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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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