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Architectonic Accents: Buildings & Blocks

Yesterday, we set the tone for the week by sharing a collection of gifts that make our hearts sing. Today, we're laying the foundation for even more phenomenal gifts to come in the second half of the Holiday Countdown by offering a section of buildings and blocks that will inspire the blooming architect within everyone on your holiday list!


Material Immaterial

Spaces Set

We being with few of our favorite architectonic sculptures. From Nitin Barchha and Material Immaterial (MIM) Studios, the Spaces Set is a series of nine brutalist, square concrete structures that, when arranged into a grid, form an industrial urbanscape complete with mazes of staircases and a stippling of carved windows.

"Each piece in the set is an individually complete space defined by volumes and voids that give the human imagination a glimpse into what could be lying inside. The nine concrete homes come together to form a multitude of in-between spaces, these in-between spaces form new transit routes and spaces which can be moved around as per one's imagination." (1)


Mini Materials

1:24 Scale Mini Cinderblocks

If you are looking to gift objects with brutalism, industrial materiality, and an opportunity for creative construction, then a handful of mini cinderblocks will certainly fit the bill. Made of real cement, each block is molded as a perfect 1:24 scale replica of their life-sized counterparts. These cinderblocks make exceptional desk toys and conference calls are made all the better when you have an opportunity to construct concrete towers while you build business empires!


Karin Corbin

Micro Tiny Old Town

For a lightweight miniature city, head to Karin Corbin in the United States to find her unquestionably charming tiny towns. Varying in size from .90 to 1.04 inches, the buildings arrive as pre-cut and pre-scored sheets of luminous white cardstock that are easily formed into three dimensional towers inspired by Old World European architecture. Corbin includes written instructions as well as a photo tutorial of the assembly process—so there is no need to struggle building your miniature village—as well as links to tiny LED lights so your can make your towns glow!


Wood Castle Shop

Wooden Pop-up Castle

Some of our loved ones don't have the dexterity for tiny paper building modelings so we gift them these mesmerizing telescoping, pop-up castles from Wood Castle Shop in Portugal. Growing up, one of your team members associated the holidays with these truly magical sculptures as their father would bring them out as seasonal decorations. Imagine being a child and watching an unassuming branch transform into a castle as towers rise from beneath the valleys of the bark. Even as adults we are always mystified by these entirely unique carved cityscapes and, as such, we eagerly gift them and their intrinsic magic to those we love at the holidays.


Fifth Avenue Kids

Russian Church Building Block Set

If you're looking to build a taller tower, the Russian Church Building Block Set from Fifth Avenue Kids in Singapore will leave you spellbound. Containing a whopping 110 pieces, the set offers peaked entryways, smooth columns, and—of course—the ornamental points of onion domes which are synonymous with Russian architecture. We love that the simplicity of the geometric forms combined with the sheer number of blocks open up a world of creative possibilities that one rarely finds elsewhere. Flat circular slices can perch on narrow columns as regal umbrella-like canopies or roll along their edges as colossal doors that obscure secret entryways. And, at the end of construction, the elegance and flawless proportionality of the shapes ensures your structure will be an aesthetic masterpiece.


Rabbit Quick & Super Magnete

Rods & Spheres Magnetic Sculpture Set

Exchanging wooden blocks for steel rods, our next gift is the a set of magnetic steel rods and spheres that can be arranged as dizzyingly prismatic metal towers. The addition of the magnetism offers an added dimension to your builds; now you can suspend archways, hang rods like fringe, and enjoy the satisfying—and remarkably addicting—snap when the poles connect. Plus, the reflective steel surface and the Morse-Code-like arrangement of dots and dashes contribute to an air of sophisticated chicness. You can buy a preselected, boxed set from Rabbit Quick or customize your ideal combination of rods and spheres of different lengths and sizes at Super Magnete.


Philadelphia Museum of Art

Bauspiel Lucent Cubes

For a luminous and brilliantly coloured set, head to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for their Bauspiel Lucent Cubes. Crystalline lucite, in ten equally delicious colours, is carved into 100 nearly 1" cubes that form a tray of glistening sugar candies or the mosaic of light painted on the walls opposite stained glass windows. Should you choose to arrange them into columns of color or just drool over their beauty while they lay flat in their frame, you'll be instantly smitten by these gorgeous blocks and you'll want to share their radiance with everyone on your list.


Museum of Modern Art

Keith Haring Stacking Figures

If stacking is the name of your gift giving game this year, we've got you covered!

Jumping from the Philadelphia Museum of Art to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, we find artistry and endless joy in the Keith Haring Stacking Figures. Pale wood boards are carved to reveal eleven silhouettes, "based on illustrations by beloved Pop artist Keith Haring, whose work is represented in MoMA’s collection"(2), that are further defined and animated by the graphic, emphasizing black outlines celebrated in Haring's works. The characters are captured mid motion, with exclamations of arms outstretched like vectors and and chevrons of knees and elbows arranged around the bodies like petals of dance. Perfect for art-lovers and playful spirits alike, these Figures are joy-filled gifts that are sure to bring a smile to any lucky recipient.


Hooray Toys

Balancing Cactus

Or maybe your loved ones would prefer the glossy bouquet of cactus arms and fruit from Hooray Toys in Canada over the petals of dance from MoMA. A gently rounded wooden vase reveals burrows that are sized to accept the neck like stems of verdant green bulbs of wood. Resembling the outstretched, sky-praising arms and the fanning stem segments of flourishing cacti, the green bulbs themselves hold holes to host blossom-like wooden knobs in onyxed aubergines and impassioned reds and oranges. When assembled, the pieces form whimsical arboresque compositions of colour, an oasis of joyousness, making the cactus an ideal gift with the power to warm and enliven even the most snow-covered homes.


Green Walnut Inc.

Wooden Sacking Rocks

Designed with young ones in mind, the assembly of the Balancing Cactus may prove unsatisfyingly easy for those with fully developed motor skills. For a slightly more advanced balancing challenging and an equally aesthetic sculpture, consider the Wooden Stacking Rocks from Green Walnut Inc. in Canada. Blocks of wood are carved into faceted, asymmetric crystals of natural, non-toxic, and eco-friendly pine. The flat faces, when matched, form stable connections as your towers grow while the asymmetry of the shapes and the irregularity of the sizes demand thoughtful consideration as they whisper spells of instability that can corrupt the balance of the structure. The blocks themselves are undeniably decorous and act as sophisticated accents when not used for play so they are perfect gifts for design-lovers and game-seekers alike.


So-So Store

After The Storm Comes The Calm Game

Blocks offer playfully competitive possibilities that extend far beyond simple stacking. The cylindrical blocks of the After The Storm Comes The Calm game by So-So Store in Portugal, for example, act as tumbling ocean waves that must be methodically removed without capsizing the sailing ship that rocks at the surface of the sea. The brilliantly simple game necessitates strategy, delicacy, and unwavering focus regardless of whether one plays alone or in competition with others; either way, it's gloriously fun and profoundly consuming.

"'After the storm, comes the calm' is a saying used in the Portuguese language, which expresses the idea that after a turbulent and agitated period comes calm (bonança), establishing a parallel with the world of navigation: At sea, after big storms, followed by periods of tranquility, where you can navigate with greater ease." (3)


Bauhaus Movement

Bauhaus Chess Set

The geometric blocks of the Bauhaus Chess Set, designed in 1923 by Josef Hartwig, are another unconventionally playful use of blocks. The description of the set from Bauhaus Movement effortlessly articulates all that we love about the piece.

"What is imperceptibly special about this chess game is its simplicity. No ornaments lend the individual pieces a haptic that radically turns away from what has so far characterized the design of Bauhaus Chess figures. The striving for clarity and simplification in favour of the recipient is therefore evident in the Bauhaus chess as in hardly any other object of utility art....The figures harmonize with the playing surface, the chessboard, since they do not form a playful contrast, but rather find their way stringently into the symmetry." (4)

Ultimately, all of these buildings and blocks will inspire your loved ones with the intrinsic beauty of their designs and the opportunity for creativity and play they offer. We can't think of items better suited for holiday gift giving!

For even more gift inspiration, browse this year's full collection of gifts in the Holiday Gift Guide.

Holiday Gift Guide


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