2021 Holiday Gift Guide

Our annual gift guide returns, highlighting items created by Canadian architects, for the architect in your life.

We had so much fun creating a gift guide last year, that we’ve decided to do it again. Here’s our round-up of nice things made by Canadian designers—many of them also architects—that we think would make perfect gifts for designers.

You may also be interested in our companion round-up of the year’s best architecture books, and the gift guide from our sister magazine, Canadian Interiors.


Stocking Stuffers

Modernist Architecture Playing Cards, $12

Quebec City architecture graduates Charles Côté and Adrien Larochelle deck of playing cards channels their passion for 20th-century design. It contains 54 different illustrations of buildings and architects, from Frank Lloyd Wright to Zaha Hadid, all drawn and designed by Côté and Larochelle. etsy.com


Humble Raja Coasters, $21 for set of four

Architect-turned-graphic-designer Reena Mistry is one of the two Gujarati-Canadian illustrators behind Humble Raja, a line of home products that explores their South Asian heritage. The intricate, geometric patterns of these coasters is inspired by Indian architectural screens. Each coaster is made in Toronto from birch ply and is hand-finished in either a natural or walnut satin finish. We also have our eye on Humble Raja’s Forbidden Forest playing cards, featuring artwork based on South Asian mythology, and available in the spring.  humbleraja.com

Spacing Books, $15-25

Spacing’s pocket-sized books explore hidden places and historical gems from Toronto. Their latest publication is a romp through local package design from the City of Toronto’s archives, whose work arguably laid the foundation for the nation’s post-WWII design identity.  www.spacing.com



Wearable Art

Trèsnormale T-shirt, $36

Former urban planner Madeline Bergeron and her partner Joern Schmidt are the illustrators behind a city-themed line of  t-shirts, hoodies and tote bags. The goods are hand-silkscreened from trèsnormale’s storefront in the Plateau district of Montreal, and the line has expanded to include illustrations of iconic Toronto locations. tresnormale.com


NOGU Serpentine Bracelet, $45

When brothers Mario Christian and Luca Daniel Lavorato set out to start a line of jewelery, they brought an architectural eye to their work. Christian is a graduate from the Daniels School of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, and brought classmate Heng Tang on board as creative director.  Among current offerings, this iridescent bracelet, with its interlocking geometric beads, caught our eye. nogu.ca

Home Goods

Thunderbird House Mug, $28

The Winnipeg Architecture Foundation’s mugs, magnets, and tea towels celebrate iconic modern and contemporary architecture in the city—here, Douglas Cardinal’s Thunderbird House (2000). All net proceeds are used to support the Winnipeg Architecture Foundation’s research and public programs. winnipegarchitecture.ca

Ishkoday Knit Throw in Tobacco/Copper, $225

Anishnaabe interior designer Destiny Seymour started designing artisan textiles for interiors that respectfully reflects local Manitoban Indigenous peoples and their history after struggling to find materials that she could incorporate into design projects. Her company, Indigo Arrows, now offers a range of table linens, pillows, blankets, and handmade quilts that showcase patterns from local Indigenous pottery and bone tools that date from 400 to over 3000 years old.  indigoarrows.ca


Pollen Light, contact for pricing and availability

The Pollen pendant light was born one Christmas Eve, when architect Mark Tholen found some discarded wool felt in a dumpster, and started experimenting with it. He now has the lights custom-made to order, using aluminum and a waste industrial felt byproduct from the automotive industry. Pricing varies depending on customization options. www.lumolar.ca



For kids of architects

Alphabet Cities, $17

Architect Charisma Panchapakasan’s hand-drawn illustrations are at the heart of this softcover book, accompanied by clever poems that combine animals, architecture, and adventure. (Our article Home is Where the Bookshelf is includes more suggestions for architecture-inspired kids’ books). torontobyhand.com


Assassin’s Creed games, $20-$80

While finishing her PhD at at McGill, architect María Elisa Navarro moonlighted as an architectural consultant for Assassin’s Creed II, published by local gaming giant Ubisoft.  The entire series—with over a dozen games published from 2008 to 2018—is set in accurately modeled cities and architecture. (If you’re looking for newer architecture-inspired games, architect and gamer Ksenia Eić recommends Mass Effect by BioWare, Kentucky Route Zero by Cardboard Computer, and Land’s End by Ustwo.)  steam.com