Monday, 10 December 2012

Best Stuff of the 2017 Year

It's hard to say if our ninth annual list of the year's greatest designs, gadgets, and toys is our best yet—actually, yes, we can say that. It was one hell of a year for gear. So don't just lie there staring at your record collection. Rewrite your wish list now.

A Stereo to Build Your House Around

Before iPod docks took over our living rooms, awe-inspiring "all-in-one" audio systems ruled the world. Symbol Audio's Modern Record Console is the missing link, with both our analog past (turntable, tube amplifier) and our digital present (Wi-Fi for streaming tunes) built into its eternally sexy '50s-inspired walnut-and-steel design.

Nobody'll Know How Little You Paid

Most days, there are as many of Herschel's color-splashed backpacks in the GQ offices as there are skinny ties. For 2012, this three-year-old Vancouver-based brand applied the same winning formula—functional, affordable, simple design in a Skittles array of colors—to its Novel duffel. Its killer app is a waterproof zip-up shoe hatch on the side, which also works as a dirty laundry quarantine or a safe space for prone-to-spill grooming products.

 What You Get When You Google "Best Tablet"

Didn't Apple just come out with a mini tablet? Yep. Google did, too—six months ago. And I haven't put the Nexus 7 down since. It's my e-reader (thanks, Kindle app!), my fact-finder (Google's voice search makes Siri look sorry), and my assistant—it knows when I have a meeting and lets me know when I should leave based on traffic. Plus, at $200, I won't freak if I leave the Nexus 7 in the taxi.—Jon Wilde


My Best Get: "This year I was thinking, 'I'm a rapper now. I need to spend excessive amounts of money.' So I bought a 2008 Cadillac DTS Biarritz, this bougie luxury edition—except mine has white walls and custom hand-painted cacti all over it. If Barack Obama and Rick Ross had a baby, this is what it would look like."

Pass the Vaporizer to the Left-Hand Side

There is an easier (than rolling a joint) and less ridiculous (than a foot-tall bong) way to get high. The Pax by Ploom is a palm-sized, smoke-free, rechargeable miracle that does for cannabis enthusiasts what the iPod did for music lovers. And it's... Wait, what were we just saying?

Rugged Enough for Deep Space. Cool Enough for Earth.

If you're ready to break from the canvas- rucksack masses, meet the Hyperlite Summit. Cut from racing sailcloth, it's waterproof and ghostly light, with no extra zippers or pockets. And it flips the bird at old-timey bags by looking like it's made for a moon landing.
The Best Party Camera Ever

Photos blown out with a flash have their appeal, but it would be nice to capture what goes down after dark without every shot looking like a Terry Richardson rip-off. Behold the Sony DSC-RX100, the only point-and-shoot we've seen that can pull off low-light shots clear enough to post directly to Facebook (no vintage filter required). It's like having a camera with night-vision goggles, minus the pervy Paris-Hilton-porn glow.

A Wallet Built Like a Supercar. Literally.

Some fashion designers find inspiration in art or nature. Ralph Lauren found it in his garage—specifically, in his McLaren F1, the first production car built from carbon fiber. Even if you don't own one, you'll still impress the valet when you flash this wallet.
Blow Your Cover, Save Your Bag

Dragging an anonymous black roller to the airport? Nothing says This one's mine better than this slice of leather from Owen & Fred, hand-embossed with your details. And if your luggage game is already next-level (like, say, you snagged one of those Herschel duffels a few pages back), then all the more reason to tell the concourse it's yours.
Unplug. Turn On. Blow Minds.

For years, the phrase "electric motorcycle" really meant "battery-operated scooter." Then the Brammo Empulse arrived. Unburdened by a heavy vibrating engine, it handles better than nearly anything powered by dead dinosaurs and has a cooler soundtrack, too. The futuristic whine of its electric motor proves that Tron wasn't sci-fi; it was prescient.
Neil Blumenthal co-owner of Warby Parker

My Best Get: "I compulsively check Twitter and Instagram, but if you added up all the hours I spend on apps, I probably use Instapaper more than anything else. It lets me download long-form stories and news to my phone, then puts it into this really easy-to-read format so I can stay up on business trends even when I don't have Internet reception."
The Mean Green Espresso Machine

Presso asked how the urbane outdoorsman could make espresso without electricity. In answering, it also solved an age-old work problem: how to brew high-end beans at your desk without your office manager screaming, "That's a fire hazard!" The end result is the ROK Espresso Maker. Add a cup of hot water, flex your pecs to pressurize the grounds, then sip. Cue envious co-workers.

Save a Dog! Then Put Him on a Crazy Expensive Leash.

Opt for a rescue dog over a purebred and not only will you feel like a good person, you'll be a much richer person. So splurge on the high-design bowls, the goose-down bed, and this absurdly beautiful woven leather collar and leash from Bottega Veneta. Just keep an eye on your pooch's ego, or he'll stop eating Purina and start demanding your rib eye instead.
Way Cheaper Than a Personal Trainer

The Nike+ FuelBand is your conscience, digitized. The smoky translucent strap lives on your wrist, measuring just how active you've been each day by converting body motion into NikeFuel and tracking all your data on a smartphone app. Sit on the couch and its score remains as sedentary as your ass. But meet your daily goal and the FuelBand's embedded LED display lights up in celebration. Cheesy? Sure. Addictive? Very. And that's exactly the point.
Once You Go for Black Soap...

It felt weird trading in our usual drugstore bar for designer soap, but these cubes from Seattle's Blackbird, one of the country's best indie men's shops, left us no choice. Their suds smell of just-muddled mint, cedar chips, and floral-but-not-girlie geranium. Olive oil keeps skin moisturized in the dead of winter, and charcoal—a natural sanitizer—gives the blocks their midnight black hue.

Rajon Rondo
Boston Celtics superstar

My Best Get: "Granted, the Nike Air Yeezys are hard as hell to find and unique, but folks don't give them credit for their comfort. They're more comfortable than my Jordans. I never wear a pair of sneakers twice, but I kept going back to the Yeezys this summer."
A Sled for You, Not Your Kids

Whoever said that crap about putting away childish things never saw a sled so sleek it could pass as art. Carved from solid ash and steam-bent into a shape that wouldn't look out of place on your wall, the Peak Snow Sled by Wolfgang Sirch also brings the speed, thanks to its metal-skinned runners. Give your kid a plastic dish and tell him this one's all yours.

Leave the Elliptical to the Ladies

Jumping rope is a nearly perfect exercise—maybe the most efficient way to burn off a Big Mac's worth of calories. But most jump ropes are very imperfect: too short, too stiff, too crappy. Former Olympic wrestler Buddy Lee made the Aero Speed length-adjustable and added swivel bearings for smooth spins. Now you have no excuse for not getting your Pacquiao on.

The 2012 Cologne of the Year

If you've been to Yosemite, you remember the olfactory high: a blend of resin from towering balsams and the smoke of freshly stoked fires. Odin 07 Tanoke is that, in a bottle. It hits that rare cologne sweet spot of being noticeable but not overpowering. Just don't be surprised if people around you want to make s'mores and tell ghost stories.
A Bike Lock So Cool It Needs Its Own Bike Lock

Throwing a generic bike chain around your bespoke city cruiser—the one with the custom paint and leather saddle—is a travesty. This matte-black-metal-and-faux-snakeskin bike lock from Alexander Wang is tough enough to keep your ride from getting lifted, sexy enough to wear as jewelry, and scary enough to serve as a weapon in a hipster bar fight. It's Wang at his best: dark, twisted, and completely rad.
Infuse Your Booze—Then Show It Off

High-tech barware looks pretty, but it's rarely practical at home. The Porthole is an exception. Designer Martin Kastner created the liquid-infusion vessel for the cocktail geniuses at The Aviary in Chicago, and now he's letting us kitchen plebeians in on the fun. Use it to whip up flavored olive oils or take a Manhattan to the next level—you won't even have to grow a goofy mustache.
The Best Crap of the Year

Does your toilet have a remote? Ours does—at least the one in our dream home. Motion sensors in the Kohler Numi detect your arrival, at which point the toilet unfolds to reveal a waiting seat. Sit down and you can use that remote to heat your feet and your ass, or to turn on some tunes. The Numi's considerate, too—it has an air filter, which your girlfriend will appreciate.
Cookbook of the Year

Magnus Nilsson opened Fäviken Magasinet in a remote barn in Sweden in 2008, and by last year both the restaurant and the chef's insistence on trekking out into the woods for his ingredients were world-famous and widely imitated. His cookbook is half recipes and half treatises, but it has at least one thing you can use to knock the socks off a date. And no foraging required.

Herb Salt
Use on everything

1 pound unwashed herbs (pick one: mint, lovage, oregano, thyme, sage, tarragon)
1 pound high-quality sea salt

1. Briefly pulse the herbs in a food processor, making sure they do not heat up. 2. Combine the herbs and salt, then pass the mix through a sieve. 3. Store in an airtight jar. Impress guests at will.
The Return of the Blacksmith

Favoring fire and fist over outsourcing and e-mail, Oregonian Michael Hemmer hand-forges knives from reclaimed Swedish timber saws. He hammers the metal into cutlery with wood handles that feel as good in your palm as they look on your chop block. And like Hemmer himself, these carbon-steel blades will keep their edge.

Michael Hemmer Large Chef's Knife, $100. Available at

Your Onions Aren't Worthy

The three most important pieces of wood in your house: coffee table, baseball bat, and cutting board. Lostine's is solid walnut and thick enough that it won't split when you get carried away with the onions. That leather strap lets you hang it up and show off its battle scars with pride.

Doorstops. Conversation Starters.

I used to rely on random things to hold doors open—a sneaker, stuffed animals, a Macho Man Randy Savage piggy bank. Anything besides those beige wooden wedges that cause flashbacks to junior high. Areaware felt my pain and made these colorful cork doorstops that look cool without trying too hard. Because after all, they're just doorstops.—Mark Anthony Green

Throne of the Year (Besides That Toilet)

Renowned artist Donald Judd put Marfa, Texas, on the map, but damn is it a pain to get there. Instead, bring Marfa's artfully rustic vibe to you with the Silla Bucket Chair. The thick vegetable-tanned leather is sewn by the same machines Texans use to make saddles, then slung across a steel frame in your choice of colors by craftsman Joey Benton. This is the rare piece of furniture that satisfies both your inner art critic and your inner cowboy.

More Davy Crockett Than Betty Crocker

You like to dress well, you like to cook well, but splattered oil and tailored pants don't play nice. That's no excuse to be wandering around in some "Kiss the Cook" business, though. Stanley & Sons crafts these reversible camo aprons from heavy-duty twill, a fabric that gets better with age and makes julienning vegetables feel a little more manly.

Daniel Humm
chef at Eleven Madison Park in New York City

My Best Get: "My guilty pleasure is Mast Brothers Chocolate. It's not even guilty; it's all pleasure. They just collaborated with the South Street Seaport in New York to create a bar that has these big grains of Maine Sea Salt—a local business supporting another local business. It's just so good in so many ways."

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