KEN KESSLER

Design Portfolio: Alexandria the Great

David Wilson, president of the venerable audio company that bears his name, acknowledges that maybe, just maybe, the aesthetics of his award-winning loudspeakers have been afterthoughts. “Form has always followed function in my designs—perhaps, at times, too nakedly,” says Wilson. With the Alexandria, the designer has finally addressed visual as well as aural concerns. “It […]

Home Electronics: Tube Coup

Tube amplifiers were supposed to be passé by now. Following World War II, transistor, or solid-state, amplification was to be the order of the day. Transistors were expected to replace vacuum tubes because they take up less space, operate more efficiently, run much cooler, and cost less—a classic example of electronics evolution. The only problem […]

The Best of the Best 2003: Audio/Video

To develop a home theater unconstrained by space and price, the DVD player of choice is the top-loading TAG McLaren Audio DVD32R. It is gorgeous to behold and built to the constructional standards of the Formula 1 team that shares its name. The Lexicon MC12B processor continues to best all comers with its signal handling, […]

The Best of the Best 2003: Appliances – Dyson DC07

As a boy growing up in England, James Dyson’s fascination with vacuum cleaners began with the high-pitched scream of the motor and the odor of dust that permeated the room. His life’s work, to reinvent the hardworking appliance, came out of simple frustration. “I found it easier to bend down and pick up the dog […]

The Best of the Best 2003: Pens – Marlen Cadran Solaire

The latest limited edition fountain pen from Marlen, a 21-year-old Italian company renowned for the smooth operation of its writing instruments, has been designed with a novel and clever feature: a functioning sundial. Styled in the Baroque manner of the 17th century, the Cadran Solaire (French for sundial) is reminiscent of an Italianate tower, with […]

The Best of the Best 2003: Pens – Loiminchay

The moderately sized, Art Deco–inspired Loiminchay Opus represents a departure from the pen maker’s previous collections of extra-large pens featuring Eastern design influences. Finished in black or cobalt blue lacquers, fitted with 18-karat two-tone gold nibs, and sporting a pearl at one end and a sapphire at the other, the $750 Opus is truly a […]

The Best of the Best 2003: Pens – Montegrappa America’s Cup

The Montegrappa America’s Cup fountain pen celebrates its namesake competition with low-relief engravings depicting the designs that adorn the sailing trophy. Montegrappa’s production of 1,851 pieces in sterling silver, priced at $2,200, is a reference to the race’s debut year of 1851. An additional 152 pieces in 18-karat gold, priced at $10,500, are a nod […]

FrontRunners: Vanquish Volume

When Aston Martin CEO Ulrich Bez went shopping for a hi-fi system for the company’s flagship Vanquish, one criterion was paramount. “Aston Martin customers should have the best of whatever is available,” he says. “We looked for a company that not only produced what is regarded as the best audio systems but also fit well with […]

Personal Technology: Out of Our Heads

An unintended consequence of the recent surge in popularity of portable audio players has been a renewed interest in headphones. When Sony created personal hi-fi with the Walkman almost 25 years ago, it lifted the headphone out of its niche as a useful but hardly essential accessory. Still, it remains a common misconception that headphones […]

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