Gift buying for the design-savvy can be an intimidating and time-consuming task. In the spirit of giving, we asked six architects and designers to do the head scratching for us. Here are their suggestions for showing clients, friends, colleagues, and more a little year-end appreciation.

Alvar Aalto Collection, Iittala | From €20.90
Recommended by: Asifa Tirmizi, Assoc. AIA, principal, Tirmizi Campbell Architecture, New York

Designed in 1936 and produced today by Finnish manufacturer Iittala, these glass bowls and vases bring a design history that your colleagues are sure to appreciate. “It’s become somewhat of a classic piece and can be utilized for so many different things,” says Tirmizi of midcentury architect Aalto’s timeless glass vessels. Although Aalto intentionally neglected to define how the pieces should be used, Tirmizi employs hers to display flowers and store desktop stationery. 

Dual Brush Pens, Tombow | $3.19 each or $26.99 for a set of 10

Recommended by: Bob Borson, AIA, principal, Malone Maxwell Borson Architects, Dallas

“These pens will take a mediocre drawing and make it fabulous,” says Borson, who also writes the blog Life of an Architect and uses the colorful Tombow pens for his own design work. “I never cease to be amazed at 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.”

Parker Crossbody Tote, M.R.K.T. | $89-$95

Recommended by: Jenny Wu, partner, Oyler Wu Collaborative, Los Angeles

This well-made yet affordable felt bag is perfect for someone who appreciates a harmonious balance of form and function. Made by Los Angeles accessories label M.R.K.T., the tote comes in architect-friendly black and gray colors, as well as a deep purple and a vibrant tangerine (shown). “I love its clean lines and versatility,” Wu says. “It is a bag you can carry both casually and for work.”

MOS Architects

Reproduction No. 1, MOS Architects | $80
Recommended by: Allison Newmeyer, co-founder, Design With Company, Chicago

Did you know that one of the modernist architect Adolf Loos’ earliest designs was a scented candle? Neither did we. Impress your friends with an authentic reproduction of the deep-black-hued candle made of wax and pine oil, which a young Loos crafted as a student in Josef Hoffmann’s Wiener Werkstätte. “Recipients of this gift can fill their rooms with the delicious scent of a forest near Loos’ boyhood home,” Newmeyer says.

Various Projects

Pigeon, Various Projects | $60

Recommended by: Alex Mustonen, partner, Snarkitecture, Brooklyn, N.Y.

In a world where the more exotic bird species tend to steal the spotlight (we’re looking at you, flamingos) it’s good to see the humble New York pigeon getting some love. Hand knitted from 100% Alpaca wool by a fair trade network in Bolivia, Various Projects’ stuffed pigeon is the perfect gift for city-loving kids. “This is a beautiful version of an often unpopular New York creature that acts as a nice, fuzzy reminder of things both good and bad from the city,” Mustonen says.


V6 Trigger, Dyson | $199.99

Recommended by: Toru Hasegawa, co-creator, Morpholio, New York

Help your clients keep their beautifully designed buildings tidy with the latest handheld Dyson—a tool that Hasegawa calls “life-changing.” Why? Because it makes cleaning an effortless part of the daily routine. “It mounts easily to stay charged, is ready at your fingertips, is light, flexible, super powerful, and is so easy to grab, go, and do away with the mes,” he says.


Chisel & Mouse

Model buildings, Chisel & Mouse | From $150 
Recommended by: Bob Borson

These incredibly detailed and finely crafted model reproductions of famous architectural buildings are handmade in Sussex, England, from strong plaster while window frames and doors are detailed in etched brass. “These models are something that garners appreciation of the finished product,” Borson says. “You get it, you look at it, you love it … but you don’t play with it.”

Sam Jacob Studio

Plank Scarf, Sam Jacob Studio | £25
Recommended by: Allison Newmeyer

Designed by multitasking London architect Sam Jacob, this two-tone, knitted wood-plank-themed scarf is the perfect sartorial statement for any timber-obsessed architect. “Just don’t try to throw it into the fireplace,” Newmeyer says.


Pratone, Gufram | $13,200

Recommended by: Alex Mustonen

Crafted for the legendary Italian furniture brand Gufram in 1971 by designers Giorgio Ceretti, Piero Derossi, and Riccardo Rosso, the unconventional Pratone chaise lounge challenged the idea of what furniture could be. As subversive today as it was then, Pratone’s oversized bendy blades of polyurethane foam grass encourage a luxurious—not to mention pricey—repose. “This one is more from my personal wish list,” Mustonen says. “I love Gufram, and this piece in particular makes me want to get lost in it for a weekend.”


iPad Pro, Apple | from $799

Recommended by: Toru Hasegawa

Hot off the production line, Apple’s new iPad Pro is not only super-sized, it’s also packed with design-friendly features, Hasegawa says. “With this device, Apple has made a direct investment in architects and creatives of all types who work with detail, drawing, and modeling, and need mobile tools to stay productive on-site or on the road,” he says. “The apps that will be enabled by this device are sure to be game-changing for design professionals of all types.” Among them, Morpholio’s updated Trace

Noah Kalina

Broken Ornament, Snarkitecture | $45  

Recommended by: Allison Newmeyer

Giving a shout-out to ARCHITECT Gift Guide co-contributor Alex Mustonen and his firm Snarkitecture, Newmeyer suggests the Brooklyn, N.Y.–based practice’s Broken Ornament as a yuletide offering for style-conscious clients. “The Broken Ornament is a playful transformation of the archetypal Christmas ornament,” says Newmeyer of the distinctive gypsum cement bauble. “It can hide in your client’s tree as a hidden wink to those who discover it.”


Mini Jambox, Jawbone | $179.99
Recommended by: Bob Borson

“The sound is terrific, the range shockingly good, and the design is minimally fantastic,” says Borson of the Mini Jambox, which he borrows from his daughter for the occasional working weekend in the office. “It’s wireless and holds a charge for days. Gotta say, I think this Bluetooth technology thing is going to work out.”

Attipas Shoes, Wildcat Co. | Varies
Recommended by: Jenny Wu

“I first discovered these shoes as a gift from a friend based in Asia,” Wu says of the fun and flexible sneakers, which hail from South Korea and were an instant hit with her young son. “Studies show that as our children are learning to walk, it’s best to be barefoot as much as possible. These shoes were designed to allow movement that mimics being barefoot, while protecting their feet.”


Composing Space: The Photographs of Hélène Binet, Phaidon | $150 
Recommended by: Asifa Tirmizi

“I like to give a good ‘art of photography’ book to a client based on their interests,” says Tirmizi, who recently gifted Phaidon’s Hélène Binet monograph to one of her discerning clients. The limited-edition Composing Space: The Photographs of Hélène Binet is the only monograph on the work of the London-based Swiss-French architectural photographer who shoots solely in analog.

Apple Pencil, Apple | $99 

Recommended by: Toru Hasegawa

The Apple Pencil, marketed for use with the new iPad Pro, is capable of single-pixel resolution, responds to pressure and tilt, and offers up to 12 hours of battery life, all of which makes sketching, rendering, and marking up drawings fluid on the way to beautiful results. “We think Apple's greatest gift to design was bringing the hand to the screen, and this just sweetened the deal,” Hasegawa says.

Classic Marking Products

Shiny Model E.M. Embosser, Classic Marking Products | $38.95

Recommended by: Bob Borson

“You can’t go wrong with getting your favorite architect a book as a present,” Borson hedges. Even better is to give them this reassuringly weighty embosser so they can label the book as their own. “All of my books have my name on the inside cover page—a practice that developed out of bringing my books up to the office so frequently,” Borson says.

Jenny Wu/Lace

Amare, Lace | From $90 

Recommended by: Jenny Wu

Who better to design jewelry for exacting architects than a fellow designer? Two sinuous metallic bands join with a twist to form Amare, the newest piece from Wu’s line of jewelry, Lace. “These steel rings use a binder-jet metal 3D-printing technology that was previously used mostly for industrial applications but is now available for high-resolution 3D-printing applications such as jewelry,” she says.



Casebot Kiddie Case for Apple iPad Mini, Fintie | $36.99

Recommended by: Asifa Tirmizi

It seems that most kids today can operate an iPad before they’re out of diapers. With this in mind, Tirmizi recommends Fintie’s heavy-duty ethylene-vinyl acetate foam iPad cover as the perfect accessory for tiny techies, not only for its lightweight nature but also because it protects the (pricey) technology within.

Star Wars Limited Edition Notebook, Moleskine | From $20.95 

Recommended by: Toru Hasegawa

These are, indeed, the droids notebooks you’re looking for. “We know that kids need help keeping track of all that homework,” Hasegawa says. “Teaching good habits starts with good tools that make organization and planning feel creative, fun, and special.” Choose from a limited-edition Stormtrooper- or Kylo Ren–notebook, or get organized for the year ahead with an R2-D2 or C-3PO planner.


Noah Kalina

Secret Souvenir, Snarkitecture | $120 

Recommended by: Alex Mustonen

Sure to delight even the most hard-to-please client, this classic white candle looks nondescript at first glance. Upon closer inspection, an offset wick hints that there may be more here than meets the eye. As the candle burns down, a metal model of a New York landmark—the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, or the Statue of Liberty—is gradually revealed from within the wax. “This is one of my favorite objects that we've designed,” Mustonen says. “Simple, yet surprising.”