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June 8, 2010 4:02 PM   Subscribe

designgeekfilter: What are the most beautiful household products you own/use frequently/wish you owned?

I'm talking to a friend in the wake of Apple's keynote yesterday, where Steve Jobs compared the new iPhone to a Leica camera, and we're having a fun cheerful argument about whether the comparison is warranted or if Leica's still leagues beyond anything Apple's done. Along the way we started also to debate Naoto Fukasawa's Infobar phone, which is radically different but still a lovely phone design.

Partly I'm asking this because I'm equipping my apartment bedroom this August and I'm not sure what exactly I want to equip it with. But partly I'm asking just because for all I love industrial design, I'm sure there're people here who are vastly more well-informed about it than I am, and who've spent a lifetime looking for/obtaining/using all sorts of lovely things.

So what do you have in your house that makes you ache for its beauty? Or, because this isn't entirely a practical question, what do you wish you owned?
posted by Rory Marinich to Grab Bag (67 answers total) 126 users marked this as a favorite
- Alessi Diabolix bottle opener
- Alessi Pisellino cotton swab holder
posted by filthy light thief at 4:10 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

The rosle can opener.
posted by shesbookish at 4:13 PM on June 8, 2010

I have a lovely Le Corbusier LC4 chaise, which is incredibly comfortable, and worth every penny. It is a perfect harmonization of form and function.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 4:16 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Most beautiful: a mirror. YMMV.
Wish I owned: one of these fireplaces. They're straight up pimpin'
posted by Frank Grimes at 4:18 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was going to suggest the Alessi Diabolix, which I've had for years, but I didn't remember what it was called.
posted by matildaben at 4:19 PM on June 8, 2010

Bang & Olufsen 1600 desk telephone.
posted by stopgap at 4:19 PM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Song dynasty ceramics
posted by fire&wings at 4:20 PM on June 8, 2010

Juicy Salif
posted by Confess, Fletch at 4:20 PM on June 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

I find the Oxo "Good Grips" line of kitchen gadgetry to be functional, thoughtfully designed, and affordable.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:24 PM on June 8, 2010 [5 favorites]

Top of my wish list: Sarpaneva Dutch Oven. Just perfect, perfect design.
posted by mckenney at 4:31 PM on June 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

La Creuset Ogive tea kettle
J√łtul F 602 CB wood stove
Moka pot (stovetop espresso pot). Perfect industrial design.
Ashford Joy spinning wheel
posted by Emanuel at 4:32 PM on June 8, 2010 [6 favorites]

I'm not a big coverter, but I covet a Max Bill kitchen clock.
posted by neroli at 4:45 PM on June 8, 2010 [6 favorites]

A sweep dreams broom ... pleasant to use, works well, and pretty to display.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:46 PM on June 8, 2010

This is gonna make me sound like the most pathetic person in the world, but I fucking adore our 40 inch flatscreen, back-lit LED television that we bought last year, and I send a silent prayer to whatever god enabled its creation every time I turn that beautiful, black bastard on.
posted by smoke at 4:47 PM on June 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

neroli: that clock is *beautiful*. Would go well with our 1950s stove/oven (which unfortunately barely works anymore and doesn't have any spare parts available, but we just can't bear to replace it with something contemporary)
posted by Emanuel at 4:52 PM on June 8, 2010

I have always coveted the Eames molded plywood lounge chair. And I wouldn't throw a Technivorm coffee maker out of my kitchen if it magically appeared.
posted by adamrice at 5:05 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I find vintage Waring blenders, particularly in avocado, to be terribly beautiful. Bonus is that they're cheap (can be found for around $40 on ebay, less if you can spot on in a thrift store) and the motors pretty much last forever.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:05 PM on June 8, 2010

The house I currently rent has a bell beside the front door. Not an electric one, a ten centimetre diameter brass bell on a hanger on the wall next to the door handle.

One of the first things I did when we moved in was scrub years of dust and filth off it with steel wool and metal polish, and improvise a clapper to replace the missing one from a heavy steel nut and cord. Now when people come around they make a great satisfying "ding!". It's my favourite part of an old, badly maintained, mouldy rental property.

I'm considering taking it with me to the next place I live. It's not on the inspection report we filled out for the real estate agent and don't think the landlord would notice.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:06 PM on June 8, 2010 [7 favorites]

Ever since I was given it (as a gift, by my boss at the bike shop where I worked) 30 years ago, I've loved my Campagnolo corkscrew (aka "Il Big Cavatappi"). It *always* works perfectly - it's never shredded/broken a cork, or failed to fully extract a cork. Bonus: it's cool looking!
posted by dbmcd at 5:09 PM on June 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

I love my set of Eva Zeisel designed tableware from Crate and Barrel. They're reproductions of course, but the shapes are so pretty and if you watch Mad Men closely, they're what Don Draper drinks his coffee out of.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 5:35 PM on June 8, 2010 [5 favorites]

Isomac Millenium II Espresso Machine (wish I owned).
posted by jclovebrew at 5:43 PM on June 8, 2010

These are the best spatulas I have ever used for any purpose. You wouldn't think it to look at them, maybe, since they don't make any obvious concessions to the shape of the human hand or whatever, but they are just amazing.
posted by No-sword at 5:43 PM on June 8, 2010

Eames desk chair
Vitsoe shelving
posted by bister at 5:49 PM on June 8, 2010

I also have and love the Alessi Diabolix.
I'm sure you'll get many more espresso machines, mine is a La Pavoni Europiccola.
posted by ecurtz at 5:58 PM on June 8, 2010

Mu (excessive) collection of individual, artist-made pottery coffee mugs.
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:06 PM on June 8, 2010

Mu My
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:21 PM on June 8, 2010

Almost as low tech as it gets, but the OXO salad spinner makes a huge difference in salad quality (as opposed to individually drying leaves of lettuce)
posted by coolgeek at 6:23 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I pretty badly want one of the SodaStream penguins, but settled on a cheaper model. As for objects I actually own, it's hard to quibble with my grandfather's pocket watch.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 6:26 PM on June 8, 2010

On the covetous front, we recently got my father a Hancock and Moore armchair for his birthday.
I could also really use a nice tansu. And maybe a Food-o-Rama or Shelvador while I'm at it...
posted by ecurtz at 6:30 PM on June 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

I WANT the Adam Frank Reveal light.
posted by peep at 6:46 PM on June 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

Some time ago I bought mrs damonism a big (about 40cm in diameter, I guess) copper egg white whisking bowl. We don't use it all that much, but it hangs up on one of the walls near the kitcken looking prettily tarnished most of the time. Not exactly a designer appliance like most of the suggestions listed above, but I think it has a unique beauty that I love.
posted by damonism at 6:47 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, there's always the Philippe Starck juicer.

I'd say anything from Dieter Rams, but you'll have to pay dearly for those things. Some people claim that his designs are a sort of retro template for what Apple is doing. There may be some truth to that. Along those lines, you should rent Objectified, a documentary about industrial design.

If I had money to blow I'd probably buy a bunch of midcentury modern stuff - pretty much anything Eames, and the Nelson ball clock.
posted by O9scar at 6:49 PM on June 8, 2010

I love my Luna chairs. Warm and interesting butt-buckets, they're friendly-looking, in a monster sort of way, too.
posted by mimi at 7:12 PM on June 8, 2010

I have always wanted these salt & pepper grinders, but spending $40 - $50 on them when I already have perfectly functional ones seems indulgent.
posted by chiababe at 7:21 PM on June 8, 2010

Fiestaware is more popular, but I like vintage Pyrex.
posted by box at 7:26 PM on June 8, 2010

Vintage/antique/old kitchen gadgets:
Foley food mill
Foley handle-squeeze flour sifter
Wearever aluminum juicer
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:40 PM on June 8, 2010

I love my Bodum Eileen French Press, named after Irish furniture designer Eileen Gray.
posted by heurtebise at 9:05 PM on June 8, 2010

It's not technically ours-- it belongs to my landlady-- but holy shit, our Wedgwood stove.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 9:16 PM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Kuhn Rikon Epicurean Garlic Press
posted by puddleglum at 11:06 PM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

When eating yogurt, casseroles and pudding, I like to use Oneida Plymouth Rock sugar spoons. The shape of the bowl is so satisfying!
posted by aquafortis at 11:45 PM on June 8, 2010

I really loved it when I replaced my tv with a projector - suddenly the living room wasn't being dominated by a big plastic box!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:43 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I love my collection Bodum glasses. Great for hot or cold, don't leave moisture rings on precious surfaces and they are design genius imho.
posted by honey-barbara at 3:54 AM on June 9, 2010 [8 favorites]

I've built drawer dividers for the dresser I already own. It's simple, but makes life easier, every day.
posted by talldean at 4:42 AM on June 9, 2010

An electric teakettle. I use it at least twice a day. The one I use (a Cuisinart) was more expensive than a basic one, which can be had for very cheap, but it looks so pretty on my kitchen counter, and I've had it for several years.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 4:47 AM on June 9, 2010

Have lately fallen for well-designed hand-made pottery. Specifically this little whisking bowl which fits perfectly in the hand for beating an egg or whisking some dressing. Also these mugs with the lip that perfectly fits your lips - one sip and you'll wonder why all mugs aren't shaped this way.
posted by evilmomlady at 5:37 AM on June 9, 2010

chiababe: "I have always wanted these salt & pepper grinders, but spending $40 - $50 on them when I already have perfectly functional ones seems indulgent."

I found an almost identical design to these grinders at Dollarama (a dollar store here in Canada) - perhaps they might be in a US chain as well?

My kids think they look like detonators for a mad scientist's explosive device, and have dubbed them 'The Illudium Q36 Space Modulator.'
posted by Hardcore Poser at 6:55 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have some Rubis scissors that make me happy each time I use them. The pleasure is the result of enjoying the experience of using something that is perfectly designed for its purpose; simple, useful, elegant, well-engineered.

It addresses all of the details (the lightness of material, the unobtrusiveness of the profile for detail work, the increased smooth surface area of the portion that touches your skin at thumb and nail, etc etc) without ever seeming like it was trying too hard or showing off. They are a mental pleasure to use. That they are inexpensive and will last a lifetime makes me wish everything in my house was designed with these same priorities.
posted by nickjadlowe at 7:02 AM on June 9, 2010

I bought an orange Nesso table lamp a few months ago. Its beauty makes me happy, and it casts a marvelous warm glow.

Also, I noticed that Steve's side table during the keynote was a Saarinen side table, which has always been one of my favorites (although I don't own one yet). It looks far more delicate in person than pictures tend to communicate.
posted by paulg at 7:05 AM on June 9, 2010

My list of things (excluding my pets, obvs) that make me happy when I'm home:

Herman Miller furniture
Le Creuset cast-iron cookware
46" Panasonic G10 plasma TV
... and I can't believe I'm saying this, but my Dyson Animal vacuum.
posted by brand-gnu at 8:37 AM on June 9, 2010

I have a vintage 36" Saarinen tulip table that I bagged off of Craigslist for my eat-in kitchen that pleases me to look at. So curvy.

In terms of relatively inexpensive little things, I really dig Heath Ceramics because they have clean, simple lines but still feel solid and earthy.

If I had an extra $5000 lying around, I would buy the Thomas Pedersen Stingray Rocker.
posted by superquail at 10:41 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have an inordinate fondness for our Rabbit Air MinusA2 air purifier. Mine is merely black. I am seriously, seriously considering getting another one for the bedroom - probably Cherry Blossom - from their designer series.
posted by cairnish at 10:48 AM on June 9, 2010

Seconding Le Creuset.
posted by dhammond at 11:47 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Funny you should ask. Just this morning I was admiring my Bialetti Moka stovetop espresso maker while waiting . Over the years I've tried every kind of coffee maker, but I always come back to this standard. It's easy to use, easy to clean, compact and makes the best espresso - better than fancy machines. I was thinking about how simple and magnificient the design is.

Seconding Bodum glasses - I never have to get up for more ice.

I wish I owned some of these amazing "Livingstones"
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:29 PM on June 9, 2010

waiting...for the coffee to boil. Yeesh.
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:29 PM on June 9, 2010

These nogent-handled Thiers-Issard Sabatier carbon steel chef's knives. Made from pre-war forged blanks! Requires more frequent sharpening than stainless, but they're knifey perfection.

Admittedly, not so great in the bedroom. Unless you're into that sort of thing.
posted by pjaust at 4:33 PM on June 9, 2010

I never cared about stylish stuff until I saw the Eva Solo CafeSolo. I've never drooled so much over a coffee brewing device!

Pretty much all Eva Solo stuff is gorgeous
posted by evening at 4:38 PM on June 9, 2010

My grandfather wanted one. My father wants one. I will have one someday:
The Eames Classic Lounge Chair
posted by cmchap at 5:53 PM on June 9, 2010

Chairs of great beauty and function I wish I owned:

Things not of striking beauty, but of excellent function that I own:
The hold-it bookholder
Datahands keyboard

posted by okokok at 3:39 AM on June 10, 2010

The lamy 2000 fountain pen.
posted by SageLeVoid at 6:06 AM on June 10, 2010

Just about anything created by Seth Roland as posted on metafilter just this morning!
posted by csmason at 6:29 AM on June 10, 2010

What's great about the most beautiful household products, is that they are tools that solve a clearly defined problem in the most perfect way possible.

With perfection you never get the feeling that your product is dated and therefore long for a replacement of the newer model that solves a problem in a slightly better way.

With that in mind, I think these kitchen tools are perfect:

SKK Light Frypan - I have used this every morning for the last year to make scrambled eggs, still as good as new. It's the most perfect frying pan I've ever owned.

Waring juice extractor - It has been making fresh juice for months. It will outlast me.

Stainless Steel bottle opener - Place it on top and push.

Stainless Steel Apple Wedger & Corer - Place it on top and push.
posted by ben30 at 6:52 AM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, I love a lot of the products designed by Royal VKB.

Garlic crusher - It improves on the classic press and looks far better.
posted by ben30 at 8:59 AM on June 11, 2010

Nthing Eames chairs. All of them.

2nding projector + screen instead of TV - much, much, better.

Miele canister vacuum cleaner is gorgeous (really) and functions amazingly. My mom's lasted 13 years and still going strong.

iMac. No wires, no mess, just one beautiful machine.

All Clad. I particularly love the Saucier.

Any THICK wooden board (rustic is good) with 3-4 cheeses cut up on it - nothing better. Well, add a glass of wine.

An e-book reader (I love the Sony PRS 505 which seems to be not for sale any more) is an awesome combination of function and form. Your gorgeous shelving can now hold only gorgeous books.
posted by olya at 11:56 AM on June 14, 2010

My red, heart-shaped plates that came free with a tub of Flora, and a Whittards white mug with multicoloured hearts painted on it make me happy whenever I use them.

My Chef'N (think that's the brand - got it from Heals) rabbit eared salt and pepper grinders. Small, cute, functional, easy to use one-handed, and magnetic.

A round bowl, rather than one with a 'lip'.
posted by mippy at 6:15 AM on July 30, 2010

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