The Most Impressively Astounding Last Minute Designer’s Shopping Guide 2015


Once again we’re here with the annual The Most Impressively Astounding Last Minute Designer’s Shopping Guide now for 2015!  I know, Christmas is only about a week away, why so late?  Because, I know you…I know all designers.  We’re procrastinators, hem haw-ers, and generally so dissatisfied with most products out there that we put it off as we keep hoping for something, anything better.  Where is it is, the best list to find something to satisfy any designer you may know!

Paper Mate Flair [Fashion Colors]:


IMG_20151203_114107The Paper Mate Flair felt tip pens are a staple of any architect’s office, but how often are they more than just two colors?  Well, my wife surprised me last year with this silly little gift and I LOVED it.  I’ve found the assortment of colors to be a staple in my bevy of sketch tools as I use them all the time for graphic sketches, circulation diagrams, etc.  Inexpensive and fun, any designer on your list will love them.

Price: $9.97


Stanley French Coffee Press Container:



Designers and coffee.  Yes, it’s a beautiful marriage.  And not just any coffee but brilliant dark roasty coffee that is always so much more delicious from a French Press that those silly drip machines.  Even better, what if that French Press was actually the same thermos you drink the coffee out of!  I give you the Stanley French Press container!  Rugged enough to take camping and hipster enough to take to the office as a retro throwback, this is the perfect gift for any designer.  This is a bit of a tricky one though because they seem to be out of stock all over the internet, BUT I just saw a whole bunch of them at a Restoration Hardware brick-n-mortar so I would encourage you to look there.  Wal-Mart also carried them online, so that might be a source.

Price: $35



City Swag:



Who doesn’t love their city?  More so, who doesn’t love a really nicely designed graphic map of a city???  I know right?  Well our friends over at Planetizen have some great goods for any architect or urban planner, including the City Map Water Bottle and the City Core Porcelain Plates.

Price: $19 (water bottle) and $50 (plates)


Jean Prouve (5 Volume Box Set) :



Architects almost universally love the raw modernism that the middle of the last century brought us, and Jean Prouvé is one of those masters that has somehow slipped through the cracks in many designer’s minds.  His work spans some of the most interesting architecture, furniture, and metal work ever seen and can provide an incredible visual influence to anyone who has seen his work.  This 5 volume set catalogs an incisive look into some of his best minimal and simplistically crafted work.

Price: $141.57


Huawei Smart Watch:



Not everyone is on the Apple bandwagon when it comes to personal electronics, and for those Android users our there, there’s no reason to compromise style or functionality when it comes to wearable electronics.  True, the Apple Watch carries a certain cache, but if your don’t want to flash a geeky square techno-watch on your wrist, the Huawei Smart Watch is an excellent device with all the features any designer could love.  1.4″ full circle AMOLED display with a scratch resistant sapphire crystal, a fitness tracker, multiple pre-installed face designs, and access to over 4000 Android Wear apps, how could you go wrong?

Price: $299-$699 (depending on finish and band style)


Microsoft Surface Book:



The Microsoft Surface Book may be out of the price range of many, but it is an incredible tool for architects and designers.  The laptop/tablet hybrids have been around for a decade but this is one of the first to get it [almost] right.  I’m not going to go into all the specs, you can look those up anywhere, but the key thing here is this is a direct competitor to the Apple Macbooks in style and performance as well as offering a tablet that competes directly with iPads and Android.



Slim and portable, the Surface Book slips easily into smaller bags, but packs all the punch of an advanced processor and discrete graphics perfect for tackling everything from graphic design work, to video editing, to 3D modeling.  I’ve tested it heavily with Sketchup and Adobe products found it performs brilliantly.  So, at the outset you get a top notch laptop perfect for tackling any design work you may need done.  But wait, there’s more…


The truly brilliant thing here is the tablet aspect.  It detaches for lightweight portability, and with a larger screen size (13.5″) than the new iPad Pro (12.9″) it still boasts a full GPU (housed in the tablet portion, not the main body) for all your processing needs.  For me it has been amazing in design presentations where I can just fire up a Sketchup model and navigate through it with tablet finger gestures, as can the client!  He/she just slides their finger around and spins the model and it works perfectly.  The biggest hurdle I had was with the notion of having a Windows tablet because…who makes apps for that anyhow???  Very true, but what you have to remember here is that, by and large, YOU DON’T NEED APPS ANYMORE.  This is a full blown system running full blown Windows with full blown hardware.  You don’t need a sketching app, you have Photoshop.  You don’t need a Sketchup view app, you have Sketchup.  All of this is in a format that rivals the largest Apple tablet formats.

Ah you say…but wait.  How the heck do I play all my favorite tablet games, hmmm?  Actually, there’s an easy answer for that.  American Megatrends produces and inexpensive Android emulator for Windows called AMIDuOS. For $10 you can run the whole Android app library on your new tablet AND have a windows PC.

But wait, there’s more!



It comes with a tablet pen the actually has a very nice touch to it, and magnetically attaches right to the side of the screen so you don’t lose it.  It’s popped off a few times when I’ve dropped it in my bag, but rarely.  Now, I will say, for raw sketching and touch sensitivity, Apples new iPad Pro is a rock star compared to the Surface Book.  It really does have an almost pencil-to-paper lever of interface, but you are bound to their software, a tablet level processor, and whatever process you use to get your tablet to interface with your content.  Here, if you’re working on a rendering and want to add some watercolor sky or sketchy people, you just grab the pen and go to work, right then, right there.

Price: $1,499-$3,199 (depending on configuration – the model tested was the $2,699 Core i7 16GB)


Happy Holidays!