Quest For Design: Our 14 Favorite Innovations for Your Lifestyle

 

Great design has the power to reshape the way we live for the better. Over the past 60 years, these 13 brands have done just that, so we’re giving the Quest stamp of approval for making life easier, more comfortable, and overall better looking. 

1960, Gloster Teak Furniture

In 1960, a band of entrepreneurs and furniture makers embarked on a journey to West Africa to source teak, the benchmark hardwood for fine outdoor furniture. Ever since, Gloster has been meticulously managing teak plantations (now in Indonesia) to craft fine outdoor furniture from the hard-wearing, rot-resistant timber—virtually unaffected by sun, rain, frost, or snow. By popularizing the use of the wood Stateside, the brand revolutionized outdoor living and continues to be fueled by that passion for great design. Pictured: Arlington dining set.  gloster.com, 434.202.5521.

1961, Sunbrella Outdoor Fabric

Nearly 60 years ago, Sunbrella began in the awning industry, providing an unmatched fade- and mildew-resistant acrylic that was quickly recognized by the marine and outdoor furniture markets as vastly superior to cotton. In recent years, technological advances have resulted in a globally inspired selection of colors, styles, and textures that allow homeowners to incorporate the performance fabric into their spaces, indoors and out. All Sunbrella fabrics are soft to the touch, fade-proof, and bleach-cleanable, so they hold up to Mother Nature as well as a messy toddler. sunbrella.com, 336.221.2211.

1968, Vola Original Tap

Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Vola’s original faucet is arguably the most imitated silhouette on the market today. Made in collaboration with renowned architect Arne Jacobsen, the design proved less really can be more. Offered in single-lever, deck-mounted, or wall-mounted figurations, the understated tap popularized Danish design and remains a favorite today, available in 25 color or metal finishes. vola.com.

1978, California Closets

California Closets was founded by then 18-year-old college student Neil Balter, who turned his innovative idea of maximizing space in his dorm room closet into a breakout business in Southern California. Incidentally, Balter launched an entirely new custom-closets industry, and for 40 years the brand has built a reputation as a leader in luxury space management. Today, California Closets operates in 120 showrooms with more than 700 professional designers across North America. californiaclosets.com, 855.261.1573.

1987, Dyson Bagless Vacuum

“Having an idea for doing something better and making it happen, even though it appears impossible. That’s
still my dream,” says engineer James Dyson. That’s exactly what he did in 1987, when Dyson created the first
bagless vacuum cleaner, frustrated by clogged-up bags and reduced performance in mainstream brands. Over the years, the brand has continued to innovate in the category, most recently with the Dyson Cyclone V10 (pictured), which has a cordless design, lightweight profile, and digital motor that spins at up to 125,000 rpm. dyson.com, 866.693.9766.

1996, Under Armour Moisture-Wicking T-shirt

In 1996, Kevin Plank was a 23-year-old former college football captain when he started Under Armour from his grandmother’s basement in Washington, D.C. As an athlete, Plank was tired of changing his sweat-soaked T-shirts after practice. So, he made a top from moisture-wicking fabric, and today the brand is worth nearly $5 billion (2016). Continuing to innovate, the brand released athletic recovery sleepwear (pictured) in 2017, developed in collaboration with Tom Brady. underarmour.com.

2008, Sub-Zero Antimicrobial Air Purification

Sub-Zero has been innovating refrigeration technology ever since founder Westye Bakke started working on custom designs for Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1930s. In 1945, Bakke launched the Sub-Zero Freezer Company and introduced the first system for preserving food at ultra-low temperatures. The brand’s most innovative introduction in recent history, however, was the development of antimicrobial air purification in 2008, which adopted technology used by NASA to scrub the air of ethylene—along with odor-causing bacteria, mold, and viruses—every 20 minutes. subzero-wolf.com, 800.222.7820.

2012, Tumi Tegra Lite

Tumi has been paving the way in luxury travel gear since 1975, but it was in 2012 that it gained exclusive rights within the travel industry to Tegris, a revolutionary polypropylene thermoplastic composite material for us in life-saving armor, Nascar race cars, and protective gear for NFL players. Aside from its protective capibilities, the material is extremely light-weight, making the brand’s Tegra-Lite collection a favorite among travelers. Tumi continues to push the limits of the materials industry, this year introducing Latitude, its lightest hard-shell luggage line crafted from layered ballistic fibers. tumi.com, 800.299.8864.

2015, Hunter Douglas PowerView Motorization

In 2015, Hunter Douglas debuted PowerView Motorization, a next-generation window treatment technology for your ever-increasingly smart home. The system allows users to control, time, and set their shades to raise, lower, tilt and traverse automatically to suit their schedule and the day’s lighting patterns. The system works with home-automated programs like Nest, Logitech, Savant, and voice-activated devices from Amazon and Google. Users can even set personalized positions, and simply tell the system to set the mood for “Dinner Party” or “Morning Light” for a natural wake-up call. hunterdouglas.com.

2015, Graff Ametis Shower System

Headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Graff is a prime example of American innovation. In 2015, it introduced the award-winning Ametis shower system, which is engineered to offer a soothing halo effect using LED chromatherepy lighting. The LED lighting is positioned within the shower ring to add a new dimension to the column, and balance the user’s energy through the colored lighting. The futuristic collection designed by Davide Oppizzi was inspired by the density of water and its colors, the movement of waves, and exquisite Japanese writing. graff-faucets.com, 800-954-4723.

2017, Bosch Coffee Machine with Home Connect

Founded in Germany in 1886, Bosch has not let the times get ahead of it. By 2020, all of the brand’s appliances will be smart-home ready. One of the first steps was the Built-In Coffee Machine with Home Connect, released last year. The design lets users select their favorite beverage and press start from an app. The technology
is even hands-free with Amazon Alexa, so consumers can get brewing with only their voice. bosch-home.com.

2018, Ann Sacks Itai Bar-On Tile

Ann Sacks believes tiles are the building blocks for any project. Always innovating in the category, this year’s Itai Bar-On collection offers a new way to add sculpture and dimension to the home. The three-dimensional tile creates a unique expression of scale and proportion, with designs that can be installed with or without back illumination to create a dramatic, multidimensional effect. Four designs have smooth, softly honed surfaces that feature random pits and marks that reveal the pouring and cutting process. annsacks.com, 800.278.8453.

2018, Kohler DTV+ Shower

A leader in bathroom and kitchen innovation, Kohler has done it again with the DTV+ showering system, touted as its most advanced yet. A touchscreen interface allows users to control every aspect and create a multisensory experience including water, sound, steam, and light with pre-programmed spa experiences based on hydrotherapy. Users can save their favorite experiences and eliminate the multiple levers and knobs of a manual shower. us.kohler.com, 800.456.4537.

2018, Tesla Solar Roof

 

The innovation of solar roofs has allowed many homeowners to cut energy costs and live more sustainable lifestyles. But there was one pesky problem—ugly solar panels are an eyesore. Always innovating, Tesla is set to debut its Solar Roof this year, with a design that complements a home’s architecture while turning sunlight into energy. With an integrated Powerwall, energy collected during the day is stored and made available at any time, turning your home into its own energy source. Four sleek designs look just like real tiles. tesla.com, 888.518.3752.