Desert Island Desks

Share this

This month’s desert island castaway, BDG Associate Architect Toby Neilson, has clearly thought long and hard about his work/life balance – despite being stranded in a tropical paradise. We like his rigor!

PapermateSharpwriter_L11  Papermate plastic propelling pencils

Drawing and sketching is still an invaluable skill in architecture; these pencils are (arguably) infinitely more versatile and reliable than your laptop or PC and cost about 50p!

2  A pair of Havaianas Flip Flops

My wife is Brazilian so it seems only right to include one of Brazil’s most successful exports. Like so many great products they grew out of necessity and were first produced as simple workers’ footwear. Affordable and hardwearing, they are incredibly comfortable, tough, they float and come in a mind-boggling number of colours – the list is endless. I’ve worn mine for everything from taking out the bins to my brother-in-law’s wedding (although this is apparently a cultural faux pas!).

3  Ercol Windsor Easy Chair

These look great anywhere and are still one of the most comfortable armchairs I’ve sat in. My aunt’s house was full of Ercol furniture, which she bought in the 60’s – and it still looks and feels fantastic. A great British classic!

maasai54  Massai Shuka tribe blanket

This is pretty much all you need in Tanzania or Kenya, so I would guess it would serve me well on the desert island! Keeps you warm on a cold night and cool on a hot day. Can be a bed, a towel, clothing, shade, shelter etc. They are also made in a huge range of beautiful colours – strangely similar to Scottish tartans!

5  Olympus E1 digital camera

This was the ‘first removable lens digital SLR’ – specifically designed for professional digital photography. As such it is an icon in its own right. I bought mine second hand about 12 years ago for £150. It was already old then but is built like a tank and still out-performs some modern digital cameras. I’ve dropped mine on train platforms, rocks, in the sand and once into a waterfall – the camera has survived mechanically unscathed and is still going strong.

6  Takemine acoustic guitar

Takemine made their name being the first company to mass-produce electro/acoustic guitars. In true Japanese style they are a wonderful combination of traditional craft and cutting edge technology, meaning the guitars work as well as an acoustic or a full-on electric guitar. They are available in huge number of styles but one their trademarks is the use of a natural timber finish which gives the instruments a largely ‘uncoloured’ natural sound – unlike some of the more popular American brands, which tend to be finished in thick shiny lacquer.

7  Copy of Leonardo Da Vinci’s sketchbooks

The ultimate polymath, Da Vinci filled over 13,000 pages of sketchbooks. Before knowledge was artificially split into romantic and classical or artistic and scientific ways of understanding the world Da Vinci was doing it all – science, art, engineering, architecture, medicine, mechanics, mathematics. Although he didn’t invent 2d perspective, he was hugely influential in its use and development as an artistic tool – and inadvertently critical to how we illustrate and represent design and architecture today, in 2d and 3d. His sketchbooks are an infinite resource of inspiration and the drawings are beautiful – precise and expressive in equal measure.