6 Beautiful Vintage Objects for Nostalgic Architects

Before the disposable age of technology, the tools of the trade were designed and built to last.

Paul Keskeys Paul Keskeys

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Nostalgia is a topic that emerges time and again within the architectural profession, often loaded with negativity. Many argue that the profession should occupy itself imagining what could be, not reminiscing about times and techniques long past. For those architects, rose-tinted memories of a bygone era are simply unacceptable: The romanticism it inspires equates to delusion.

On the other hand, perhaps some aspects of our historic profession are worth treasuring. Before the disposable age of technology — complete with planned obsolescence and an unending requirement to update everything we own — the tools of the trade were designed and built to last. Details were prized for their longevity rather than their cool factor. Materials were raw and honest.

Via Kitchen Decor

For these reasons, architectural furnishings and equipment that possess those old-fashioned qualities — loosely defined as ‘vintage’ goods — are still incredibly popular today. If the aesthetics displayed in the image above inspires a pang of nostalgic joy within you, the following collection of gear is for you. These artifacts are all you need to be a truly vintage architect:

Drafting Table

It is common knowledge by now: The days of creating working drawings by hand are virtually extinct thanks to technology. However, there is still a place for pencil and paper when it comes to sketching ideas, and what better way to do it than upon a sumptuous wooden drafting table like the master architects of old? This particular version is crafted from oak with metal detailing, and would make for a rather nice work surface even if you’re now permanently attached to the CAD packages on your laptop.

Via 1stdibs


Lighting is an obsession for most architects, and rightly so, given its significance both in the studio — they are essential in providing optimal working conditions — and in the projects themselves, dictating the character and atmosphere of a space. For the vintage architect inside you, a classic industrial aesthetic would work beautifully in sync with that timber drafting desk, and this metal lamp with a beautiful, mottled finish taps into the romantic ideal. If its price is a little eye-watering, there are cheaper options available.

Via Factory 20

Flat File Cabinet

The advent of computer-generated drawings and renderings has not ended the need for large-format prints, particularly when it comes to creating presentational material for public consultations and exhibitions. Once those events are over, you will want to preserve your graphics for future use, and it is vital to keep them protected in a dedicated storage space. Produced in the 1930s, Hamilton flat file cabinets like the one above possess a stunning, muted patina and are highly versatile, offering a great deal of room for archiving surveys, maps, presentation boards and as many napkin sketches as you can muster.

Drawing Tube

Even if all your drawings are now produced digitally, chances are you still need to print them out to scale to present your details to clients and contractors alike. Walnut Studiolo’s leather drawing tube is a high-end, handcrafted container for your prints, and it promises to protect the goods as well as looking good — according to the makers, it is finished with their “secret homemade weatherproofing, making sure it can handle the elements from Portland, Oregon, to Portland, Maine.”

Messenger Bag

Despite its low-tech origins, the classic messenger bag is actually an ideal shape for most contemporary laptops, and typically possesses robust details that can handle the rigors of daily use in the studio and on site. There are countless options available at different price levels, but Komal’s Passion Leather 18 Inch Messenger Bag combines hardwearing materials with simple aesthetics in a way that will appeal to many modern architects.

Via Etsy (MagyarBeader)

Drafting Tools

You may not feel you have any need for a compass anymore, but admit it — this 1930s vintage drawing set still makes you go a little misty eyed. Original Lotter was once a treasured manufacturer of drafting implements for architects, and its sets are now highly collectible — they even feature in Lou Brooks’ legendary Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies. Even if you have no practical use for them, these tools could be framed and hung upon your studio wall as a splendid homage to the profession. The set above sold already, but there are others floating around the internet at a reasonable price.

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