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Some items look beautiful. Others work well. Good design is a marriage between the two, where form and function meet to elevate a product into the realm of flawlessness. And when functional design meets affordability, well, that's when we’re sold. Here are ten such examples. —Michael Beck
Randolph’s aviators exude A-lister style (they’ve been spotted on stars like Cruise and Depp, and Don Draper has rocked them in Mad Men), but they were originally built for the US military. Can’t beat battle-tested.
Photo: Randolph Engineering
If you’re like most guys, the three things you use the most are your phone, credit card, and photo ID. And, like most guys, you probably carry those plus a whole bunch more in a bulky tri-fold wallet. (Like that Costco card that expired in ‘09 and your college dining hall ID…) This phone case forces you to pack just the essentials, ridding you of the back-pocket bulge.
Photo: Sena Cases
More men than ever are taking to the kitchen. But most still cook with gear handed down from grandma. This colorful stack of measuring devices saves space in your cupboard while looking like a MoMA exhibit.
Photo: Joseph Joseph
A quality leather belt is an investment that lasts years. But there’s not much separating one particular leather strap from another. The three imbricated leather loops at the end of this one’s buckle give it some unique bohemian flair.
Photo: J. Fold
If you’re still carrying around a plastic Bic (bound to explode on your shirt or in your bag soon), the Parker Jotter is a welcome upgrade. It writes like a dream, won’t burst, and is shockingly cheap given its space-age looks.
Cost: from $10
Photo: Parker Pen
Tie bars and cufflinks are functional items, sure, but they’re also tasked with doing much of the heavy lifting when it comes to buttoned-up style. Instead of the typical shiny metal, these accessories feature birchwood fronts for down-to-earth sophistication (instead of outright shininess).
Cost: Tie Bar $20, Cufflinks $24
GORUCK’s military-spec backpacks (which Special Forces guys actually use out in the field) are virtually indestructible, and their simple design is both functional and elegant—plus they’re 100% made in America. Sure, a GR1 is more expensive than your average pack, but it’ll also last a lifetime.
Surge protectors haven’t evolved much in their lifespan—except for Quirky’s Pivot Power, which is something like an X-Man mutant in the world of power strips. It’s designed like a caterpillar, so it can wrap, bend, and twist to sit flush against a corner, around the leg of a chair, or alongside an entertainment center.
That standard five-wheel, swivel seat in your office is about as exciting as an HR meeting. And in your backyard, those Adirondack chairs are overplayed and far too bulky. Your move: Buy this chair in black for your office, and in funky colors like blue, red, or green for your backyard.
Photo: Blu Dot
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