ICFF 2013

I attended the International Contemporary Furniture Fair this year, held every year at the Jacob Javits Center. Apparently, the last time I attended ICFF was in 2011. You can view what interested me during ICFF 2011, here.

It was in 2011 that I first saw these corrugated pendants by Graypants. I like the idea and look of the fixtures. The light is filtered/obscured through the corrugation, which provides an ambient quality of lighting. The design makes it a great feature in a room, whether ganged in a group of three or more, or as a single unit. I can easily see these fixtures in a conference room of an upstart or earth friendly or tech company.

Corrugated pendant fixtures

Corrugated pendant fixtures

Compared with my last attendance of ICFF, my focus seemed to be on lighting fixtures, and less on furniture although there was one chair that stood out. A couple of materials and accessories also caught my attention.

Iacoli & McAllister designed these attractive geometric fixtures. I especially like the clustered boxed lights in copper plated frames and the way the light is intensified by the reflection of the polished finish. Very modern and a great feature over a highly lacquered black colored dining table – perhaps one that is elliptical in shape.

Cluster lighting

Cluster lighting

While walking up and down the aisles, this spherical shaped lighting fixture by moooi caught my eye. It reminded me of an allium flower. The fixture made me smile. The fixture is lit by peg-like light bulbs – kinda like twinkle lights wound into a ball but with intention. The black backdrop accentuated the brightness, making the fixture illuminate like a bright star.

Pendant lighting

Pendant lighting

Pendant lighting

I was surprised upon realizing I liked these decorative lighting fixtures by Serip (organic lighting). The fixtures are very ornate, and not something I would normally give a second glance at but as I began to walk away, my eyes stayed fixated on the organic lighting structures that either hugged the wall or suspended from above.

Serip: organic lighting

Serip: organic lighting

Serip: organic lighting

Serip: organic lighting

Serip: organic lighting

The chair that caught my attention as well as other attendees is the Parabola Chair. The web-like chair is designed by Carlo Aiello. The general structure is comprised of geometric shapes, a triangle and a square, which are slightly manipulated.

Parabola Chair

The two dimensional “square” has a wire-frame, which is then pulled back to create the seat as well as the rear leg support. The chair is fabricated with metal rods that are welded to the main “square” frame. I sat in the chair and thought it was comfortable – in the sense that I was only sitting in the chair for a few seconds. I’m not sure how well the chair will sit with me over a longer period of sitting in a hard net. What I did appreciate about the chair is it promoted an upright seating position as opposed to a chair for lounging – in my opinion.

Parabola Chair

Parabola Chair

Parabola Chair

Parabola Chair

A couple of finish materials stood out for me at ICFF, and those are the ceramic tiles by Stonepeak and the mosaic woods tiles by Materials, Inc. I thought these materials are exceptional because they are an interesting alternative to typical materials used in a given project or space. For instance, Stonepeak offers an alternative to stone with their ceramic tiles that are fabricated to look like stone without the associated cost. One of the Stonepeak reps informed me that high quality photos of stone slabs are captured, and then printed onto ceramic tiles. Some of the ceramic tiles are also fabricated with textures typical of stone. The faux stone ceramic tiles looked very convincing as stone especially when polished! It’s only when you look close up that you realize it’s not stone.

Ceramic tiles

Ceramic tiles

Ceramic tiles

Ceramic tiles

Wood is typically not used in areas like the kitchen or bathroom until now*. As I was finishing up my walk through of the booths at ICFF, I came upon these mosaic wood tiles by Materials, Inc. The sales rep explained the mosaic wood tiles were designed for application in wet areas. He added that the wood pieces are laminated to a resin back with mesh, which allows the mosaic wood pieces to be used as a wall and floor finish in wet areas. The resin backer helps to reduce movement of the wood pieces in wet locations. (Wood tends to expand and contract in humid and wet locations.) An epoxy based adhesive and grout is used to install the mosaic wood sheets, which also allows the wood pieces some flexibility.

Wood mosaic

The best booth at ICFF is Jan-Kath’s oriental rugs made by hand in Nepal and Turkey. The rugs are beautiful! The designs of the rugs are such that it appears to look like antique oriental rugs that have been worn away by centuries of foot traffic. Silk and wool are used to create these luxurious rugs. The areas of the rug that appear to worn away are knotted with silk because of its inherent sheen.





If you attended ICFF 2013 feel free to leave a comment. It can be your thoughts about the show. Perhaps there was something that you liked at the show that I should take a look? Looking forward to next year’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair, and sharing my thoughts with you.









(*)This product may have been around before I learned about it during ICFF 2013.


Gifts for architects 2012

It seems this year, the holiday shopping season came a bit early. I want to say it started a week before Thanksgiving. I know the outdoor holiday market in Union Square was set up and operating the weekend before people filled themselves with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. And as with every holiday shopping, people are scrambling to find that gift fitting of the person they’re giving.

I know I haven’t posted much to my blog but ever since I started La Femme Architecte, I’ve put together a list of gift ideas for architects for the holiday season. It’s become an annual tradition, and something I look forward to putting forth because I enjoy the search and I have fun writing it.

When I was a little girl, my mom bought me a memory game. I didn’t think much of it at first but ended up loving it and enjoyed the challenge. Of course, exercising the memory is not just children’s play. Memory games are fun and useful for all ages. Here’s a memory game that features architecture. It’s a great way to unwind after a grueling day in the office. And let’s not forget there are many architects who have families with children of their own. This would make a great activity for the architect and their child/children to share and bond over. Warning: this may lead children to a path of a career in architecture.

memory game

I did not have a dollhouse growing up. What I did have was a child sized bookshelf that my dad built, which I played with as a dollhouse. You can imagine that each shelf was a floor in the house and the spaces between books created the rooms.

modernist dollhouse

Many of you are already familiar with Lego’s Architecture series. I personally have recorded a set yet but I would love one of the Villa Savoye. I’ve also had the pleasure of visiting this modern home while studying abroad in France.

villa savoye lego

A classmate highly recommended this book, and I am highly recommending it to you now. It’s a fascinating read of the famous dome in Florence. The description of the period and the accounts of the events that occurred places you there as the dome was executed.


I happened upon these while at a bookshop and thought these would make fun and useful stocking stuffers.

Most of us in the industry are practicing with computers and using advanced software to generate complex drawings and sexy renderings. However, there are still some architects who continue to draw by hand and with a pencil; typically a mechanical pencil. Along with a packaged present of a sketchbook and a mechanical pencil or lead holder, add an eraser or erasers like these shaped as buildings!

Or for the architect who has to have the latest tech gadget that plugs into a USB port, why not stuff their stockings with these building shaped USB ports?

And if you’d like more ideas, take a look at previous posts for gift suggestions here, or here, and here.

Getting to know La Femme Architecte

Some of you may be wondering who is the woman behind La Femme Architecte. As you know, she resides in a great city, New York. She enjoys being an architect despite some of the professional issues she may have and doesn’t believe that she is alone in becoming frustrated by certain practices and attitudes taken up by some architects. But for those who want to get to know (more about) La Femme Architecte, you may not find the answer you seek here on her blog. Instead, you can find it on Habitables; which recently went thru a re-design of their website.

Habitables is a great resource for architects and designers alike who are passionate about great design!

If you’d like to get to know La Femme Architecte, you can read Why I became an Architect.

End of the year 2010 commentary

Christmas has come and gone, and 2010 is about to come to a close. In 2009 my employment was spared. I continued to work into 2010 with hope of exciting projects to materialize and when they didn’t, I was let go. To be quite honest, I was relieved. I was not upset. I saw the signs but it wasn’t any better out there so I stayed until the moment arrived. I had to keep myself from smiling when I sat face to face with my boss as he explained the situation. Although I did not agree with how he practiced, I did appreciate the opportunity to work on some interesting projects and having been exposed to a world characters I would never have access to.

I worked on a schematic design for a night club venue for that would be part of a huge development in Southeast Asia.There was a hospitality development that was set in the south but drama ensued with the negotiations and that deal fell through. It is a shame as a lot of time and effort was put into making it a reality. I also developed a prototype for a health conscious convenient grocer. And I even worked on the design of an immense beach house.

As I mentioned earlier, I was relieved to have been let go. Though the projects were interesting, they did not have the steady momentum to keep me motivated because I knew these were not going to be realized. It did not make sense to extend myself beyond what was needed to get the task completed. I know when my efforts are appreciated and it was not fully appreciated there. I miss being appreciated. I miss giving it more than 100%. I miss extending myself for the benefit of the project, the client, my employer, and most importantly, for myself. I found it frustrating and at times stressful to work in an environment where I could not be as professional as I could possibly be. I felt underutilized for my experience and skill set. When I decided to join this practice, I was hoping to grow but instead, I leveled out. So when I was let go, feelings of frustration and stress evaporated.

On top of being rendered unemployed after 2+ years of disappointment, I found out to my dismay that my years in the work force counts for nothing with IDP. I was not devastated but became briefly frantic about getting whatever eligible hours/points submitted to IDP. Becoming an architect is now my goal for 2011. I have no excuses and actually have my disappointments to inspire me to finally complete this chapter of my professional career.

I remain hopeful about employment prospects in 2011 but I have a feeling the economy will not spark any surges in hires. The market is not in favor of the “looking for work” candidate. Employers have higher expectations and requirements from their prospective candidates.These are requirements I would not have even developed had I stayed in any of my previous places of employment. It makes me feel out-dated and my experiences obsolete. I can easily learn these additional skills but I know I will be professionally abused because I’ve been there and have little interest in doing that again. Besides, where I want to go with my professional career, in my opinion, does not require these skills.

I also bumped into a former employer who I do keep good relations with. It was great to see him and catch up. I was also touched when he expressed how much they appreciated my professionalism. Their practice is getting by and he explained that they had hired someone but informed the new hire that their employment was a trial and is contingent of projects coming in. Yet, he has inquired with me (more than once) of any possibilities of freelancing with them. I can’t help but think about the trial status of the recent hire while I was being courted for freelance work. Of course, we continue to remain friends.

And speaking of friendships, I have to say that I have had great fun making friends in the architectural community on Twitter. I know that may seem strange but if you’re reading this, it’s really not all that strange to you. What a bunch of supportive people! I certainly appreciate the many kind and encouraging words here on La Femme Architecte and on Twitter. It means a lot and helps me to push on with what I want to do with this blog and continued endeavors with writing and architecture. To these people, I want to thank you and wish you a Happy New Year!

Pro Bono – part 1

That was this month’s topic for discussion via #aiachat on Twitter. I found it apropos because I had read an article about architectural practice and pro bono work in Metropolis Magazine, which was written in response to a recently published book about the above subject, The Power of Pro Bono. Plus, I had submitted an application to DesigNYC, a non-profit organization whose aim is “improving the lives of New Yorkers through the power of good design”.

The #aiachat on Twitter was moderated by @AIANational, who submits “official” questions for participants to respond or start a dialogue. Anybody with a Twitter account is welcome to participate. For more information about participating in the next #aiachat, click here.

Apparently many who participated in the #aiachat admitted to being approached for pro bono work. I’ve included several interesting responses from participants below:

@liraluis: Q1 Yes, by both NPOs (non-profit org) and, yes, for-profit organizations
@AishaDBdesigner: Q1 response: Always get approached + see opportunities by non profits. My question is how much time can one really dedicate?
@tdatx: Yes, mostly through a formal professional services organization called The Real Estate Council in Dallas
@AllisonBroSco: we are approached mainly from our local community organizations, and we participate when and how we can
@DreamwallsGlass: Q1: I get a lot of questions for pro-bono work from non-profits on which I either serve on a board or volunteer with.

I thought it was interesting that the question and responses were posed where the client approached the architect/designer for pro bono work vs. the other way around. I think one of the interesting things about organizations like DesigNYC is they are set up to help facilitate architects and designers with non-profit organizations who could use our services to benefit our local communities. I don’t see why architects and designers shouldn’t be a little more pro-active with getting involved with local NPO’s while promoting good design.

Other questions were raised shortly after the discussion was initiated with the first question:

@AIANational: How about individual clients inquiring about pro bono work in addition to organizations?
@HawkinsArch: @AIANational . Sure I have individual clients asking for free work all the time! 🙂 But not sure that is really Pro Bono…

I was curious about the difference between doing work for free vs. pro bono; and I do not include speculative work, which in my opinion is something else entirely. Below are some interesting responses.

@AIANational: @lafemmearchitct and @HawkinsArchGreat point; is there a difference in free v. pro bono work?
@DreamwallsGlass: Response to @lafemmearchitct A GOOD pro bono piece of work should be something more pr-worthy. A lot of people ask for “free” 🙂
@DESIGNSTUDIO26: goodness yes. free is mostly not good for the practice, or profession.
@liraluis:@aianational Free benefits singularity. Probono benefits society. @lafemmearchitct @HawkinsArch
@LowenCorp: Pro Bono means the business is involved somehow- Free is just ‘giving’ things away.
@bslarch: pro bono by definition means work done for the public good. this differentiates it from freebies!

I agree with @DESIGNSTUDIO26 that doing something for free is not good for the practice, or the profession as I believe it devalues our efforts.  Also doing something for free implies no or little value, which is contrary to the time and effort we put into each problem we solve. There are many architects and designers who struggle to make their clients understand the value of the services they provide. Throwing “free” into the conversation only makes our argument less effective, and what we do less appreciated.

@liraluis put it best and simply regarding the difference between free and pro bono. I’d also like to add that the difference between doing something for free vs. pro bono is how one feels when services are rendered. I suspect that professionals who provide “pro bono” services to NPOs, would be more rewarding as their efforts, however great or small, will have a positive impact on the community.

I thought this was an interesting questions as architects do not normally advertise their practices or services like a lawyer or cosmetics doctor with print ads or billboards. Instead, architecture practices get their exposure through publications in magazines, books, and online resources.

@liraluis: Q2. No, but my firm registered withwww.theonepercent.org where we commit to donate 1% of our services to cause-worthy projects
@HawkinsArch: Q2: Do not advertise. Do use word of mouth within NOP orgs and networks. But no real marketing for it.
@AllisonBroSco: Q2 we advertise that we engage closely with our community, and we talk a lot about those orgs we are involved in.

@liraluis: It’s abt managing expectations of clients–probono or freebie. NPOs can get carried away on wanting things free bec of 501c3 status
@HawkinsArch: Q3 The biggest issue with Pro Bono. Try to manage expectations and provide feedback like all projects. Scope creep is always there

I couldn’t agree more with @liraluis and @HawkinsArch. Part of managing the expectations of any client is to have a signed contract or a document that indicates project description and which services will be provided.

@liraluis: Q4. At the end of the day, some of our probono projects have generated more publicity for us than any paid marketing campaign.
@NextMoon: @DreamwallsGlass Pro bono services benefit firm in bldg expertise & content for outreach, but also relationships in community.
@HMCArchitects: Q4 Benefits: Rewarding experiences to engage communities, collaborating w/ organizations that believe design can make a difference

In addition to the Q&A, there were some interesting and valid points made during the #aiachat, and definitely something architects and designers must not forget and take into consideration. I’ve highlighted some of these tweets below.

@threefourteen: problem with pro-bono. Even though its free it doesnt mean they cant sue you. Still liability involved for#architects
@stevemouzon: pro bono work should be for a cause you’re passionate about, not just to meet a quota, IMO
@liraluis: Q3. Tip on managing expectations: We issue invoices to client indicating $value of services performed probono but with zero balance

@tdatx: Did we ever figure out if our pro bono work is tax deductible?
@liraluis: @tdatx If the organization has a 501c3 status, yes. For anything else, your tax advisor will be the best bet.

@dMASS_net: Is doing extra free work to make a paying clients’ project in order to make it greener also pro-bono (i.e public good)?

If you are an architect or designer and are interested in pro bono work you may be interested in looking into these organization to help facilitate your services with a non-profit organization who can benefit from your efforts and make a better community.

And, if anybody is still unclear what it means to provide pro bono services or what is considered pro bono work, you can always check wikipedia;

@mike_kohn: In case anyone’s interested, here’s the @Wikipedia definition of pro bono:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pro_bono.

I also want to thank @KDiop for informing me of this #aiachat – merci beacoup!

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Gifts for the Architect 2010

Well, it’s that time of year again as we approach closer to the holidays, and people are wondering what to give as gifts. I can’t speak for everyone but I can at least help those who need gift ideas to give an architect. I compiled a list of gift ideas last year, Gifts for the Architect, which you are more than welcome to check out. The ideas I listed last year are timeless and you can’t go wrong with.

For 2010, I have compiled a list of *new* and exciting gift ideas that I believe will please almost any architect. It wasn’t an easy task but someone had to do it. I scoured the internet visiting various sites and trolled the streets of NYC looking for great gifts to give that architect friend, spouse, or child. I believe what I have selected will no doubt meet an architect’s professional needs, their desire for knowledge and inspiration, and complement their creative sensibilities. You can’t go wrong with these gifts. As one of the gifts says (and you’ll see this soon enough), “Trust me, I’m an architect.”

The architect’s travel companion

I don’t know any architect who isn’t always carrying something to the job site or a project meeting so why not give them a bag that can take the abuse of daily travels and still look professional?

Victorinox Swiss Army has a collection of travel gear called Architecture 2.0 with over 20 bags to choose from. Of the collection, Louvre 17 would be a thoughtful gift. The specs say it fits a 17″ laptop which is great because it means an architect can also stick a reduced size (11″x17″) set of documents without having to fold a larger set. There are also pockets to fit pens, PDA’s, tape measure, a scale, and other tools.

I admit the black bag (above) is a bit conservative looking; and for many architects this is what they will want to use in a suited work environment. But not all architects are restricted to working in a suit. There are many architects who are professional and dress comfortably. For these architects, I recommend products from White Sycamore, luxury leather goods made in the U.S.A.! The item I want to highlight here is their Architect Plan Carrier, which is an amazing answer to the problem of carrying awkward full-sized rolled up drawings to the job site or project meeting. Full size drawings can range from 24″ to 36″ when rolled up; and the diameter can vary depending on the complexity of the project. This carrier is a great solution to a common awkward problem. For a limited time, get 20% off purchases only at etsy.


The architect’s muse & musings

Architects love glossy picture books! The bigger, the better but who wants to lug a huge heavy book around? Trust me, I received one as a holiday present. Don’t get me wrong, I love it! But it was not easy to take home! Instead, I have here some great recommendations for books with lots of pretty glossy pictures that is sure to be a sweet treat to the architect’s eyes!

Phaidon, is an excellent publisher of art, architecture, cook, design, graphic, and photography books. They have a shop in New York City, Soho to be exact. One of my favorite places to visit! They have this gorgeous new book on John Pawson: Plain Space (one of my favorite architects and designers); a must have.

John Pawson monologue

Another great publisher of art, architecture, design, and photography books is teNeues. They also have shop in New York City, also in Soho! They have some fun new books that is sure to inspire architects and designers with new books like these: Art Architecture Design New York and Living in Style Paris.


Architects love architecture magazines. It’s one of the ways architects stay abreast of the latest architectural and building technologies and innovative designs as well as relevant industry news about new and completed projects and competitions. I have 3 different recommendations that architects would greatly appreciate a subscription to.

Architect Magazine is an award-winning popular architectural publication that reports on contemporary architecture and design. This is the perfect gift for architecture students as well as recent grads and architects of all ages. It’s a magazine that will keep the architect current with the latest building technologies and innovative designs. There are 3 subscription options for the magazine. For more information about subscribing to Architect Magazine, click here.

El Croquis, an architectural publication based in Spain. Each issue is usually dedicated to a single architect, usually one that has been awarded the Pritzker Prize (1). These magazines are a great resource and offers the architect and architecture student inspiration. There is a choice between two subscriptions; 5 issues or 10 issues. As a subscriber digital editions of the magazines are also available for download. Another great feature of El Croquis is that you can order back issues especially if you know your architect’s favorite architect. For more information about El Croquis, click here. To subscribe or back order a specific issue, click here (subscriptions differ depending on where it will be delivered).

Another great architecture magazine is Detail: Portal for Architecture, a German based publication that is “…devoted to a specific constructional theme and provides a comprehensive treatment of the subject in the various sections of the journal.” It’s a great resource for architects who are detail oriented. A yearly subscription includes 8 issues plus 2 Detail green issues. For more subscription information, click here.

When the architect is inspired, he or she is gonna need something to scribble or sketch it all down. Instead of giving them just another Moleskin sketchbook, pair it up with the Field Sketchbook by White Sycamore! It’s a lovely leather sketchbook protector with a sleeve to hold the pen or pencil for the architect’s convenience. The Padfolio, also from White Sycamore is a great gift for the architect who is constantly in the field making observations, or sitting in meetings taking down minutes. For a limited time, get 20% off purchases only at etsy.

The architect’s uniform

Giving clothes is always tricky, but I think for the architect it could be simpler than you think especially if that architect insists on wearing black only. How simple is that? Black t-shirt, black button down shirt, black tie, black belt, black sweater vest, etc. Black, black, black, blah! Or, you can always settle on this T-shirt.

However, if your architect is a bit more stylish and fashion forward, how about this amazing cowl top from Desira Pesta! It’s hand-made and hand-printed 100% cotton jersey. Pattern is designed by an architect, Rob Daurio. You can buy this fabulous top here. There’s also a scarf that is the same pattern, which you can buy here.


The archiTECH

For the architect or student of architecture who owns an iPhone (at least with the latest iOS4), or an iPod Touch, or an iPad you may consider gifting an app or an audiobook or visual programs. Here are some great ideas that any architect would appreciate!

Do you know an architect who is going for their license? There’s an app for that! Kaplan Architecture Registration Exam. This app is available both on the iPhone and iPad.

Maybe that architect you know is just way too busy to sit down and read a book, or is always behind a computer drafting away. Perhaps an audiobook is the answer to help them get some intellectual and mental stimulation. Here are some titles for the architect who appreciates critical analysis and thinking about architecture.
The Architecture of Happiness by Alain De Botton.
Why Architecture Matters by Paul Goldberger.

Or perhaps, the architect prefers to be visually stimulated and inspired. You may want to consider some of these documentaries any design conscious architect would appreciate. You can either buy the entire season or select specific episodes. These programs are also available on DVD.
E2 Design, Season 2:  “…is an eighteen part documentary-style television series investigating sustainable living and green design from New York City to rural Mexico. It was narrated by Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman.”(2)
Big Ideas for a Small Planet: “…s an American documentary series on the Sundance Channel which focuses on environmental innovations such as alternative fuel and green building techniques.”(3)
Rem Koolhaus: A Kind of Architect: “…is an engaging portrait of a visionary man that takes us to the heart of his ideas.”(4)

screen shot from E2 Design

screen shot from E2 Design

The Social architect

Of course, the “Gifts for the Architect 2010” isn’t complete without suggestions of spirits, right? What architect doesn’t enjoy a good drink? There’s nothing like a mixing up an easy gin and tonic with one of my favorite gin, Hendricks. Truth be told, I like the bottle. And if you feel giving just a bottle of gin isn’t enough, you can always pair it up with a couple of nice glass tumblers or martini glasses, or an attractive cocktail shaker.

And you can’t go wrong with gifting a bottle of whisky – how about Ardbeg Supernova?

Here are some additional ideas for the architects who enjoys being social.

  • You may pair a bottle of wine with one of these lovely sommelier corkscrew, the Parrot, from Alessi.
  • Or maybe, the architect prefers to celebrate beer. A case of their favorite beer or a large bottle of handcrafted artisan beer with one of these bottle openers, Diabolix, from Alessi.

The architect’s bonus

Chances will be that architects may not be receiving bonuses at the end of 2010 so why not give them a little something extra to let them know how special they are with any of these gift ideas?

Besides enjoying a good drink at the end of the day, architects love a good morning brew to get them going. Coffee is a favorite morning brew for many architects. The aroma wakes them up and the smooth taste whether served hot or iced with a dash of milk or a sprinkle of sugar jolts them to action! How about a handsome bag of gourmet coffee?

Or how about some fine tea leaves which they can brew up while they’re in the office stressing over a deadline? There’s nothing like a soothing cup of earl grey or mint tea. Tea is aromatic and possesses healing properties. Check out these fine teas from these fine companies.


We all know that architects love to read and look through picture books, and tend to be organized so why not include one of these pageCUES by Gilbert13 with a new glossy picture book? They are available in 3 different themes but the one you’ll want to get for that architect is the set of iconic buildings (yellow).

How about this amusing book “101 Things I Learned in Architecture School” which you may buy at your local bookstore or online bookseller. It’s perfect for the recent graduate or a great reminder for the seasoned professional.

101 things i learned in architecture school

Another great gift addition that architects may enjoy especially if they appreciate fine detail are these kits from Finch & Fouracre. They are architectural model makers and designers based in Glasgow. It comes flat and you carefully fold it to create this adorable tinyment. This thing is about 2.5″ tall!! You can buy this gift here. They also offer bigger cardboard Scottish tenement models for those who do not have nimble fingers.

Or how about these amazing Architectural Model Series from Terada Design Architects? These are incredible! The scale is 1:100! So far, I’ve only seen it sold at MoMA Design store in NYC and they have limited stock online. You can do a search and buy from overseas.

architectural model set in black

architectural model set in black

architectural model set in red


I hope these suggestions are helpful in providing you with some inspiration if not THE answer to your gift shopping quandary. I know it may seem difficult to find the right gift for someone who’s profession lends them to be detailed oriented, a control freak about quality, and highly opinionated but don’t worry. It’s a time for merriment. The gift giving aspect of this merry holiday is a thoughtful gesture and not mandatory. Happy shopping!!

Architects, feel free to leave comments of any gift ideas you may want to share or share what great gifts you’ve received last year.

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Photography credit:

  • photo of Victorinox Swiss Army bag from website.
  • photos of Architect Plan Carrier, Field Sketchbook, and Padfolio courtesy of White Sycamore.
  • images of books published by  teNeues from website.
  • image of Architect Magazine from website.
  • photos of El Croquis magazines courtesy of Abbozzo.
  • images of Detail: Portal of Architecture magazine from website.
  • photo of “Trust me, I’m an Architect” t-shirt courtesy of Signature T-shirts.
  • photo of grey architectural cowl drape top courtesy of Desira Pesta.
  • screen grab from E2 Design website.
  • photo of Hendrick’s Gin from wikipedia.
  • screen grab from Ardbeg Supernova from website.
  • image of Parrot sommelier corkscrew from Alessi website.
  • image of Earl Grey tea leaves from Bellocq website.
  • image of coffee beans by Courtney Francis from stock.xchng
  • photo of pageCUES courtesy of Gilbert13.
  • photo of Tinyment courtesy of Finch & Fouracre.

Show me the MONEY!

A couple of weeks ago, I was in a middle of an exchange between my boss and the architect we are sharing office space with. The two were once college classmates. They were discussing a project where the client would need the services of a licensed architect however, he would not be able to afford the professional services. By the way, the client is a friend of my boss. My boss helped him with the layout and provided him with drawings to which to build from but the project required filing with the DOB as advised by the landlord, hence the need for a licensed architect.

In the conversation my boss advised the architect that instead of payment, the client would be able to barter some artwork for architectural services. And in fact, what he was asking for was a favor. The architect accepted the favor without further thought.

I was surprised and disappointed by this. And apparently, this is acceptable practice by some architects. There are a couple of things I find troubling about architects who agree to barter for their services. One, no contract. In a profession where architects are constantly protecting themselves from blame or lawsuits with lots of architectural, construction, and legal jargon in our documents, it boggles my mind when an architect elects to not bother with these formalities. Two, I don’t know any architect who is 100% satisfied with their salary or fees (next blog post?) so why get paid with anything other than money? Yes, I know that “money isn’t everything” or “money doesn’t buy you happiness” but you know what? Money pays the bills!

I would have less issue with bartering (I still don’t agree with it) if the architect is self-employed (and financially sufficient), works out of their home office, and has no staff. However, what I witnessed was not the case.

Wikipedia defines favor as the following:

As an activity, a favor is a deed in which help is voluntarily provided.

It may be used as an alternative to monetary compensations in the form of currency, or other items of value. A drawback compared to objects is that the value of a favor is hard to estimate, and depends on the situation and the person providing it.

The other issue that annoys me is the regard of an architect’s professional license and his responsibility to the built environment as a “favor”. It is debasing, insulting, and offensive. What we do on a day-to-day basis is not like being asked to water someone’s houseplants or feed the cat while they go on vacation. The work that we do requires creative thinking and is time-consuming. It’s not very often that an architect is approached with a no-brainer task. And even if someone does approach them with a simple task, a professional architect is going to take the time to make sure that whatever they do complies with city codes and regulations because their license is at stake.

I know I am taking a rather hard-line view on this subject but I view architectural practice as a professional business, and should be conducted as such. I’m not suggesting that architects can not be flexible in order to meet the client requests but I don’t think the actions an architect decides to take should compromise the profession and those who work hard to maintain a professional image of an architect. And very often it does because I’ve been given that resigned response of “that’s what’s done” by a previous employer on an employer v. employee issue that I pointed out as poor practice. I did not agree with his response, and I especially did not appreciate his attitude of architects perpetuating poor practice from mentor to apprentice.

In a profession where we are supposed to learn from seasoned architects so we may become proud professionals wouldn’t you agree that architects should be mindful and uphold the integrity of what it means to be an architect?