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Sunday, 29 December 2013

Lexon Flow - An Audio Carriage

The boys at Lexon continue to impress with their well turned out portable tuners. Brother to the previously featured Mini Dolemen, and still giving Uncle Bose a run for it's money in the design department, Lexon's Flow radio is brilliantly designed by Philip Wong. With it's glassy casing and clean, uncluttered narrative, the Flow would look superb on a mantle a'la carriage for the New Year.

Goose Down Forts in Duck Egg Blue

More alphabet inspired design cues, this time from the Middle East. Of particular interest in Doha's Cool Corner Suite is this headboard, or rather lack of one. Instead of being fixed to the bed, or protruding from the wall, the headboard is recessed in a gently curving cocoon of pale ivory and duck egg blue leather.

In retrospect it works brilliantly. Rather than shunting the bed out in to the middle of the bedroom, providing ample access to masked assailants and kidnappers [Design Trawler takes his night time security very seriously], the 'anti-headboard' gives the bed a reassuring 'design hug' and creates a wrap around, fort-like personal space that negates the need for dozens of goose-down castle walls.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Turning Walls Upside Down

Back in the days before Eames recliners and under floor heating, man had the clever idea of surrounding himself with walls. Clever because walls protected him from wind and sabre-tooth tigers, and especially clever because several thousand years later they provide ample opportunity for hanging Damien Hists, erecting great shelves filled with books and installing roaring fireplaces.

So walls are great, but unless you live in the Barcelona Pavilion, they also have a pesky tendency to block out light. But what if rather than blocking out the light, walls provided a internal source of light? That's the approach rAndom International have done with guest rooms at the W Taipei. Backlighting the very fabric of a room is blissfully simple and something I'd love to see upscaled in the design of an entire home.

Smart Toilets - Bottom of UK's List

Regular visitors to Japan will be familiar with the discretely positioned control panels in water closets across the country. While in the UK we're wirelessly streaming music around the house, operating heating from tablet and opening curtains with smartphones... we happily endure chilly loo seats.

But it's not for Japan's want of trying. Premier league toilet seat manufacturer Toto has had it's showroom in London's Clerkenwell for some years now, and even Samsung offer a remote control heating, washing and drying solution for under £200 (wireless streaming is of course, um, entirely optional).

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Mr Loewy's Office Express

Google's ubiquitous home page 'doodles' have many incarnations; but one that stopped me in my tracks (literally) was this month's homage to the a father of industrial design, Raymond Loewy. The search giant's moniker has been morphed in to an achingly attractive streamline-moderne locomotive reminiscent of Mr Loewy's Pennsylvania Railroad S1.

From transport [the iconic blue and white livery of Air Force One] to tableware [Le Creuset's Coquelle casserole dishes], Loewy's influence was impressive and still making it's mark. This handsome office tidy from Troika spotted in Moscow's Tsvetnow Central Market being case in point.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

That Trawler in the Window

London isn't known for its high-rise residential living. If you're not in the Shard's £50m penthouse, or perched high up in the Barbican's brutalist towers you're unlikely to have a Manhattan view. But for said tower-happy capitals, built-in daybeds like the one pictured here at the W Taipei are a sure win.

Snuggling up to a pane of glass on the 30th floor with a copy of Monocle magazine and the changing lights of the city on your shoulder is quite something. The oriental style window platform comes closest to beating a classic Eames lounger and a fireplace for ultimate comfort in consuming design tomes.

Article #200 - The Straw Donkey

When your Dad is Sir Norman Foster, and your husband, the former editor of Esquire and Wallpaper* Magazines, it's likely you'll have some wise things to say about design. India Knight, doesn't disappoint.

Speaking about how design has become democratised [first brought to my attention by BMW designer Chris Bangle], and echoing Sir David Tang's bashing of "overly done interior-designed numbers", Knight brilliantly speaks of 'straw donkies'; the things we display in our homes that we love. Freed of the tyranny of 'ghastly good taste', we're confident to design for a taste that is uniquely ours.

A fitting manifesto, and for Design Trawler's 200th article, something which I continue to believe in. For as 'tasteful' as show homes and hotel suites are, the very best interiors are the ones with the confidence to be original. Read the full article below...

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Bull Market Reflections

While cost-conscious consumers have been spurred on by the 'innocent smoothie' approach to quiet design and paired-down home crafts, the ultra wealthy have been charting new territories with taller, bigger and more innovative interiors than ever before. True of Moscow, like many global capitals, this Minotaur Mirror sits in the city's excellent DesignBoom store.

With the head of a bull, and body of... whoever happens to be gazing in to it, the functional/sculptural work is similar to the superb mirrored sculptures by Chelsea based artist Arran Gregory.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Design in Doha - World Cup Fever

With Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup, Design Trawler thought it only prudent to fly in to Doha to check out the local design scene. Avoiding the obvious comparisons to other Gulf nations and a penchant for the diamond clad, gold plated and designer-trimmed, Doha is dabbling in design.

Lead by the W Hotel, and Dubai-based interiors store The One, football fever is very much on the cards. This suitably themed leather-clad coffee table sits alongside a similarly, um, forward expression of Premier League brand affiliation - because what footballer wouldn't want a Gucci stripe armchair?

Havana Inspired Home Fragrance

I'll always remember the time I was at an 'open day' at London's Jermyn Street. From shirts to cigars, local stores were showcasing the best of London's fine handmade crafts. In the Davidoff shop on the corner of St. James, a father and his two young children were leaning over a Cuban craftsman rolling tobacco leaves in to perfect torpedoes. All three gazed over the man, with the father pointing to the perfectly cut cigars in formation; "look how they're all exactly the same size" - the delightful young daughter perfectly quipping "Daddy, this shop smells like you when you come back from London!"

Priceless. And if ever you wish to accentuate your home with the fragrance of Havana's finest, Boticario de Havana Fragrancia de Casa by Archipelago is the scent to go for. While not exactly the scent of 'Daddy ex London', think coffee, jojoba and tobacco flower with extracts of orange, sugar cane & pineapple.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

The Penny Floor that Started a Craze

In 2011, I posted an article about how I glued 7,500 one penny coins to my kitchen floor. I never imagined the impact that the penny floor would have. I didnt' even coin the term 'penny floor' [excuse the pun!] - But if I had a penny for the number of links, pins, posts and times I've been introduced as the guy who covered his floor in 1p coins, well, I could probably do several more penny floors! [2p floor anybody?]

I've had questions on how it was done; including one from a prominent architecture firm with a penchant for picked cucumbers; seen a bizarre range of templates and tutorials on the subject, and been asked how it has coped with daily wear and tear [fine actually, and it hasn't turned green!]

Celebrating Design Trawler's launch on Pinterest, you can now view the original images from the famous penny floor in high resolution, along with one or two more from the present day. Stay tuned for the real how to guide - from preparing your floor through to sourcing, laying and protecting your pennies.

Design as Metaphor - Yachtside

We can't be lounging poolside or by the Wallypower all the time -  but the innovative hand blown shade of Shikai Tseng and Hansei Chen's Ripple Lamp recreates the magical reflections conjured by the vida del mar on your mantle. Spotted at London Design week and manufactured by Austrian firm Lobmeyer.

Gallerie Gastronomique - Open Shelving

You know the situation. You pop down to your locally curated food store for the weekly shop, and spend £100 on four types of single estate olive oil in interesting glass bottles, several jars of preserve with typographic white labels and a tube of goodness-knows-what because it's covered in Japanese kanji.

But that's fine, because to paraphrase the rules for living by Unhappy Hipsters "It is better to focus on the pure joy of being close to high design than to [buy food that you can actually eat]". Just so long as you have open kitchen storage to display your collection of contemporary Nicolas Vahe condiments [pictured]

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Popeworthy Suite Design

The Bristol Hotel's 92m² Deluxe Suite in Warsaw is the sort of suite you'd want to marry. While the Versailles-like Paderewski Suite makes a great one night stand stay (if you're fond of Louis IXV furniture), the design elements of it's little cousin should feature in any apartment worth it's designer [bath] salt.

Take the living room - The desk behind the sofa allows you to glance up from your affairs and keep an eye on BBC News on TV, your guests by the fireplace, and staff entering through the impressive double doors. Very Feng-Shui. It's got a wrap-around balcony that'd make the Pope jealous and an excellent system of 'break glass in emergency' connecting bedrooms... in case you have an emergency visit from said Pontiff.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

U+ Suspend Clock by Alan Wisniewski

I've always loved contemporary artist/taxidermist Polly Morgan's sculptures. Some feature birds with a delicate balloon suspended in a glass dome. These domes are an iconic way of drawing attention to precious objects, and the fragility of the whole ensemble creates a museum-like artefact to behold.

Alan Wisniewski has got it perfectly right with his Suspend Clock for Umbra's premium U+ Studio Collection. The walnut clock face cleverly floats in mid air, it's contour perfectly matching the dome around it. Like Polly's balloons, the effect is fragile and mesmerising. Time captured and suspended.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

RIP Amex Centurion - The Hyundaicard Black

It's time to retire your American Express Centurion card. I never thought I'd say it, but the gilded frame has had its day. When you're in the mood to acquire serious design you need an equally seriously payment method [sadly, this is one occasion when Design Trawler favourite Ozwald Boateng is a little low brow]

Hyundaicard have been designing and exhibiting designer plastic metal in Korea since 2003. Each card is designed to perfection but it's the top tier that stands apart. The top offering, 'The Black' is, like the Centurion, made of metal, but eschews decoration in favour of enigmatic iconigraphy.

Such is the strengths of the Hyundaicard design, that Mastercard have been convinced to move their logo to the rear of the card, as not to upset the subtle dimple on the card's bottom right corner. Limited to 2,000 global VIP's [each getting access to a dedicated 'clubhouse' in downton Seoul], our man at Hyundai informs us that Design Hero Tyler Brûlé get's on particularly well with the Korean invitation committee.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

The Private Members Club Lamp

I first saw the Taccia lamp, perched on the riveted aluminium bar at the subterranean City-boy hangout and private members club, Eight Moorgate in London. Since then, the bar and the lamp have become firm favourites with both, again, influencing what good looks like on Design Trawler.

Designed by the Castiglioni brothers for Flos in 1962, the Taccia marries an extruded black aluminium 'gear' shaped body with hand blown 'searchlight' powder-coated difuser. Unless it's nickel-plated and zapon-varnished [like the base of the Taccia] any other table lamp is not worth discussing.

Roadster Sofas from Bark

If ever man tried to create a formula for successful design, the elements of black walnut, fine leather and architectural curves would be essential. The achingly smart Kustom Armchair by Bark Furniture is an automatic 'yes' and features an exaggerated 'roadster' silhouette that'd compliment your E-Type nicely.

Curiously, the dramatic sloping profile is superbly comfortable and far easier to get out of than the scalloped shaped sides may suggest. Made to order in a range of sizes and fabrics from Bute in Scotland.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Hotrod for High-Octane Sencha

Looking at this diamond bevelled detailing, you'd be forgiven for thinking Design Trawler has taken a trip to the workshop of Enzo Ferrari. Indeed the jewel-like finishing is illuminated in rosso red from within it's polished chrome body. It's not to be found in a high-spec garage, but rather, the kitted out kitchen.

Original 'boiling water tap' firm Quooker, has engineered a child-proof push and turn mechanism for it's Fusion and Nordic taps worthy of old man Enzo himself. The only tap with a patented vacuum system of storing water above 100°c, Quooker delivers on demand torque steam for high-octane sencha.

Max Lennaárd's Modular Flames

Swinging by the Formex design exhibition in Stockholm, where the number of dead animals rivalled even the Man Cave [#1 #2 #3], I spotted an outstanding set of modular candle holders by Max Lennaárd.

Nominated as one of the 'Formex Formidable' 20 best in show, the precise CNC machine-milled forms allow owners to live like Brancusi and create their own unlimited forms in the metal of the moment.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Shoe Horn? or Sculpture?

Not the first time a Sex and the City prop has found it's way on to the pages of DesignTrawler.com, this shoe horn sculpture from the lauded Manolo Blahnik is part of the Collector range from Habitat. Re-released for R.O.O.M. in Stockholm's PUB Store, the original met it's fate in 2011 along with the retailer founded by Sir Terrance Conran. Excellent for brogues, girlfriends or unwelcome intruders.

The Gentleman's Valet Company

From handyman to gentleman - Sam Brown is a furniture maker that has been inundated with the requests of well turned out City sorts for his bespoke valet stands. The Gentleman's Valet Company produces beautifully crafted valets for made-to-measure cloth starting at around £2,000.

Eccentrically stylish details include suitably Hirst carved skull hat stands, and union flag lampshades that take up to four days to fashion from oak and walnut. Sam's wall mounted valet in particular should be mandatory in every man's bedroom/hotelroom and is a natural companion to open rail thread storage.

Designer Handyman L:A Bruket

Thinking about London's Cornwall Terrace townhouses which each feature three kitchens; one for boiling an egg at a dinner party, one for the caterers, and one for the rest of the staff; a £40m home should probably also have multiple utility rooms. In fact, all homes should probably have multiple utility rooms.

The meticulously presented 'master utility', for when owners wish to personally fetch another man candle or box of bathing seaweed, should be outfitted by Swedish firm L:A Bruket [pictured]. From said edible bath treatments, to [less edible] lime & mint dog shampoo; all far too smart to be stored in the staff utility.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Man's Best Friend by Gavin Coyle

Man's best friend. Intelligent, loyal. The last thing you see when you leave home, and always the first to greet you when you're back. That warm fuzzy felling of companionship when it's around, that unique character, that charm. Yes, it demands attention, and yes it'd be far cheaper to buy a goldfish, but this is man's best friend. Not man's mate Dan, or his girlfriend. Iconic, unmistakable. I'm talking about design.

But for those animal lovers, this fido shaped magazine rack from Gavin Coyle is exceptionally smart too.

Tell Me More... Actually, Don't.

Unless your vanilla is Madagascan and organic, harvested under a full moon by a pack of native tribesman, and transported by carbon neutral means, I don't want to know. Or at least that's what many brands seem to think we expect when it comes to product and their descriptions. Particularly when it comes to scent.

Swedish firm Tell Me More's candles are numbered one through nine and have a corresponding fragrance ranging from ginger & lime [one] through to amber [nine]. So if your guests ever ask if that's ylang ylang in the bathroom, tell them that it's an invigorating blend of the number five, and to stop being so pedestrian.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Casual Friday's & Weekend Bedding

The rituals of our daily dress codes aren't only for when we leave the home. For occasions when Boateng inspired bedding is a little formal [or for summers in the Hamptons / Islands / Highlands] ivy league clothier Gant offers up a range of cable knits, pinstripe linens and suitably Jack Purcell Americana.

Her Majesty's Most Wanted

This summer, Design Trawler was invited by the Evening Standard join the Judging Panel for the annual New Homes Awards. The most prestigious trophy in the business, shortlisted homes were presided over by trendsetters, tastemakers and arbiters of taste across twelve categories.

Presiding over 'Best Apartment' and 'Best Luxury' - everything from Mayfair duplexes owned by the Crown Estate, to New York style lofts were subject to the scrutiny of Design Trawler. Click below to find out who took home the silver, and why Design Trawler won't be getting a Christmas Card from Buckingham Palace.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Good Dog - Blue Dog

At the risk of upsetting RSPCA sorts, animals in the home are best skinned and made in to carpets, bathmats, blankets or wine coolers. If you can't guarantee they won't do their business against your Carlo Molino writing desk, or otherwise gnarl a hole in your Corbusier LC-2, they're best kept outside.

Much better to Fido by way of fun Brazilian pop art. This is Blue Dog. Acquired from Romero Britto's flagship gallery in Miami, Blue Dog pre-dates even the Man Cave. Loyally ascending to greatness, from Bond Street to Buckingham palace, Britto's Blue Dog has found itself in the windows of Opera Gallery and counts the Queen, amongst others, as one of its owners.

Bedside Explorer - Design Trawler

You can tell a lot about a person based on who what they sleep with. As humans, we tend to snooze close to the things we love most. How many people go to bed with a Blackberry? Point proven. Wall-safes are typically behind headboard paintings, and we all know where James Bond keeps his Walther PPK at night.

On Design Trawler's bedside table trunk, the trend is no different. A chrome hotel bell; passport [current] in a silver frame and 2,000 year old Han Dynasty warrior head to ward off evil spirits. It all points to exploration, collection, and dreams ladened with frequent flier miles. Jules Verne would be proud.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Polish Cold War Neon

The sound of a Polish Cold War Neon museum might not give curators at the MoMa any sleepless nights, but the old warehouse in SoHo Factory area of Warsaw is a design must-see. The space is the bricks-and-mortar continuation of the book which captured the world's attention.

But it's the museum gift shop boutique that comes up trumps. Forget postcards and pencil-sharpeners. Alongside the book that started it all, are one-off typographic prints, ceramics and sculpture featuring the high-voltage fonts. With the popularity of heavy-hitting neon artists like Chris Bracey and Tracy Emin the museum's future looks very bright! Expect some specially commissioned neon art to be featured here soon.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Raul de Sorôa's Itaúba Submarine

A spectacular find from Brazilian artist Raul de Sorôa. 'Submarino' is carved from Itaúba, a Brazilian hardwood, and features characterful nautical, automotive and also aeronautical forms. Equally interesting are Raul's other works which combine Airfix style assembly kit panels with his signature organic outlines.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Christian Candy 1 : Great Gatsby 0

Watching Baz Luhrmann's the Great Gatsby this weekend [Curzon Mayfair], I couldn't help but be enthralled by the some 42 epic Catherine Martin designed sets. Particularly Jay Gatsby's double-height master bedroom with galleried open wardrobes [below]; taking cues of course from Design Trawler.

Reminding me of Christian Candy's masculine, deco-inspired bedroom in the £199m Belle Epoque in Monaco [pictured], which man about town has the better bedroom? While both make use of reflective fabrics, upholstered walls, high gloss and architectural carpets, Gatsby's galleried wardrobe gets trumped by a palladium trim bed and an elegance that's much more restrained. Judge for yourself below.

Gym Stars & Monkey Bars

Somewhere between Simon Khachadourian's Pullman Gallery; the ultimate den of high-end design icons, antique Vuitton trunks, racing posters and Alfred Dunhill table lighters; and an Abercrombie & Fitch themed home and furniture store [yes please], is K Loan in Brussels.

A new firm favourite on the Design Directory, the store has a focus on vintage gymnasium, athletic and salvage items. think wooden gym bars transformed in to freestanding shelves, vintage leather rugby balls and black and white canvasses of boxing stars. Coupled with contemporary art, industrial furniture and customers taking leopard print cats for a walk, check out the photos below, and K Loan's catalogue online.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

If White Cube did Reindeer

If invisible cooking isn't for you, [or you simply have a designer-meat shaped hole in your life], leave it to Swiss delicatessen Hatecke to delight. From their website, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Hatecke is a contemporary art gallery; their stores in St. Moritz, Zernes and Scuol too bathe in a White Cube aesthetic.

Elevating the business of drying and curing meat to an art form, Hatecke's alpine beef, lamp and deer jerky dried-sculpture should be essential additions to any man's Christmas and/or BBQ list. Buy here.

Invisible Heat - Visibly Cool

What do smartphones and cooktops have in common? While you could probably fry an egg on the surface of an iPhone on a hot day, I'm talking about invisible interfaces - The way that on many handsets, it isn't apparent where the screen starts and finishes while switched off.

The British designed and made CR600 by Stoves, as pictured [genuinely, with no Photoshop trickery], vanishes in to the work surface when not in use. It's as if the entire counter is a gigantic smartphone; the chunky chrome knobs the only clue that you can fry an egg without invaliating your Apple warranty.

Friday, 31 May 2013

In Bed with Boateng

There was something that always bothered me about the Saville Row inspired bedding that I had made up a little while ago. Yes, the pinstripe Super 120's wool & cashmere cloth makes for an excellent ornamental pillow, and yes the fact that bedding can 'always bother me' is cause enough to hand in my Man-licence, but I've finally cracked it! Any suit worth it's salt, needs silk.

Be it a bright Ozwald Boateng lining or burnished Hermès cravate, the addition of these burnt orange herringbone bolsters not only increases the pillow count to a luxuriously inpractical seven, but delivers the much needed punch of satorial bedtime power dressing [£510 Hermes Faubourg pillow-case optional].

Undesign - The Monster in the Closet

From one beast to another. Rather than roaming the plains of Africa, this brightly coloured Korean mask sits hidden away in the utility cupboard. A tongue-in-cheek memento bestowed upon me from our scout in Japan, almost certainly because it is the antithesis of cool, understated design [thanks James!]

So stuffed by the water tank it was, and has been, for years. This is 'undesign'. Not planned, not masterfully considered, but enduring. Sometimes endearing; as in the case of the Korean mask, sometimes practical; keeping the sugar next to the Nespresso machine, but sometimes also, misguided.

Ask yourself, is your living room furniture arranged in the same layout as the previous owner's? If so, the ugly multicoloured head of undesign may have crept out of your own closet without you knowing.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

King of Coffee Tables

King of the Elephants, Babar is an iconic and enduring character from the golden age of colonial, Tin Tin-esque adventure [and indeed, the young reporter's favourite flea market on the Place du Jeu de Balle in Brussels ranks amongst the best when it comes to big game design hunting].

In a world of conceited, over-sized and under-read coffee table monoliths, this first english edition, first in the series storybook from 1933 is my new favourite page turner. Beautifully worn, expect 'propper' books like these to soon replace Tom Ford retrospectives and anything from the 'Hip Hotels' stable.

Design Safari - The Flamant Rhino

On a recent design safari, bounding across the plains of Europe in search of wild designlife, I spotted the rare and magnificent Flamant Rhino. Part of a family of refined barware, the Flamant Rhino is bred from solid rosewood and highly valued for it's two brass tusks. When threatened, it is able to quickly dismantle under the protection of eight Glencairn whisky tumblers in to a set of fine coasters. On this occasion, the beast got away, but can be yours for €99 from your nearest Flamant game reserve.

A Machine for Sitting

Godfather of modernism, Le Corbusier, in creating his Villa Savoye sought to achieve the 'machine a habiter' or, machine for living - from its modular design [echoing virtruvian principles of human-sized scale and proportion], to its white facades with no ornament or decoration.

That makes his self titled LC-1 chair very much the 'machine a asseoir' [sitting] - designed from turned and polished tubular steel, the modest frame supports a pivoting back rest and two leather armrest belts. The smallest, most comfortable chair you've ever sat in, and part of MoMa's permanent collection, Le Corbusier's 'machine for sitting' is made that little bit less mechanical with a Cowhide colourway.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Mini Dolmen Grows Up

One of the first items on Design Trawler, the Mini Dolmen by Lexon is a soap-sized utilitarian field radio [pictured, rear] that sits nearly in the bathroom broadcasting news every morning. Three years on, and it's been challenged by the Goliath that is the Bose Soundlink.

A bluetooth behemoth in the bathroom may sound like overkill, but the bassy true-audio stream from any device means a greater variety of morning music. In particular, the Monocle 24 digital radio stream replaces utilitarian breakfast news with rich, curated commentary and current affairs.

At five times the price of the Lexon radio, the Bose is in a different league all together - But from a design point of view the Mini Dolmen exudes charm with it's circular speaker and telescopic aerial. Bluetooth or not, it would have been nice to see more character behind the [otherwise excellent] Soundlink design.

Design as Metaphor - Under the Sea

I've mentioned the concept of design as metaphor before - when one object, in the right setting as another, takes on the qualities of the second object. Useful for turning sideboards in to metaphorical grand pianos and such.

Recently, I returned home to find the monitors on my desk glowing with the underwater hues of the aurora screen saver. Clearly it's not an aquarium, but in a setting where a Bond-villain shark tank wouldn't look out of place, the displays create a cool, and somewhat foreboding ambiance.

Design Hobby or Folly?

I'm not sure if it's post Olympic nostalgia, or a global gymnastic conspiracy, but vintage hobby horses seem to be trending at the moment. First spotted in Lloyds Antiques in Tokyo, next at the Brussels Design Market and now even Liberty of London is offering up the athletic props.

Don't get me wrong, faded tan leather and classroom nostalgia are all well and good, but I haven't yet found an answer as to how to use them. Too tall for a chair and too uneven for a display surface - the conclusion seems to be that they're pure folly. If you have the space to swing multiple cats [or a penchant for handstands], then a hobby horse is the trophy to prove it... alongside your matching actual trophies.

A Smart and Stelthy Massacre

I've been meaning to massacre a Louis Vuitton belt for a while now. While the check daimer design is subtle and synonymous with dodgy markt stalls purveyors of fine steamer trunks, the LV monogram buckle is as understated as a wall of Cristal champagne labels.

Browsing in Gieves and Hawkes this weekend it struck me. The team at #1 Saville Row now carry a range of superb shoe laces in a variety of colours. A quick chop of the luxurious leather and a bow stolen from a brogue is enough to make two smart and stealthy curtain tie-backs.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Tabletop Fun for the Red Trousered

I've long maintained male-orientated design involves more than a beer fridge, 42 inch television and foosball table. While there are many [#1 #2 #3] a designer shish-kebab tabletop soccer game on the market [yes, I do realise that my flippant referral to football as soccer, and then likening it to a foodstuff suitable only for drunken students, is likely to result in the declaration of some kind of Yorkie Bar war] - the proper way to hurtle ping pong balls across a pint sized pitch, is to put down the pint, and pick up a flute. Expect this brilliant Veuve Clicquot folly at a red-trousered sporting event near you soon!

Friday, 29 March 2013

Japanese Interiors Under the Monocle

For a country with such high design standards, it's surprising that many Japanese apartments are pre-fabricated plastic matchboxes with little longevity. Few and far between are Sir David Tang's sisal floors, paulownia woods loved by Studio Nendo or Hasamiyaki ceramics.

Perfectly placed in Design Trawler's highly rated Hankyu Men's store sits the Monocle Cafe. A little basement oasis of democratised design; taste makers sit alongside teachers, enamel lighting, soft woods and typographic detailing. Everything Japanese studio apartments should be, yet seldom are. Do we over-romanticise Japanese design? Most likely there's a blog in Japan that thinks everyone in England has a four poster bed and a chesterfield. Which is entirley untrue of course. We all have Chippendale's.

Fish Crate & Barrel

I was always disappointed with US furniture retailer Crate & Barrel. Yes, the emporium of stateside middle-class taste has, for years now made the most handsome drinks cabinet in the world, and yes, they pair it with a veritable Abercrombie & Fitch-like portfolio of finely chiseled friends - but there is a distinct lack of anything made from crates, or from barrels.

Not so in this local fish-focused izakaya in Shinjuku. Using crates from what is likely Tokyo's famous Tsukiji fish market, the tuna crates-turned-tables look rugged and relevant. The only thing missing perhaps, is a barrel themed bar stool or two.

Strike a Match - Save a Beard

So you've got the aforementioned pepe nero man candle and need something equally attractive to set said armoas alight. In the absence of a vintage table top lighter, silver, and in the shape of leaping jaguar, naturally; an old fashioned box of matches will do the trick. These unique designs available for a couple of coins at the Conran Shop do the trick perfectly.

A little twee perhaps, with the decidedly Stella Artois vintage designs; there is something satisfying, iconic even, about striking a vesta against the side of a cardboard box. Of course, real men have designer stubble for such uses... or kitchen blow torches.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Introducing the Man Candle

Scented candles are about as masculine as scatter cushions, but as proved by Cape Henley, the man cushion does exist, and therefore the same must be said for the 'man candle'. Well, it's taken a little while, but Design Trawler has pinned it down [and while you can get a suitably masculine black pepper candle from the admirable Molton Brown, that's far too easy].

This suitably 'grrr' flame bearer comes from Erbario in Italy. Based in Tuscany, the firm produces innovative scents including citrus and cinnamon, wine and also olive oil. I particularly like the brick-like form, hearty paper packaging and shoelace finishing. It's not tested on animals so it'll please sensitive sorts, or at least provide a fitting excuse to vegan other halves with kittens.

These Boots are Made for Trawling

Otsu Furniture is just the kind of perfectly crafted little store that Tyler Brule and the editorial team at Monocle Magazine would love. The sliding shoji doors off Tokyo's Meguro-Dori hide a space that's more workshop than well... 'shop'. There's always a chap contently working away restoring an old wooden cabinet or shelf as only Japanese woodworkers seem to.

I previously picked up an old tailor's spool and on my most recent trip was attracted by these antique Japanese shoe stays. The best place for wooden shelf-candy, Otsu is as honest as a shop can get and it seems fitting that both my acquisitions here have been tailoring related. I'd like to think If Otsu did tailoring, they'd do so without a care in the world for schedules or profitability, diligently crafting bespoke wears like their effortlessly honest cabinets, stools and curios.
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