Gift Ideas for an Artsy, Nerdy Best Friend

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Age: 26

Place: Los Angeles

Relationship: best friend

From the gift-giver:

He is an iOS app developer and programmer, a low-key graphic artist, an absolute minimalist when it comes to his appearance and the things he owns (which makes buying for him so hard—I don't want give him anything that won't be used or that will create clutter, because that is so not him). He loves the absurd (Turquoise Jeep's elegant work, for example) and the adorable (but they have to be exactly the right aesthetic to evoke pleasure, which is hard to pin down). When he gets a kick out of something he's very loyal to it. In other words, he's not the kind of person to be into something for a moment or for a few days and then forget about it. He knows nothing about pop culture (Drake who?), doesn't give a crap about what people think of him, and is an ardent philosopher. Life, death, right, wrong, what does it all mean?! How do we make it count? Also, he loves the game Eve Online—or “SpaceGame,” as we call it—mostly for its beauty.

Any gift they’ve loved?

I bought him a robe last Christmas—he used to use this small blanket as a shawl/poncho and claimed that it was exactly all he needed to stay warm around the house. So I took a leap and bought him a thick, soft robe, in his favorite dark colors, and now he never wants to take it off.

We recommend: Lego Architecture Studio ($159.95)

So he likes games. And the absurd. And minimalism. And designing and building things from scratch using complex code/instruction manuals/drawings. How about this Lego architecture studio? It features more than 1,200 bricks in two shades, which can be used to recreate plans included in a 272-page booklet submitted by leading architects. It’s educational (you can learn the basic fundamentals of architecture), it’s aesthetically pleasing, and it’s Lego, which every single non-Grinch in the world likes to play with. If the $159.99 price tag is a little hefty, perhaps you could pick one of the iconic world building sets also on offer, and help him build a Lego White House ($49.99), or a Lego Seattle Space Needle ($19.95), or a Lego Trevi Fountain ($49.95).

Other ideas:

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