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Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year from DesignTrawler.com

DesignTrawler.com wishes you a very happy and prosperous New Year! May 2011 be filled with fantastic finds, inspired ideas and brilliant concepts from around the world.

Many thanks to all of our readers including those in the US, UK, Luxembourg, South Korea and Japan, our 36 readers in Iraq, Blackberry readers, iPad readers and everyone that has emailed in.

I look forward to our first Birthday in May, our 100th article and what ever the future holds for this little website. It's been a fun journey so far and I hope you enjoy the perspectives to come.

Well Designed Champagne to Toast 2010

It's been a great year with some remarkable finds from around the globe. What better way to see in the New Year than with some suitably well designed fizz.

From Hediard in Monaco; Alpha Romeo prosecco by Scrimaglio Wines. From Maxim's Restaurant in Paris; Année Follée Champagne. And if you have nothing better than Moët (or if the thought of flashing a bottle of vintage Krug around fills you with embarrassment) you can hide your marque with this fur cooler from Restoration Hardware in New York.

A Very Postmodern Reindeer Fur Throw

Already a veritable game reserve with springbok, wolf, cow and pony, any more deceased animals in the Mancave might prompt a visit from unwashed Greenpeace sorts yielding cans of red paint.

This pure new lambswool blanket is made in Norway by Røros-Tweed who have been making blankets and woolen items in the town of Røros since 1936 (They also count the Japanese Emperor and Christian Dior as clients). Purchased in the Apgujeong district of Seoul, it's the perfect postmodern animal fur. No reindeer were harmed in the making of this article.

Three Elements of a Bespoke Bed

Somebody once said "invest in good shoes and a good bed; if you aren't in one, you're in the other". When it comes to the latter, nobody puts together a masculine platform like Ralph Lauren - but that monogram doesn't come cheap.

While having some suits made, I had the idea of asking if I could get some pillow cases made from the same Super 120's wool & cashmere cloth. Not a problem; £10 for each one Sir. Amazing, and far cheaper than the designer equivalent.

But why stop at bespoke cloth? How about a bespoke headboard in the style of Mies van der Rohe's iconic Barcelona Expo chair? Add some monochrome framed hotel style sheets from the US, and the only thing you're missing are your own initials on the inside label.

Keeping it Clean - Winnif Pang's Razor

Designer stubble is all well and good, but sometimes even the well groomed gent needs to clean things up a little. Rising to the occasion is this simple Muji/Apple inspired razor by Hong Kong Based designer (and ex Chairman of the HKDA) Winnif Pang - but it isn't for the face; rather the bathroom mirror.

Yes, this 'razor' is actually for de-misting the looking glass before getting down to business with your Acqua di Parma Collezione Barbiere. Spotted in the Kosney lifestyle store in the Myeongdong district of Seoul, it's about time somebody brought the concept of designer grooming to the home.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Design Heroes - Sir David Tang

I've always been fond of FT newsprint. From a design perspective it's instantly recognisable colour and typeface proudly proclaim it means business. Masculine certainly, but it's not just the financial pages that draw attention. Aforementioned design hero Tyler Brûlé is a regular columnist in the Life & Arts section, as too is eclectic businessman and power networker Sir David Tang.

This framed article by the Knight Commander is aesthetically pleasing, but monumentally important from a design perspective. Sir David discusses demolishes the fiddly pretense of interior design and preciousness of today's super designers. Like a beacon, this article represents everything design should stand for. Read it Here.

If Calatrava did Christmas...

Christmas for some means decking the halls with a multitude of garish fairy lights - Either bright enough to be seen from space or, with the popularity of LED bulbs, cast a glow so eerily unnatural that they may as well be from outer space. A shame because many of the forms of Christmas are so iconic; architectural even.

Take the candle bridge; a staple for many a mantle. Designers like Santiago Calatrava will spend many months designing a crossing before lending weeks to the task of lighting it. This coincidentally influenced decoration draws on the work of the acclaimed Spaniard for a suitably architectural Christmas.

Japanese White Charcoal - Actually Black

While Trawling a few years ago in Tokyo, I came across a mysterious black honeycomb cube for sale in the Need'k store near Daikanyama. I hadn't the foggiest what it was for until I noticed them again at 100% Design. The mysterious cube was a Japanese White Charcoal odour remover and it seems that the UK is getting a taste for the enigmatic substance.

The pictured chikutan sticks (£25 for a pack of 3) are created by carefully controlled the burning process of woods such as Japanese bamboo. The result is a porcelain like material that in air removes odour and in liquids absorb impurities. Once again, a suitably mancave solution to water filtration.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Faux Fur - Caveman & GQ Gent Approved

Synonymous with the wealthy fashionistas, alpine log cabins and yes, prehistoric cavemen, fur is an effective and iconic material. An absolute luxury in today's society, its use seems to attract the wrong sort of attention (as anyone who has ever strolled past Harrods will know).

Thankfully, a market exists in super luxury, super high quality faux fur. Today, demand for this premium and ethical product outstrips supply by a considerable amount (Japan alone is thought to consume one third of global output).

This Iberian Wolf fur throw from UK based specialists Faux Fur Throws, is made in England and exceptional in every way. Priced at just under £100, the lustre, depth and fineness of the fibres would be enough to fool  any Russian oligarch - And if you're not out to impress visiting tycoons, the company's association with Tatler and GQ should make you popular with visiting supermodels too.

Design Heroes - Tyler Brûlé

The first in a range of 'Design Hero' themed posts highlighting some important figures in mancave-orientated design. Tyler Brûlé is the editor in chief of Monocle Magazine an absolute staple for 'today's multifaceted male human'. Before founding Monocle, Tyler also founded Wallpaper* Magazine and creative agency Winkreative.

This framed illustration from Monocle Mediterraneo is signed by Tyler after the DesignTrawler spotted him at the soft launch of Marylebone clothier Trunk. I'm a particular fan of Monocle's fastidious attention to detail and Winkreative's design work with airlines such as Swiss, Porter and BA.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Piave - Italian for [Designer] Toothbrush

Ever wondered what the secret to an Italian supermodel smile is? The answer takes the form of these over well-designed toothbrushes from Italian toothbrush manufacturer Spazzolificio Piave. The special chrome and iconic Kent Comb style editions are made in Italy and certified by the University of Milan.

It isn't the first time the Italians have worked on a toothbrush, but refreshingly Piave gets it right with a focus on simple materials and simple angles. At around £5 each, these are an easy win for any design conscious boutique hotel, airline amenity kit or aspiring mancave locker-room.

The Locker Room - Chrome Louvre Vents

Following the previously mentioned post on interior signage, the mancave locker-room can be easily enhanced with additional hardware. These chrome louvre vents add an industrial coolness to the shower room; no cutting holes in your doors required. Be sure to use matching chrome machine screws.

Teak, Holly, Lacquer & Fizz... Veuve by Riva

It may be October 31st, but the combination of teak, holly, lacquer and fizz is no Halloween concoction (despite the seasonal pumpkin-yellow label of Veuve Clicquot's signature bottles). This presentation box for the 1998 Grande Dame from the aforementioned champagne house, is a work of design excellence.

Crafted by super-iconic Italian yacht maker Riva, it features a polished teak and holly construction: Reminiscent of the achingly cool wooden motoryachts dotted around Lake Como in Italy, and manufactured of course by Riva. Throw in some black lacquer, chrome, a engraved nameplate and you're ready to hit the water. Purchased from New York merchants Sherry-Lehmann on Park Avenue.

Paris 2010 - Les Puces du Design

This month, Design Trawler ventured over to Paris for the bi-annual design exhibit that is Les Puces du Design. Held twice a year, almost 100 design dealers from around Europe and the World gather to exhibit their best 20th century design pieces.

Like a kid in a candy store (or rather, the previously mentioned Can A Suc store), it was difficult to focus attention on any one area. Prices were high but the quality and variety of items made this 'flea market' a museum-quality exhibition - the bonus being everything's for sale. You can't say that about the V&A!

Architectural Sweetener - Design or Foodstuff?

I discovered the posh creative sugar company Can A Suc in the Printermps Haussmann store in Paris. While I'm not generally a fan of sugar in my coffee, it's just as well because this little spiral of perfectly shaped sugar 'steps' are best rolled-out for guests.

For around £30 you get  enough sugar pieces (in brown and white) to refill the perspex holder three or four times... at which point you can head back to Paris for a refill, or come up with a similarly artful way of displaying sugar cubes.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Banking back in Style - Ballograf Epoca

So the public backlash against bankers has subsided. Ever ahead of their time, the Japanese realise that it's about time banks and bankers should be celebrated (not that I'm biased or anything). I spotted the beautiful Epoca Bank pen last year in the Scandinavian Design House at Omotesando Hills in Tokyo.

Manufactured by Jan Johansson's and Tommy Kvistsuper's Ballograf AB in Sweeden, this is an iconic ballpoint with black/chrome satellite stand and classic ball bearing rope. It deserves to be on every desk, by every telephone and on every counter in the Square Mile. Buy! Buy! Buy!

Le Fridge by Veuve Clicquot


Had to get this one posted before winter rolls in. Every year Veuve Clicquot commissions a designer to create a new 'ice box' presentation case. Iconic in so many ways, the charming 2010 design by Denis Boudard manages to incorporate Veuve's trademark yellow with a simple 50's fridge form. Does what it says on the door, keeping the bottle of brut cool for up to 2 hours. Do grab one before they run out.

100% Design London - Stephen Johnson

I mentioned that some of the events and exhibitions held as part of the London Design Festival weren't commercial enough - 100% Design at Earl's Court was probably on the other end of the scale, with all it's high-budget corporate stands and weighty press kits.

I liked Stephen Johnson's 'Happy Happy' chrome/aluminium bows. Commercial, at £3,000 each and similar in style to the works of Jeff Koons, Stephen was refreshingly forward about his inspiration - A bow is a commercial 'folly' intended purely to look pretty and make people happy. Like the work by Dixit, I think it sits at the design end of the Art-Design scale, and is certainly less twee than his other work.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Tent London - Design Trumps Art

Highlights from the Tent London exhibition this weekend included Dixit Design Lab. In particular these Yes No art pieces caught my eye for the interesting use of colour and 3D layers. The artworks are made from stepped, hand carved and lacquered segments in Y and N patterns with graduating colours and embossed/raised text reflecting the positivity (or negativity) of the word.

I particularly like the use of light to make shadow emphasis the design. Interestingly the rep made it quite clear that the pieces were not art, but actually design. Fantastic to hear somebody finally make the distinction between the two and hail design as something that can command a £2,500 price tag.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Designersblock London - Top Picks

I was invited to a preview of the Designersblock London exhibition last night as part of the London Design Festival. A few most designs were highly conceptual and un-commercial, but a few did stand out.

Gerald the Dog from Lazerian (pictured) is a £10 cardboard do-it-yourself kit that takes the form of the company's mascot. Charming and accessible, the angular cardboard form replicates Lazerian's more ambitious designs like the £1,700 Bravias armchair - made from over 200 hand cut components.

Also of interest was the Light Light by Charlie Sekers; an iconic representation of a table lamp made entirely from a neon tube-light, and the luxury flat-pack Baba Lounger chair by Objekt International.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Wall St. Martini by Michael Godard

A recent visitor to the mancave commented on my 'nice olives' - while I admit, the aforementioned steel Malteser dispenser would probably dispense olives equally as well, alas I was not serving olives that evening. Instead my visitor was refering  to the painting which takes centre stage in the living area. I thought it was about time I unmasked it.

Called Wall St. Martini, it personifies a handfull of olives running round the trading floor of the NYSE, buying and selling and larking around by the giant martini glass trading post. A bit of fun, but relevant as I picked it up in Miami weeks before embarking on my first job in the City of London. By the American self proclaimed 'rockstar of the art world' Michael Godard, it wasnt the Martini's, but rather the Mojito's I was on when I stumbled in to the Godard gallery in Key West. Bespoke frame by Village Framing.

Argentine Malteser Dispenser

Picked up this shiny dish in the Buenos Aires Design shopping centre in the Recoleta district of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Firstly, I'd like to comment on the brilliant idea of a shopping centre featuring only design and independent furniture stores; would definitely like to see the format more widely rolled out.

The dish is made from cast steel and doubles up neatly as a Malteser dispenser when friends are visiting (although I haven't tried it for size with Ferrero Rocher's yet - clearly the Argentinian Ambassador hasn't been round). Really like the streamline form which is far superior to the clumsy equivalent from Dwell.

The Harbour Master Telescope

Asides from lashings of shiny chrome hardware, black stitched leather and elegant wooden tripod, there is a very good reason why this Harbour Master Telescope found it's way into the apartment. And there's no mancave link to keeping an eye on your pet T-Rex as it wreaks havoc in the neighbouring village.

The reason is twofold. The first being that I saw one in the private library of the $20,000 a night Ty Warner Penthouse at the Four Seasons New York (that's another story). The second is suggestive, and touches on my previous post of furniture as metaphor. A telescope implies there is something to look at outside; which implies the apartment is a) penthouse-high, b) perched on a cliff-face, c) is actually a yacht... or d) is a rather less auspicious sounding 'yacht-perched-on-top-of-a-really-tall-cliff-face'.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Furniture as Metaphor

You may want to sit down for this one, the concept is a little abstract I admit. This sideboard, isn't actually a sideboard. It's a grand piano. No, it doesn't fold out in a spectacular origami display like the Boxetti Television either. I wanted a grand piano, but that didn't fit. Neither did a normal upright piano. So I chose a piece of furniture in a similar shape to an upright piano, finished in a piano-black lacquer and with similar chrome hardware.

It's not a bookshelf; it's contents are hidden just like a piano and when placed in an environment where a piano wouldn't look out of place, metaphorically speaking, I think it creates a similar visual effect. That, and how many pianos do you know that can house a fully stocked bar?

Flint - Mancave for Knife

They say you don't realise what you've got until it's gone. I think it also works the other way around - Sometimes you don't know what you're missing until you have it. Despite my earlier comments about modern man in the kitchen, I've been looking for a decent set of kitchen knives for about a year now.

We all want to chop our carrots like a Samurai but with top Japanese knife sets pushing £1,500 I'd rather buy a fleet of Wagyu livestock and set about making tatare with a plastic airline utensil. Luckily however I stumbled across these achingly smart blades in Habitat (not literally you understand). I've never seen such a magnificent combination of angles, shiny metal and earthly stone - perfectly summed up by the name of the series from which they're from - Flint.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

The 'Air Multiplier' - Overhyped & Overpriced

I previously mentioned my disapproval with smug inventor James Dyson's bladeless fan. Now the temperatures in London are pushing 30+ smug Dyson types are rushing out to buy them. Here's what I have against them.

The big selling point is that it stops "buffeting"; a problem that doesn't actually exist; well done marketing department. It doesn't need to be in the shape of an 'O' - it's an inefficient footprint and again, exists as a marketing gimmick; look a 'fan' without the middle bit! If you're going to draw influence from a traditional design, give the product character, not better-than-thou arrogance.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Plywood Roedeer by Vlaemsch

A postmodern take on the traditional icon, I picked up this beechtriplex deer head in New York. Originally mounted on an oval base, I had it framed which gives it a new dimension. Designed by Augustin Scott de Martinville for Vlaemsch.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Nambé Twist Coasters - Acacia and Alloy

It's not often that the coaster that you rest your drink on will cost more than the drink itself. These twist coasters designed by Lou Henry for American design house Nambé are examples of such coasters.

At $130 for the set of six, these acacia wood and alloy rectangles are quite something. Nambé justify the price by saying that the "witty design suggests a spirited style and dapper elegance". I think the spiraling design better suggests debaucherous excess and all-round Mancave goodness.

Devil in the Detail - The Delta Door Handle

The second 'devil in the detail' observation, the door handle is something which we interact with every day but have a tendency to largely ignore. But it's not for want of manufacturers trying; there are plenty of crazy handle designs available online.

Far from being crazy, these 'Delta' handles from Heritage Brass are made in Wales and caught my eye because of their solid simplicity. Chunky yet refined polished chrome, 90 degree angles and, most importantly, hidden screwless fixings. Flawless.

The Luxury of Inconvenience

This week I spent considerable time considering whether to purchase two of these nickel wall-mounted lights/scones for candles. I planned to put them in the bathroom; on each side of the mirror; and liked the idea of legitimising candlelight as a source of lighting by giving them 'fixed' hardware.

In the end, I decided that I didn't have the room, but it got me thinking about luxury and practicality. The fixed wall candle fitting, is clearly high-end, but also horrendously inconvenient- I couldn't see myself lighting candles when nipping into the w/c in the middle of the night! But I think it is for that reason, that they are high end. The sheer impracticality of them makes them uncommon and therefore desirable.

Could the same be said for other luxury items like log burning fires, ink-drawing fountain pens and my utterly impractical Japanese phone? Absolutely. High-end items, as mentioned before, can effortlessly improve our quality of life but also sometimes take us a step backwards.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Saville Row your Home

Saville Row represents a home from home for the well-heeled City gent. Similarly, inside the many a discreet doorways of designer boutiques in Milan lie rows of meticulously regimented suits. Over time the professional male will acquire a collection of fine cloth worth a considerable amount.

Short of displaying them in walk in wardrobes which remain uncommon in Europe, they will often be hidden away in closed cupboards and wardrobes - You don't store your art collection a cupboard so why should your suits live out of sight? The open rail is a easy way to display your finest weekday uniforms and give a subtle nod to your home from home in W1.

Blackboard Bistro

These days, man is very much at home in the kitchen. We have moved away from hunting and gathering and toward roasting, braising and blow-torching. And even then, hunting for us involves a quick trip to Waitrose to pick up some £10 single estate olive oil and a handful of hand dived scallops.

So we all think we're Gordon Ramsay. And what better way to make your kitchen a Michelin starred gastropub than with a tin of blackboard paint and some chalk. I like the simplicity of chalk on a wall, and this may be stretching it, but there is something cave-like about drawing on walls. Add a refined twist with a classic typeface.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

American Power by Mich Epstein

The best thing about a coffee table is its ability to host some great coffee table books. Also due to the fact the mancave has few feature walls for displaying paintings, fine art photography books have a perfect home in the coffee table.

American Power is a collection of power stations, oil refineries, motorway junctions and juxtaposed landscapes breathtakingly shot over 5 years by Mitch Epstein. Read about this book in the Guardian while on the tube one weekend and picked up a signed copy in New York at the famous Strand Books.

Graham the Springbok Bathmat

Meet Graham. He lives in the locker-room bathroom of the Mancave and serves to dry wet feet after exiting the bath or shower. Named by me after the shop where he was purchased, Graham & Greene, he was an African springbok; a type of gazelle; in a previous life. Now he wasn't sold as a bathmat, but I figure if a springbok is waterproof when it's running around the watering holes, then there shouldn't be any problems with using him to dry feet. Indeed, springbok is excellent at absorbing water and dries very quickly.

I am certain that back in the day, cavemen would have used something just like Graham when leaving the hot spring after a long day of hunting. And before you organic fairtrade vegans start to complain, using a Graham is far more environmentally friendly than using a synthetic, mass produced Chinese rug. So there.

The Man Cushion - It Does Exist

Generally speaking, soft furnishings have no place in the Mancave. At best, a comfortable sofa or armchair is permissible. However there are exceptions. These monogrammed cushions from Cape Henley feature a club-like logo that lend a Drones style sartorial elegance to any room. The fabric is a grey herringbone and definitely has something of the Saville Row about it.

Swiss Timekeeping in the Kitchen

We all know that the Swiss are the most punctual people on earth. You see page upon page of advertorial content saying how you never actually own one particular brand of Swiss watch; merely look after it for the next generation. That's all well and good, but timekeeping shouldn't be exclusive to one's wrist.

This triple mechanical kitchen timer by Swiss design house Bengt Ek has a Saab-like aero/auto feel to it. The housing is fabricated in a single piece of cast and polished steel with timers ranging from 20, 60 to 120 minutes. At £50, (or just £33 from Achica) this is one Swiss timekeeper that deserves to be passed from one generation to the next.

Salt & Pepper = Cole & Mason

Nobody knows why or how the inseparable combination of salt and pepper came together. Where there is one, the other will never be far away. In the same respect, where there is salt and pepper, there will most always be Cole & Mason. One of only two manufacturers I would entrust with dispensing seasoning, the other being PSP Peugeot. These solid acyclic Seville grinders exhibit ice-cube like coolness with simple steel accents.

Monday, 7 June 2010

[Man]Cave Paintings - Oil by Burtynski

A fantastic fine art photography book published by Steidl. Oil by Edward Burtynski is split into chapters charting the life of oil from extraction & refinement, transport & motor culture through to the end of oil. A bit depressing you might think; why not have a fine art photography book on the subject of mountains or sunsets?

Quite simply, mountains and sunsetsare nature's wonders. A cave is a creation of nature. A mancave is a creation of man. It's man's wonders that we should take more time to appreciate. Images like these are our modern day cave-paintings. They are a snapshot of our everyday life as humans- just as mud paintings of blokes hunting zebras were 30,000 years ago.

Television as Furniture

It's inevitable that most living areas with a telly are designed to function around it. The TV dictates fundamentals such as where the seating areas are and how the area is lit. But apart from the fantastically functional Sony Monolith, most TV's are bland and uninspiring by design.

Like the very first radios and black and white televisions, the Korean HannsLounge LCD TV, takes an approach to design that encases the screen in, what is essentially, furniture. Chrome deer-horn legs hold up the distinctively Eames matt black body with curved walnut-ply rear. Best paired with the Alfason Finewoods series television stands; religiously used in Harrods and Selfridges.

Decanters & Wasabi Peas

No mancave is complete without a fully stocked bar. While there are some bottles that you clearly want to be on display, casually keeping the finest single malt on the sideboard could be seen as being a little vulgar. On the other hand most every-day cocktail / mixing spirits come in bottles with all the visual appeal of a can of Tizer.

Enter; these decanters from LSA International. Made in Poland, I think the contrast between the wide and tall designs work well together - his and hers perhaps? As for the wasabi peas, they make for excellent visual bar-candy and don't appear ever to spoil. Perfect for the Oriental GastroPubClub look.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Cave Lighting - The Torch Uplighter

Back in the day, caves were lit either by fires on the ground, or for the more discerning caveman, wall mounted torches (actually, I may have got that from Scooby Doo, but it's besides the point). The mancave is therefore lit, with these wall mounted 'torches' that cast a fiery glow upwards and add a distinctively cave-like presence.
Oh, and the artwork has been purposefully pixelated. All in good time.

Interior Signage - The Locker Room

Picked up this stainless steel sign for the bathroom the other day. I like the simple iconic representation. Normally reserved for commercial uses, I think it works well in a residential environment - particularly for giving the dullest of rooms a suitably mancave locker-room coolness.

Tablet Remotes - Effortless Over the Topnesss

This is the Logitech Harmony 1100 universal touchscreen remote control. At the risk of sounding hypocritical, when writing about the HP MediaSmart Extender, I said that technology should should enhance our lives without being 'in your face'. The Harmony is hardly a subtle way to control your telly however - I admit, at first glace it looks a bit over the top.

But consider what it replaces. In the mancave, it's replacing 4 remotes. Indeed, this particular remote only has a few hard buttons. The touch screen changes according to if you're watching TV, a DVD or listening to music and it can be customised with icons for the channels that you actually watch. So the Harmony cuts down on clutter, tiresome channel surfing and makes interaction with technology really rather effortless. Not so 'over the top' after all. From £329

AV Technology - Heard and not Seen

Take a look at the row of books under my telly. Some interesting reads certainly, but the book in the centre is the most interesting. It's a HP Media Smart Wireless Media Extender and it wirelessly streams content from computers around the mancave to the TV and through the sound system.

But it wasn't designed to be propped up on its side. I'm uncomfortable with the traditional ethos of flaunting a portfolio of high-tech AV kit in the living room. Technology should enhance our quality of living and it should do so in an unobtrusive and effortless way. At the end of a busy day I want to relax in a living room, not a data centre - the less technology on display the better. Available in the US for around $250.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

The Magnificent Wine Machine

There isn't a lot to say about this one. Just look at it. Found this beauty at the BALS Store in Nakameguro, Tokyo. Designed by a random, if not uninspiring named, outfit called Device Style, it looks like something from the drawing board of Bang & Olufsen.

Housing one bottle of your finest wine, it will maintain a constant temperature inside the chamber of 12, 14 or 16 degrees. It monitors temperature both outside and inside the chamber, maintains humidity at 65% to prevent corkage, dampens vibrations, blocks UV radiation and operates at a blissfully quiet 15db. It also turns tap water into Lafite Rothschild. Okay that last part is a lie, but at over £300, it's more expensive than a bottle of 1971 Dom Perignon. Which is just as well; it doesn't take champagne bottles.

Mini Dolmen Radio - A 'Broadcast' Device

I'm not a radio person, I'm really not. My music taste is too obscure for any normal individual, let alone commercial advertisers. But today this little chappie arrived and I'm most impressed. Designed by Rene Adda for Lexon, its modernist/industrial/retro feel is shockingly charming.

I think it's minimal-clinical image suits the bathroom well even though it's not waterproof (but hey, Jetson the duck likes it). Like most things in the mancave, it was purchased for looks, not for what it actually does. Most surprising then has been the way that the Mini Dolmen has changed the way I think about radio. So, music it ain't for, but 5 mins of news every morning while getting ready for work is amazing. This is a 'public broadast' device and it's utilitarian field-radio design perfectly echos this.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Devil in the Detail - Light Switches

How often do you switch the lights on or off in a room? I think we often forget just how often we interact with certain fixtures and fittings. That's precisely why cheap plastic rocker-type light switches have no place in the Mancave. Instead take a look at these recessed chrome touch sensitive switches with dimmer, quick-on/off, led indicators and memory. They fade to on and fade to off, working with your light fittings to deliver effortless on-ness and off-ness.

Matti Walker's Acrylic Fan

Now the sun's remains out past 8pm and the days are getting warmer, the annual panic buying of fans (in the UK at least) will inevitably ensue. Fans of the beige plastic variety are suitable only for hospitals and landfills, while smug inventor James Dyson has got it completely wrong with is bladeless fan (don't get me started).

I like how Matti Walker of Stadler Form has embraced the essence of what a fan should be. It has blades, it has a sexy curved cage around them and it's crisp smoked-acrylic case makes it something you can be proud to display unobtrusively int the corner of living room. Also available in blue and yellow for £100 at Heal's or in smoke (pictured) for £35 at Achica.

Art with Serious Air Miles

Art dealers and galleries always harp on about provenance and the history of any particular painting or artwork. While nice to know, I couldn't really care less about which old boy owned my painting before he met his maker. That's why I like this photograph print of an Imperial Airways plane departing London to Paris in the late 1920's. Sure it's a great shot that highlights the golden age of pre-easyjet travel, but that's just half of the story.

This particular piece (inclusive of sealed, fireproof frame) was obtained from the Club World cabin of a British Airways aircraft before it was refitted with the second generation interior. By my reckoning it spent about 8 years in the air, flying near continuously around the world. Now if only I could transfer the air miles...

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Jeff the Balloon Dog

Jeff the balloon dog accompanied me home from my last trip to Japan and sits on the window watching the world go by from behind the American walnut venetians. Named by me, not the shop (Sun's Court in Daikanyama, Tokyo), because he bears a striking resemblance to the metallic balloon figures by former banker-turned-artist Jeff Koons. The dog also doubles up as a money box; particularly fitting in a metaphorical kind of way for Mr Koons himself.
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