Sunday link giddyup!

February 6, 2011

Here’s what I’m reading this overcast Sunday morning. From snub-nosed SUVs to cool jobs at Saks!

Why Republicans Hate Mass Transit, GOOD.

The Robo-Rainbow, Cool Material.

Regional Research Associate – Talent Acquisition, Saks Careers.

Shots of the matte wood trim on the Volvo V50 (above). Glossy, processed wood trim is dreadfully uncool in comparison to the matte grain wood trim of my dad’s Volvo.

The Elephant in the Showroom, New York Times.

Japan’s Young Generation Closes ‘Luxury Wallet’ – No More Waiting in Line to Buy a Handbag?, The Independent.

Retailers Turn Lunar New Year Into a Shopping Spree, Wall Street Journal.

Slow Sofa, Minimalissimo.

What’s new?

February 5, 2011

Nothing, that’s what.

I find myself having little to offer in response to that question, at parties, at the gym. Instead of my ‘big move’ to a bigger, more exciting city, I’ve maintained my boomerang kid status. By no means have I not thought about what the next step is…I just haven’t moved my foot.

Nonetheless, due to a complex of anxiety and nervous productivity, I continue to toil at the resume expeller, the blog dispenser…and I continue my enjoyment of all things beautiful and detailed, curious and surprising, efficient and precise. I thought I would briefly outline a selection of the coolest stuff I’ve seen, purchase, or listened to in the past few weeks.

Morgan Parish Royal Blue Keychain. 80s, Lux, and Rock all at once. My friend Paul would LOVE this. $30 at Morgan Parish.

Burkman Bros, of Canadian descent. Everything about this collection is beautiful and inventive. They mention Asian influence in their “about” – I see a lot of nautical, work-wear, Asian, Canadian, and Tropical influences, in the colors, cut, and materials. Very cool!

Kirk Originals. An eyewear company that I’d never heard before Thursday. Of course, The Optic Shop here in Tampa carries some of their pieces (they have all the best stuff – Barton Perreira, SALT, J.F. Rey, ic!Berlin, Gold & Wood Paris, and many others). Asymmetrical glitter retro frames, designed with enterprising young gentlemen like me in mind? Yes please!

Apolis Tea-Dyed Linen Tie and Of A Kind. Unearthed two precious gems at once – this great tie and this great blog/site. The site: essentially, it is a forever-changing “pop up online store” where the editors pick a different designer to showcase each week. This designer creates a piece specifically for Of A Kind readers, available for a limited time, in limited quantities. This tie, made by Apolis, is made of gorgeous linen, dyed with tea to make it more rustic and worn looking. I didn’t need more than a few clicks to sell myself on it. And $65 isn’t bad for a tie these days. For some light and enjoyable reading, Of A Kind also provides a good bit of context to each of its products and designers…not a detail to be overlooked or overshadowed by the product itself. Anyone can sell a product, hawk something beautiful…but few can package it so thoughtfully, with the story and people behind the magic. Of A Kind is doing what traditional small retailers have done for ages: bringing quality production and discerning tastes together with a dash of whimsical tale (a convention that is dying out very quickly in brick-and-mortar stores).

I’ve been consuming a bit of quality music lately, as well. At times, my most recent selections bring me to tears. Have you ever cried at the gym? Try it sometime…it’s a good way to break up the reps. Recommendations are below.

I’m loving Adele’s new album. To qualify myself…I’ve only had the pleasure of hearing a couple of tracks. They were both lovely and I imagine the remainder of the album will be as well. My favorite song right now is “Set Fire to the Rain.” Absolutely swoon worthy.

Of similar appeal is Sky Ferreira. Her style is less defined than that of Adele, but her melancholy “American Dream” is equally beautiful as tracks by other, more polished and established artists.

A funky, half disco, half blues track by Calvin Harris (“Stars Come Out“) has been getting a lot of play on my iPhone. I love this style…it is the perfect blend of thoughtfulness and danceability. In that same vein, I’ve been playing Phoenix’s “Everything is Everything” back to back as an upbeat soother to my troubles.

For a bouncier, clubbier, rapidly-flickering-light experience, try “Hands by The Ting Tings (Ralphi Rosario Mix).” An acquaintance of mine recommended this song on his Facebook page so I found it by chance. He drinks more than I do, goes out more than I do, and has a more tragic story to tell the world. But I like him a great deal and wish he would expand his horizons beyond his usual group. But, I digress.

Enjoy this great music and check out those great links/goods. I would love to hear that something I’ve suggested has brought another person some happy.

Let’s go on a journey

January 25, 2011

Brain dump of today: Flickr picks, cars, fashions, and other things.

House in Rio Vista, Fort Lauderdale, overcast skies. (homeless one)

Canal Corner Lot, Venice, CA. (Ken Shelton)

Saks Fifth Avenue, Boston, and massive wall of office space. (Mark Jones)

Three Mercedes (C123, W123, W212) parked in Hamburg garage. (Michiel2005)

ShopStyle. Although I am an obsessed-shopper-in-denial, I fully espouse the idea of mass-searching online retailers from a centralized location. On the ShopStyle site (and the ShopStyle iPhone app), you can browse all types of item categories, refine your search by color, cut, brand, or store, and review item price, details, photos, and even set up a push alert telling you one of your favorites has gone on sale. The one thing that I haven’t discovered how to do is comparison shop; choose one item you’re interested in and search other sites for the same item, or slight variations of it. Nonetheless, I have had a ball browsing the blindingly large selection of watches, shoes, jeans…it’s a massive ‘database’ of clothes. Below is a screenshot of my ‘favorites’ on the iPhone app.

BMW 135i M-Sport. Even though the rest of the range is more modern, has more tech, and costs a lot more, I love the 1-series. It is quick, simple, and no-frills – the way a performance coupe should be!

BMW X5 xdrive35D. I was discussing high-end SUVs with a friend the other day and realized that the X5 stands out for its style, size, diesel engine option, and high build quality.

Aquiesse Portfolio

January 16, 2011

I gave these as Christmas gifts this year. They’re attractively packaged, smell amazing, and are an affordable luxury at $12. Check them out.

New Mercedes SLK

January 16, 2011

If you don’t follow auto industry news, you probably haven’t seen the redesigned Mercedes SLK yet. Here is a preview, and some comments.

Exterior: decidedly more aggressive and sporty, but without the certain clean, classic look of a Mercedes sports car. I like some elements individually, like the rear lamp clusters, the wheels, the front end grille and headlamp clusters, but they don’t work well when taken together. At first glance it could be a Lexus.

This seems to be Mercedes overall design direction…which doesn’t bode well for ‘timelessness’ or longevity of relevance.

Interior: Take away the Mercedes emblem on the steering wheel…would you guess this was a Benz? Aside from certain interior parts pulled from (as they say in auto editorial lingo) the corporate ‘parts bin’ and certain elements that nod to the SLR supercar…this interior is much too busy and unfocused for my taste.

The duo-tone leather, the contrast stitching, the oval-shaped cupholder cubby, the retro air vents, and the dash-mounted racing timer…it’s all very frenetic and unconvincing.

For comparison purposes…the BMW Z4 and Audi TT. The BMW is sporty and beautiful simultaneously…as is the TT. If I had to pick one I’d most likely end up in the Z4.

Thirsty for Thursday

January 14, 2011

Been crazy busy today, and will be tomorrow…here are some of my link picks for today and tomorrow.

Weylandts Ball Stool. Natural and beautiful. Would probably work great on a deck or patio.

Oetzi 3300/Troop leather boot. The boot version of this stool – rustic and beautiful.

Triwa Nevil Peacock Purple. Playful and inexpensive.

Oxford Sheet Bedding. Like sleeping in your softest dress shirt!

Esemplare Men’s Jackets 2011, via Selectism. Beautiful, thoughtful jackets. Wishing I had been more aware of things when I visited Florence three years ago…

Men’s Mentore. Exciting Italian blog, good for ideas…not so good for reading.

Something more substantive to come this weekend!

I am dreaming…of Miami

January 11, 2011

Every so often I feel a deep-down urge to live, work, and play in Miami. For me it is the height of urban fray, Deco and Mediterranean architecture, extreme wealth, South American influence, and great nightlife. Plus I love the tropical greenery – in Tampa we get a bit of Miami and a bit of Atlanta.

I would probably get sick of it after a period, but every time I’ve visited I have enjoyed every minute of the people-watching, the culture, and the lifestyle of “work hard, play hard.”

Here are some of my favorite photos of Miami, pilfered from Flickr.

Photo: Eric Demarcq

Photo: Jeffrey Guterman

The following photos I downloaded long ago, also from Flickr, but without owners’ names. If your photo is posted here and you would like it removed, please let me know.

Enjoy!

It’s like I’m dreaming

January 11, 2011

As I’ve made clear in my previous posts, I don’t care for the typical American mall experience…a tired, unsustainable, and generally unpleasant formula repeated hundreds of times across the landscape. However, I am not immune to the wooing of upscale malls, set in urban settings, and designed with fantasy and sensory overload in mind.

One example of such a place: the newest luxury mall in Las Vegas, built as part of a multi-use development of residences, offices, retail, and hotels…containing a well-edited list of the covetable and obscure. This place is called Crystals.

The clean, museum-like floors, coupled with the whimsy and bold strokes of color, glass, and metal make the indoor shopping area feel more like a museum. If you’re going to drop thousands of dollars on an outfit for the casino, you might as well be walking among some great visual fantasy.

Photos from Flickr: 180360, Brendan O’Connor, and wwcooper.

Sunday Best

January 10, 2011

Photo: frenzypic from Flickr “Sunday Afternoon” (Munich)

Sundays are always a jumble for me. Lots of tasks to complete before the start of another week, but I like to take my time, savoring the freedom and softness of a day without office work. There aren’t many luxuries of time that rival a slow start to the day…waking up, making something light to snack on, and pouring a cup of coffee to sip while browsing the newspaper or checking e-mail. I usually return to the kitchen for second breakfast, this one consisting of heavier fair. I’m addicted to frozen whole grain toaster waffles, with a heavy dose of peanut butter and agave nectar or honey. Greek yogurt and granola, with fresh fruit, is equally enjoyable.

I always exercise on Sundays, too. I know many people who take the weekends off from exercise, but I enjoy being at the gym while it’s light out. The crowd of fitness buffs is different than it is on weeknights, and I am not ashamed to say that part of the fun of frequent exercise in a gym is people-watching. For those of you who don’t already have a ‘winning formula’ for exercise that sustains you, I cannot under-emphasize the importance and value of a good playlist. I find that I focus and move best when I listen to songs from the multitude of great pop, dance, hip-hop, and r&b artists. Right now, I listen to a lot of: Nicki Minaj, Keri Hilson, Christina Aguilera (from Burlesque sound track), Ke$ha, Sky Ferreira, Lady GaGa, Katy Perry, Shiny Toy Guns, and Willow Smith. To each his own, like anything else, but upbeat is the way to go if you want to get motivated at the gym. Dance dance dance!

Sundays are also for catching up on web browsing and blog reading. Here are some of my top picks of the day.

Yves Saint Laurent Ypsilon Low-top Sneakers, Neiman Marcus. I’ve been thinking about sneakers lately…a dressy but informal pair to be exact. These are beautiful, simple, with clean lines, and interesting details. Too bad they’re so expensive!

The Sartorialist: an example of intuitive research?, Core77. I like Michael DiTullo’s take on the impact of the Sartorialist’s constant photographic documentation of fashion across the world. I’ve been reading a book that elaborates on precisely the kind of ‘intuitive research’ that Mr. DiTullo is referencing.

Premier Footwear League, CNBC Business. Men ARE becoming more adventurous and outgoing with their footwear…and realizing that black and brown are not the only acceptable colors for shoes (although they still look the best, most of the time).

Nike Lunarflow Army Green/Blaze Orange. This Nike sample is awesome! I, like the others who have posted this picture, hope to see it available soon!

A note about the W124s…

January 8, 2011

All of my friends know that I have a unhealthy, archaic obsession with Mercedes-Benz models from the 1980s and 1990s era…pre-merge with Chrysler. The vehicles produced during that timeframe were unapologetically austere, built to a standard, and equipped with safety, performance, and logic in mind, rather than style or fashion. Incidentally, their ‘style’ was that of utter German seriousness, which appeals to those of us who value efficiency and quality over pure aesthetics.

Unfortunately, Mercedes-Benz no longer produces vehicles to this standard. Through its collaboration with Detroit, its massive expansion in model offerings, and its need to compete with an ever-crowded luxury market (and extreme demand for luxury), the vehicles produced today are less unique, less likely to last, and based in fleeting trends than long-term relevance. If I had to spend money on a new car today, it would probably be something that, if not built to a standard, at least has customization options and a significant cool factor. In other words, a Mini.

From time to time I check eBay Motors for used Mercedes listings…and here are my picks for today.

1994 E320 Coupe, black over gray, 82,000 miles. This is a beautiful example of German austerity and a bit of American cool. I’m not sure how many of these were sold in Europe, but I believe they were fairly popular in North America, despite their hefty original pricetag.

1987 300SDL, gray over gray, 152,000 miles. This thing is probably slow as a 18-wheeler, but it has tons of style. Dirty, yes, smelly, most likely. But fun…I’d certainly enjoy it. 152,000 miles is nothing to worry about with these cars. They run forever, quite honestly.

1989 300E, gray over gray, 114,000 miles. For $5000, I would think this would be a worthy investment for someone not looking to be stranded frequently. Just be willing to manage upkeep, as needed. No excuses!

1987 300D, green over beige, 53,000 miles. This is the model that will truly run forever. Properly sized, attractive, aerodynamic. And the engine…bulletproof. And with 53,000 miles?! A STEAL.

Just for fun…there are some great people on Flickr who photograph old Benzes. Check them out: mercedesmotoring and Rafael O (his picture used above), and I’m sure there are others as well.