Thursday, September 15, 2011
One of the best things your can do for yourself is invest in a quality shave set. Regardless of how you shave and the quality of your materials, it's inevitable that you'll get a nick or cut sooner or later. The Hommage Styptic Matchsticks are a stylish solution for nasty mistakes. Styptics are used across the medical field and contract blood vessels to stop the flow of blood. Dip in water, apply to wound, presto! Each book comes with 20 matches and, by the looks of it, the box contains three books. Available for $50 from Hommage.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
I'm shameless when it comes to gimmicks and cheap tricks; in fact, I thoroughly enjoy them. As such, I readily recognize when something lacks substance. This blog is about image -- modern design, architecture, and reputation -- and many of the featured items sacrifice utility to achieve the perfect facade. That's cool.
That being said, you have to trust me when I say something's not a gimmick. A large part of the common sense in me believes all formulas for hair, face, and skin products are basically the same. There is no magic. But months ago I was at Neiman Marcus and a sales person put Sisleÿum for Men on my face before I could object. She sent me home with a 0.1 ounce sample and encouraged me to use it after every shave. I did exactly as she said and I fell in love.
Sisleÿum for Men works amazingly. It truly prevents any and all shine from appearing on your face; the lotion feels absolutely amazing on freshly shaved skins (I've tried many alternatives); the smell leans toward masculine but doesn't reek of generic men's locker-room cheap crap; and, for some reason, my face simply looked amazing. Why the preface on gimmicks? 1.7 ounces sells for $265. That means my 0.1 ounce was worth more than $15. That being said, my sample lasted for weeks. More importantly, it's your face. Can you ever invest too much on your face? Ask for a sample, try it out and see for yourself. I haven't tried any other Sisley products but this one is liquid gold.
Monday, September 5, 2011
I love how the bedding departments at department stores stack their duvets atop one another for easy comparison. When you lay on the six or so, it feels amazing. Of course, you'll never get that same comfort from a single duvet but you have the opportunity experience the slow sinking and total luxury if you simply replace your bed and frame with Linda Topic's Simple Stacked Comforters. Found on Dornob, the design was a "semi-serious" approach to replacing the costly mattress and frame. Dressing your bed has never been this easy and the shades of gray -- inspired by Belgian skies -- make it a great piece for the modern bedroom (perhaps the guest bedroom to be on the safe side).
Saturday, September 3, 2011
It's a shame Steve Jobs is leaving Apple but appearing on 313 of Apple's patents is a great way to leave a legacy. The iconic staircase is instantly recognizable and marks, in my opinion, a permanent addition to modern classics. The opportunity for great design is often under-appreciated but Apple's staircases are effectively monument and centerpiece. The first picture highlights Apple's original staircase patent filed in 2002.
Great staircases do not need to be limited to commercial use. The staircase/slide below, found on The Fancy, was designed by Alex Michaelis; obviously kid-friendly, the slide is also a great solution for the heavy drinker. Siller Stairs designed the second staircase and their website features many amazing designs worth exploring. The last creation is the product of John Maniscalco Architecture. Found on Houzz.com and built for a home in San Francisco (Russian Hill), the staircase features a simple yet compelling design perfect for the minimalist looking to merge aesthetics without excessive attention.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Tobyšlo's Spinning Top Diamond Collection is the latest modern reimagination of a classic product Found on MocoLoco, the tops symbolize opulence in shape and offer an embedded diamond; symbolism vs. actuality, depending on your budget. Three students at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague designed the piece and price is available on request.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
This bed is absolutely beautiful -- perfect, if you will. It's incredibly unfortunate that the Nueva Linea website fails to provide any specifications and their suggested retailers don't list the furniture. It seems one must fly to Spain to receive any information on the Camara Bed but I love it nonetheless. I'm very picky about bedding and only two other beds have reached this blog (see BoConcept's Limo Bed and Metrofarm's Oversized Bed). If you can find anymore information, please comment below.
Also read my post about choosing high-quality sheets for your bed: bed.sheets
Monday, August 22, 2011
So here it is! I'm reaching a new milestone with my 300th post and I'm pretty stoked about the steady rise in viewership. In fact, I received a record number of hits this past Tuesday and the blog has been regularly getting more attention (even after subtracting the positive outliers). We're approximately 2/3rds through August and the blog already has more hits this month than any other. Thank you to everyone who checks out my posts and I encourage you -- beg you -- to comment if you have any thoughts about the items I post (or suggestions for future items). Every comment or subscriber motivates me to improve the quality and update more often.
As per usual, I'm celebrating the occasion with jewelry. The 200th post celebrated Cartier while Harry Winston marked New Years but this entry pays homage to a style rather than brand. Black watches are a versatile accessory that often match both casual and formal. They're growing in popularity but still express greater individuality than their counterparts. The picture directly below comes from Timepiece Trends: Blacked-Out Watches, an article from GQ featured in 2010. I've added a few more of my favorites but there are plenty more great options. The perviously featured Hermes Carre H Watch is but one more option to deck out in black.
[caption id="attachment_3158" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Clockwise from Upper-Left: Timex $60 | Rado $2,400 | Panerai $8,000 | Movado $495 | Nixon $120"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3160" align="aligncenter" width="430" caption="Chanel J12 Chronograph"][/caption]
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Formally a shisha, the Porsche Design pipe re-imagines the centuries old hookah. Only available overseas and sporting a £2,000 price tag, you're not going to accidentally stumble across their controversial paraphernalia. Standing nearly two feet tall, the shisha will be available at the store-within-a-store Porsche Design shop in Harrod's London. Found on Uncrate, I'd also suggest matching the instrument with a few SossBoxes. Also seen on Uncrate, the containers are hermetically-sealed, magnetic, and conveniently stackable. Similar to the shisha, the boxes have obvious multiple purposes. The $200-$250 price-tag isn't cheap but you might as well go all-out at this point.
Twins: Houses in Five Parts are two home proposals found on The Fancy. The designs were created for brothers looking to build two nearby vacation homes for their families. O'Brien gives detailed theory to explain his polygonal approach but the nitty-gritty is too in-depth for this website (read more background here). The houses look beautiful with their modern lines and open spaces, providing a truly blissful retreat. The over-sized windows make privacy far from guaranteed but when you're in the middle of the woods, only forest animals (and the occasional stalker) will have the opportunity to sneak peeks.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
The 2012 London Olympics are around the corner and I'm excited. Sports aside, the new structures are bound to impress. The aquatic center and bird's nest stadium both received much attention leading up to and through the 2008 Beijing Olympics but the London Olympics Aquatics Centre by Zaha Hadid is an exciting masterpiece. Found on The Fancy, the modern design is incredibly impressive and I look forward to seeing its worldwide debut next year.
Update: I actually featured Zaha Hadid's work in late 2010 in my post covering the the National Museum of the XXI Century Arts. The beautiful building, located in Rome, features equally impressive architecture and I look forward to covering more works from Zaha Hadid Architects given their consistent eye for amazing designs.
Monday, August 15, 2011
The Piggy Bank from Steuben, designed by Harry Allen, is a great modernization of the traditional concept. Conveniently featuring a coin slot at it's snout instead of underside, I don't think the crystal pig is entirely attractive. Instead, I find it charming in the same way an infant or pet might be homely (see pugs) but unexpectedly appealing. Available for $1,900 on the Steuben website, aggregate your coins scattered in the car and desk to a single location.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
A home that smells good is a place people gather. Whether entertaining guests or coming home after work, a good scent makes home a better and warmer place. Choosing the right scent can be as difficult as picking the perfect cologne but these box sets allow you to experiment and find the perfect match. Available for $195 from Barneys New York, the scents from Ex Voto Paris include Patchouli Musk, Leather Vetyver, Gaiac Wood, and many more. Once you find the perfect match, invest in their larger candles or room sprays. Reminiscent of Tom Ford's masculine Private Blend series, these sets work well for men and women.
A gin and tonic, or even a simple gin and soda, has always been one of my favorite drinks when relaxing at home. It's sweet yet simple to make and the ingredients are always on hand. The Wall Street Journal's "Building a Better G&T" by Kevin Sintumuang replaces simplicity with quality. While highlighting high-end gins that I look forward to tasting, I was more interested in the tonics. A gin and tonic that's not clear? Apparently the proper connoisseur buys small-batch tonic syrup to take control of the flavor. Adding one ounce to soda water, you decide which natural flavors perfect your drink and adjust intensity to taste. I'm told a gin and tonic is hardly masculine but natural brown coloring might help its image problem.
This isn't the only article by Kevin Sintumuang that will help you upgrade your bar. Sintumuang is also a contributor at GQ and writes many articles specializing in beer ("Oktoberfest, USA") and cocktails ("The 25 Best Cocktail Bars in America"). Check out the latter article for great suggestions in SF or simply Google his name to find more great advice.
[caption id="attachment_3088" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Leopold's Gin | 80 Proof | $40"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3089" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Tonic | Photo by oliviaraejames"][/caption]
Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Tonic photo by oliviaraejames
Saturday, August 13, 2011
I formerly gave the Art of Shaving my exclusive patronage for all my shaving needs but I think I'm ready for a new direction. The brand has become excessively mainstream and recently opened a store front across from Union Square on Geary Street. This is in addition to their mall location hardly three blocks away. Their products are admittedly good but after loosing my razor handle and brush while moving out of school, I recognized the opportunity for a new experience.
TwinLuxe is a pricier option but it provides individuality. Their offerings are less extensive but I like the simplicity. The aesthetics of their packaging and products make TwinLuxe a great solution for shaving. The limited edition Arctic Series is my favorite but the full set will set you back $1,588.00. Featuring solid white alumina ceramic, the material is used in engine parts and ballistic armor, providing lasting durability through years of shaves.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
I love good champagne but know little about the drink. Sparkling wines often do the trick but Richard Juhlin's 4,000 Champagnes would be a great way to learn the background and specific attributes that make champagne unique. With infinite resources dedicated to wine, it's about time champagne receive some spotlight. The "supreme guide" was found on The Fancy and available for $55 through Google's marketplace.
A jacuzzi is a symbol of sheer relaxation but the Vasche Thais-Art also embodies great taste wrapped in modern design. The beautiful tub, designed by BluBleu and found on The Fancy, measures seven feet wide with placements for four people. Featuring cushions and wood veneers, the stylish hot tub works for the indoors and out.
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Deakin & Francis offer a wide range of cufflinks through Barneys but the Black Sheep Cufflinks are my favorite. Self-described as "the world's finest collection of cufflinks for exclusive supply to retail outlets", Deakin & Francis have a range of offerings including bespoke services. The cufflinks below are fun and playful but the whopping $450 price tag is a little rough on the wallet.
I try to tend away from concept designs but the LEDoorHandle on Yanko Design is too practical and aesthetic to pass over. Designed by Kun-hee Kim, Kei Shimizu & Nguyen-vu Dang, the handle triples in function as a night light and LED flashlight. Yanko features more images detailing the different parts and overall simplicity of this great door accessory on their website.
After yesterday's record-length post on selecting the right bed sheets, it seems fitting I follow with luxury laundry detergent. The Laundress New York features eco-friendly products that limit visits to the dry-cleaners by helping your clothes survive the washer. Their products include items for the kitchen and home but their laundry soap was the line that caught my attention. Their special formulas cover a range of particular groups -- whites, swimwear, wool & cashmere, denim, etc. -- and come in stylish bottles.
Their Signature Detergent runs $20.50 for 32 oz; if you buy expensive clothes, it's well worth the investment. I haven't tried their products yet but you can find confidence knowing both founders were educated at the Fiber Science, Textile and Apparel Management and Design at Cornell University. Check out their full range to find a solution that fits your needs.
Friday, August 5, 2011
Thread count (TC) has become the unofficial ambassador of high-quality bedding but the significant inconsistencies between price and TC paint an incoherent picture. Why does JCPenny offer a 778 TC fitted sheet for $79.99 while Frette expects $305 for a mere 240 TC? This article attempts to address the meaning of TC, the other factors that determine quality, and how to buy quality bed sheets. With 1/3 of life spent sleeping in bed, it’s important to make the right decisions.
The definition of thread count appears embedded in its name but the answer is hardly obvious. Lower-quality brands use a generous definition to boost the appeal of their bedding while high-end brands take a simpler approach. The typical technique counts the number of vertical and horizontal threads in a square inch. Fabric weaved length-wise is called warp and threads extending the width are weft. The total number of warps and wefts in a square inch determine TC.
The discrepancy between brands arises from the practice of plying yarns. Threads can be twisted together using finer cotton which effectively increases the number of threads within a given area. Since TC includes both warp and weft, double-plied cotton will quadruple TC. Bed sheets with a 250 TC can be artificially inflated to a 1,000 TC through a simple double-ply; when you triple-ply the threads, it jumps to 1,500.
Simply deflating fuzzy numbers doesn’t create an accurate comparison with high-end bed sheets. If you find the number of plies and reverse the math, other qualities still play heavy factors. In order to ply threads, manufacturers must use finer cotton. This fabric is often (not always) too fine and the bed sheets end up feeling too heavy with little breathability.
The other benefit to manufacturers afforded through plying is a new ability to use low-quality cotton. A large factor in the quality of bed sheets is the length of the cotton fiber. Longer fibers are much more smooth, resistant, and uniform in thread. Plying allows manufactures to use shorter threads artificially lengthened through plying which decreases the feel and quality of your cotton sheets. 
Fiber length brings us to the different varieties of cotton crop:
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Zegna has been one of my favorite brands since I first saw them at the Stanford Shopping Center. Mixing muted styles with interesting details and, at times, innovative textiles, Zegna successfully navigates understated luxury. On July 20th I received an email from Zegna that they updated their website and I love it. Besides making their selections available online, the website is easy to navigate and aesthetic.
While on their website earlier today, I came across the image below for their Zegna Sport diffusion line. I don't stay updated on the latest trends but I was shocked to see what appears to be baggy jeans. The bagginess is slight and arguably absent but it seems Zegna is pushing the typical border of high-end casual downward. I definitely approve but it's an interesting approach. Perhaps Zegna Sport is outperforming the parent line and they decided to pursue their successes with casual clothing? Beats me. The belt is reminiscent of car buckle belts that you can find at random malls (granted, this one will set you back $225). Nonetheless, they pull is off and it works.
In conversation with a sales clerk, I learned a lot about Zegna and their role in the wool industry. According to Zegna (conflict of interest?), the brand has been a huge factor in developing higher quality wool. Brands such as YSL and Tom Ford actually contract with Zegna to produce some of their suits. With a typical suit under $5,000, you would be better served going straight to the source. Awarding manufacturers that produce ultra-fine wool with the Ermenegildo Zegna Vellus Aureum Trophy, Zegna has become one of the world's largest buyers of wool. Zegna Sport is a great way to compliment their formal wear and relax during the weekend.
As much as I love driving, it doesn't make sense to have a car in the city. I went through a brief car shopping phase until I realized the associated costs would brutalize any benefits gained from a car. Since I'll be saving on gas, insurance, parking, maintenance, and the price of the car itself, it makes sense to put good money and thought into a quality bike. The Bike Crate from MAIK, found on The Fancy, won't get you around the city but it's a great accessory once you find that perfect transportation. Available for about €150 (about $212), the basket (sorry marketing team, it's not a crate) is not nerdy like most and helps carry your daily errands.
I came across the Marc by Marc Jacobs Perforated Leather Bag on Mr. Porter and it's a nice balance of luxury and roughness. It's not explicitly created for the gym but the holes provide obvious utility and I wouldn't buy it for any other dominant purpose. Assuming you workout at a gym where your things won't get stolen (you don't want to be out $530), the bag is a good investment to carry your clothes to and fro.
Marc Jacobs is one of the few brands that can successfully create a diffusion line that isn't simply cheaper quality and prices but a style that strongly differs from its parent. The Marc by Marc Jacobs store on Fillmore in Pac Heights is an awesome mix of casual tees, cheap accessories (suede wallets under $20?), and great coffee table books. The clothes are a healthy mix of pricey and affordable while the staff is very friendly. Unfortunately, the guard at the door will stop you from bringing in any drinks so grab the Starbucks afterwards.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
(Note: This is part two of the previous post. It was just too long and, aesthetically, didn't work. Took me a few days to realize it but hopefully this improves the page.)
Rankin's great photography is hardly limited to his work with Rolls-Royce. Perusing his website, he features ample examples of photography filled with celebrities and beautiful people. I honestly love it all. According to Wikipedia, Rankin has photographed everyone from Kate Moss, Britney Spears, and Madonna, to Queen Elizabeth II and Tony Blair. Featured in magazines and providing for ad campaigns of my favorite brands, Rankin's photography stands apart as some of my favorite.
My favorite photography was formerly limited to skylines and abstract art but I've started enjoying photography of individuals. It started when I saw Robert Longo's prints at Patrick Bateman's (Christian Bale's) home in American Psycho. Longo doesn't make his work available through posters and cheap prints which has a bittersweet effect; the art isn't ruined by over-population but it's unavailable to me (for now). The latest artist that caught my attention is Rankin through his work celebrating the centennial anniversary of Rolls-Royce's Spirit of Ecstasy. Rolls-Royce commissioned Rankin to create a 100 piece collection of prints commemorating the famous hood ornament.
Their website has a small preview of his work but the whole set will be travelling around the world's museums. Pebble Beach is the closest the collection will come to San Francisco but the drive is too far for my taste. Like Longo (and Rolls-Royce cars), these prints are not readily available. On that note, make sure to check out what Rolls-Royce has going on. BMW, parent company of Rolls-Royce, recently accnounced they earned record per-car profit during the previous quarter, according to Bloomberg. Not everyone can afford the previously featured Ghost but demand for the 5-Series has been driving sales. Definitely not cheap, I'd rather skip out for the sportier 6-Series convertible.
Saturday, July 30, 2011
It doesn't matter how you drink it but everyone loves orange juice. There's my perennial favorite -- the mimosa -- but straight-up works equally well as a good picker-upper. The Castro in San Francisco has endless opportunities for brunch and most serve bottomless mimosas for under $10. My first experience was at the touristy (yet fun) Lime, which is an experience everyone should have. The restaurant/lounge looks like a Firby fanclub (pink... everywhere) but their food is unexpectedly good. The wait for a table usually exceeds an hour and there are many good alternatives but Lime is the best place for your first brunch in the area. Well-dressed, drunk and friendly describes everyone I experienced, which is beyond your typical brunch experience.
If you're going to buy the Cecilware OJ100 Automatic Orange Juice Machine by Zumex, I suggest replacing your typical variety with blood oranges. Cafe Flore (about 300 feet away) does exactly this (but the mimosas aren't bottomless). They taste much better and the red tint more exotic. At the end of the day, if you're spending $4,738.00 for an automatic juicer, you probably know what you're doing. Processing 14 oranges/minute and capable of holding two gallons of juice, the machine expects you to regularly entertain a good-sized crowd.
Friday, July 29, 2011
A pool by itself is a pretty good deal but an amazing pool house sweetens the experience. Created by Hariri & Hariri Architecture and featuring a kitchen, bar, and bathroom, the pool house is nearly 4,000 sq/ft and built with natural stone and Ipe wood. Check out the attached outdoor shower in the last picture; nice added touch. You better have a pretty incredible pool to compliment this pool house or time will be better spent indoors. Pair with the Mrs. White’s Unstung Hero to complete the experience.