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10 Best Design 2008

December 20, 2007 By Scott Wasser

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(with contributions by B.A. Hoffman)

The Zeppelin Soars
An initial assessment of Bowers & Wilkins' Zeppelin is that it is a blatant cry for attention in a world seemingly filled with iPod docks. But closer examination reveals that simply is not the case. Its shape is the result of B&W's engineering efforts to deliver uncompromised sound from the unit's two tweeters, two midrange drivers, and single 5-inch woofer. B&W also has ensured ease of operation by endowing the Zeppelin with only two control buttons.

An Italian Masterpiece
Given Italy's history as a producer of great creative works, it comes as little surprise that the ClaraVox Dogma speaker is described by its Italian manufacturer as "an object of art." Yet ClaraVox insists that Dogma has technical proficiency to match its aesthetic appeal, thanks to a focus on audio spaciousness, refinement of timbre, and accurate reproduction of both voices and instruments. With only 99 pairs to be sold, Dogma is a rare masterpiece indeed.

To View and Be Viewed
The only view that really matters to most television manufacturers is the one that appears on their displays, but that approach isn't acceptable at Bang & Olufsen. The Danish manufacturer has always given form and function equal weight, and the B&O BeoVision 7 is a perfect example. This 40-inch, 1080p LCD TV features an integrated DVD player, auto-adjusting picture, and styling that makes it as pleasing to view when it is off as when it is on.

The Allure of Aluminum
The KEF Muon loudspeaker exudes a liquidity that reflects designer Ross Lovegrove's fascination with natural forms. The speaker cabinet is created by molding malleable sheets of heated aluminum and in a process similar to vacuum-forming. But the incorporation of KEF's trademark Uni-Q speaker array and rear-firing bass drivers indicate that the limited-edition (only 100 pair will be sold) Muon is more than merely an exercise in industrial design.

Well-Rounded Sound
Because sharp edges can wreak havoc with audio, they have been banished from the Proclaim Audioworks DMT-100 loudspeaker. In addition to each driver having its own spherical enclosure, a unique stand ensures unencumbered and unsurpassed user alignment of height, spacing, and direction. An external crossover network rounds out the package, so to speak, by allowing for electronic tweaking. The DMT-100s are offered in cue-ball white and eight-ball black finishes.

Irresistible and Versatile
If only every couch could be as irresistible as the Domus Design Center Lava sofa. Curvy, smooth, and seductive, the sectional's flexibility and countless configurations massage every mood. Flip down the armrests for extra horizontal viewing or snoozing space, or do it on the floor via the chaise or floor mat. Warning: Narrowing down the many fabric or leather options to one selection may cause heart palpitations.

Decidedly Deco
Steamy hot in hundreds of leathers and fabrics—including velvet and ultrasuede—and supersized at 72 inches wide and 60 inches deep, the reborn Fortress Deco Lounger epitomizes class and comfort. Split it up for individual seating, or kiss and make up and make it one big, happy lounger for two. Add the motorized recline option, or customize the seating size to your liking.

A Style Staple
The Empire Plasma Wall Unit is the little black dress for the media room. Created by renown fashion designer Nicole Miller—whose furniture pieces are all named after New York landmarks—the Empire is bathed in straight-grain chocolate canaletto wood and is accessorized with glass shelving. Better yet, this sensible yet stylish entertainment unit shows off your best assets (your prized flat-screen TV), and hides the rest (boxy audiovisual components). The stainless-steel swivel pole adds sizzle to TV viewing.

Black Magic
The BDI Avion Noir is design and performance magic. Consider its glass cabinetry fronts—the smoke-and-mirrors act subtly conceals gear, but is remote-friendly. Hate having to mount your TV at a manufacturer-chosen height? Your wish is BDI's command: The mounting brackets are adjustable. Even better, all cables vanish into thin air, thanks to the unit's steel mounting tubes.

Free Your Mind
The Vantage Point evo system sets you free—free from clutter, drywall destruction, and space-hogging furniture. The super-slim system lets you hang any size flat-panel or rear-projection TV on any wall in any room—and conceal cables in the 4-inch space behind the unit. Rearrange the shelves and mounts, or expand the frame to add gaming or home office equipment. The 16-by-16-inch wood veneer panels come in cherry, maple, walnut and black ash; frames and shelf brackets come in black silver or graphite.


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