Feng Shui desk set:

The ancient Chinese art of Feng Shui places certain objects in favorable locations in order to achieve a balance in the environment. Feng Shui practitioners say that the principals of the art form can lead to all sorts of good stuff. Traditionally the dragon represents new beginnings and opportunities, the phoenix symbolizes positive perception and recognition, and the tiger helps with completing projects. Even if there's not even a bit of truth to this, these three modern, white-resin animals from Red Envelope are very cool to look at.


Cat Cocoon

The Cat Cocoon is the invention of Warren Lieu, a Dallas designer who also created a dog "shelter" he calls The Leading Edge.
I discovered this ingenious postmodern replacement of ugly scratching posts (and, one would hope, hopefully scratched furniture) at Design Within Reach. But in doing some research to learn more about who designed it, I discovered a great online pet store, PostmodernPets, where they sell the cocoon for $50 less than DWR, making it a reasonable $250 (Bri, don't tell me that $250 is too much to spend to prevent future furniture destruction!). PostmodernPets offers the best dog beds I've seen, along with the cat Archipod, a totally funky cat house/scratching post designed by Elizabeth Paige Smith, who made the first cool feline furniture, the Kittypod. Compared to the price of the Kittypod and Archipod, the Cat Coccon is a bargain.


Harman/Kardon SoundSticks II

These "sleek and sexy" Harmon/Kardon speakers (and subwoofer) weren't made just for Macs, but they look so good they might as well have. I won't pretend that I know anything about what makes a speaker system good or bad, but most reviews say these have a gorgeous, sharp sound. And I like the way they look. So, since the speakers that came with our Mac are partially dead, these are my choice for replacements.


Stockholm Groom Center by Hommage:

Industrial and product designer Wolfgang Joensson, who has worked at Pentagram (the design firm responsible for the look of Jon Stewart's book America and the Pantone brand identity) and with Louis Vuitton Moët-Hennesy, has created the coolest shaving tools around. The Hommage line of luxury shaving tools are smart, too. Stockholm’s ergonomically-crafted, cast zinc alloy razor and brush magnetically attach to the weighted stand. The razor has an inner weight that gives it "perfect balance" and it's compatible with Gillette MACH3 blades, which ensure a great shave. Ah, the perfect marriage of function and form.


Nikon D200 digital SLR camera:

A wise former New Yorker keeps updating me on newer and better digital SLRs (much to Bri's chagrin, I'm sure). A few months ago he turned me on to the Canon EOS 20D, which is a super fast (up to 5 frames per second) 8 MP SLR. I had my heart set on it (along with the Canon Zoom Wide Angle-Telephoto EF 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, which would allow me to take night photos almost anywhere) until he told me about the amazing new Nikon. It is just as fast as the Canon but has has 10.2 MP, the highest number available in a non-professional digital SLR ("professional" ones basically only mean thay generally cost at least $2500 for the body, without a lens). And the high quality Nikon lenses typically run hundreds of dollars less than the Canon ones, for some reason. The Nikon Zoom Wide Angle-Telephoto AF Zoom Nikkor 24-85mm f/2.8-4.0 would be a perfect starting point.


Gossen Digipro F digital light meter

I have recently become addicted to taking night photos from pedestrian walkways of the Manhattan Bridge. From the South side of the bridge over Manhattan, there are amazing views of Chinatown and in somespots you can look right into some of the garment factories and kitchens. Over on the Brooklyn side there are the earily empty streets of DUMBO. The only problem is that I don't have a light meter, which is imenselyy important for night shooting. When the kid started to take photography in school this September, I lost out on the old light meter I had given to him several years ago but we had managed to share. That's fine, though, since it means I can get a new digital one. The Digipro is small and affordable and manages to measure incident light and flash. Jut what I need.


Epson Stylus Photo R1800

Despite the cool HP photo printer TV commercials (the ones that show photos morphing into people morphing into photos), the printers really suck. The one we currently own has never printed a full frame photo, no matter how hard we try. That means I have often resorted to useing printing services— even thought the printer was supposed to end that.
The Epson R1800, however, prints borderless photos as large as 13" x 19" with fade-resistance inks. The $500 price tag ($469 at Amazon.com) would surely pay for itself quickly, if only because of the lag of sweat and agitation it would bring.


Lutron Nova T dimmers:

Several of our clever neighbors have installed dimmer switches on their lights and it really seems to make a differnece in their places. The lights on our mezzanine level are usually way too bright, but having them off isn't really an option. I checked out Lowe's for dimmers but the ones there are pretty utilitarian in appeareance. not like these "architectural grade' dimmers from Lutron in Satin Nickel or Anodized Aluminum finishes (among others). I love them. And they even have outlet covers that match. However, at about $50 each, I guess we first need to decide how long we're going to stay here.


Crate & Barrel Mackenzie duvet cover:

Last week Lexie ripped our favorite duvet cover. I bought it at Muji— my very favorite store for any home accessory you can imagine— in London last December. This Crate & Barrel isn't quite as nice, but it does has similar stripes— in a neutral palette of tonal black and grey stripes and just a hint of red. The best part is that the queen size cover is on sale for $99 and the shams are $19. That's the best price I've seen stateside in quite a while. It will have to do until our next trip to the UK (or Sweden or Japan).


Brooks Brothers Vintage Grey Herringbone Wool Suit:

Usually Brooks Brothers is a little too conservative for me, but this vintage-style suit they've come out with for this season is incredibly hip. And, it actually has flat-front pants. The best part, though, is that it actually comes in a 36 short, which is practically unheard of for off-the-racks suits under $900. Maybe someone out there can explain why off-the-rack short sizes typically start at 38 or 40. Are there so few off us short, thin guys in the world? Anyway, this may have to be my Christmas present. (Bri: Hint, hint. After all, don't I need something gorgeous to wear to the fabulous C.U.Z.'s New Year's Eve party?)


Soft Paws Nail Caps for Cats and Kittens:

Something look a little odd with this picture? That's because the cat is wearing Soft Paws— caps that fit over the nails and held prevent damage to furniture when the cat scratches. Supposedly it's easy to use. "The application is simple. Just fill each nail cap with the adhesive provided and slide it on over the nail. It's that easy!" (They obviously have never met Artemis, who howls whenever we try to hold him. And that brings Lexie, who sort of believes she's his mom, over to try to rescue him.)
It's definitely a humane alternative to declawing if it works. And it would mean we could actually get a new couch without living in fear.


Carre wall sconce:

Yesterday I stopped in Lee's Studio on my way back to my office after a doctor's appointment and found these cool sconces. Made of hand-blown Murano glass and either 10 1/2 or 16 1/2 inches tall, they may finally be the answer to our livingroom lighting dilemma.


A wombat:

I fell in love with wombats about two weeks ago on a JetBlu flight from NYC to Las Vegas. You see, JetBlue has DirectTV, which in turn has Animal Planet. (If any of you have watched Animal Planet then you can guess that I might be a sucker for practicly any of its shows.) After watching endless episodes of "The Planet's Funniest Animals" and "Animal Precinct", on came a show about a couple who rescue wombats out of the pouches of mother wombats who are killed by cars. I was smitten within 30 seconds.

Wombats are large (about the size of a short, fat Labrador or an extremely large English bulldog), nocturnal, herbivorous, burrowing marsupials that are native to the continent of Australia. The one above is a hairy-nosed wombat, which are more friendly than the common wombat (who has a "bald nose"). Although wombats have those pudgy, short little legs and round bellies, they are shockingly speedy—they can sustain bursts of 24 mph speeds for short distances.

I thought a wombat would be a perfect pet— until I saw this video. Now I think I'd just like to spend some time in Australia volunteering with the wombat-rescuing couple.


Nikon D70s digital camera:

Although it doesn't have the same classic good looks and rugged style of the Leica Digilux, I 've began to think the Nikon D70s might be the more useful camera. A wise friend told me a few months ago that the Leica images weren't suitable for big enlargements, which is what first turned me away from it. And then I found myself explaining to the kid the other night why he really wouldn't want a Leica to use for the photography class he's taking during his first year of high school.
The D70s has 6.1 effective megapixels that yield 3,008 x 2,000-pixel images that can be blown up fairly large. Plus, it can shoot a rapid 3 frames per second (which seems like it could be useful for something). And it has a maximum shutter speed of 1/8000 second.
I'm tossing the Leica off my list (of course I still reserve the right to covet a film Leica).


Room & Board's Linear custom-designed credenza:

Room & Board now offers a create-your-own credenza that may be a better option for our office than the Modernica one (See the post from Sept. 14) because this one is a little taller but the same price. We need all the room we can get.


Case Study custom shelves from Modernica:

We desperately need a credenza in which to hide all the crap from our office area. Right now, whenever I am sitting in our television nook and I look across the mezzanine to the office, I get anxious because of the mess I see. We have no good place to store our computer disks, stationary, binders, files, etc. It's driving me mad!
Modernica makes this cool shelving unit based on a design done by Charles and Ray Eames for HermanMiller in 1950. The Modernica shelving can be customized into a 70-inch long credenza with filing drawers and storage drawers. Perfect.


Tolomeo Wall Spot Light:

Bri objected to yesterday's coveted object, so the search for a reading light for our bedroom continues. I've been in love with Artemide's Tolomeo for years and maybe now is finally my chance to bring one home. Both Barcelona hotels in which we stayed this summer used the larger Tolomeo Classic Wall lamp, which Bri found too industrial. The smaller version is softer looking than the bigger one and has what I would consider to be a certain cuteness.
In 1989, the Tolomeo table/task lamp was given the Compasso d'Oro award for Italian industrial design. It was credited with having achieved the perfect marriage between design and engineering.


West Elm's Pivot Arm sconce light:

At $70, this light is a huge bargain. I think one of these (in all silver instead of the pale blue pictured) on either side of the bed would be perfect.


A trek around Iceland:

I've been craving solitude and cool weather and the solution would be a nice trip to the amazing glaciers, lava fields and mountains of Iceland. The Myrdalsjokull glacier, shown in the photo, is in Southern Iceland, not too far from Reykjavik. It is the smallest of four glaciers in Iceland but it's unique because the volcano Katla hides under its thick icecap. The surrounding area is one of contrasts—sandy desert, green mountains and the Atlantic Ocean.

The Icelandic Mountain Guides lead a 4-day backpacking trek along the eastern edge of Myrdalsjokull, which includes a7 kilometer crossing of one of the glacier's "tongues".
Or then there's a Winter Safari photography trip that takes people around the entire country in 11 days.

I wish I could leave tomorrow.


Gentoo penguin baby:

I am a sucker for basically any baby animals. Give me a puppy or a baby elephant and I coo like an idiot. Ever since seeing the movie March of the Penguins, I can't stop thinking about those little fuzzy baby penguins. Unlike the Emperor penguins in the movie, Gentoo penguin parents usually stay together throughout the year and they habitate less remote areas of Antartica. There are tons of them on the Antarctic Peninsula, the piece of land that sticks up close to South America. Which means that when we take our Antarctic cruise someday (soon, I hope) I will get to see hundreds of them (and maybe I'll bring one home).


Rowenta Toaster by Jasper Morrison:

We currently have an ugly toaster oven that gets stored in a cabinet under the counter. This week it's happened to be in heavy use so it's been on top of the counter 24/7 because. I hate it when it's on the counter. If we had this toaster by British designer Jasper Morrison (he's the guy who created the furniture in our very favorite museum in he world, the Tate Modern in London), I would let it live on the counter. Beside the new large slotsthis toaster has, it also features a brushed stainless-steel top that doubles as a warming tray for breads and rolls. Yum.


Ligne Roset So vase:

Yesterday I got a very cool, tall, white, stoneware vase. I bought some cala lilies and brought them home to display on the coffee table. It looked great. This morning when I awoke, I found the vase knocked over and shattered, thanks to Artemis, the cat who loves to rub against anything and everything (or it could have been Amelia, who must always investigate flowers).
It has proven once again that I am not allowed to own anything that has any potential of being knocked over.
The So vase from Ligne Roset looks like a good replacement. It's wider than it is tall and the brushed stainless handle is as functional as it is decorative.


Room & Board's Beads rug:

Our bedroom still lacks a rug. There are two main reasons (other than the fact that we have spent all our extra money on vacation and custom-made furniture):

1) With four animals worth of fur and occasional accidents, we realize that the couple grand we spent on our living room rug was not the best spent money. This lovely 5' by 8' hand-tufted New Zealand wool rug is under $500. Plus, it very low and dense pile which means Lexie won't have any fun "digging" in it.
2) We need a rug with blue or blue gray as the main color but for some reason most bluish rugs also come with brown accents. We don't hvae brown accents, we have black ones. This is the first
one without brown accents that's still dark enough for us to not constantly get dirty.

I really love Room & Board— and now they have a store in the city so we can avoid their shipping costs.


Hold Everything's Studio Spine Bookcase:

This is a budget take on the Sapien Bookcase by Bruno Rainaldi sold at Design Within Reach but I actually like it better than the original. It's a nice, medium height of about 5' 9" (the Sapien models are either too short — 5 feet— or too tall— nearly 7 feet). And it's available in white, which means it really would blend into the wall.
We have a big empty corner (where the rats' cage was before they died) that would be nicely filled with art books on this shelf.


Bodum Navalia glasses

The Crate & Barrel water glasses from our wedding registry have all broken, as have most of the replacements we've purchased. So, it's time for something new. Our old glasses had a very thin rim, which meant they were very easy for me (and countless others) to crack. We've been searching for glasses that look like they'll hold up but aren't completely boring. These 10 ounce glasses from Bodum may be the answer. Plus, at a price of $5 each, they're a bargain. Let's hope Bri likes them because they just might be waiting for her in the cupboard when she returns home from the conference she left for today.


Bodum's "Barcelona" flatware:

While staying at the very cool Casa Camper in Barcelona we discovered this great Bodum flatware. Each piece has the perfect weight and a nice sleek silhouette. Perfect for eating the complimentary snacks provided 24-hours a day.
Who knows if Bodum named the pieces "Barcelona" because they are used in the hotel or if it's just an amazing coincidence.


Gucci cap toe lace-ups:

Bri and I have a rule that any shoes we buy must be under $200 (and less is better, of course). However, after learning recently that Gucci makes small-size shoes, I might have to make an exclusion to that rule. After all, it's pretty damn near impossible to find nice shoes when you wear a men's size 6.5.


Jack Spade Journal Case:

I really, really dislike Kate Spade goods, but I have to admit I like most of the items made by her husband's line, Jack Spade. His items are classics but always with a funky edge to them.
This briefcase is on the small side (good for someone like me who is also on the small side) and it includes interior organizing pockets. I'm a sucker for pockets that let you organize all your stuff.


Ligne Roset Offrande glasses:

Ligne Roset makes some of the most stunningly beautiful objects ever. I am lusting over these clear mouth-blown Champagne, wine and water glasses designed by Parisian Pascal Mourgue. They also look great holding flowers.
Ligne Roset was founded in 1860 in Montagnieu, France, as a small business making bentwood walking sticks. Now it's a contemporary furnishings company. What an odd transformation, but one that I am very happy occurred.


The K:5 lounge chair by Koi:

Koi Design was launched by designers Adam Bottomley and Kirsten Jones at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair New York in 2000 with a goal of creating contemporary designs that will remain relevant for decades.
I love this stitched saddle leather lounge chair (of course I like the black it's also available in) with stainless steel base. 


Hans Wegner CH 07

Known as "the three-legged shell chair" or just as "the shell chair", it was designed by Danish architect Hans Wegner in 1963. Although Wegner joined with Arne Jacobsen, who designed the Series 7 stacking chairs we have with our dining table, and others to design the furniture for a city hall in 1940, I find much of his furniture overly traditional. The CH 07 is obviously a different story. It's available from Carl Hansen & Son in leather, fabric or solid maple.
To me it looks like a bird about to take flight. Or like a little scurrying animal. Which means it's perfect for our apartment.


The Aalto vase:

Once I had this beautiful, classic vase designed by Alvar Aalto for the World's Fair in Paris in 1937. Supposedly, this vase (which comes in several different sizes and glass colors) is based on sketches made with the intriguing pseudonym “The Eskimo Woman’s Leather Breeches”. However, the word "aalto" is Finnish for "wave," so maybe it is just meant to invoke his name.
I loved having this vase. It looked quite nice on one of our end tables with two white candle holders that evoked the smokestacks of ships. But then one early morning the cats knocked it to the floor and it shattered. I miss that vase.
Now, I want a replacement.


Futura Cufflinks:

Another pair of cufflinks I recently spotted. These stainless steel ones are ingenious— they just press into place. Of course they are designed by a Swedish company, Simplicitas. "Simplicity based on intelligent solutions" is the logo of the company. Cool. You know, I just can't get enough of all things Scandanavian (well, except for all the herring and meatballs).


Grid Cufflinks by Jill Morton

I am back from my business trek to New Orleans, and while it wasn't nearly as painful as I imagined, the best part was as expected: Staying at the W Hotel New Orleans.
In one of my very few spare moments I flipped through the W The Store catalog (which is always left in every room) and found these very cool British cufflinks made by a designer I've never heard of. I love the various shades of blue.


Nambe's Aurora vase:

Just because Briar had to use her blog as a space to complain about my love of vases and claim that it has a deep, Freudian implication, I have chosen to highlight another vase I covet.
This vase was designed by Fred Bould, who studied industrial design at Carnegie Mellon, my father's and grandfather's alma mater (also the alma mater of Jamie, our very favorite carpenter/wood worker/designer, who built our bookshelves, closet, baby changing table, etc).
Nambe makes beautiful items that look like scultpure. The company is devoted as passionately to form as it is to function. Louis Sullivan— who coined the phrase "form follows function"— would be proud.


A Butterfly Stool to go with the Nurseryworks rocker:

This little maple stool was designed by the Japanese designer Sori Yanagi in the mid 1950s. It's made from two identical molded plywood forms held together with a simple stretcher. Best of all, it can be used as an ottoman, a seat or a table.


Villa Sibi modernist doll house:

This Miesian dollhouse is from Sirch, a German toy company, which is my new favorite company ever. The house has Plexiglass doors, a large deck, an indoor-pool house and beech-wood custom furniture. I wish I could live in it. It even has the coolest minimalist shower. Future baby is definitely getting this!
Desu 1-Line Spice Rack:

I spotted this clever use of steel at the Brooklyn Designs show earler this month. Desu Design began as an LA-based architectural metals shop but it seems they've relocated to Brooklyn (very smart of them). I'm glad they're here, because I think this is one of the most ingenious spice racks I've seen. The cute spice jars are include, and I really love the spot for the vinegar bottle (I choose to ignore the fact that the website says it's intended for olive oil). I really wish we had more wall space in our kitchen— this will have to wait for another home.


Lawson-Fenning NurseryWorks rocking chair:

I saw this rocker online last week at Zac and Zöe (which offers free shipping!) and thought it was pretty nice. Then Bri and I saw it at Nest, a cute home goods store in Park Slope, this weekend and I liked it even more in person.
It may win out over the Womb chair for baby needs. You have a choice of fabric and leg material.

I opt for the slate microsuede and light birch legs. Of course.


Rosendahl stackable wine rack:

We haven't been able to find a wine rack that works in our new kitchen and we've taken to just storing all our wine in the ridge (it is all white, after all). However, whenever we get a FreshDirect order, our fridge gets too stuffed for anything extra to fit. So, I think it's time for us to get a wine rack.
This stainless steel one from Rosendahl, a Danish company that focuses on good design, can be mounted to the wall. Perfect for our small kitchen.


Angela Adams Islands rug:

A possibility for our bedroom. Or maybe the baby nook. It's also available in a "moonstone" colored background. For once I'm not sure which one I like better.
Kerberos wall door stop:

Another find from Oriac, a stainless steel and rubber doorstop that goes on the wall to protect it from banging door handles. This would look much better in our living room than the ugly one we have now. And Bri, it costs less than $25!


Flensted Symphony in 3 Parts Mobile:

Flensted mobiles have been made in Denmark (where mobile-making is a traditional craft) by the Flensted family since 1954. They make amazing abstract models along with cutesy baby-type ones, all of which are created so that the elements are in constant motion while the entire mobile maintains a harmonic balance. Of course I prefer the abstract ones for the future bambino. I think "Symphony in 3 Parts" is elegant, but will also look good from below. I'm also a fan of their "Turning Leaves" model. My two favorites come in black and white, which at the time Calvin was born was thought to be the most visually stimulating for infants. Now they've come up with research that says babies are stimulated by bright colors more. Good thing we painted the wall and ceiling of the baby nook a brilliant sea blue.
Atacio Umbrella stand:

I am sick and tired of all our umbrellas falling out of the coat closet anytime I grap my yoga bag out from the corner. I've seen several umbrella racks that I thought would work out in the hallway of the building but this stainless steel one from Oriac is my favorite. Now we just need to make sure we won't get in trouble for putting something outside our door and creating a hire hazard.


Pseudosasa japonica bamboo:

Our plan for our garden last summer was to build a seating area and a long planter out of concrete. We completed the seating before autumn came, but the planter didn't get done. So, that's my project for the spring. Once it's done we'll be filling it with a long row of Pseudosasa japonica bamboo. For centuries this type of bamboo was used in Asia to make arrow shafts. But I like it because it can withstand temperatures as low as -15 degrees F, it likes the sun and shade equally well (good thing since our garden doesn't get a whole bunch of sun), and it won't grow above about 15 feet tall.


A simple metal shoe horn:

I somehow lost the only shoe horn I had and now it seems to be impossible to find one that's a)metal b) not designed for elderly men who can't reach their feet and c) sold separately instead of part of a set of "grooming" tools.

The one pictured is the closest I've come and it is being sold by American Bridal as a groomsmen gift. Too bad I've never been in a wedding party or maybe I'd have an extra shoe horn.


The Modern Fan Company's Halo ceiling fan:

After suffering through a winter of a hot upstairs and a cold downstairs, We've concluded that we need a ceiling fan. The Halo fan from The Modern Fan Company has a fluorescent light that is large enough to light up an entire room so it could solve our lighting problem downstairs. It also will look perfect with the new sconces I've eyed for the living room walls (see Jan. 1st post)Plus, it qualifies for the EPA’s Energy Star labeling as a highly efficient, energy conserving design. And it's not one of the modern fans that you see everywhere around NYC. I really hate being just like everyone else.
Lighting by Gregory, a huge store on Bowery that I once dragged Bri to in the middle of a rain storm, has it for $120 under the suggested retail price. I really like that.


A fawn like this one:

My Mom just forwarded me an email from a friend of a friend who found a sic fawn in their yard and took it inside to nurse it back to health. Their dog immediately took over the parenting and now the dog and fawn sleep together. I think Lexie would like a fawn of her own.


It looks like the winning highchair is going to be the Stokke KinderZeat:

After reading the comments to yesterday's post (well, just one of the comments), it looks like we're going back to our original winning highchair . (Yes, I'm whipped.)
Stokke is a very cool Norwegian company that's been making the KinderZeat for as long as I've been alive. However, their products have only been available in the US for the last several years. Bri likes the KinderZeat because it looks good and costs $200. I like it because it has such a simple, clean line and comes in plain birch so it will match our own dining chairs, the Series 7 chair by Arne Jacobsen . And I like saying KinderZeat.
But I still like the "Nest" better.