Apple Magic Mouse
There's nothing to get clogged or dirty, wear out, or lose … the scrolling is comfortable and effortless … and when not in use it's still beautiful to look at. I've used Macs since the original 1984 Macintosh and this was the first input device of which I exclaimed, "Finally!"
VitaMix 5000 Blender
I can be a picky eater—I may or may not own that Jessica Seinfeld cookbook for sneaking spinach into your chocolate-chip muffins—and I'm still not so hot on fruit and veg, so a good blender is essential. The Vitamix is the best. I may have just conjured images of mushed baby food, but much like real babies this comes with a hefty price tag, and it's well worth it. Don't buy a crappy blender and when it breaks buy another two years later, just buy this one and have it for a decade or more. Fun fact: It's so packed with horsepower if you drop in the raw ingredients for some soups it will blend it with such ferocity that seven minutes later it's not just liquified and soupy, it's actually cooked through and ready to serve.
Denon DP-300F Turntable
I'm a vinyl record hoarder, and while years ago I sold a boat load of them to move to the States, I've retained my favorites and still enjoy the focused task of choosing and committing to a record and listening to it side-by-side, in its entirety. I can tell you exactly where I bought (or found) each of my records, and that experience is something digital music will never touch. It took an eternity to find, but I'm pretty damn content listening to a scratchy version of "Fever" covered by James Brown on the original King pressing.
Mission 761 speakers
My father was a museum designer and often when he took over a space to create in he would have to clear out left-over equipment. Luckily, I would get first pickings. In about 1993, I selected these Mission speakers from a soon-to-be converted warehouse space, and they've served me well ever since. They're made of beautiful heavy wood, made in England, and they sound fantastic.
Obviously. It just doesn't have any competition. Sorry, it just doesn't.
Nikon F and Mamiya 645 Super (tie!)
I considered including the Canon 5D Mk2 that I use a lot for work, but I wanted to include the cameras I have most fun using. The Nikon was my father's when he was a press photographer in the 1970s, and—aside from a faulty phonemic head—still runs like new. The Mamiya is a more recent purchase as I'm shooting medium format for some portrait projects. They both feel serious, hand crafted, and indestructible. Both have viewfinders—a casualty of the point-and-shoot generation. There's an isolation and privacy to a viewfinder that really helps you focus (in both senses of the word) on your subject and composition in a singular, dedicated moment that seems to be becoming all too rare with multifunction gadgets.
Reminiscent of a vintage Solari (http://www.solari.it) station clock, I picked up this German-made plastic clock at a Delfonics (http://www.delfonics.com) store in Shibuya and it serves the everyday purpose of telling me how late I'm running and it reminds me of shopping in Shibuya—probably my favorite pastime! It's also noisy … I love noisy clocks.
I have the original model and I'll be buying the new model on day one. If I had one technology wish right now it would be to kill my Time Warner cable account and watch everything on demand. I'd miss some of the happy accidents, sure, but I wouldn't miss Kyra Sedgwick tooling around at the bottom of my screen hawking some show while I'm trying to watch something I've actually chosen to watch. Perhaps these "better way" gadgets such as Tivo and the AppleTV are partly to blame for our cable TV shows having overlaid adds and "coming ups" and "what you misseds," and maybe some people really do have attention spans that short, but if I want to watch a show or a movie, that's all I want it to be. Rant over.
Zeroll 20 Ice cream scoop
This was a house warming gift from our friends Mike and Jen. He's a very talented editor and she's a very talented architect, and this choice of gift is no doubt perfect because of that—and I didn't know that they knew I'm addicted to ice cream. It's the single most perfectly designed object in my house. It fits perfectly in the hand, scoops a clean, perfect ball of gelato, and is a cinch to clean. Form and function. Perfect.
Is this a gadget? Probably not anymore, but I use it more than most of the other things I have on this list—and I've run out of actual gadgets I would use/recommend with any passion or interest. I spent 10 years at a school where I was only allowed to write with fountain pens, and somehow I still love them and voluntarily buy them in bulk. I like the thin-nibbed Pilot Varsity model with either black or sky blue ink.