1. Tiffany Titan by Pharrell Williams necklace and link bracelet in yellow gold with diamonds, TIFFANY & CO.

Pharrell Williams made waves when he was spotted with a custom pair of Tiffany & Co. sunglasses (a stunner totalling 25 carats worth of diamonds). Now that they’re both part of the LVMH family, a proper collaboration only made sense. The Tiffany Titan by Pharrell Williams collection is iced out with diamonds against spear-shaped links that reference the Atlantean King—both an ode to his love of water as well as the neighbourhood he grew up in.

2. The Ultimate S Enriched Water, SULWHASOO

The basis of the Sulwhasoo The Ultimate S Enriched Water’s vessel is the porcelain white moon jars originating from the Joseon dynasty. The design mirrors the phases of the moon and symbolises the reawakening of skin vitality with The Ultimate S Enriched Water. What is more of a full-circle experience than having age-defying skin, right?

3. Galaxy Watch6, 44mm armor aluminum case with fluoroelastomer strap, SAMSUNG

Smart or not, the function of a watch remains the same—tell time and save you time. Samsung’s Galaxy Watch6 does both and more with its enhanced sleep-tracking capabilities—all in one single device—that aid in ensuring you’re getting the best rest at night so you’re energised in the mornings. The Watch6 is also equipped with a larger display and is thinner in size for maximum comfort.

4. Horsebit loafers, GUCCI

As part of creative director Sabato De Sarno’s first menswear collection for Gucci, the iconic Horsebit loafers get a contemporary update. Chunky soles and Gucci-branded hardware right at the toe lend a punk sensibility that’s both a question and an answer to how he sees the House: Gucci is Gucci.

5. Swirl cup, STTOKE

Is there a better way than how you’re taking your coffee? Sttoke thinks so. Just like how one would swirl a glass of wine, Sttoke’s Swirl cup is meant to heighten the taste of your favourite brew. The two-layered design gently mixes coffee layers evenly with each swirl so that each sip makes for a balanced one. Aromatic molecules that are released are directed for a more all-encompassing coffee-drinking experience. Also, if you’re a klutz, the ceramic Swirl cup is reassuringly shatterproof.

6. 22-Year-Old Speyside single malt whisky, LONGMORN

Celebrating its 130th anniversary this year, Longmorn doubles down by sticking to its guns in its dedication to refinement and flavour. With its commitment to producing single malt whiskies that are matured for no less than 18 years, this 22-Year-Old goes beyond the years with a flavour profile that is a rich balance of hazelnut praline and signature toffee.

7. Quatre Classic large ring in 18K yellow gold, white gold, pink gold and brown PVD with yellow sapphires, spessartite garnets, and diamonds, BOUCHERON

Considering how iconic the Quatre series is to Boucheron, it’s surprising to know that it has only been around for 20 years. This special milestone piece is the most precious iteration yet with rows of precious stones and PVD to reimagine the four distinct codes of the Quatre. It’s a knockout of a piece but yet something you’d easily wear on the daily.

8. L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme Solar Lavender eau de toilette, ISSEY MIYAKE PARFUMS

Lavender is one of the oldest ingredients in perfumery and continues to be reimagined. Issey Miyake Parfums’ latest interpretation dials down the typically powdery sweet nature of lavender with Sichuan pepper and cedarwood for a warm and dry fragrance. L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme Solar Lavender is concocted with ethically sourced lavenders from Provence so you know they’re primo.

9. Puzzle Fold tote, LOEWE

Loewe’s Puzzle design has quickly become at the forefront of contemporary bag designs. The brand takes it up a few notches with its latest Puzzle Fold tote bag that is crafted from multicoloured raffia. The structural integrity of the design holds thanks to expert raffia-weaving, yet what’s even more amazing is the fact that the bag is still able to pack flat without any force necessary. Now, that’s craft.

10. B27 low-top sneakers, DIOR MEN

The Oblique motif continues to be one that the house and its roster of creative directors return to. In its latest expression, the Dior Gravity Leather, takes the form of an all-leather rendition of the B27 sneakers. The Dior Gravity Leather is seamlessly integrated with the rest of the leather construction that it’s a case of IYKYK.

Photography: Jaya Khidir
Styling: Asri Jasman
Photography Assistants: Ng Kai Ming and Nowo Kasturi
Styling Assistant: Erica Zheng

(GETTY IMAGES)

I find myself travelling for work more and more these days. It is a strange upturn, particularly in a world that has accepted and embraced the digital office and Zoom waiting room. And, while it is always nice to see new places, I must confess that the substantial size of my carbon footprint is starting to weigh on me—which has got me thinking of ways I can try alter my behaviour to offset it in different ways. 

As I find myself spending a significant amount of time in hotels, I’ve started to develop criteria for selecting places to stay at. For example, they must be conveniently located, preferably within walking distance of my main destinations, and while not necessarily luxurious, they should offer easy access to amenities. 

Besides the accessibility to good Wi-Fi, the attention and friendliness of the staff will always be a factor in my return visit to a specific hotel. Then, of course, there’s the quality of the bed linen. I don’t sleep much, but I sleep fast, so I need the bed to feel perfectly comfortable. 

With almost half of last year spent on the road, I have taken to making little notes detailing typical design missteps that hotels often make—regularly where cost-saving measures are prioritised or the interior designer failed to consider the comfort of guests. Allow me to share a few of my findings. 

In the hotel industry’s quest for smart automation, almost every property offers a whole set of challenges when it comes to operating the lights and curtains. Some can be so frustrating that I’ve needed to try to contact the reception desk for assistance, only to not being able to find the number to dial. In one stay, I had curtains without a window behind them; rooms with a single electrical plug socket; toilets that were located more than two metres from the paper roll holder; an ashtray in a non-smoking room; and confusing multiple elevator set ups with buttons that make no sense. 

Then of course there are the overly "designed" rooms where the rooms have no mirrors, or feature glass windows between the bathroom and the bedroom—unthinkable when you’re travelling with a colleague or family member who isn’t your significant other. No, open plan bathrooms are not a design error, but rather an increasingly bizarre feature of modern hotels. 

Failures in hotel design are always preventable, which is fascinating when there seem to be so many of them. 

The concept of design is rooted in the traditions of hospitality. Since ancient times, the hospitality industry has served at the behest of making the journey of the traveller more amenable. The development of many diverse types of Inns, hotels, brands and other services has occurred in cultures all across the world—but they always start by design conception, some of them taking years on this stage. 

The initial design phase is crucial, drawing upon centuries- old traditions of hospitality. Hotels often falter due to technological obsolescence or poor furniture choices, a problem not limited to budget accommodations but also seen in luxury resorts. 

Ultimately, the staff’s attitude plays a pivotal role in creating a memorable guest experience, as Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “True hospitality consists of giving the best of yourself to your guests.” When you travel, it there is no memory, there is no value. Well, it’s a good thing I’ve been keeping my notes then. 

1. The Rich shampoo and The Rich conditioner, AUGUSTINUS BADER

Augustinus Bader is known for its potent, science-backed skincare, and now it is extending the cellular- renewing magic of its proprietary TFC8 tech to hair. An upgrade from its predecessor, The Rich shampoo and conditioner work in tandem to revive hair that’s extra-dry, heat-damaged, coloured and/or breakage-prone. Essentially, you’d have a mane like this handsome boy pictured.

2. Backpack, BERLUTI

Don’t be fooled by the appearance of this backpack. This work of art is part of Berluti’s Toujours Soft series. Crafted from Venezia leather, it cuts a rather structured profile but feels incredibly soft (and not to mention, light). The softness also gives the backpack potential to be even more pliable with age. The Scritto-decorated exterior also lends a classic gentlemanly air that’s contrasted with the contemporary top-handle-backpack hybrid.

3. Vetiver Le Parfum, Habit Rouge Le Parfum, and L’homme Idéal Le Parfum, GUERLAIN

Because ideas of what makes a man have changed over the decades, it makes perfect sense for Guerlain to update some of its signature men’s fragrances. Perfumer Delphine Jelk sought inspiration from the world of spirits, transforming Vetiver, Habit Rouge, and L’Homme Idéal into eau de parfums reminiscent of infused gin, bourbon and amaretto respectively. The intensities are heightened thanks to a selection of concentrated ingredients; each of the fragrances is seductive in its own way.

4. Shoes, ZEGNA

How does one create leather shoes that feel buttery-soft on your feet? Zegna achieves it with the use of leather typically reserved for making gloves. Not only is the leather durable and extremely light and airy, the glove leather-tanning process gives it a form- retaining capability that heightens the luxurious feel of the Zegna Triple Stitch SECONDSKIN shoes. Your feet will thank you.

5. Elite 8 Active earbuds, JABRA

Jabra boasts that its Elite 8 Active earbuds are the world’s toughest and it’s easy to understand why. They are US Military-tested to be dustproof; completely waterproof (with the added boon of being saltwater-proof), and fitted with the Jabra ShakeGrip tech to keep your ear buds in place no matter what activity you engage in.

6. Home Collection, River Spey Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky, THE MACALLAN

Say hello to the second release in The Macallan Home Collection. This particular expression is a hearty mix of sultana, rich velvety butterscotch, toasted oak, chocolate and nutmeg for that characteristically sweet and fruity palate of the Spey. But beyond the whisky, each bottle comes with a set of three limited-edition giclée prints by artist Michelle Lucking to visually transport you to the natural beauty of The Macallan's home.

7. 1080V13 trainers, NEW BALANCE

It’s all in the foam with this one. The New Balance 1080V13 is fitted with a thick rubber outsole to help increase its durability in high-wear areas. There’s also its midsole that’s made for incredible comfort thanks to its bio-based Fresh Foam X material. There’s no doubt you’d be able to breeze through your daily training runs in these without needing to worry about post-run aches.

8. Aerospace B70 Orbiter, 43mm titanium case with rubber strap, BREITLING

Twenty-five years ago, Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones were the first to circle the globe nonstop in a hot air balloon. Their timepiece of choice? Breitling’s Orbiter 3, clocking in 45,633km in 19 days, 21 hours and 47 minutes. To commemorate that incredible feat, the Aerospace B70 Orbiter is dressed with an orange dial reminiscent of the balloon’s capsule and marked with the mission logo. A piece of the original balloon is also embedded within the watch itself, visible through the open caseback—a piece of history in your hand, literally, to remind you of the indomitable human spirit.

9. Scarf, LORO PIANA

We cannot tell you just how soft Loro Piana cashmere is—it is something you will just have to experience for yourself. This fringed cashmere scarf will keep you warm, whether in an air-conditioned setting or during a winter vacay. It’s that luxe feel that’s akin to being snuggled up by a fluffy kitty. Oh, and that circular gold logo adornment adds a rather spiffy touch too.

10. Hammerschlag Cabin suitcase, RIMOWA

We are all familiar with RIMOWA’s signature grooved detailing on its suitcases and accessories by now. But dig deeper into the brand’s archives and you would find the Hammerschlag (the German word for “hammer hit”) that predates the grooves. RIMOWA brought back the textured, polished aluminium series for a limited edition collection. This time, updating it with modern travel functionalities, so that it’s perfect for when you want to escape the rigours of life for a bit.

Photography: Jayden Tan
Styling: Asri Jasman
Digital Imaging and Retouching: Nguyen Tien Phuc
Photography Assistants: Aisyah Hisham and Brian Neo
Special thanks to Cat Paradise

Given the increasingly intertwined realms of fashion and design, it's expected that major fashion labels continue to expand their design repertoire into furniture during Milan Design Week. As the world's largest furniture fair, the event showcases the latest in furniture and design, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. Below, we take a closer look at a number of furniture collections and collaborations by fashion brands that were released and showcased during the week. 

MCM

Titled the "MCM Wearable Casa Collection", the collection by MCM was created in collaboration with Atelier Biagetti and curated by Maria Cristina Didero. This was the MCM's first time taking part in Milan Design Week, yet the collection effortlessly showcased its authenticity. MCM is known for its rebellious spirit, and this collection reimagines the role of furniture through unconventional designs that fit into the avant-garde. The collection brings the audience out of this world with its portable and multifunctional pieces in thought-provoking designs.

Longchamp

Longchamp held an exhibition at its boutique on Via della Spiga from 15 to 21 April, spotlighting on studio högl borowski—headed by Viennese design duo Stefanie Högl and Matthias Borowski. Through the their careful selection of materials used, unique sensory experiences are constantly being explored. Ranging from furniture to sculptural objects, studio högl borowski’s innovative pieces create new dialogues between fashion, art and design. Borowski’s fascination for craftsmanship, shapes and proportions and Högl’s love for colour, materiality and telling stories often lead to their unique compositions in designs.

Saint Laurent Rive Droit

Saint Laurent Rive Droite teamed up with the Gio Ponti Archives, Ginori 1735 and the Fundación Anala y Armando Planchart to exhibit the Villa Planchart Segnaposto Plates collection. Originally designed by Gio Ponti, the collection is decorated with various symbols of the villa of Anala and Amando Planchart. These traditionally crafted decorative porcelain plates are painted by hand in Ginori 1735’s Italian Manifattura. The Gio Ponti-Villa Planchart exhibition was held during Milan Design Week at the Chiostri di San Simpliciano. The limited-edition plates are now available for sale online as well as at the Saint Laurent Rive Droite boutiques in Los Angeles and Paris.

Versace

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Versace opened their doors to their original Milan home and design Atelier at Palazzo Versace, Via Gesù 12, to showcase the latest Versace Home collection. The collection's designs prominently feature iconic symbols like the Medusa, Barocco, and Greca, exuding luxury in true Versace style. Visitors immersed themselves in the rich history of Palazzo Versace through an audio experience titled "Versace Home: If These Walls Could Talk". It narrated stories of the Palazzo's significance in fashion and culture, including the historic Fendace fashion show that saw the coming together of Fendi and Versace.

Bottega Veneta

Bottega Veneta collaborated with Cassina and Fondation Le Corbusier to present On the Rocks at Palazzo San Fedele, focusing on the LC14 Tabouret Cabanon. Le Corbusier originally designed the Tabouret for his cabin, and took inspiration from a washed-up whiskey box. It features masterful dovetail joints and oblong openings. The exhibition showcased custom editions of the Tabouret, including a new limited-edition tribute in signature Bottega Veneta's Intrecciato. The wooden editions feature a traditional Japanese charred-wood technique, providing natural protection to the wood while revealing the unique patterns of the wood grain. On the Rocks also offered a glimpse into Palazzo San Fedele, that's soon to become Bottega Veneta's headquarters.

Hermès

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Hermès presented a captivating blend of contemporary home collections with iconic heritage designs, showcasing their enduring commitment to craftsmanship and excellence. Inspired by vibrant jockey silk jersey motifs, leather goods and intricately crafted blankets in subtle shades take centrestage alongside luxurious cashmere bedspreads featuring intricate patterns. The new Diapason d’Hermès lounge chair in leather and hammered aluminium, along with ethereal lamps inspired by equestrian vaulting, reflected Hermès' innovative design approach. The showcase epitomises Hermès' spirit of merging artistic excellence with impeccable craftsmanship, creating timeless pieces imbued with sophistication and style.

Giorgio Armani

Giorgio Armani reopened the doors of Palazzo Orsini, the brand's historic headquarters, to present the new Armani/Casa collection entitled "Echi dal mondo" ("Echoes from the World"). Each room in Palazzo Orsini corresponded to a geographical area that inspired Armani throughout his career, identifiable by nods to different aesthetics and fashion cultures. Inspired by atmospheres, colours and shapes encountered during Armani’s travels or research, the collection is presented in settings never been seen before, offering an intimate experience. It was seamlessly integrated with Armani’s personal memories and travel mementos, weaving a narrative that celebrated creativity, craftsmanship and diverse cultural influences.

Loewe

Loewe engaged 24 different artists to create a new collection of lamps as part of its Milan Design Week effort titled, "Loewe Lamps". Utilising a wide range of mediums, the collection centres around the manipulation of light. The floor, table, and suspended lamps—presented in the Palazzo Citterio—were materialised using bamboo, paper, leather, and glass into innovative forms inspired by natural and man-made objects. Among the featured artists, Genta Ishizuka's suspended lamp stood out, reflecting an organic cell with glossy lacquer layers and gold finishing.

Gucci

Gucci’s creative director Sabato De Sarno’s gravitation towards Rosso Ancora was further established in Design Ancora. Curated by Michela Pelizzari, Gucci exhibited its new furniture collection at its flagship store at via Monte Napoleone, 7. Five iconic Italian furniture pieces were reimagined and customised in Gucci’s signature Rosso Ancora, featuring works from Italian design masters including Mario Bellini and Tobia Scarpa. “Through Design Ancora, Gucci doesn’t simply celebrate old icons, it creates new ones,” explains Pelizzari. “The aura emanating from the brand spotlights five pieces by Italian masters that are perfect from a design standpoint but less known to the general public.”

Fendi

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Designed under the creative direction of Silvia Venturini Fendi, the new Fendi Casa 2024 collection introduced new products while maintaining iconic elements like the FF logo and Pequin pattern, showcased in luxurious materials and meticulous craftsmanship. Fendi further ventured into tableware and home textiles with its new home accessories collection, featuring elegant designs in French Limoges porcelain, artisanal woven leather, and blown glass. The collection intertwined Fendi's fashion universe with exquisite home decor, offering a luxurious and distinctive aesthetic.

Louis Vuitton

The Bed Trunk.
The new tableware collection.

Louis Vuitton unveils a range of exquisite offerings at its Garage Traversi store in Milan. The new Bed Trunk, a modern interpretation of Louis Vuitton's original design from 1865, combines tradition with innovation. The trunk features the iconic Monogram Canvas exterior and an interior crafted from aluminium and beechwood, and transforms effortlessly into a sturdy bedframe. Iconic Objets Nomades designs like the Cocoon and Bell Lamp were also showcased, blending Louis Vuitton's craftsmanship with contemporary design. Additionally, an expanded tableware collection introduced a new beige colourway, showcasing a fusion of classic and modern aesthetics.

The Dream Sphere
The Dream Sphere

Led by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), Singapore’s participation at the World Expo 2025 was an opportunity to share our nation’s story. Located at Yumeshima Island, situated near Osaka, Singapore's pavilion design is called "The Dream Sphere". It is a seven-storey bright red sphere that pays homage to Yumeshima Island’s name, meaning "Dream Island". With the tagline, "Where Dreams Take Shape", this sphere is designed and produced by Kingsmen Exhibits.

The Design

If the design looks familiar, chalk it up to coincidence. Leading Singapore-based multidisciplinary design firm, DP Architects spearheaded its architectural design. Inspired by Singapore’s endearing moniker, ‘the Little Red Dot’, DP interpreted the look of the Dream... quite literally. Conceived in line with the expo's theme of "Designing [a] Future Society for our Lives", the Pavilion aims for positive change to build a more sustainable and liveable city for Singaporeans. It's constructed around the tenets of 4Rs—renew, reuse, reduce and recycle. And staying true to the message of sustainability, the facade is made of more than 20,000 recycled discs. 

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Other design features of the Pavilion include its scaly exterior. It references the Seigaiha, a traditional Japanese wave motif, and Ema, a Japanese wooden wishing charm. The sphere’s colour coincides with Singapore's and Japan’s national colour. Its shape resembles the distinct silhouette of the Japanese ume. 

Carrie Kwik, Executive Director, World Expo and Special Project, STB, said, “Singapore’s participation at Expo 2025 in Osaka serves as an important platform for Singapore enterprises and talents to be profiled on a global stage and a chance for companies to enhance their brand visibility and engage potential business partners. We are proud to bring Singapore to Osaka and aim to have Singapore business missions visiting Japan to network and promote collaboration between Singapore companies and Japanese guests at our Singapore Pavilion.”

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Expo 2025 Osaka expects 28 million visitors over 184 days from 13 April 2024 to 13 October 2025.

1. Change tray, HERMÈS

A tray to put random knickknacks on doubles up as a piece of art with this version by Hermès. The printed design—a chromolitograph applied by hand to the porcelain—is referred to as “La Maison des Carrés” and depicts the process of creating a silk scarf. From design to its final destination in the boutique, every room in the maison is beautifully illustrated with clear visibility and intricate details.

2. Rodeo bag, BALENCIAGA

Here’s the thing: no additional styling was involved in making the Rodeo bag camera-ready. The Balenciaga creation comes with two sets of magpie-esque charms to immediately add character to an otherwise plain black bag. Why? Well, it’s a prevailing Gen Z trend where bags get decorated with a multitude of charms as a way of showcasing one’s individuality. It’s rather cheekily playful, no?

3. Card game, WE’RE NOT REALLY STRANGERS

Because talking about emotions (or sometimes just talking) can be a struggle, We’re Not Really Strangers serves to ease into conversations through three levels of questions and wildcards. The aim of the card game is to empower meaningful connections with existing relationships or create new ones with someone you’re just getting to know. And at the end of it, who knows, you may actually discover things about yourself or others you never would’ve thought of to ask.

4. Silk belt bag, HERMÈS

Silk carrés are one of many things that are synonymous with Hermès, so it makes perfect sense for the Maison to create a bag out of one. The Banasilk—named after the Eperon d’Or Bandana design that it bears—is the first silk bag for the men’s universe and employs leather as its adjustable belt. Wear this as a fanny pack or a crossbody—either way, your items will remain secure as it’s cleverly designed with a zipped compartment that faces the interior.

5. Sandals, HERMÈS

The Chypre sandals is undoubtedly an Hermès classic. While it has been through many different variations over the years—shearling-lined, studded, and even crafted out of Himalayan crocodile—nothing beats the timelessness of Epsom calfskin. This particular two-tone iteration plays up the summer feels for a pair you’d want to take to every resort you’ll be hitting over the summer holidays.

6. Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional, 42mm steel case with steel bracelet, OMEGA

You know a timepiece is significant when it’s pictured months before release on a man as iconic as Daniel Craig, and sent the interwebs in a flurry. For the first time, a steel Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional is rendered with a glossy white lacquer dial and with black hands and markers for ultimate legibility. In short, a handsome timepiece to covet.

7. 19 Degree Aluminum backpack, TUMI

If you’ve ever felt that your backpack could do with a protective boost, look no further than TUMI’s 19 Degree Aluminum backpack. It’s crafted from super solid aircraft-grade aluminium, which means that it’s rather hefty at slightly over 4.5kg but you can’t deny that it’s a pretty good-looking design. We highly doubt anyone in public would dare attempt to stealthily steal something from you—it’s that secure.

8. Yoyo, HERMÈS

Do you need an Hermès yoyo? Not really. Should you care for one? Perhaps. Instead of a traditional yoyo, Hermès reappropriated the wheels of its R.M.S luggage, transmuting them into a functional yoyo. Sure, it’s frivolous in nature yet at the same time, an excellent example of the Maison’s artisanship aside from its beloved leather goods and ready-to-wear.

9. Meisterstück The Origin Collection Doué Classique fountain pen, MONTBLANC

“Meisterstück” means “masterpiece” in German and that’s what one gets with the Montblanc fountain pen. The Meisterstück celebrates its 100th anniversary this year with a range of new designs. This particular edition consists of a gold-coated cap with a lacquered archive pattern in green. The pen’s nib is also crafted from solid gold for a truly rich overall contrast that’ll make writing a luxurious experience.

10. Force 10 bracelet in white gold with blue topaz, FRED

The existence of the Force 10 bracelet is in itself a measure of FRED’s playful ideology—a combination of a braided steel sailing cable with a buckle. This large version takes cues from its nautical roots with a blue cord that’s further emphasised with 64 brilliant topaz set on a white gold buckle.

Photography: Jaya Khidir
Styling: Asri Jasman

1. Trinity rings in white gold, rose gold and yellow gold, CARTIER

It has been a century since the Cartier Trinity series was first created, and the three-band style has remained an enduring icon since. The Trinity has seen multiple iterations throughout the years but the tri-gold combination is the truest representation of its spirit—now available in an XL version for an even bolder expression.

2. Self Assembly stool, SPACE AVAILABLE via DOVER STREET MARKET SINGAPORE

It’s made entirely out of recycled ocean-bound plastics from Indonesia, and fixing it is idiotproof, as its name suggests. You won’t need complicated tools or glue. Simply connect the five pieces and you have your very own stable stool put together with your own hands. At the end of its lifespan, the pieces can easily be dismantled and put up for recycling—circularity at its easiest.

3. Baseball cap, CELINE

The baseball cap is a wardrobe staple, whether as part of one’s style or deployed on days when the hair isn’t cooperating. Celine’s iteration possesses a retro charm with a denim wash that’s as striking as it is timeless. It’s a simple design that doesn’t deviate much from traditional baseball caps... but therein lies the charm—why reinvent the wheel when a slight tweak changes the game?

4. Memento V3 sunglasses, GENTLE MONSTER

You can count on finding avant-garde styles at Gentle Monster any day. This pair of Memento V3 sunglasses, however, traipses the line between futuristic and familiar. The goggle shape is a reimagined classic, rendered in a modern violet hue with added metal detailing on the temples—a bold piece that’s easily wearable.

5. Speedy bag, LOUIS VUITTON

Pharrell Williams’ update of the Louis Vuitton Speedy bag is crafted from supple grained calfskin and lined with lambskin. So soft is the construction that there’s a drape to the overall silhouette. They are also available in a range of vibrant colours that are unapologetically in-your-face—a defiant swing at any mention of quiet luxury.

6. Cordon Bleu Limited Edition, MARTELL

Made in collaboration with designer Vincent Darré, the Martell Cordon Bleu Limited Edition gets a vibrant and uplifting design to the bottle. Darré created an allegory in which the Martell iconic swift bears the universal message of warmth and generosity. Such a message certainly calls for a round of drinks with friends.

7. Kelly Multipocket To Go bag, HERMÈS

Hermès pulls off a truly playful accessory as it mixes the distinctive Kelly swivel clasp with the Kelly Multipocket To Go. With its multitude of compartments, everything can be kept organised in a bento-esque manner. The piece also comes with a versatile adjustable strap for two wearing styles: vertically and horizontally.

8. Knight bag, BURBERRY

The slouchy Burberry Knight Bag is one of many signifiers under Daniel Lee’s era at the brand. A metal horse-shaped clip—a clever way of integrating the Equestrian Knight motif—attaches to two different parts of the bag, giving you the option to alter the shape according to whim.

9. Buffalo loafers, DIOR MEN

Even a house as storied as Dior continues to add new branded motifs to its design vocabulary. A new circular logo acts as the centrepiece to the Buffalo loafers—a chunky, rubber-soled piece as part of the Dior Men Summer 2024 collection. This variation further exemplifies how something as traditional as tweed, can be reimagined into a contemporary piece.

10. Marq Golfer - Carbon Edition, 46mm fused carbon fibre case with rubber strap, GARMIN

Need better assistance on the green? The MARQ Golfer smartwatch may just be better than a caddy. Designed specifically for golfing, it is preloaded with engineered features that include recommendations of the types of club to use depending on the weather, as well as how best to approach each shot. Do it, embrace AI.

Photography: Jaya Khidir
Styling: Asri Jasman

Brands do this all the time. Collaborate with a fellow renowned brand or commission a notable person of interest. Nonetheless, if the brief here is not so much novelty but an apt fit for the occasion: Johnnie Walker clearly understood the assignment.

When you see the work of Taiwanese-American artist James Jean, you can’t think of a better mind to conceptualise what the Year of the Dragon could look like as a Blue Label skin. The vibrant, sinewy, yet altogether modern aesthetic wraps around the bottle in a playful, textural imprint.

According to Jean, the natural motifs prevalent in his work takes on the form of flowers and organic tendrils. These floral traits evoke the idea of roots; a connection. These are the bridges between respect for the past and looking ahead to the future with hope.

Celebrated artist James Jean and his designed Johnnie Walker bottle

Plus, the most powerful creature in the Chinese Zodiac and the highest-grade whisky in the JW collection? Insert Epic Handshake meme. If you're familiar with the Blue Label, you'd know that the blend is made from unparalleled—a term not lightly used here—Johnnie Walker reserves of Scotch maturation.

How Many Makes the Cut?

Chiefly because only one in 10,000 make the cut. It's selected from 10 million casks; of which some irreplaceable ones are sourced from long-closed ‘ghost’ distilleries (Cambus, Pittyvaich, Brora, Port Ellen, for the whisky experts among you). A 12-strong blending team infuses these rarities from across all four regions of Scotland, and it’s these very complexities that the visual artist was inspired to interpret.

“There are hidden elements in the picture as well—layers to be discovered, just like the layers in this incredible whisky,” he says, “I want the viewer to peel back the layers and discover more about the image. I want my work to function from far away but reveal more details the more closely you explore the imagery.”

Now where better to witness it up close than in Depth of Blue Room. The brand’s first flagship bar in Southeast Asia sits at the Park Hyatt Bangkok penthouse. It enhances the launch experience with a multi-sensory tasting complete with dedicated cocktails, an immersive room and scented touches. It presented a truly extravagant, thematic dive into what makes Blue Label a big deal.

It’s far from the first time a brand has pulled out all the stops. But such a celebration is certainly a worthy altar for a release as limited edition as this.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label (James Jean edition) is out now.

It’s hard not to be shaken by the current geo-political situation on our doorstep. And while many (if not all of us) are feeling somewhat helpless amid the turmoil, one common hope emerges: Peace.

A symbol recognised worldwide, a circle with an embedded branch, has come to represent this aspiration. Conceived by British graphic artist Gerald Holtom in 1958, it was originally associated with the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Hence its nickname: CND. Holtom’s intention was to convey the image of a stylised figure with outstretched, open palms, symbolising helplessness and resignation in the face of the nuclear threat. The original sketches of this iconic symbol can be found at Bradford University. Holtom, a committed pacifist and conscientious objector during World War II, intentionally refrained from copyrighting his design, making it accessible for all to use.

Earlier this year the US-based design museum, Cooper Hewitt, unveiled its ‘Designing Peace’ exhibition. It explored the unique role that design can play in the pursuit of peace. With more than 30 design proposals, the exhibit showcases how design can respond immediately to urgent humanitarian needs, providing products that aid individuals in rebuilding their lives and restoring their dignity. Creative forces are capable of addressing emergency requirements for secure, healthy and respectful environments. The United Nations, through its Sustainable Development Agenda (Goal 16), lays out a plan for nurturing peaceful coexistence. This exhibition is currently on view at the Museum Craft and Design in San Francisco, USA.

Social Change Through Design

In 2023, Tokyo hosted the World Design Assembly. One of the main themes was the pivotal role of design in driving social change across various dimensions. This includes design for peace, design for social change, innovation, inclusion, and cohesion. It is a thread that has played a prominent role in modern Japanese culture. Since 1983, the Japan Graphic Designers Association presented a project entitled ‘Hiroshima Appeals’ dedicated to creating posters with the purpose of promoting peace. Back in 2015, the Japanese government approved the ‘Basic Design for Peace and Health’ recognising human security as the fundamental principle.

In the aftermath of Japan’s defeat in World War II, the Japanese government harnessed the power of design. Through design, they rebuild the nation through innovative products utilising recycled materials to minimise production costs. Another testament to design’s influence on modern society is machizukuri. This is a process of community design that involves both local authorities and residents, allowing the public to play a part in shaping their own futures.

These initiatives illustrate the ability of design practitioners to reinvent their field. To address the economic and societal challenges that Japan, or any modern nation, may encounter in its history. Let’s embrace the Japanese concept of Kyosei or ‘conviviality’. That's where true peace encompasses not only the absence of violence but also the rectification of past injustices, exploitation and oppression.

HUBLOT

One watch brand not short on out-there ideas is Hublot.

Despite closing in on its 45th birthday, it is still regarded as the enfant terrible of the luxury watchmaking biz*. With its Big Bang series, it skilfully blends all kinds of weird and wonderful materials including ceramic, cermet, Kevlar, tungsten, magnesium and rubber into shamelessly hench watches beloved of millionaires and sportsmen, and especially millionaire sportsmen.

It’s MP** series is the place to see its nuttiest creations. For example, 2013’s MP-02 Key of Time came with a one-off mechanism that allowed the wearer to adjust the time to four times faster or four times slower than the rate of actual time passing (Why? It was something to do with being able to control time, the true luxury of our age…).

While 2011’s MP-08 Antikythera Sun Moon paid tribute to the ancient Greek hand-powered model of the solar system, sometimes called the oldest-known example of an analogue computer. Looks-wise these creations have veered heavily towards the steampunk, and they tend to be wildly impractical for actually telling the time.

Hublot just unveiled the latest in the series—the MP-10 Tourbillon Weight Energy System Titanium, a timepiece every bit as unwieldy as its name. (It doesn’t have a dial or hands. You wind it using a pair of tiny sliding white gold weights.)

You’ve got to love that the MP series exists. It’s so barmy you wouldn’t be totally surprised if Hublot announced it had all been dreamed up by a computer squirrelling away in a Swiss bunker while the rest of the company got on with selling its (comparatively) normal watches.

We mention this because Ricardo Guadalupe, Hublot’s CEO, told Esquire he’d recently given the idea of an AI-generated watch some credence.

HUBLOT

“It happened three weeks ago,” he said. “We tried to use it in design. We did some experiments. I must say—amazing results.”

If Hublot was to introduce an AI-designed watch, would it make a virtue of it? Or would it hide behind it?

“I don’t know,” Guadalupe said. “It came up with ideas where it incorporated some complications from other brands, where we can see it was inspired by a [avant-garde independent brand] Grubel Forsey, for example. But really—the results were ‘wow!’ Because if you ask a designer in the company to do that, it will cost you a fortune! And that was for free! And it showed me 10 or 12 products.”

Happily for the human designers, many were only possible in theory.

“Some of them would be impossible to make. One was a kind of a tourbillon / minute repeater with an equation of time [complication]—a Big Bang. They put the screws in a different way. This one was impossible to realise. But it’s really interesting. Because even if it’s impossible, it can give you an idea, you know? It was inspirational. I was really surprised.”

If not Hublot, some brand will surely come up with an AI-designed watch, and soon. On Wednesday, the womenswear designer Norma Kamali announced she was teaching an AI system to replicate her design style—"downloading my brain”, she called it—so that when the day comes for her to retire, she won’t have to worry about a successor—a computer will simply carry on with her ideas.

Obviously this is all fairly terrifying and awful for anyone involved in the creative industries in any way at all. But it does make you wonder if a Hans Wilsdorf ‘designed’ Rolex from beyond the grave would make it any more authentic. Or quite what the ghost-in-the-machine of Omega’s founder Louis Brandt would have made of the 21 plastic MoonSwatches currently stealing the limelight from the brand’s more luxurious creations. Quite possibly he’d be spinning in his grave. Under a full Moon.

*Not least by itself.

**It stands for 'masterpiece'.

Originally published on Esquire UK

1. Black Bowmore DB5 1964, BOWMORE AND ASTON MARTIN

How does luxury taste? Perhaps, much like the Black Bowmore DB5 1964. Bowmore’s limited release in collaboration with Aston Martin is a rare single malt whisky that offers an intense marriage of ripe exotic fruits with a heady combination of coffee and tobacco smoke. And even if you intend on saving the spirit for special occasions, the exceptional vessel would look striking as part of any collection.

2. Santos-Dumont, 43.5mm steel case with yellow gold on alligator strap, CARTIER

Black, blue and white dials present classic appeal that won’t look out of place in any setting, it’s true. But let this grey-dial Santos-Dumont open you up to an underrated option. The yellow gold accent on the bezel goes handsomely with the grey dial, lifting the shine reflected by the sunray effect and conferring elegance on the whole watch together. There’s no question this is a stunner.

3. Gemini II True Wireless earbuds, DEVIALET

Imagine the power of a Devialet speaker but poured into a tiny, portable packaging—that’s the second generation of the the brand’s Gemini series. The new upgrade promises a deeper acoustic experience with a new Active Wind Reduction technology that serves to actively block out wind noise. Of course, that’s coupled with active noise cancellation too. And is there a better looking, sophisticated design out there than this? We doubt so.

4. B27 low-top sneakers, DIOR MEN

Not many sneakers by luxury fashion houses have managed to combine their respective house codes into a single design without looking forced or even tacky. Dior Men’s B27 successfully incorporates signature Dior elements—the CD Icon, Oblique motif, and a number of logos—all the while retaining the feel of a contemporary sneaker. This blue-and-white colourway is also a classic combination that makes for an easy staple to pair with just about any outfit.

5. Tie, HERMÈS

The tie isn’t dead; you’re just not wearing the right one. This cheeky design by Hermès nods to its equestrian heritage while also adding some levity to a typically formal accessory. Interpret it however you want—reneging against formal dress codes or the idea of a nine-to-five workday—but we all instantly know it is destined to become a beloved conversation starter.

6. Spinner BT turntable, JBL

Marrying modern technology with the timeless, unparallelled quality of vinyls, JBL’s Spinner BT turntable ensures that your favourite records sound as crisp as they’re made to be. The device’s Bluetooth capabilities uses aptX HD encoding to ensure a reduction in any audio distortion while the sound is transmitted to any wireless speakers or headphones. In other words, drowning down the noise after a long day is now made even more sonically splendid.

7. Lavande 31 eau de parfum, LE LABO

Forget what you think you know about lavender as a scent. Le Labo’s latest Lavande 31 eau de parfum challenges the typically sweet and powdery connotations of lavender by adding bergamot and neroli essential oils to a vertical distillation of lavender flower buds. This reveals lavender at its purest form and the result is a fragrance that’s dirty in nature with a heavy emphasis on musk and amber.

8. Coin cardholder, LOEWE X SUNA FUJITA

With digital wallets fast becoming mainstream, physical wallets are naturally downsizing. This leather cardholder by Loewe features a Suna Fujita illustrated motif that’s not only beautiful, but expertly applied into the design though a leather intarsia technique. The piece itself is convenient with four card slots and a zip compartment that has room enough for coins to buy more than two coffee takeaways.

9. N3 flip phone, OPPO

It’s really for the nostalgia. The flip phones of the noughties were a vibe; nothing felt quite as satisfying as flipping the phone shut after an infuriating call to make a point. Oppo’s N3 flip phone will afford you that same experience and more. The best thing about the N3 is that even when its folded like a clamshell, the vertical cover screen is functional with a host of features that you won’t necessarily have to flip open the phone for basic functions. And when it’s opened up, it’s a seamless 6.8-inch screen with brilliant colour and clarity.

10. Backpack, TOD’S

Functional, supple and incredibly lightweight, Tod’s latest iteration of a multi-compartment backpack is easily one of the best we’ve seen this year. Reminiscent of a camping backpack, the backpack is made from hardwearing fabric with the addition of panels of leather. The silver metal hardware complements the design beautifully, adding sophistication to a rugged silhouette. There are a number of colours for the design but this green variation gets our nod.

11. Candle, PRADA

Any fan of Prada will be glad to know that the luxury fashion brand has released a more extensive homeware collection in Singapore. An easy early entry into Prada’s lifestyle creations is a scented candle housed within a porcelain vessel. Not only is the scent—lavender, if you’re wondering—subtle and inviting, the vessel is also decorated with Prada’s fairy motif that was part of its Spring/Summer 2008 womenswear collection.

12. Distinct cabin suitcase, RIMOWA

After aluminium and polycarbonate, RIMOWA has revealed a leather-fronted line. But before the brand introduced its revolutionary aluminium series, leather was its material of choice. The new Distinct cabin suitcase is crafted from leather that’s wrapped around a solid structure shaped with the signature grooves of a RIMOWA. The corners are reinforced with aluminium in a tonal navy treatment for a seamless and sophisticated look.

Photography: Jayden Tan
Digital Imaging and Retouching: Nguyen Tien Phuc
Photography Assistant: Aisyah Hisham

The dents and scuffs on an aluminium RIMOWA luggage tell stories. Like unintentional tattoos (unless you’re deliberately exerting force on your RIMOWA, which isn’t something anyone in their right mind does), they are truly individual and unique. They’re natural markings of the physical journeys it has gone through every time you boarded a coach, train, ship or plane.

“We consider scratches and dents that appear as the suitcase’s patina,” expresses RIMOWA. It’s almost unheard of that a luxury brand encourages the wear of its products, especially given how the price tag of luxury pieces conjures up a sense of preciousness. Yet, it’s a testament to the craftsmanship that the German brand applies to its landmark hardwearing luggage designs, including the industry-changing polycarbonate innovations that it pioneered in 2000.

RIMOWA’s journey of materiality is a reflection of the centuries-long evolution of travel itself. Its founding in 1898—then named after founder Paul Morszeck—was centred on luggage made of hardwearing wood cleverly constructed to be stable and lightweight. In 1937, RIMOWA launched its first aluminium trunk, an innovation inspired by the use of duralumin (a hardy and lightweight aluminium-copper alloy) in German aircraft. And with baggage weight restrictions becoming a modern travel concern, its introduction of polycarbonate as an engineered solution was nothing short of revolutionary.

There is almost an obsessive need for the brand to constantly craft out designs to solve industry-specific issues. RIMOWA, in 1976, developed waterproof cases to give photographers venturing out into unpredictable environmental conditions a reliable means to protect their equipment. One of the brand’s most iconic creations, the Pilot Case, was specifically designed with a hinge that allows it to be opened from the top to make its contents easily accessible by pilots in the cockpit. Then there were cases for violins, cases to fit one or 12 bottles of wine, poker attachés, watch cases and a slew of other pieces made for very specific functions—all to make one’s journey more seamless and elevated.

The proof is evident in the scores of individuals who have made RIMOWA part of their journeys. Its recent Seit 1898 touring exhibition showcased a number of well-used RIMOWA cases (owned mostly by noted international creatives), each marked by the numerous memories and experiences shared. Dents, scratches and even scuffed up stickers on the luggage add character to otherwise cold inanimate objects, not to mention stand as testimony to RIMOWA’s durable craftsmanship.

So serious is its commitment to ensuring each RIMOWA luggage builds a lifetime of memories, that the brand began offering a lifetime guarantee earlier this year. Luggage purchased from 25 July 2022 are now automatically protected by the brand for the entirety of its lifespan. Any functional issues that arise throughout a luggage’s life, henceforth, will be covered under this new directive. This means that aside from any cosmetic wear and tear, misuse or abuse, RIMOWA is dedicated to making sure that your luggage functions as originally intended, for as long as possible. Items outside of the brand’s regular luggage catalogue—from eyewear to tech accessories to special edition suitcases—are protected in a similar capacity for two years.

A RE-CRAFTED programme has also been introduced. While it is a sustainability-driven initiative by the brand to extend the life of pre-loved RIMOWA pieces, it can also be considered as an adoption of someone else’s memories. RE-CRAFTED pieces retain most of the original façade (dents and all) and depending on the condition of its other elements, they’re either cleaned and fixed or completely replaced to ensure that the piece is fully functional and just as reliable as a new RIMOWA piece.

There is no definitive answer to what a RE-CRAFTED piece might have gone through—the places it’s travelled, situations it’s caught in, or perhaps the number of times it’s made its way to an unintended destination (it happens). Therein lies the beauty.

What is next for RIMOWA? There’s no crystal ball to read. But if history tells us anything, the brand is probably already cooking up the next evolution of travel—experimenting and perfecting every nuance before officially releasing it to the public. It’s perhaps a seemingly endless journey for RIMOWA with its destination unknown. But then again, as they say: It’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey.

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