Joe’s Best of 2008

On this afternoon of the 31st, the prelude to the much-anticipated eve of the last day of 2008, you may have noticed that the world is abuzz with quantifications, qualifications, comparisons, and “best ofs.” This trend seemed to first take life at the beginning of the holiday. I even participated with my article What Joe is Thankful For.

But over the last two days, I’ve been even more exposed to these esoteric gems just about everywhere: “best sports story involving children of polygamous families,” “best comeback of an aging Italian restaurateur,” “best movie villian clad in whiteface” (Heath Ledger). So I’m poking a bit of fun, but one must admit that it’s easy to get carried away with such evaluations this time of year, though that doesn’t necessarily mean that “all comparisons are odious,” as a certain writer once said. Some can be quite instructive, in fact, no matter how arcane the categories. So forthwith, my most intriguing products of 2008:

1. Best Sofa: Aspen
Though I’m loathe to repeat myself (the product made my “What Joe is Thankful For” list), I gotta go with the sentimental favorite. Jean Marie Massaud’s seminal classic defies temporal limitations, evoking Bogie and Bacall, Hepburn and Tracy, even Clooney and Lopez from Out of Sight. The Aspen goes with anything, exuding a contemporary aesthetic yet adapting to classic touches as well. And it’s ultra-comfy to boot.

Joe's Best of 2008

Aspen Sofa, from the Contemporanei Collection. Designed by Jean Marie Massaud. Manufactured by Cassina.

2. Best Chair: Eames
You can’t argue with 50+ years of success. And though this may technically be a re-issued classic, it morphs into so many different incarnations that it’s constantly freshened and renewed (see Gossip Girl, Surreal Minimalism, and Al Sabah Art and Design). The minimalistic contours of the Eames continue to influence much contemporary design.

Joe's Best of 2008

Eames Lounge Chair. Upholstered in Missoni Chevron fabric.

3. Best Table: A Purple Heart
Having done my time as a lackey (sanding, sanding, sanding) in an expert craftsman’s shop, I’m a sucker for precision joinery. So though I was certainly tempted by The heavy symbolism of the Search Table, I’m going with Eric Manigian’s exquisite Solid Walnut Purple Heart Dining Table. Never before has rich wood flushed with such a tinge of crimson pride.

Joe's Best of 2008

Solid Walnute Purple Heart Dining Table. Designed by Eric Manigian.

4. Best Lighting Concept: DuPont Corian Illumination Series
I did say these were “innovative” products, yes? And though this category was aflush with innovation (see Liquid Space, Spaghetti Chandelier, and Swing Into View), the Illumination Series does what no other lighting scheme has done before: turns your entire bathroom into a luminous night-light.

Joe's Best of 2008

Corian Illumination Series. Manufactured by Dupont.

5. Best Product for the Bedroom: Pinch Bed
This one takes the cake, not least for its evocation of the “monster/skeleton in the closet motif.” And on top of that, it’s a nifty, handsome, space-saving innovation. Anyone would be happy to make it their nighttime sanctuary.

Joe's Best of 2008

Pinch bed. Designed by Rodolfo Dordoni. Manufactured by Flou.

6. Best Product for the Bathroom: Dutch Tub (voted best of 2008 by Tanya as well)
I love jacuzzis and I love wood fires, so this is a no-brainer for me. Besides, how could anyone resist the fantasy of bathing in the great, scenic outdoors. Though there may be certain space constraints with this one (meaning your bathroom must be built for the jolly green giant), I’ve gotta aim high on this one. Sometimes, great design is about engaging the imagination to the fullest.

Joe's Best of 2008

DutchTub, wood fired hot tub. Designed by Floris Schoonderbeek.

7. Best Product for the Office: DIRTT
Though one may take issue with the name, DIRTT (it’s an acronym for “Doing It Right This Time”) is a three-dimensional (floors, walls, and windows) sustainable solution for the environmental catastrophe of the modern modular office. And the movable/re-usable systems look great. This is a true innovation for spaces that often require drastic re-configurations. View a video interview from IIDEX/NeoCon filmed and edited by Jacob Slevin, our publisher here at 3rings.

Joe's Best of 2008

Movable walls. Manufactured by DIRTT.

8. Best New Building Material: GKD Metal Fabrics (voted best of 2008 by Alicita as well)
This extraordinary weaved metal is suitable for interior and exterior uses, enabling new interior landscapes (and God knows most indoor walls are woefully uneventful) as well as visible structural framing for exterior applications. Everyone now in unison, “All hail the Bauhaus!

Joe's Best of 2008

Kiwi, framed. Installed at Volkswagen Glass in Dresden, Germany.

9. Best re-issued Classic: Party Lounge
Who wouldn’t want to luxuriate full circle with literati and luminaries all around. The re-issued Party Lounge does what a re-issued classic should: evokes a storied past while foregrounding a functional future.

Joe's Best of 2008

Party Lounge. Designed by Frederick Kiesler. Manufactured by Wittmann Möbelwerkstätten, Austria.

10. Most Bizarre Product that I’d still be proud to feature in my home: Crystal Virus
While it’s true that most people wouldn’t abide scalding hot molten glass eating a hole through the dining room table, Pieke Bergmans art piece/installation is a wonderful metaphor for the crossing of boundaries, not to mention an intriguing and (semi) functional aesthetic centerpiece. Like many of the products we’ve featured throughout the year, this one will keep ’em talking well into the wee hours.

Joe's Best of 2008

Crystal Virus. Designed by Pieke Bergman.

Happy New Year! I look forward to continuing our journey together in 2009.

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