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You would’ve thought that guide books produced by the ritzier-than-thou Louis Vuitton would mention only grand and pricey hotels, restaurants, and shops, ones that few of us can afford. But right there in the Paris volume was my favorite cheapo bistro; in the London section, a beloved but eccentric and little-known museum; in Rome, a perfectly charming but far-from-chic hotel. The newly updated Louis Vuitton City Guide covers 33 cities in a boxed set of eight paperback booklets. Each savvy guide is small enough to slip into your Vuitton handbag, yet crammed with a mind-numbing amount of information: telephone codes, tipping, must-see sites, and Sunday amusements, along with the lowdown on things like pizza in Naples, “Schmuck” in Munich, and the celebration of Feria in Seville. So if your travels take you to Toulouse with an unexpected layover in Lyons, breakfast meetings in Brussels, and supper in Strasbourg – no sweat, you’ll be in the know ($59).
LOUIS VUITTON/49 East 57th Street/212-371-6111; and 116 Greene Street/212-274-9090
It’s called Opium, and though it suggests the Orient, this luxe lantern is handmade in Paris, not Hong Kong. It’s made of silk that’s been lined with a heat-resistant fabric (so it can take up to a 60-watt bulb); then the silk is stretched over a brass frame, the only decoration a silk tassel and mother-of-pearl beads. The result is chinoiserie reimagined for the twenty-first century ($575).
DISTANT ORIGIN/153 Mercer Street/212-941-0024
The company’s based in Michigan, but the designers of ProBell must have had New York in mind. Their dial-a-weight is city-smart for our minuscule apartments – no space-hogging weight machines, no clutter of multiple dumbbell sets. The clever state-of-the-art ProBell uses an internal cam system to add or release plates: Turn the dial to 5, 10, up to 30 pounds, and ProBell automatically picks up the desired weight. The stainless-steel, zinc, and aluminum ProBell is so compact you can even store it an office file cabinet for surreptitious workouts ($329 in black; $399 in chrome).
GYM SOURCE/40 East 52nd Street/212-688-4222
Authentics, the award-winning German company, has reintroduced bright-colored plastics into our kitchens, and now it’s introducing neoprene into our bathrooms. Unlike ordinary cotton-terry bath mats that absorb moisture, Authentics’ sponge-rubber version wicks it away, so even when you step out of the shower dripping-wet, the water just disappears ($49).
THE TERENCE CONRAN SHOP/415 East 59th Street/212-755-9079