Wallpaper* gift guide: architecture editor Ellie Stathaki’s picks

This gift guide spans an off-grid shelter, a sauna book, a model city, and restorative skincare – treats for architecture fans and beyond

Model paper buildings by Open City, part of architecture gift guide
Open City’s models come in a flat, postable format, ready to build
(Image credit: Open City)

Gifting is an art. No two people are the same, so my ultimate gift guide offers options – from large to small, and from beauty to books and buildings. Scouring the shops for the perfect present is not easy, but hopefully the below list inspires ideas for all tastes – for the architecturally minded among us, and beyond. Some of the items here I have already bought to give away; some, I am planning to buy; and all of them, I'd love to have. 

Wallpaper* gift guide by architecture editor Ellie Stathaki

The Natural Shelter

the natural shelter exterior

(Image credit: Naturalmat)

We all get the urge to go completely off grid sometimes, and this tiny cabin is perfect for unusual architectural stays; and it can be yours, courtesy of bedding and mattress company Naturalmat and Devon-based cabin maker Out of the Valley. The miniature structure, with space for just a bed (naturally, with a Naturalmat mattress) and a bedside table and lamp, can be installed in your garden, field or estate. Made of organic wood, it is a sustainable low-impact dwelling shaped in the archetypal outline of a home – ready to buy for urban escapes or full countryside immersion. 


OWIU Goods

OWIU Goods ceramic pot

(Image credit: Nastassia Bruckin)

I love the origin story of this family of objects by California-based architecture studio OWIU. The practice's sensibility, centred on craft and materiality, is perfectly reflected in the recently launched OWIU Goods line of ceramics, made by the studio’s own team in Los Angeles. The idea was born during the pandemic, when the founders gifted their employees a pottery studio membership as a way to bolster morale and support mental health. ‘The team enjoyed producing so much that in late 2022 we formally launched a shop carrying the pieces,’ say founders Joel Wong and Amanda Gunwan. ‘It was very organic and unplanned but also surreal that we have graduated from that studio membership and now have a facility of our own and a team of potters.’ 


Sauna: The Power of Deep Heat by Emma O'Kelly (Welbeck Publishing)

red sauna by rocky beach

(Image credit: Maija Astikainen)

Sauna culture is spreading. Physical and mental wellbeing benefits, nurturing our connection with nature, and fostering history and community, are all strong, positive outcomes of partaking. The new book, Sauna: The Power of Deep Heat by Welbeck Publishing was written by Wallpaper* contributing editor Emma O’Kelly, and features bespoke photography by Maija Astikainen. It explores the activity, its popularity, and more, delving into the history, rituals and mythology around the much-loved pursuit. What better way to help us get through the cold months of winter. 


Also available from Amazon

Exfoliating and Replenishing Duo by Aesop

aesop exfoliating duo

(Image credit: Aesop)

The festive season demands looking after oneself, as parties, family commitments and shop-till-you-drop sessions can take a toll on the skin. Aesop's Exfoliating and Replenishing Duo is a delicious scrub-and-mask combo that is sure to cleanse, buff and hydrate the face, ready for make-up or – my staple – a simple, natural, dewy surface look. It works wonders on dry skin too. 


Nuts and Bolts by Roma Agrawal (Hachette)

Nuts and Bolts book cover

(Image credit: Hachette)

At home, we have been reading Roma Agrawal's How Was That Built? over and over again, so when I realised she's releasing a new book, I knew it would make this list. Nuts and Bolts by the award-winning Shard engineer and broadcaster has just launched and appeals to the geek in us all, talking about modern technology and invention in a simple, engaging way and touching on topics from skyscrapers to spacecraft. 

hachette.co.uk and Amazon

Card model buildings by Open City

Open city models of london buildings made of paper

(Image credit: Open City)

I always return to Open City to buy stocking fillers and gifts for friends and family - from captivating reads (think: London Feeds Itself), to printed maps and tours, there's a range of offerings for all budgets and tastes here. My favourite? The miniature paper models of London buildings, which guarantee hours of indoor happiness, hot chocolate at hand, to get through the winter ahead – as they come in the post flat and you have to build them yourself. 


Chanel Sublimage L’Extrait de Nuit

chanel product shot

(Image credit: Chanel)

When our former Beauty Editor Mary Cleary described the new Chanel Sublimage L’Extrait de Nuit as a 'skincare dream come true', I knew she was on to something. This night serum is the perfect treatment for the festive season – and beyond. Applying it recreates the appearance of getting eight hours of sleep through the clever use of vanilla. Magic! 

Chanel Sublimage L'Extrait de Nuit serum is available at harrods.com alongside the rest of the Sublimage range.


Skateboarding Santa-shaped bauble

skateboarding santa christmas bauble

(Image credit: Design Museum)

Inspired by the spirit of London Design Museum's ongoing Skateboard exhibition, I was pleased to discover that a passion for the sport and Christmas merriment can be easily combined in this fun little bauble. Who said Santa only travels by a sleigh? 


John Pawson miniatures for Salvatori

john pawson house of stone made by Salvatori

‘House of Stone’ by John Pawson, carved from a single block of Pietra d’Avola limestone

(Image credit: Salvatori)

When Salvatori launched The Village in 2021, the natural stone company invited established contemporary architects and designers to think about what ‘home’ means to them. The result was a series of miniature houses that reflect each one's approach to domestic life. London designer John Pawson crafted his minimalist 'House of Stone' from a a single block of Pietra d’Avola limestone. Pawson has also created a series of miniature versions of stone furniture with Salvatori - and they all look as cool as they feel calming. 


Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).