What defines luxury? It’s a question with many answers. Luxury can be the feel of a hand turned leather boot, the look of a couture cocktail dress or the smell of a rare book, spirit or tobacco… It can be the sensations provoked by an incomparable wine or the glow you feel when savoring a breathtaking view. But of the many things that can justly be called luxurious, our favorites are those objects and experiences we treasure, but would never have purchased for ourselves. In other words: great gifts.
There’s an extra element of enjoyment to be found in something another person gives you. This derives from that fact that in order to find a really spectacular gift , the gift giver had to think about you, care about you, and in some ways, know you better than you know yourself.On the following pages are the things we’re thinking about giving or hoping to receive this year. (As a last resort, we might just gift a few of these items to ourselves.) Gift giving is an art, and these selections represent the state-of-the-art right now. Tear off the wrapping paper and enjoy our Luxe List.
Tunisian miniature cakes make a more creative statement than a box of chocolates from a drugstore.
Les Galets Gourmet Oriental Pastry
The next time an occasion calls for candy, be it Valentine’s Day (hint hint!), an anniversary or just a Wednesday, skip the tried and true drugstore chocolates and send that special someone a gorgeous box of Les Galets Tunisian sweets. Handcrafted of all-natural and preservative-free ingredients from a century-old family recipe, these nutty, honeyed miniature cakes are a refined departure from the everyday. Beautifully packaged, slightly sweet and temptingly exotic, Les Galets selections include baklava, chocolate sesame bouchés, jawias, kaak warka and more. They also have the added advantage of not being available at gas stations. Prices range from around $40 to $100, and it is possible to customize a box at patisserielesgalets.com.
The Strand’s books by the foot staff build custom libraries for busy clients.
Book by the Foot, The Strand
You are what you eat; it’s true. But in an even more important way you are what you read. No one is more attuned to this idea than the bookworms at the world’s greatest bookstore: The Strand in Lower Manhattan. Sensitive to the fact that their clients may be too busy to build libraries, Jenny McKibben and Aya Satoh, The Strand’s Books by the Foot staffers, offer their services to outfit custom bookshelves based on a variety of client preferences. Some people are merely seeking a certain look—yellow books, for example, or law books or a library for a film—but most Books by the Foot libraries are meant to be read as well as seen. A collection of Strand bestsellers in hardcover runs $200 a foot, and poetry and cookbooks cost $125. At the top of the price list are English language antique leather books for $500 a foot and new leather classics at $300. Other options include classics for children, history books, over-sized art and coffee table books and modern classics. See strandbooks.com.
They call it the iPhone bikini.
Radius V2 iPhone case
The iPhone really is a work of art. Putting aside the many revolutionary functions it performs, the phone as an object is as substantial a design achievement as the Eames chair or the Coke bottle. In fact, when you factor in the social ramifications of the iPhone, the device may one day unseat the reigning benchmark of design innovation: sliced bread.
Unfortunately, as even iPhone converts will admit, the streamlined design of the phone also instills each unit with an unquenchable desire to squirt from its owner’s grasp and dash itself to pieces on the floor. As an unfortunate consequence of this, users must dumb down their phones’ sleek chassis with clunky cases that compromise their status as objets d’art.
The Radius v2 titanium comes to the rescue of those who appreciate their physical iPhones as much as the apps they run. The skeletal case, nicknamed the “iPhone bikini,” protects the device from physical damage while allowing the underlying design to show through. Unlike bigger, clumsier cases, the Radius v2, which fits around the phone via four precision-machined screws, does not interfere with signals or phone operation and complements the phone’s existing look.
Chris Johnson, operator of bitemyapple.co and one of the main retailers of the Radius case, is based on Long Island. An entrepreneur, Johnson was enamored of the many excellent Apple innovations made possible by crowd funding, but regretted that the products seemed to die out after initial launch. His small business now collects Kickstarter ideas that need a home and sells them online. $170—250 at bitemyapple.co.
Do we need personal chopsticks crafted of stainless steel and bamboo? Probably not. Do we want personal chopsticks crafted of stainless steel and bamboo? Oh hells yeah.
This portable Carry-On Chopstick set from Portland-based outdoor lifestyle creators Snow Peak come with their own heavy duty canvas carry case. (A collaboration with Tanner Goods may make a limited run of leather cases available later in the year.) Each chopstick screws apart into two sections for easy transport and feels delightfully substantial in the
fingers. The upper sections are crafted of squared-off stainless steel tubing with a brass cap and a rubber o-ring for secure assembly, and the bamboo tips are sturdy and elegant. $40 from snowpeak.com.
The Hasselblad name has been associated with photography since the days of hoods and flash powder trays. The Stellar collection from the Swedish company combines the most modern tech with the beauty of natural hardwoods and leathers. The idea behind this fusion is that the cameras will age in accordance with the preferences of the owner.
Just as a pair of photographers could shoot the same subject but create two different images, those same two photographers could own the same camera, but end up with very different machines. The Stellar collection incorporates a variety of body colors and grip materials including padouk, olive, zebra and other exotic woods. They also come in a custom case with signature-stitched shoulder and wrist straps. Under the hood the cameras have a 28-100mm Zeiss lens, a 20-megapixel sensor and 3.6x optical zoom as well as 13 program modes that will appeal to newcomers. The collection begins around $2,000 and increases in price for special editions. hasselblad-stellar.com
￼Classic Car Club, eternal style.
Classic Car Club Manhattan
This exclusive club’s members share the keys to one of the most impressive fleets of automobiles ever assembled. From vintage classics like a 1956 Porsche 550 Spyder and a 1969 Ford Bronco to modern exotics like a McLaren MP4-12C, members enjoy a wide variety of driving experiences as well as 24/7 access to a clubhouse where happy hours and high-level networking are derigueur. Perks of membership include on-track driver training, racing and road trips and the fleet of almost 50 cars rotates regularly to ensure new experiences are available. Club membership costs $165 per month and the cars are secured by purchasing points packages for between $4,750 and $14,000. classiccarclubmanhattan.com
Get on board
We’ve been stoked on these surfboards since we shot one for our 2014 summer issue. “Handcrafted on the Island of Gods and Demons” (Bali) these custom sticks represent a compelling marriage of science and art. Each board is tailor-made for each client’s “journey” based on a conversation between shaper and surfer. The surfer explains his or her desires, skills and intentions for the board, then the Journey folks translate those ideas into a bespoke creation. Offering longboards, fish and fun shapes as well as paddleboards, Journey uses exotic hardwoods and Balinese batik inlays to make each surfboard an individual work of art. Journey’s creations begin at $1,200. journeysurf.com