Looking for something for that special person? Or just making your own Christmas list? Hopefully, these 50 affordable gift ideas for architecture lovers will inspire you.
Amazingly, this list started out as just 10 but steadily grew as I realised I had bookmarked so many design pieces based around houses and architecture over past weeks and months. I could have gone on longer, but 50 seemed as high as I could reasonably go.
Note that I haven’t listed any books either. I have featured plenty of book releases on the site, so do have a look in that section if you want some inspiration on that front. Once you have done that, have a look at this list to see some modestly-priced gift ideas (and a couple of pricier ones I couldn’t resist featuring).
So in no particular order…
1. Midcentury modern house tissue box covers by Destination PSP
I featured these on the site some time back and they were massively popular. So an obvious place to start the gift guide.
Different house designs available, but they all follow a similar path. Created from printed PVC board, each one is produced and hand-assembled in Southern California and designed to fit standard rectangular tissue boxes. Pop it on and the tissue looks like smoke from a chimney, while the house is a talking point in your home. $75 is the price.
2. Architecture maps by Blue Crow Media
Another designer that has featured on the site in the past. There really are so many of these to choose from.
That’s no bad thing as the maps in question cover almost every corner of the world and numerous architectural styles. There must be something here for you. Each is a labour of love, with maps and imagery picking out local highlights if you are in the area, as well as some background to the style and city. Around £8 each, they certainly have ’stocking filler’ potential.
3. Tiny Scenic midcentury modern jewellery
File under cute and quirky. Numerous designs in the Tiny Scenic midcentury modern jewellery collection.
The vast majority are necklaces, but there are some brooches too. As for the designs, there is a strong midcentury modern vibe, with the house designs my personal favourites, with the one pictured here typical of the work on offer. Expect to pay £42 for the more detailed pieces, with laser-cut necklaces coming in cheaper at £20.
4. Concrete water tower planters
I love a water tower – you might have seen a few on the site in the past. So this mini version is bound to appeal.
It might appeal to you if you like the idea of some concrete design in your home. Yes, these are made out of concrete, with three designs available, each one based on a classic water tower shape and able to hold a modest-sized plant. £69 for any of them.
5. Modernist tote bags at The Modernist
I could probably fill a decent-sized guide based on the stock of The Modernist’s online shop, but I will focus on these tote bags for now.
Tell the world that you are a modernist, minimalist, brutalist or futurist as you do your big or small shop, courtesy of the tote bags pictured above. Some of the past range of local city-based totes are also available, as are pin badges based on the bags too. But if you just want a tote, £7 gets you one.
6. Architectural letter holders by Wilhon Design
I actually featured their Brutalist London postcard set recently, but I am focusing on the architectural letter holders by Wilhon Design now.
This is a steadily growing range that kicked off with the art deco Surbiton station (pictured here) but has grown to include the likes of Dreamland in Margate and Tolworth Tower of late. Made from powder-coated, laser-cut steel, with non-slip rubber feet and looking rather lovely, they sell for £27.95.
7. Barbican mugs at Dorothy
Another maker/seller who could feature numerous times here, so well worth checking out the website and particularly the artwork on offer. But I’m going for the Barbican mugs.
Part of a larger Barbican range that includes bags, tea towels, plates, artwork and of course, these mugs. The designs are consistent throughout, with a choice of the Barbican Towers, Frobisher Crescent and the Barbican Centre, all very eye-catching, especially if you have a thing for this brutalist icon.
8. Bauhaus 100 tote bag
A simple bag with a more complex design.
This is described as a tote bag but is actually a drawstring bag, as well as a celebration of the 100th Bauhaus anniversary, an event that has dominated the last 12 months architecturally. Made of cotton and with a cotton cord pull, it sells for £12.
9. London brutalist bookmark set by Another Studio
A practical item, but produced with so much care and attention.
These mini stainless steel pieces celebrate four London brutalist buildings – Trellick Tower, Barbican Tower, Space House and National Theatre. They look great, but at the end of the day are made to keep your page in a book, file or whatever. If that’s what you need, this is as good a way of doing it as I’ve seen. £7.95 for the set.
10. Bauhaus-themed bookends by Design Atelier Article
Bauhaus once again the inspiration for some home design. This time to keep your books in order.
Each one is handmade and is produced as laser cut metal with a powder coating. Each one also has ‘anti-slip’ silicon pads for additional furniture protection. Two designs, the Bauhaus logo by Oskar Schlemmer dating back to 1922 and the Bauhaus building itself. £47.60 for a pair.
11. Park Hill prints by Laura Knight Studio
So many architectural prints around, but not so many of Park Hill in Sheffield.
There are here, as well as plenty more, from the Barbican through to Manchester’s Toast Rack. But Park Hill is the mini range that catches my eye. Colourful, stylised prints focusing on the details in the recently-restored brutalist development, each hand-pulled by APG Works in Sheffield. Signed and numbered as a limited edition too. Despite that, prices are affordable, starting from around £20 unframed.
12. Bauhaus playing cards by Cinqpoints
There is a lot of Bauhaus around right now. not least because of the 100th anniversary. But regardless of the year, these Bauhaus playing cards are very handy things to have around.
It’s a pack of cards and pretty much every house in the country has one or needs one. But this one uses colours and forms of the Bauhaus movement to add in a new angle that will appeal to the design-loving folk in your social circle. €12.50 is the price of a pack.
13. Design Letters range by Arne Jacobsen
There is enough in here to fill a top 50 with the range expanding every year. So do browse it all if you want a gift idea.
Based on typography drawn in 1937 by the world-renowned Danish architect Arne Jacobsen, it covers everything from the living room and the dining room through to the home office and the nursery. There isn’t a part of the home the Design Letters range doesn’t touch. But as an example, I’m looking at the tableware, which looks amazing as a style statement and at this time of the year, you could spell out ‘XMAS’ and really get people talking. Prices vary of course, but a China plate costs around £20.
14. Build your own brutalist city with Zupagrafika
Know someone who likes to build things? They could spend Boxing Day putting together their own brutalist city.
Zupagrafika has created a range of cut-out paper models you just need to build As you can see, the end result looks impressive. You can pick up full cities or just individual buildings from the likes of London, Paris, Warsaw, Moscow and more. All reasonably priced too, with a building starting at just €6.
15. Tower Block cushions by Things You Can Buy
Plenty of design-related items on Stefi Orazi’s Things You Can Buy Site, especially if you love your architecture. The ower Block cushions are just one example.
Take your pick between Great Arthur and Cromwell Tower, with each being handmade and with quality feather inserts within. Lovely design pieces that catch the eye without being too obvious. £45 is the price of each.
16. Lego Architecture Las Vegas
Not the obvious one, but Lego seems to have discontinued the majority of its Lego Architecture range.
Some of the older ones are still available on Amazon and eBay if you want the Sydney Opera House, the Guggenheim, Villa Savoye or Robie House, as well as the Lego Architecture construction kit, but there are some interesting city sets still available directly from Lego. The Las Vegas set is a recent one, offering all the sites in Lego form and guaranteed to be fun over the festive season. It sells for £34.99.
17. Manchester Modernist Collection by Gail Myerscough
Manchester is represented by this bold graphical collection by designer Gail Myerscough.
Inspired by notable architecture of 20th century Manchester, it takes inspiration from the likes of Hulme Crescent and The Toast Rack but with designs that would work in pretty much any retro environments. Take your pick from the cushions above or mugs, notebooks or mobile phone cases. Prices start at just £5.
18. South Bank pop art range by Art and Hue
Classic imagery and architecture, but the South Bank pop art range by Art and Hue adds in a colourful twist.
The National Theatre, the Hayward, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Royal Festival Hall plus some details from each all given a pop art makeover and available in three sizes and 18 colours. Priced from £15 depending on what you go for.
19. Miniature architectural classics by Chisel and Mouse
Hard to pick out just one as there are so many miniature gems in the Chisel and Mouse range.
Using both the chisel and the mouse (hence the name), the maker uses both old and new techniques to recreate iconic buildings in miniature as pieces of interior design. The end results are incredibly impressive and the result of a lot of work and patience as well as an attention to detail. I love the Bauhaus range and Trellick Tower, but I think Centrepoint is my personal favourite. That one goes for £150.
20. Hayward Gallery woven day cushions by Custhom
Another mention of the Hayward, but again, a design that would adapt to any environment.
Various colours of cushions and some blankets with the same design too, with the cushions produced in high-quality cotton, flax mix and with a design using strong geometric forms inspired by the Hayward. If you want one of the cushions, they sell for £86.
21. People Will Always Need Plates tableware designs
It launched back in 2003 and I think I bought my first pieces off them around that time. They still look impressive today.
PWANP has worked with the likes of the Royal Festival Hall, Hayward Gallery, Design Museum, Hepworth Wakefield, Turner Contemporary and the De La Warr Pavilion to produce ranges, but for me, its distinctive style is more at home with domestic dwellings such as the Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate, Highpoint, Trellick Tower or the notable house designs that appear on both mugs and plates, as well as tray, placemats, trivets and bags. Add some colour to your home from as little as £8.
22. Bauhaus-themed tableware by Design K
Another option for your table and very classy pieces too.
Designs that are all about ‘embracing the spirit of Bauhaus’ with forms inspired by Oskar Schlemmer’s ‘Triadisches Ballett’ and available as cups, saucers, teapots and even egg cups. The earthenware range does change and designs come and go, so act quickly if you want something. Talking of which, you are looking at something like £22 for a mug, £65 for a teapot and £38 for a cup and saucer set.
23. Kartell Space Needle lamp
Launched just this year, a lamp based on a 1960s icon.
This is a lamp based on the Space Needle in Seattle, dating back to 1962 and essentially an observation tower built for the World Fair of that same year. Not an exact reproduction, but the inspiration is there to see. There are four metallic finishes to choose from, those being gold, copper, chrome and titanium, each with a transparent shade and with the ability to recharge if you don’t like wires. £179 is the price.
24. Midcentury modern birdhouses by Sourgrassbuilt
Another that doesn’t quite fit into the ‘stocking filler’ category, but it is a lovely idea for a gift.
Each of the birdhouses is the work of California-based Douglas Barnhard, with the designs influenced by midcentury modern architecture from that part of the world. Eichler in particular looming large here. They will look great in the garden and the birds will love you for it. As for prices, around £100 for a basic house and upwards of £200 for the more complex designs.
25. Special Edition 100 Years Bauhaus Notebook
Another centenary product and a useful one too, especially if, like me, you love scribbling down notes and ideas.
Leuchtturn1917 celebrates 100 years of Bauhaus with these centenary editions in various colours, with each one inspired by a poignant quotation from artist and Bauhaus teacher Wassily Kandinsky: ‘Everything starts from a dot.’ It has the official anniversary logo of Bauhaus Kooperation Berlin Dessau Weimar and contains all the well-known Leuchtturn1917 details, such as index, page numbers, two bookmarks and a sticker set for labelling and archiving. Understated and very cool, each sells for £18.50.
26. Funkis house shelf by Ferm Living
How about some interrupter design as a gift? Might work, especially as this is shaped like a house.
A versatile number, the Funkis is a mini plywood version of the full-sized house which is great for kids to play with or just to use as a quirky shelf in your home. Or both for that matter. £179 is this works for you.
27. Frank Lloyd Wright Paper Models by Marc Hagan-Guirey
Another crafty option that should work for fans of the great man.
Using the art of kirigami (essentially cutting and folding) you can create 14 of Frank Lloyd Wright’s best-loved buildings. Just follow the instructions and pop out the template from the book. With a bit of care and some cutting you’ll soon have your very own masterpiece. Well, 14. £13.99 is the price.
28. London vs New York Skyline chess set
You can get a purely London Skyline set and I did feature a Liverpool vs Manchester chess set on the site (sadly no longer available). But I think this London vs New York skyline chess set just heads the list.
It is what it sounds like, a battle of buildings on a chessboard. Same game, different pieces. So the famed skyscrapers of New York come up against the likes of Big Ben, There London Eye, The Shard and Canary Wharf. A board included too, naturally. £100 if you fancy chess over the festive period – or know someone who might.
29. Bauhaus 100 mug by Becher
I’m a little annoyed that the Bauhaus Letters cups no longer seem to be available. But this special anniversary mug is.
This is an official design, an anniversary cup celebrating the 100 years in a simple yet attractive design with graphics in the typical Bauhaus style. This will definitely impress the office as it sits on your desk. Just €10 if you want one.
30. Le Corbusier prints at King & McGaw
Classy and classic, these Le Corbusier prints are available framed at King & McGaw.
Saying that you can get them unframed, which hacks the price down to just £35 if you are on a budget. They can always buy their own choice of frame. Or save the work and get detailed, vintage-style prints of Villa Savoye (in two sizes), Chapelle de Ronchamp, Couvent de la Tourette or the Unite d’Habitation in Marseille sent to your door for between £140 and £240, depending on your choice of artwork.
31. Brutalist Calendar 2020
From the people who brought you the architecture maps (see earlier) comes this wonderful calendar/organiser for 2020.
A limited-edition, this is a celebration of some of the most awe-inspiring and influential examples of Brutalist architecture around the world. The large images are the selling point for me, but don’t underestimate the usefulness of a wall calendar in the digital age. There is room to scribble on important engagements too. £20 gets you one.
32. Preston Bus Station tea towel and prints
I’m a big fan of Preston Bus Station and will think nothing of taking the kids there for a day out. So I am probably the target market for these particular products.
The designs are the work of Matthew Steele in celebration of the station’s 50 years in existence. Perhaps a celebration of its reprieve of late too. The tea towel will brighten up any kitchen in that bold shade of orange, but a print is also available for the living room (or any room) too. That print is priced from £45 and a tea towel is just £10.
33. The Barbican Collection umbrella
There is much to love on the Barbican Shop website. Of course there is. But in light of the current weather, I’m picking this out.
This is actually part of a group of designs created in-house by the Barbican studio and sold exclusively at the Barbican Shop. Do have a look at all of them, but in terms of this, it features stylised imagery of the Barbican Estate and it folds down, opening up to keep you dry and hip when it does shower. £20 is the price.
34. Bauhaus Swatch watch
These first appeared on Retro To Go back in April. Thankfully, some of the range is still available now.
This is the Swatch take on the Bauhaus anniversary. Yes, this is still a Swatch and there’s no getting away from that. But the subtle nods to the Bauhaus movement are nicely done and the range offers a mix of premium and budget timepieces to suit most budgets. My favourites are the Elementary and the Black-One pictured here, which goes for £93.
35. Top Brutes card game
Remember the game Top Trumps fondly? Love concrete? This is perhaps the gift for you. Or anyone that also applies to.
The set features 24 of London’s ‘brutes’, a mix of classics and the less familiar. Crack open the pack, deal them out and see who wins with the highest score on each card. Nothing I don’t love about this idea. £16 gets you a set.
36. Estate Collection tea towels at Oscar Francis
Cushions and pencil cases are also available in this range, but the tea towels are the ones for me, especially as new designs have just been added.
Tower blocks and apartments show off their individuality on this extensive tea towel range, with each one digitally printed on to a 100 per cent cotton Panama fabric. Each is also individually wrapped in a presentation belly band. £12 if you want one, with groups of tea towels also available (along with those other designs).
37. Archispecs by Cinqpoints
Fancy yourself as a noted 20th-century architect? You need the right glasses.
This is a reproduction to the scale 1:1 and on black postcards of those famous architect glasses if you want to pretend you are Le Corbusier or Philip Johnson. Not the real thing though, these are in pre-cut cardboard, which is why they sell for just £5.50.
38. Trellick Tower bookends by Susan Bradley Design
Other designs are available, but the Trellick Tower bookends are the headline act for me.
But do check out The Gherkin or Battersea Power Station if you prefer those. If you like this, it is made from coated steel in the shape of Goldfinger’s iconic building and available in a white or red. £18.40 each.
39. Bauhaus 1919 sweatshirt by London T-shirt Company
Plenty of t-shirts out there if you browse around, but for this time of year a sweatshirt seems a better bet.
Plenty of sizes and a choice of grey or black for the sweatshirt, featuring the Bauhaus emblem and the year of its formation. That’s about it really, if you want to wear the Bauhaus across your chest, have a look at this, selling for £24.99.
40. Koolbird midcentury modern birdhouses
I mentioned the Sourgrassbuilt house earlier, but do check out these too.
They differ significantly. Whereas the earlier ones tended tho be replicas of real house,s the Koolbird designs are more in the spirit of the midcentury modern movement. But they are every bit as appealing to the eye and hopefully, to the birds too. As for price, you are looking at £136 upwards.
41. TAC tableware range by Walter Gropius
It looks fairly plain and as a gift, it might not appeal on the face of it. But this the TAC tableware range by Walter Gropius no less.
TAC = The Architects Collaborative, which was the name of Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius’ Boston office. it was designed for Rosenthal and is notable for its geometric shapes such as circles and spheres, with a strong Bauhaus influence present across the range. New motifs have been added for the Bauhaus anniversary or you can opt for the classic. Available in individual pieces such as tea and coffee pots or cups or you can get full sets, which happen to be in the sale on the retailer’s site. But as a guide a small teapot is around £44 and a teacup and saucer are £32.
42. Trellick Tower Clothkits dress for kids
I think this is more a case of appealing to architecture-loving parents than the children themselves. Either way, the end result looks amazing.
The kit comes with everything you need to make this Trellick Tower dress. Just pick your size (for the cloth needed) and it will be sent along with all the other necessary bits and pieces, plus instructions in English. After that, make the dress and show off your child wearing it. £25.80 is the cost of the kit.
43. London Brutalist Edition Chess Set by Skyline Chess
Another chess set which I couldn’t resist featuring. Brutalism once more to the fore.
A chess game featuring some of London’s most-notable architecture from the brutalist movement including Trellick Tower, Petty France, Centrepoint and Cromwell Tower to name just a few. This is a 32-piece set cast in hand-cast resin, all double weighted pieces with soft felt bases and sold with a hand screen-printed Corian playing board and presentation box. But it doesn’t come cheap. You will need to find £395 to secure this set, which is a bit hefty when it comes to a gift.
44. A-frame keychain by Finest Imaginary
To offset the huge price of that last finds is something at the other end of the price spectrum.
A keychain and one featuring a shiny, gold metal and blue-toned enamel A-frame cabin, finished with a gold-plated keyring attachment. £8.50 for this and do check out the Palm Springs necklaces by the same designer too.
45. Stencils: Arts And Craft, Deco, Nouveau and Bauhaus by Another Studio
If you want to give your crafting and cards a period look then you might want to invest in one of these.
Whether it is Arts And Craft, Deco, Nouveau or Bauhaus, just stencil the motifs to create bespoke invitations and greeting cards or decorate envelopes, gift wrap or letterheads. All you need is a pencil (or similar) along with a bit of patience to create something impressive. Each stencil costs £12.50.
46. House of Notes by Cinqpoints
It’s a house. It contains notes. That’s pretty much it really.
Well, there is a bit more. These are house-shaped pages sitting in a Bauhaus-inspired sleeve to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus school. 450 black sheets in each one, so that should keep you going for a while. £14 if you want one for your desk or someone else’s.
47. Modern architecture prints and tea towels by Sally Bradforth
Once again, prints and tea towels with a modernist angle. But with its own individuality, which is the selling post for me.
Take your pick from the likes of the Whittington Estate, the Barbican and the Brunswick Centre, available as A3 prints with the details of the development beneath. Or give your kitchen a treat with similarly-designed tea towels in 100 per cent cotton. If you want the tea towel you are looking at £15 and for the prints, around £12.
48. Architecture Scale print by Cinqpoints
Another piece from this architecture-driven maker and one that looks like something from an opticians.
I think that’s the point. If you can read it all, you’ll see it says ‘architecture is everywhere you just have to look at it’, which seems like a very valid point to me, Great value too as this is a framed print and available for €29.
49. Mini cast concrete models of iconic brutalist architecture by Space Play
Pretty much self-explanatory. Brutalist architecture in both concrete and miniature.
Sadly, Preston Bus Station and the Barbican have sold out, but plenty others are still available, with each one hand-cast and incredibly detailed in light of their size. £25 if you want to browse the range.
50. Frank Lloyd Wright pen range by Acme Studio
Everyone needs a pen and something as attractive as this would make a great gift.
A lacquered design on brass and sold in a presentation box (which improves wrapping and presentation), the pen range features a host of motifs and themes from the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. So if you know someone who is a fan, this should make a great gift. Not cheap though (as pens go), coming in at £68.
Ok, that’s the 50 done but it might be worth mentioning that a great gift for lovers of modern architecture could be a membership for the 20th Century Society. See this page for details of that.
Just after I completed the list a couple of people mentioned a 1960s classic, the Massimo Vignelli-designed Stendig Calendar for 2020. It’s a great thing and worth checking out. You can buy them here.