1. Milwaukee Museum of Art Addition
Throughout Europe, the Spanish engineer-architect Santiago Calatrava is famous for elegant bridges and public buildings that are descendants, in their different ways, of London's 19th century steel-and-glass Crystal Palace, the greenhouse-exhibition space that signaled the beginning of pure engineering as the new form of beauty. For his first completed work in the U.S., Calatrava provided a showstopping new addition for the Milwaukee Museum of Art. His low-slung extension is crowned by a supreme statement, the upward arc of his brise de soleil. It's a sunscreen with "wings" made of 72 steel-pipe ribs. They rise and fall from a diagonal spine like a bird on an ascending flight path. Technically, Calatrava's great wings are functional when closed they shield the museum's arching skylight. In fact, their real function is pure glorious gesture, a flourish of structural brio. When opened their lovely wingspan gives the museum a stratospheric silhouette and Milwaukee a stunning new landmark.
2. Pocket Furniture
Droog Design, the loopy but inventive Dutch design collective, was approached by Picus, the Cadillac of cigar-box manufacturers, to find new ways to use Picus' wood manufacturing know-how. Droog came up with a series of multipurpose cabinets and boxes, all of which fit within one another and can be arranged in multiple configurations. The containers paid homage to their smoky origin but went on fantastic flights of fancy as stamp boxes, keepsake boxes and, of course, an elaborately reinvented cigar box.
3. The Mini Cooper S
Car designers have chosen one of two roads over the past few years: make vehicles more like trucks, or mine the archives and pull out, say, the VW Beetle or the faux-retro Chrysler PT-cruiser. But reintroducing legends can be sticky. BMW got it right with the Mini Cooper Series. The Cooper S is almost as preposterously cute as its gutsy little '60s forebear. The outsize head lamps, the twin exhausts under the middle of the back fender and the squat little body mark it as a mini from the front and back. It's only from the side that one sees it has stretched, so it's cheerful and comfortable.
4. American Folk Art Museum
Husband-and-wife architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien were the perfect team for this vest-pocket New York City museum. Their famous feel for craft and material is something that folk artists understand. But their exercises in stone, glass and ingeniously textured metals are carried out within a modernist idiom that never looks quaint or "folkloric." Who knew you could work so many delightful configurations of space and surprising vistas plus three staircases into a relatively small building? It's a jewel-box museum that's a jewel in itself.
5. Sagmeister: Made You Look
Long revered among people who admire CD cover art, Sagmeister took a year off to prepare this book. It worked. There are cute tricks, like the red plastic cover, which, when removed, reveals hidden, much less cheerful pictures and text. But there is substance too. Sagmeister, who once carved words into his body and photographed it for a poster (grisly results on page 190), bravely shows bad work as well as good and annotates it all in his spidery handwriting. This makes it, unlike most graphic-design books, a good read as well.
6. Moulin Rouge
When they write the definitive history of eye candy, Baz Lurhmann's pinwheeling, voluptuous movie should get its own chapter. Art director Catherine Martin reimagined the famous Montmartre nightclub as something like Pee-wee's Playhouse in Gotham City, stuffed to bursting with bright ideas and dark corners. The inspirations came from everywhere fashion photography, the technicolor "Paris" of old Hollywood, the Bhagavad Gita. Plus there's a boudoir-in-an-elephant!
7. Helmut Lang Dress
What's a young fashionista who doesn't want to look too frivolous to wear these days? Helmut Lang made a fascinating suggestion in his fall 2001 collection. The dress, which he did in long and short, black and white, and with and without the "holster" (the leather band around the shoulder and ribs), manages to be both austere and sexy and serious and glamorous. Clearly it's a look that will be most appreciated, as all Lang's garments are, by the fashion cognoscenti, but it's also one that any reasonably confident woman (with great triceps) could wear.
8. The "Go" Chair
One of this year's most heavily promoted design debuts was Go, the world's first chair in magnesium, a metal lighter than aluminum. For a humble stacking chair it wasn't cheap $700 and up but Go has a lot going for it. The spindly silhouette by designer Ross Lovegrove has the glamour of liquid mercury. Just sitting, the thing looks like it's launching into warp drive. An overhyped one-season wonder? We think this chair has legs.
9. Diablo Radio
With all the advances the past few years have seen in technology, consumer electronics have no excuse for being boring. The good folks at Lexon, as well nearly the entire population of Japan, have long understood this. The hourglass-shaped Diablo radio, designed by Elise Berthier, has no switches. You swivel the top half to turn on the power and increase the volume. You swivel the bottom half to find your favored station. It's simple and satisfying. And if the news is bad, you can always look to the radio to give you a smile.
10. Prada Epicenter Store, New York City
Rem Koolhaas had never done a store before Miuccia Prada approached him, but he had researched shopping while teaching at Harvard. His first foray into retail is a brainy roller coaster of a store with a precipitous dip, moving carriages of clothes and magic mirrors that let you see front and back at the same time. The dressing rooms alone, with glass doors that frost over at the touch of a button and a closet that transmits information about your chosen garment onto a screen, will make this a must-stop shop.
Worst design | Ripping off the NYPD and FDNY logos
After Sept. 11, hats, T shirts and jackets bearing the logo of the New York City police or fire departments were worn everywhere as a show of support. But most of these garments were not licensed, so profits from their sale didn't go to fire-fighter or police charities, but to whoever produced them fastest.