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Presents with Presence


Nine shopping days ’til Christmas—it’s time to get serious. If you’re intimidated by choosing the perfect present for the discerning (aren’t they all?) architect or designer in your life, never fear. We’ve compiled the best of the many gift guides for the season, drawn from some of our favorite magazines and websites. Here’s a sampling.



Among the offerings suggested by Architect magazine is the Broken Ornament, designed by Brooklyn-based Snaritecture.



Endorsed by the ever-dapper crew at Monocle, these eco-friendly, waxed paper totes have leather handles.



Dezeen gives a caffeine-fueled nod to Alessi’s new Pulcina espresso maker by Michele De Lucchi.



Frequent and/or disorganized travelers will appreciate this everything-in-its-place leather carryall for digital devices and accessories, tipped by The Architect’s Newspaper.



From Architectural Record‘s recommended reading list, this look at the career of architect/engineer Frei Otto was published just months after the Pritzker Prize winner’s death.



ArchDaily gets into the seasonal spirit with its own Corbusier tee-shirt, available with or without the master puffing on a pipe.








Season's Greetings

A inbox

Especially in the end-of-year rush, contacting an already-busy person can be frustrating. It’s important to keep in mind that communication is a process, not an instantaneous event. Now as always, reaching out to an influential individual requires equal parts tact, savvy, and persistence.



1. Lay the Groundwork for Connecting

Check your networks to see if your target busy person (TBP) is a friend-of-a-friend, a boss of a former colleague, or belongs to a professional organization through which you can culture a contact. Asking a mutual acquaintance for an introduction to your TBP can help pave the way for you.

Don’t ever, ever, ever use the phrase “pick your brain”. Not only does it sound like DIY neurosurgery, it telegraphs that you haven’t clearly defined your request for information—and will waste your TPB’s time.


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2. Craft the Communication

In a digital variation on the classic KISS acronym, remember SIPS when drafting your email to your TBP: keep it Short, Intriguing, Professional, and Smart.

A study conducted by students at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University examined how “inbox-level information”—aka, the subject line—impacts how people prioritize their email. Findings suggest that mail with subject lines that provoke a work-oriented curiosity are most likely to be opened. And the simple inclusion of punctuation—particularly a question mark—in the subject line increases the open rate by nine percent.

Don’t ever, ever, ever begin an email with “Hey”. It’s the electronic equivalent of addressing snail-mail to “Occupant.”



3. Be Patient

Today, everyone is overloaded with unsolicited input. On average, a businessperson receives 122 emails each and every day. Then consider the text messages, voice mail, and social media conduits also competing for attention, and it becomes understandable why you didn’t hear back from your TBP right after you hit “send”. You should be expecting to write a follow up note a week or two after your initial inquiry.

Don’t ever, ever, ever send an email without thanking the recipient for their time and assistance.


List Wish

1 santalistDecember. During this last month of the year, it’s natural to look back and reflect on what we can improve upon in our lives and work. One item that frequently pops up is time management. Over the next few weeks we’ll look at ways to become more efficient and organized.


It’s something we all confront during this busy, commitment-filled time of year: trying to fit a seemingly infinite number of tasks into an uncompromisingly finite calendar. To the rescue comes the list, the perennially powerful yet simple organizational tool that allows us to break down large, complex processes into doable steps.


While the season’s most renowned list-maker—a certain Mr. Claus, who famously checks his work not once, but twice—may rely on the traditional paper and pen to keep track of his appointments, there are plenty of higher-tech methods to manage schedules and projects. Each uses a different approach to creating content.


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1. Write a List

This collection of Moleskine notebooks bridges the analog and digital worlds. Using a Livescribe3 smartpen and the Livescribe+ app, handwritten notes—printed or cursive—are transmitted to tablets and smartphones, where they can be transformed into editable text simply by tapping on the screen of the device.


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2. Picture a List

Architects, designers, and others who work in visually-oriented fields might find the ultra-intuitive Trello a particularly helpful tool. Photos and drawings are easily incorporated into decks of digital cards that can be stacked, shifted, and shared among team members.


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3. Type a List

Wunderlist, the organizer of choice for Hausman LLC, is a nimble, communication-centric platform that can schedule reminders, set deadlines, coordinate actions, and more across all operating systems, for mobile and desktop environments.


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4. Dictate a List

Too busy to put pencil to paper or finger to keyboard? The speech-recognition Dragon Dictation app enables fast, hands-free text input. Transcriptions can be posted to social media, sent as text messages or email, or pasted into editing software.