founding partner, Olson Kundig Architects
Acquired: From an art store
Why I Love It: I love these sketchbooks because they are spiral bound and lay flat. I use the 7-inch-by-10-inch size because I can take it everywhere, including air travel where space is limited. The paper is of nice quality and available without lines. I use them for everything—pencil, pen, watercolor, pastel. I am never without one.
Vilbert Chair by Verner Panton, Ikea
Picked By: Rafael de Cárdenas, founder, Rafael de Cárdenas/Architecture At Large
Acquired: From a secondhand shop in Stockholm
Why I Love It: I’ve never met anyone else who has this chair or knows of it. Apparently it was a huge commercial failure for Ikea. Its design is simple but quite ingenious—just four planes of MDF braced together. The only thing that dates it are the laminates’ colors. As a design object, it’s had huge ramifications on my work and speaks to my interests directly.
Proline Universal Shower, Quick Drain USA
Picked By: Karen L. Braitmayer, FAIA, architect and accessibility consultant
Why I Love It: I am a wheelchair user—as is my daughter—and this is the first wheelchair-accessible shower that we’ve ever had. It’s nice for two reasons: First, the floor slopes backward toward the wall so that water doesn’t leak under the door, and second, the single-slope floor provides a stable surface—perfect for my shower bench. The showers are also stylish.
Ceramic Bowls and Cups, Vincent de Rijk
Picked By: Dan Wood, AIA, founding partner, Work Architecture Company (WORKac)
Acquired: Bought directly from Vincent de Rijk in Rotterdam
Why I Love It: Vincent is an old friend, and when Amale (Wood’s WORKac co-founder and wife) and I were living in Rotterdam, we used to buy his rejects. Most of our cups and bowls, therefore, have a small chip or defect. He made a mathematically determined group of these items, increasing the diameter and the parabolic shape so that the series encompasses everything from salt dishes to bowls, cups, serving bowls, and vases. They are simple, beautiful, and elegant to look at and to hold—and also incredibly functional. Even as our collection dwindles away over time, we continue to use them and remember their trajectory through our lives.
Picked By: Coren Sharples, AIA, principal, SHoP Architects
Why I Love It: My mom bought us this chair in a consignment shop in Charlottesville, Va. The previous owner was described as a "former city planner" from Hamburg, Germany. His son was studying at the University of Virginia, so the family bought and furnished a house in Charlottesville to stay in when they visited. When the son graduated, the family shipped “the good stuff” back home and sold the rest—I would have loved to see what they sent home!
Parentesi Lamp by Achille Castiglioni and Pio Manzu, Flos (circa 1972)
Picked By: Lorenzo Apicella, AIA, partner, Pentagram
Why I Love It: It’s minimal and elegant but not too stylized. It offers ultimate flexibility: You can decide how high and in what direction to set the light, and you can deploy it anywhere close to a wall outlet. I also love that it becomes part of the architecture—that it connects the ceiling plane and the floor plane. It somehow inhabits the room rather than just being an object.
Spotlight on a Classic Revival
Few would argue that the design of Pio Manzù and Achille Castiglioni’s iconic 1972 Parentesi lamp needs much improvement. Nevertheless, advances in lighting technology led Flos to enlist German designer Konstantin Grcic in updating the classic design for 2013.
While retaining the lamp’s functionality and poise, Grcic replaced the adjustable spotlight with a flat LED disc that rotates 360 degrees and switched the cylindrical cast-iron counterweight for a conical-shaped, easy-to-install version. However, the curved, parenthesis–shaped tubular support that gave the original lamp its namesake was omitted.
As a result, the new version is called OK, a nod to its O-shaped LED disc and the initial of its esteemed designer’s first name, Konstantin.