In addition to our gift guide from the December issue that featured some of our favorite architects and designer’s tops picks, here are some ideas from our diverse team here at The Architect’s Newspaper! Take a look below at what our editorial staff is craving, ranging from funny to fabulous.
William Menking, Editor-in-Chief
Here’s one for the serious urbanist in your family. Books from Urban Research on the daily life we all face in the ‘Age of Trump.’
One Star Press creates affordable artworks for the working designer and for slightly less than $1000. Two chairs designed by Rirkrit Tiravanija and John Baldessari (both with Sébastien de Ganay) are the perfect gift for the average art collector. They are cut out of four pieces out of simple plywood on a local CNC machine to make the chair’s carbon footprint as low as possible—and assemble it in a minute with no screws or glue.
Matt Shaw, Senior Editor
These stylish terrazzo objects are as durable as they are ambiguous. Each is uniquely patterned with colored glass and marble chips, and the shapes can be used for a variety of functions.
The Allen Sock is patterned with the crown of the Chrysler Building and is named after architect William Van Alen, who completed the skyscraper in 1930.
Insulation Scarf takes the universal drawing symbol for insulation and applies it to an actual piece of human insulation: The scarf you wrap around your neck.
This book tracks the long process of designing and building the National Museum of African American History, including how to create consensus about a building for an entire group of underrepresented people.
Zachary Edelson, Web Editor
Newly-released, this book uses verticality as a way to explore a complex web of global inequality, cities, architecture, history, and more. It’s a unique perspective on how architecture intersects with politics and culture.
For fans of Buckminster Fuller, a great little desktop addition.
One of the top rated micro projectors of 2016, it’s great for giving presentations anywhere (and can double for entertainment as well).
Olivia Martin, Managing Editor
This handmade ceramic smartphone holder, speaker, and dish by KiBiSi (Bjarke Ingels’s side project with Lars Larsen of Kilo and Jens Martin Skibsted of Skibsted Ideation) and Kengo Kuma is not only a whole lot of starchitecture in one tiny object, but is also practical and elegant. The Japanese walnut wood naturally amplifies sound and the ceramic comes in fun colors like matcha green and sumi black. Available at design shop.
I don’t know if a collaboration between the super hip powerhouses of jewelry designer Pamela Love and Detriot manufacturer Shinola is genius or obnoxious, but the resulting new jewelry line is very nice. If bling isn’t your thing, Shinola’s partnership with GE yields some seriously sleek power strips and extension cords (be still my heart).
Dustin Koda, Art Director
In this three-volume series, Encyclopedia of Flowers, Azuma Makoto works within the constraints of a rapidly changing flower market and the ephemeral nature of botanical life to create sculptural and spatial experiences. Through Shusuke Shiinoki’s photographs, Makoto transforms the prosaic into works of transcendent expression and existentially examines our ongoing interest with beauty, context, and mortality.
Belgian duo Fien Muller and Hannes Van Severen created a bench strict in form yet whimsical in color. The luxurious cuts of marble belie the bench’s commodious practicality.
Becca Blasdel, Products Editor
For someone with a brown thumb, or an apartment with very little natural light, Nobel Truong’s fluorescent cactus sculptures are just the ticket. Plus, they are available in lamp versions, so you can have a mini desert disco when it’s too cold to leave the house.
This book is a feast for the eyes for any Eames fan. With drawings, photographs, and plans–all of the dynamic duo’s projects are in chronological order from their earliest furniture designs to their short film, Powers of Ten.
Antonio Pacheco, West Editor
Here’s a very cool-looking chair made of steel and cork that is also very comfortable to sit in. The seat is milled from thick slabs of renewable cork from Portugal that have been buffed soft and shaped to have bullnose corners.
Kieślowski’s Dekalog is a film series from 1980s-Poland that chronicles the lives of the residents of a Soviet-era housing complex. Each of the ten, hour-long films draws on the Ten Commandments for thematic inspiration.
Dark Age Ahead was Jane Jacobs’s last and perhaps most dystopian book. In it, she foretells the nationalist, anti-neoliberal political wave sweeping the western world today. Jacobs explains our current situation as a necessary crisis resulting from our transition toward a technology-focused society.
Jason Sayer, Editorial Assistant
When your love for concrete is bound only by your wallet then you’ll be pleased to know of Polish firm Zupagrafika and British artist Oscar Francis. If you feel like recreating your own Brutalist block, Zupagrafika has you covered with a cardboard edition of Ernő Goldfinger’s Balfron Tower (also known as Trellick Tower). If that doesn’t take your fancy, Oscar Francis’s wash bag comes enamored with a print of Sulkin House in Hackney, north east London on it.
Art Deco and geometry go hand-in-hand so the style seems ready-made to be used for pattern work, in this case, on wrapping paper. This subtle approach will most likely bring a warm smile to most design types before they’ve even opened your gift. Just make sure the gift is as good!
Frank Lloyd wright had an affinity for the natural world, often celebrating it in his work—Falling Water being the most obvious example. “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you,” he once said. Now you can feed Frank’s feathered friends with this bird feeder whose glass artwork emulates patterns found in the architect’s Darwin D. Martin house in Buffalo.
Audrey Wachs, Associate Editor
Stop. Close your forest of Amazon Prime tabs right now, and make a gift to nonprofits that make our built environment more just, equitable, and beautiful. Better yet, make a donation for the architect in your life: She has enough crap already, and you get a tax deduction. Win-win, right? Here’s a few suggestions:
If you care about fairness and equity in the field, become a member of the Architecture Lobby. The national organization promotes the value of architecture in the public realm and advocates for structural change within the profession to produce better working conditions. For general donations, the group’s Architecture Initiative funds public forums and the Lobby’s educational mission.
To the uninitiated, gender and architecture have more synergy than meets the eye. Organizations like QSPACE, a queer architectural research organization based at the New Museum’s NEW INC, center sexuality and gender in its analysis of the built environment. In addition to donations, the group, founded this year by GSAPP grads, also solicits technical expertise for ongoing projects.
QSPACE isn’t the only group accepting in-kind donations. In the wake of the Oakland warehouse fire that killed 36 people, architects Melissa J. Frost and Susan Surface founded national nonprofit Safer Spaces to help artist-run venues and live/work lofts get up to code. Right now, the group is soliciting donations of fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, and other fire prevention tools, as well building services, project assistance, and plain old-fashioned cash. Check out their local meet-ups and skill-share document here.
For the architect-urbanist, a great way to give back to your city is a gift to your nearest Community Development Corporation (CDC). These nonprofit, hyperlocal organizations typically operate in disinvested, low-income neighborhoods to develop affordable housing, spur economic development, plan neighborhoods, and make streets beautiful. There are CDCs in nearly every city, and for New Yorkers, this list from NYU’s Furman Center is a good place to start.