Design Driven


Fall style special: Ralph Lauren redefines retail at his new ultraexclusive Manhattan menswear store. McLaren's clever comeback, a private preview of the 200+ mph MP4-12C. Plus, new hotels in China, Thailand & New England.

From This Issue

’Glass Belle

1954 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster Though a quintessential piece of midcentury Americana now, the space-age-looking Corvette must have seemed as exotic as rocket science in 1953, when Chevrolet launched America’s first sports car to compete with the popular European marques brought back by servicemen following World War II. The fiberglass-bodied roadster, a radical departure from delicate […]

FrontRunners: Harry Winston

A vision for gearheads, the Harry Winston Opus X ( is the 10th and latest timepiece in the Opus series, an annual collaboration between the American jeweler and an independent watchmaker. The $208,800 watch, which Harry Winston debuted in March, tells time using a cascading system of satellite gears that drive revolving hour, minute, and […]

FrontRunners: Upward Mobility

In June, UK mobile-phone manufacturer Vertu opened a boutique on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. The store—the company’s third retail outlet in the United States—carries classic Vertu designs and recent releases, including the Vertu Ascent 2010 ( This last iteration of the automotive-inspired Ascent Collection debuted in April and promises to be even more durable […]

FrontRunners: Open Season

Hot on the heels of its coupe stablemate, the 202 mph 2011 Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible ( is the world’s fastest drophead coupe and one of the most uncompromising top-down rides available today. The $280,400 four-seater features a 621 bhp, twin-turbocharged W-12 engine that runs on both gas and ethanol. Full-time all-wheel drive confers precise […]

FrontRunners: Greek System

Atalanta Golden Yachts’ newest offering, O’Rama (, showcases the Athens-based company’s two specialties: building vessels larger than 70 feet, and managing those boats as charter yachts. Eleven crewmembers serve the 176-foot O’Rama, which accommodates as many as 17 passengers across four decks and seven cabins. Large indoor and outdoor living spaces incorporate computers and multiple […]

Watches: Time Change

‘‘This is really the first time we have used the movement as an important part of the design of the watch,” says Chopard copresident Karl-Friedrich Scheufele of Engine One, one of four new timepieces in the company’s men’s collection L.U.C. The most unusual watch Chopard has ever built, Engine One—which incorporates a tourbillon movement shaped […]

FrontRunners: Shoemaker’s Mark

Italian accessory designer Cesare Paciotti did the inconceivable several seasons ago when he created a collection of men’s wing tips and cap-toe lace-ups that, instead of actual stitches, had stitch marks drawn onto the shoes in the manner of chalk on a blackboard. Paciotti recently applied his creative talents to the Home Collection by Cesare […]

Jewelry: Exhibit B

When it opens September 15 at Paris’ celebrated Grand Palais, the 25th Biennale des Antiquaires will feature 80 of the world’s most prestigious art and antiques dealers, whose specialties range from pre-Columbian artifacts and Islamic art to rare books, sculptures, and modern paintings. In addition, a select group of seven jewelers will present extraordinary jewelry […]

FrontRunners: From the Robb Cellar

Very few varietals of grape have escaped being planted, at one time or another, in the soils of Santa Barbara County. Spurred in the 1970s by the international recognition then bestowed on Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, many growers in the area opted to experiment with the varieties from Bordeaux. Others discovered that the heartier […]

FrontRunners: Bronze Mettle

Part of Christie’s New York Asian Art Week, the Sze Yuan Tang Archaic Bronzes from the Anthony Hardy Collection sale ( will include ritualistic vessels employed by the Shang Dynasty ruling class as far back as the 13th century B.C. The auction, to be held on September 16, will feature 120 lots with an estimated […]

FrontRunners: Forging Ahead

For his new fall jewelry collection, Victor Velyan (213.955.5950) employed old-world metallurgy techniques similar to those used in sword making. The Los Angeles–based jeweler hammered and pounded pure silver and gold into thin sheets of dense metal that he then shaped into cuffs, rings, pendants, and earrings, and set with gemstones. Velyan finished some designs […]

Encore at Wynn Macau

Like its Las Vegas counterpart, Steve Wynn’s new Encore at Wynn Macau is a gilded all-suite adjunct to a larger Wynn hotel next door. Wynn Macau debuted in this gambling-crazed Chinese destination in 2006, and its follow-up underscores developer Wynn’s notorious attention to detail—from the giant aquarium behind the check-in counter (where 1,000 moon jellyfish […]

Robb Design Portfolio: Escape Artist

The most recent collaboration between French designer Jean Boggio and Francis Chen, founder of Chinese porcelain manufacturer Franz Collection (, is a line of furniture, fabrics, and decorative accessories that Boggio likens to “escaping to a world halfway between Avatar and the paintings of Rousseau.” All of the pieces, he says, are “fed by the […]

Golf: Heartland Heroes

Golfers in search of a British Isles–like experience in America generally head to Oregon’s Bandon Dunes and other cool-climate coastal resorts. But some of the United States’ best British-style terrain can be found in the heartland, in the Sand Hills region of north-central Nebraska, where rolling hills, towering dunes, sandy turf, and long grass add […]

From the Editors: House Bets

The building at 867 Madison Avenue, known as the Rhinelander mansion, has served practically every purpose except that for which its original owner, Gertrude Rhinelander Waldo, intended it. Waldo did not move into the five-story French Renaissance palace after construction was completed in 1898; in fact, the structure remained empty until the early 1920s, when […]

FrontRunners: Lands o’Lakes

De Havilland Canada (DHC) ceased production of its amphibious Twin Otter 22 years ago, but more than 600 of the rugged twin-engine propeller planes remain in operation. The model’s perseverance inspired British Columbia–based Viking Air to resurrect the legendary aircraft with the all-new DHC-6 Twin Otter Series 400 ( The Viking Air version of the […]

FrontRunners: Pen Pals

To commemorate its centennial on June 24, 2010, Italian carmaker Alfa Romeo commissioned Montegrappa for Alfa Romeo (, a collection of writing instruments crafted by the Italian pen maker. The series of 1,910 (a reference to the year 1910) red-capped items includes pens with carbon-fiber, silver, and solid 18-karat-gold bodies, the latter of which start […]

Banyan Tree Samui

Banyan Tree Samui, a collection of 78 pitched-roof villas on the southeastern shore of Koh Samui island, opened in July as the Singapore-based brand’s third hotel in Thailand. Arranged in a horseshoe shape around Lamai Bay in the Gulf of Thailand, the property revolves around water. In addition to the bay and a beachfront swimming […]

Ocean House

Ocean House, one of New England’s few remaining Victorian-era hotels, reopened in June after a five-year, $140 million reconstruction. Originally built on its bluff-top perch in 1868, the Watch Hill, R.I., resort thrived as a summer retreat for city dwellers throughout the 20th century. By 2003, however, maintenance on the aging building had become so […]

The House that Ralph Built

Twenty-five years ago, when Ralph Lauren converted Madison Avenue’s magnificent Rhinelander mansion—one of the last remaining turn-of-the-century grand homes in Manhattan—into his New York flagship store, he did much more than set a new standard for luxury retail spaces. Built in 1898, the imposing French Renaissance Revival home serves as a stage on which Lauren […]

The Robb Reader: Ken Burns

Through his luxuriously long—and immensely popular—documentaries, Ken Burns has shaped our collective knowledge of jazz, the Civil War, national parks, and other thoroughly American subjects. This month, the 57-year-old filmmaker trains his camera for the second time on our great American pastime with The Tenth Inning, a four-hour documentary airing September 28 and 29 on […]

Britain’s Supercar Macca

McLaren Automotive is no stranger to success. In the last decade of Formula 1 competition, the British manufacturer, best known for its racing achievements, has failed to make the World Constructors’ Championship (WCC) podium only once. Unfortunately for the company, Formula 1 is about as popular as cricket in the United States, and most American […]

Britain’s Supercar Macca: The Once and Future F1

The McLaren F1 became an instant classic when it rolled into the automotive world in 1993. Its innovative carbon-fiber monocoque chassis and peculiar three-seat configuration, which placed the driver directly in the center of the cockpit, defied all conventions. It did not merely set top-speed records—it shattered them. Indeed, the F1 still holds its place […]

Vacation Homes: One for the Generations

With nine children, 56 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren, Jon and Karen Huntsman know all about family. They also have a good sense of what today’s families need: a place devoid of crowds, electronic gadgets, and other distractions, where children, parents, and grandparents can spend quality time together. Such is the philosophy behind Huntsman Springs, the […]

Renaissance Man

At the twilight of the 13th century, the city-state of Florence was a small and vulnerable republic surrounded by the superpowers of Milan, Venice, and Rome. Yet here in the heart of Tuscany, a small group of intellectuals and artists illuminated the Dark Ages by igniting the humanist movement that became known as the Italian […]

Mezcal Rising

His Zapotec face as weathered as the creased cowboy hat that sits on his head, Faustino Garcia Vasquez silences the room with just a look. We stand in a structure made of adobe brick and corrugated metal that provides a cool shelter from the sun that beats down on the village of Chichicapa. Our group—composed […]

Wardrobe: Youth Couture

In the winter of 2008, more than a year after he took over as chief executive officer of Kiton, Antonio De Matteis set out on a two-month European road trip to visit the continent’s better men’s stores. He was in search of an idea that would enable him to put his own imprint on the […]

Collectibles: Pipe Dreams

Trevor Barton loved to talk about his pipes. The British appliance salesman, who died in 2008 at the age of 88, amassed over the years one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of the smoking devices, which he displayed in his family’s 16th-century English cottage for friends—and near strangers—to enjoy. “Dad loved sharing his collection,” […]

Aviation: Eight is Enough

Since its debut in commercial airline fleets in 2007, the Airbus A380—the world’s largest passenger aircraft—has sparked a rivalry among international carriers to outdo each other’s first-class cabins. In May, Lufthansa became the fifth airline to take delivery of the jumbo jet, and the German company’s new premier cabin has helped raise the bar by […]

Autos: Benchmark Bimmer

Older fans of the roundel know that BMW’s rise from the rubble of World War II to its current status as a world-class luxury-performance brand is the most remarkable success story among all the European marques. The company that hung its postwar hat on odd microcars such as the Isetta quickly leveraged its engineering prowess […]

Home: Out of the Woods

When Bobby Kennedy Jr. and Mary Richardson Kennedy wanted a stunning floor installed in their recently reconstructed home in Mount Kisco, New York, they called John Yarema. The Kennedys had kept about 600 feet of flooring from the house they had dismantled, and they wanted Yarema to incorporate the boards into a new floor with […]

Journeys: Ryding High

Most golf getaways in the British Isles focus on the famed courses of Scotland and Ireland. But Celtic cousin Wales has a long, storied history in golf, one that is embarking on an exciting new chapter: This October, the Ryder Cup will be held in Wales for the first time since the biennial international competition […]