A Teapot, Sleek and Stout
A technologically advanced teakettle is as hard to find as a truly good cup of tea. At least it was until Welsh industrial designer Ross Lovegrove, who has created everything from chairs to computers, developed one that's both user-friendly and cutting-edge. The kettle has an induction base (which means the water boils quickly) and a stainless-steel body covered in plastic (which means the water stays hot but the handle remains cool). Sleek but substantial, Lovegrove's teapot holds two quarts of water ($125).
MOMA design store/44 West 53rd Street/212-767-1050
Companies are quick to claim their products are ergonomic, but more often than not their claim is true only if you're right-handed. Architect Charles Debbas has come up with the Ergo Pen, and he's designed one for lefties, one for righties. His stubby plastic ballpoints are sculpted and balanced to fit the hand, their configuration the result of Debbas's search for an ultracomfortable pen that he could use in his practice. Unexpectedly, Debbas discovered they were also great for kids just learning how to write. A neck cord eliminates search time on the part of the absent-minded, and the splashy colors are just for fun (around $20)
joon stationery/782 Lexington Avenue, near 61st Street/212-935-1007
One could go on about Molly and Kaari Meng's new shop, French General: about the old apothecary jars filled with glass buttons and mother-of-pearl buckles from the twenties, the vintage ribbons, the French matelassé bed covers, the delicate antique etched-glass goblets, the embroidered linens, and -- yes -- the dolls from Petitcollin, France's venerable doll company. The Meng sisters have created an old-fashioned-looking notions store, but it's a mix of the old and the new, and though their temptations are mostly from Paris and the south of France, there's hotel silver from England, kids' leather shoes from New York's oldest children's-shoe company, and necklaces that Kaari makes by hand from old turquoise, coral, or mercury-glass beads in an atelier right behind the back curtain. (From $2 per yard for ribbons to $40 for kids' leather shoes to $160 for a mirror to $225 for a vintage wedding band to $2,400 for a nineteenth-century painted-wood optician's cabinet.)
french general/35 Crosby Street/212-343-7474
Whether you're three months pregnant or eight days overdue, Nicol Caramel's flat-front stretch pants look chic and are ever so comfortable. Caramel has managed to eliminate those unsightly pouches and ungainly elastic waists by using Lycra. Her slacks leave lots of room for major tummy expansion, yet they have the fitted feel of non-maternitywear. There are styles and fabrics for work and for play, like gray twills for every day and silvery florals for partying ($160 and $205).
veronique delachaux/1321 Madison Avenue, at 93rd Street/212-831-7800
Part techno-chic, part throwback to Samsonite of old, these rolling ABS-plastic suitcases have been turning up at all the poshest Italian hotels. Coveted for its silvery sleekness and roomy interior, Roncato's Clak 101 now has hit the States, just in time to fill this season's niche for stuff that looks New Agey ($395).
takashimaya/693 Fifth Avenue, near 54th Street/212-350-0100
Send shopping questions to Corky Pollan, New York Magazine, 444 Madison Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10022-6999.
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