The Innovation Issue


Design revolutions on autos, yachts, jets and more. Hydrogen powered BMW's eco-friendly 7 series sedan, also the luxury vangaurd Pininfarina, Bulgari, Ferretti, Kiton.

From This Issue

FrontRunners: Shareware

The new Samsung K5 digital audio player ( is unique among MP3 devices in that it can entertain both with and without earphones. Slide the halves of the case apart, and a diminutive but crystalline-sounding pair of speakers appears. The player also includes a 1.7-inch LED touchscreen, FM tuner, and alarm clock. It is available […]

FrontRunners: Time Peace

Döttling Luxury Safes (, which restores antique safes while adding such features as wet bars, humidors, and gun cabinets, now offers models for watch collectors. Prices begin at about $65,000. Each Döttling safe is customized for its purchaser; one, for example, has been given a secret compartment for especially valuable pocket watches. The company has […]

FrontRunners: May Fairer

London’s May Fair Hotel ( no longer resembles the property that King George V and Queen Mary visited upon its opening in 1927. Following a two-and-a-half-year, $140 million restoration, the hotel has added a Baccarat chandelier in the ballroom and Bang & Olufsen entertainment systems in the suites. Ten new accommodations feature private gardens with […]

Home: At Your Service

For more than two decades, Englishman David Linley had been crafting custom wood furniture for interior designers and their clients through his namesake retail shop in London (a second store opened in late 2005). Then, two years ago, he accepted his first commission to design an entire space. That space—a St. Moritz, Switzerland, penthouse in […]

Travel: Tales of Great Ulysses

While cleaning out her garage in Murrieta, Calif., last winter, Veva Haacke discovered a leather case containing century-old relics from the US Grant hotel. The items had been buried at the hotel 65 miles away in San Diego—as a time capsule by Ulysses S. Grant Jr., founder of the US Grant and the second son […]

The Collector: Letter Perfect

  THE ITEMA handwritten letter that Dwight Eisenhower wrote to his wife, Mamie, on February 15, 1943. Eisenhower, who was then commander in chief of the European theater of operations and supreme commander of the Allied forces in North Africa, penned the letter four days after the War Department promoted him to full general.   […]

Art: Making a Splash

Steuben Glass is renowned for the clear, brilliant, and flawless lead crystal that its glassmakers shape into vases, stemware, and decorative objects. Artist Jeff Zimmerman is not so finicky. The glass in his works—which include opaque trumpetlike forms that would befit a Dr. Seuss illustration and chandeliers that resemble dangling bouquets—often is marked by striations […]

FrontRunners: Lots of Choice

The Naples Winter Wine Festival (, a three-day auction held this month in Naples, Fla., to benefit children’s charities, will feature more than wine. In addition to a horizontal of Colgin Cellars’ Tychson Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 and two 18-liter bottles of Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage la Chapelle, the offerings will include a 2007 Rolls-Royce […]

FrontRunners: Cheeze Wiz

Nancy Patton’s Haute Goat Creamery ( in Lubbock, Texas, is a small operation: just herself, her husband, and 18 goats. With milk from her Alpine, Nubian, Saanen, and La Mancha goats, Patton makes extraordinary cheeses that can be purchased in a half-dozen stores in Texas or ordered from the company’s web site. Her selections include […]

Dining: Hungering for Victory

During a September training session for what will be his most challenging competition, Gavin Kaysen was struggling with a crucial technique. Failing to nail it, he realized, likely would prevent him from ascending the victor’s podium. He therefore spent a day training with an expert to master the skill making a foie gras and chicken […]

FrontRunners: Antiques Show

Some 2,000 years ago, during military parades in northern Europe, cavalry officers in the service of Rome wore bronze masks that were intended to induce awe in the rabble. In 1970, the mask pictured here made its way into the collection of Rupert Wace (, a London antiquities dealer, who this month will bring it […]

Robb Design Portfolio: African Abstraction

Europe’s fascination with so-called primitive art reached its apogee during the first half of the 20th century, when artists such as Picasso, Modigliani, and especially the German Expressionists embraced the powerful, elegant sculpture of Africa as a source of inspiration. Western curators and connoisseurs formed collections of these masks and figures, which were elemental to […]

FrontRunners: Art for Heart’s Sake

Art for Heart’s Sake Fifty Foot Films ( of Los Angeles promises to give your home movies—of birthday parties, weddings, or other worthy occasions—the Hollywood treatment. “There are people out there who want handmade table linens for their wedding, so they have them flown in from Bali,” says Paul Korver, the company’s founder. “Yet they document […]

FrontRunners: Select Smoke

Recently, the Cuban cigar maker Perdomo resolved to bring together two favorite male pastimes: golf and a good smoke. The welcome result, La Tradicion Perdomo Reserve Limited Golf Edition, has the same robust Nicaraguan binder and filler as the other cigars in the La Tradicion line, coupled this time with an Ecuadorean-grown, Connecticut-seed wrapper to […]

Spas: Into the Woods

After opening their 58-room Lodge at Woodloch in the Poconos town of Hawley, Pa., last summer, Ginny and John Lopis reminisced about the first American destination spas. Twenty years ago, when the couple established their consulting business, advising spa owners on everything from architecture and design to treatment menus, this country was home to only […]

Icons & Innovators: Audemars Piguet: Great Leap Forward

George-Henri Meylan, Audemars Piguet’s mild-mannered CEO, says he never intended to supplant traditional Swiss design when he tasked the watchmakers at complication specialty house Renaud et Papi (in which his company had a stake) to “open a new area of exploration” in the late 1990s. But as he stood surrounded by futuristic designs at last […]

Leisure: House of Blues

Working his coa—a long-handled knife with a flat, moon-shaped blade—a jimadore hacks swordlike leaves from agave plants, revealing in each a 60-pound heart that resembles a massive pineapple. Dark from years of exposure under the hot Jalisco sun, the harvester ties the last of 10 of the piñasto a donkey before trotting the animal across […]

Contributors: Better Safe than Sorry

Throughout his visits to the Wilderness Safaris camps in southern Africa, says senior correspondent Jack Smith, he could not contain his primal sense of self-preservation. “I just found myself looking over my shoulders constantly, because you never knew where these things were coming from,” he recalls, explaining that lions, cheetahs, leopards, and other carnivorous predators […]

FrontRunners: Historical Moment

If you can pick up the Super Bowl XL Opus, you might be able to secure a spot on one of the teams playing in the February 4 game. The $4,000 leather-bound tome, published by Kraken Sport & Media (, weighs 90 pounds. Its 850-plus pages contain some 2,000 photographs culled from a collection of […]

Golf: Greener Pastures

Many golfers have surveyed the glacial pace of play ahead of them and fantasized about building their own courses. Few have acted on the notion, and fewer still have done so on the elaborate scale wrought by businessman and auto-racing magnate Gerald Forsythe.   Forsythe’s Canyata (a Native American word meaning “backwoods” and pronounced can-YAY-tuh) […]

Jewelry: The Showstopper

Lorraine Schwartz arrived at a recent Christie’s jewelry auction in New York City wearing a long strand of large lavender jade beads, a chunky ivory bangle embedded with rubies, and a gray diamond floral-motif ring the size of a plum. Virtually all eyes in the room locked onto her jewels, and one admirer offered to […]

FrontRunners: Rock Faces

The minimalist Golden Bridge watch line from Corum ( is exploring its extravagant side. In the new Corum Haute Joaillerie series, a transparent crystal case and sides reveal a sleek, hand-engraved linear movement floating in a sea of jewels. The series includes nine pieces in all, ranging in price from $104,000 to $975,000. One version, […]

FrontRunners: Opposites Attract

Opposites Attract And last, from our Fashion Statement Department: The Japanese jeans manufacturer Evisu ( has partnered with denim designer Adriano Goldschmied to create a limited-edition collection of men’s jeans interwoven with Japanese gold kimono thread. Pieces from the 500-unit line are available at the American Rag Denim Bar in Los Angeles, for $350 to $400 […]

Wardrobe: Measuring Up

Fashion designer and wardrobe consultant Jack Simpson has long been an enthusiast of 1940s-era fashion and pop culture, particularly the works of Alberto Vargas, a Peruvian-born airbrush artist. During the 1940s, Vargas created a series of paintings depicting sultry, sensuous women for publication in Esquire magazine. His Varga girls were an immediate hit with G.I.s […]

FrontRunners: Perfect Marques

Soon after Errett Loban Cord purchased the Duesen-berg company from brothers Fred and August Duesenberg in 1926, he produced an extraordinary series of high-speed touring cars. The Depression cut short the Duesenberg Model J’s production run after the company had built only 481 examples, but during its heyday, the car featured a combination of opulence […]

Sport: Plug and Play

To demonstrate how well the Vectrix handles, Dana DeCosta weaves the electric maxi-scooter along a coastal road. “It’s very stable going side to side,” DeCosta, a project manager for the Massachusetts company building the vehicle, explains to me over his shoulder. “But,” he adds as he twists the throttle, “you get a pull going forward […]

Autos: Split Personality

It may be true that, as a BMW spokesman says, the M6 convertible will appeal to the car enthusiast who really appreciates performance, someone who also is an aficionado of airplanes, watches, and boats. Said person also might be a fan of sleeve tattoos and self-flagellation, for the M6 may be as smooth, powerful, and […]

Collectibles: Training Wheels

In his Rancho Dominguez, Calif., office, Joe Gonzalez displays an exceedingly rare 1927 Packard that is one of only four surviving examples of its type. “Anyone who sees it stops and stares and doesn’t know what to say,” Gonzalez says. “This car belongs in a private collection or a museum.” It once belonged to a […]

Wheels: Autos of Fashion

The latest Mondial de l’Automobile—known outside of France as the Paris Motor Show—was genteel, distingué, très chic, and very French. The biennial event, which took place in October, seemed to include as many fashion models as automobiles, and they more than matched the cars’ sultry looks and sensual curves. Toutes les femmes, fresh from recent […]

FrontRunners: Growing Friendship

Ted Fontaine, founder of the Friendship Yacht Co. of Portsmouth, R.I. (, says that he created the Friendship 53 to do double duty: It can sail around the world, but it also may be operated by a retired couple on an afternoon cruise. The new $2 million yacht, which follows a 40-foot vessel that debuted […]

FrontRunners: Fight Club

For an Allied pilot in World War II, few sights were as fearsome as that of the German Messerschmitt Me 262, a speedy jet fighter known as the Swallow (because it is shaped like one). Rare is the pilot today who can claim an Me 262 type rating on his license, but the Collings Foundation […]

From The Editors: Too Fast, Too Soon

Moments after the Concorde had swept past the tens of thousands of spectators gathered for the 1973 Paris Air Show finale, the similarly delta-winged and needle-nosed Tu-144 roared low over Le Bourget airfield. Suddenly the Soviet plane made a steep climb, then the nose dropped, the left wing broke off, flames flashed, and the rest […]

Aviation: Floating Option

In the sky above the Kalahari Desert, near the Jwaneng diamond mine in south central Botswana, one occasionally may spot an airship the length of a football field. The South African company De Beers prospects for diamonds aboard the craft, an $11.5 million Zeppelin made by a subsidiary of the company that Count Ferdinand von […]

Boating: In from the Cold

During the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s, Soviet spacecraft returning from their missions landed in Siberia—and then the cosmonauts who had manned those vessels often left the sites strapped to the side of a boat.   This was not just any boat. The brainchild of […]

Wings & Water: Damn the Torpedoes

In a building resembling an aircraft hangar, dozens of men clamber over an object as large as a house. They mount ladders and clatter across metal catwalks, carrying planks and tools and loops of wire; they kneel to sink screws or run pipes; they scrape and hammer amid the screech of sanders and the sizzle […]

Icons & Innovators: Ulysse Nardin: Seeds Of Revolution

Ulysse Nardin received an early, though not immediately apparent, head start in the watch industry’s recent technology race. That advantage came in 1998, when longtime collaborator Ludwig Oechslin presented CEO Rolf Schnyder with a modified antique carriage clock. Oechslin had fitted the foot-tall portable clock with an escapement of his own design, which ultimately prompted […]

Icons & Innovators: BMW: Relentless Evolution

If BMW motorcycles were cars, they would be Porsche 911s. Both are high-end, high-priced forms of transportation that are made in Germany and powered by horizontally opposed engines, but the comparison alludes more directly to the stubbornness of their respective makers. These days, no engineer setting out to create a great sports car would begin […]

Icons & Innovators: BMW: The Ultimate Green Machine

What a difference pressing a button can make. One jab of the index finger upon the simple gray device that BMW has mounted on the steering wheel of its newest and most exclusive vehicle launches you into one possible future. It transports you to a time when you will be able to drive a car […]

Icons & Innovators: Bulgari: A New Roman Empire

On a bluff overlooking Bali’s rugged Bukit peninsula, a chorus of men in black-and-white-check sarongs sit in a circle and chant in unison as a tangerine sun sinks into the Indian Ocean. Their rhythmic and jarring “chak-a-chak-a” utterings provide the musical accompaniment to a performance of the popular Kechak dance. The dance is based on […]

Icons & Innovators: Bulgari: Acquired Tastes

Bulgari may be headquartered in Rome, but its watchmaking ambitions rival those of any Swiss brand. Not satisfied with just producing sleek, modern watches that reflect the company’s design ethic, Bulgari CEO Francesco Trapani wants his company to make its own movements for its watches.   Bulgari acquired the framework for this capability with its […]

Icons & Innovators: Ferretti: Italian Armada

Something about this Pershing 90 is different. The original 90, a black and silver convergence of a speedboat and a luxury yacht that debuted in September 2005, dazzled with its speed and aggressive-looking design. Here was a boat that produced 4,900 hp and reached 51 mph, while its combination of straight lines and soft curves […]

Icons & Innovators: Ferretti: Royal Couple

Venus Rising In the 1880s, in Sarnico, Italy, Ernesto Riva became the first boatbuilder to fit piston engines to boats. As the years passed, the Riva family company continued to introduce technical and design advances, first as a raceboat maker, then as a builder of pleasure boats that were embraced by jet-setters of the 1960s. […]

Icons & Innovators: Bulgari: A Man and His Machines

An interview with Nicola Bulgari cannot be contained to a q uestion-and-answer format. With his enthusiasm and candor he instantly engages me in an impromptu, fast-paced conversation. He becomes excited, he pounds the table, his blue eyes light up, particularly when I mention one of his greatest passions: American automobiles from the early 20th century. As […]

Icons & Innovators: Wilderness Safaris: Wild Life

Not far from Vumbura Plains, a posh safari camp in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, Grant Harris is wheeling his Land Rover through a herd of a dozen elephants that have emerged from behind a stand of trees. “The main thing to keep in mind is, you don’t want to get between a baby elephant and its […]

Icons & Innovators: Kiton: Man of the Cloth

During a group visit to Kiton’s Naples, Italy, factory in 2001, one of the guests questioned whether the suit being shown was among the world’s finest. Company founder and president Ciro Paone rose from his chair and, with an air of indignation, pointed across the room at the offender before launching into a testimonial for […]

Icons & Innovators: Wilderness Safaris: Safari Sanctuaries

Ruckomechi Camp, Zimbabwe The grunts of hippos can be heard all day at Ruckomechi Camp, which is nestled in a large grove of acacia and mahogany trees overlooking the Zambezi River and Africa’s Great Rift Valley. The river attracts such feathered favorites as Livingstone’s flycatcher, the red-necked falcon, and the yellow-spotted nicator. The camp accommodates […]

Icons & Innovators: Honda: Honda’s Humanoid Hero

As the lights dim at Disneyland’s Honda ASIMO Theater in Anaheim, Calif., a blue curtain rises to reveal what appears to be the set of a sitcom. A living room connects to a home office, stairs lead to a second-story hallway, and a doorway opens to an imaginary world outside, from where ASIMO, the show’s […]

Icons & Innovators: Wilderness Safaris: Camps with a Conscience

Wilderness Safaris was still in its infancy when the company demonstrated its philanthropic bent. In the mid-1980s, founders Colin Bell and Chris MacIntyre helped finance a study of declining vulture populations in Namibia, a project that continues today. By the early 1990s, philanthropy had become such a major element of the company’s operations that it […]

Icons & Innovators: Pininfarina: A Powerful Memorial

Some would argue that the Dino is the most beautiful sports car ever made, and it is an argument that is difficult to counter. The car was named for Enzo Ferrari’s son Dino, who died of muscular dystrophy in 1956. Ferrari made two versions, both of which were equipped with V-6 engines. Ferrari produced 152 […]

Icons & Innovators: Kohler: Design of the Times

In 1913, Kohler hired Frederick Jr. and John Olmsted, sons of the designer of New York’s Central Park, to devise a 50-year plan for the company’s namesake village in Wisconsin. Their blueprint for the community, which was one of the first planned garden villages in the country, called for limiting development and protecting the village […]

Icons & Innovators: Kohler: Par for the Course

Sitting in a private study in the corporate offices of the company his grandfather founded in 1873, Herbert Kohler Jr. appears very much the magnate of modern industry that he is. Nevertheless, the 67-year-old chairman, CEO, and president of Kohler Co. has about him an air of a genial 19th-century burgher. “We often move slowly,” […]

Icons & Innovators: Honda: The Gold Standard

Big Ben Roethlisberger no doubt wishes he had been wearing a helmet when his Suzuki Hayabusa sport bike famously met the business end of a Chrysler New Yorker last summer. But had the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback been cruising helmetless on a Honda Gold Wing—the first motorcycle equipped with an air bag—his face might not have […]

Icons & Innovators: Honda: The Old Man and the Sky

Five years ago, Honda Motor Co. engineer Michimasa Fujino wrote a technical paper in which he described a small jet with a bizarre design. At the time, engineers agreed that a jet’s engines could be mounted on its tail or beneath its wings, but you could not put them atop the wings, because they would […]

Icons & Innovators: Pininfarina: Extra Dimensions

Hype suffuses the hospitality business, but the Keating hotel in San Diego is indeed—as its promoters claim—unique. The 35-room property, housed in an 1890 Romanesque Revival building in the city’s Gaslamp Quarter, is the first hotel conceived by Pininfarina Extra, the Pininfarina Group company that designs just about everything except cars. The hotel is a […]

Icons & Innovators: Pininfarina: Caught in Its Web

For years after its introduction, the 1600 Spider represented the defining design of Alfa Romeo. Its boat-tail form was as alluring as that of any Ferrari or other exotic that cost four times as much. In this sense, the 1600 Spider demonstrated that great design could be brought to the masses. The number in its […]

Icons & Innovators: Kiton: The English Beat

Ciro Paone’s face beamed as he posed between a double-breasted marine blue navy suit and a morning suit that once belonged to Edward VIII, the Duke of Windsor. Almost a year from the day that he acquired the duke’s suits (and other wardrobe items) in a 1998 Sotheby’s auction, Paone displayed them at the Excelsior […]