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Important Things Every Architect Designers Needs

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A few resources I think every architect or aspiring architect needs and everything on the list is under $20 US! So, while your out holiday shopping you won’t feel too guilty about throwing a few things in your cart for yourself too.

Copic or Copicmarkers

Copics come in a few different styles, this one is the ‘Sketch’ and although it doesn’t have the largest ink reservoir, the ‘Sketch’ series has the best selection of color options. Their elliptical shape feels really comfy in the hand and it keeps it from rolling off the studio desk. The marker has two tips: a chisel for filling large areas and a brush for detail and blending work and I really like the brush side. These are professional grade and alcohol-based, which makes them great for blending, shade, and shadow. You can buy them individually for between five and eight dollars US or they also offer these three packs called, Blending Trios for about fifteen to eighteen dollars US. So, although they’re more expensive than theater-based markers they are refillable and the tips are also replaceable. I’d recommend starting with a couple of gray’s, say warm or cool, say the c3 c6 or c8 and then complement it with a yellow or a green. I picked up a few of the Blending Trios: the number one, which has greens, the number 5, which has yellows, and the blue trio which is number 6. I thought the greens would handle the landscape stuff, the yellows for lighting and Sun, and the blues for sky, water, and glazing.

Now, if I had to choose just one set I’d probably choose the yellows and then I’d supplement with a few cool greys. Now, sketchbooks are really precious to mean I think they make one of the best gifts you can give an architect or aspiring architect- a student – it’s like freshly tilled soil ready for planting, ready for fresh ideas. As an architect, I’ve used literally hundreds of different types of sketchbooks in my career and it’s taken me a long time to settle these, which are made by Muji and I really hope they don’t stop making these! It’s an A5 size and it has 70 sheets. Now, here’s why I like them: first, they’re small. I like thin sketchbooks because they can act almost like project records, you can dedicate an entire sketchbook to one project, or fila series of them and number them. Secondly, they’re portable and the thinner they are – which is to say, the fewer pages they contain – the easier they are for your hand to draw in. Now, smaller to a point; smaller format sketchbooks- one smaller than this – I find they leave no place for my hand to rest while I’m drawing.

These also have a tiny dot grid pattern printed on each page, which is subtle but it helps to organize ideas and concepts without being too assertive. And then lastly, the ring binding means every page lays flat. There’s no binding to get in the way or pages flipping back on you and this is really comfortable to use and actually lets you use more of the page. The paper color here is a little bit off-white, which helps any colors you’re using to pop, but white pens won’t work here so if you want to use white pens you’ll probably want to pick up a Kraft paper one, which is another excellent choice honestly, and I do wish Muji made a Kraft version of this one. I’m not sure if they do or not I just haven’t seen it in the stores where I visited. The paper texture here is smooth, so no tooth, which is good for creating sharp details and clean edges. But, that also means there’ll be some bleed through if you like to use a lot of markers in your sketchbook. Okay in the sketchbook of course you need writing implements and how could I choose just one? Honestly, the selection I carry with me changes from week-to-week depending on what I’m focusing on. In my pencil case this week I have: a white colored pencil, a pale ochre pencil, a carmine red Col-Erase, two Pentel Sign pens, one black, one gray, there are two Pilot V7 Precise pens, a black, and a red, a clickable eraser, and a point nine-millimeter mechanical pencil. I keep the colored pencils I use most often in a spare sunglasses case and my go-to pens and pencils in the plastic Muji pencil case. Now, six inch scales, they’re insanely useful. They fit into your pencil case as part of your everyday carry and you can use them for quick drafting tasks, as a ruler to get nice straight lines, or to verify dimensions on a working field set.

And, I don’t think it makes sense to spend whole lot on these because honestly you’ll probably lose them quite often. In fact, I just lost my Alvin one a couple of weeks ago, so I have this aluminum triangular-shaped one here. Even better than this are the flat ones, as I mentioned, made by Alvin. They have a slight bevel and they take up less space in the pencil case and actually fit more comfortably in the hand and I find them easier to pick up from the page of the sketchbook as you’re using them. As you’ve probably figured out by now, all these implements, they’re the raw materials of your work as an architect as a designer. They’re nothing without the creative fuel provided by you, the connections that only you can intuit. So, this last one here loops back to where we started. One of the reasons I travel is to see new places, to collect new ideas, to forge new neural connections, to try new food, meet new people, and just hear fresh stories. Books? Do architects need them? Are they essential? Yeah, of course, I love them, I’m surrounded by them, and they’re fantastic resources. But, they could never replicate the experience of actually visiting a place, of seeing art In a museum, or hearing what a city sounds like. So, one of the things I did in London – and this was far less than $20 – in fact, it was free, was visit the Tate Modern.

The Tate Modern has this wonderful building and that was part of the reason, of course, that I went there, it was designed by Herzogand DeMeuron; a fantastic building, if you don’t know it you should go look it up. But, even better than that was all the art contained inside of it: Ai Weiwei, Richard Serra, Gordon Matta Clark, the Bechers; some of my all-time favorite artists in that museum and it is soul nourishing. So, I saw things that made me see the world a little differently, made me challenge who I am as a designer, and made me think about the world around me. So, find the thing that’s less than $20 inyour neighborhood. It doesn’t have to be far away, it doesn’t have to be in London, doesn’t have to be in New York, it can be right in your neighborhood, but you have to step outside of the studio to get there. I hope you found this helpful, keep making things out there

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