Could a $9,000 Ball of Yarn be this year's ultimate status symbol? Just in time for the holidays, Tiffany & Co. has unveiled a new home-and-accessories collection, and it includes — apart from the expected finery — an array of items billed as "ordinary objects made extraordinary." So imagine a pair of paper cups, except that they cost $95 and are really made of bone china. Or a tin can that's actually made of sterling silver and costs $1,000. The ball of yarn shown is one of just five, each handspun from textured strands of silver. It's "absurd in the best possible way."
During our current golden age of drone technology, "the sky is definitely not the limit." With submersible drones invading our oceans, rivers, and lakes, the PowerRay ($1,799) might be the one that changes fishing the most. When fully outfitted, the device can detect fish to a depth of 70 meters, use sonar to measure fish distribution, transmit real-time video, and help place your bait at an exact depth. For $90 more than the price below, you'll also get VR goggles — "so you can feel like you're riding the drone's body as you navigate it through the depths."
"Call them chunky, clunky, or plain old ugly," Balenciaga's Triple S Sneakers ($850) could be the most sought-after casual footwear of the season. On fashion runways and among the rich and famous who line them, intentionally unattractive sneakers are a fresh way to say, "Look at me." At a glance, the Triple S could be an '80s running shoe — one that's been "salvaged from a thrift store and plopped atop a sole that's two sizes too big." But the first shipment sold out almost instantly in Manhattan, and the sneaker is selling at twice its retail price on eBay. Gucci, Dior, and Prada are currently playing catch-up.
Let's get this said right off: Dadybones Puff Ball Phone Case ($35) "isn't designed for this world." Sure, it's easy to fall for. Created by artist Lola Abbey, whose pom-pom placement skills are "exceptional," it's a portable rainbow that you'll love looking at and that other people will love looking at, too. But the pom-poms are glued to a cheap plastic case, they make an iPhone so fat that you can no longer fit it in a pocket, and after a few weeks of shedding confetti, the case also starts shedding pom-poms. Is it worth all that trouble? Not really, but it "does seem like a piece of art."
Eight-ball enthusiasts now have an alternative when traditional pool tables "seem a little bit, well, square." The Banana Pool Table ($15,000), created and handcrafted by Cléon Daniel, is just one manifestation of the Dorset, U.K.–based carpenter's ability to bend billiard games to the whims of buyers. The 8½-foot banana model is constructed of ash, with yellow wool felt, brass pocket plates, and a set of brown balls that match the table's "ripe brown" edge. Daniel also crafts a pool table made to look like a doughnut, complete with a central hole, uneven edges, and a pink felt that looks like frosting.
Finally, there's a way to coordinate your jewelry with your water bottle. California jewelry designer Anjanette Sinesio recently founded Gem-Water (from $78 to $340), a company that sells a reusable water bottle that contains a removable glass pod filled with opals, garnets, emeralds, amethyst, quartz, or diamonds. The company, which also sells decanters, claims that the gemstones "enliven your water, restoring its crystal structure to the quality of actual spring water." Whether or not you believe in the transformative energy of crystals, there's no denying their accessorizing potential.
You could say that the young Tiger Woods has been replaced by a robot. The RoboGolfPro ($150,000), a 9-foot-tall, 800-pound instructional machine, is programmed to guide amateurs until they are precisely mimicking the swings of several PGA champions, and when you dial in Woods, you wind up looking "unmistakably" like pre-1997 Tiger. Mostly sold to golf schools, but also to a handful of touring pros, the robot holds a club at the shaft while you hold the grip, and it forces you into perfect execution as you draw the club away and swing through impact. Give it five minutes; "you will be wowed."
College students looking for a durable book bag can stop searching. The Solid Gray Backpack ($810) shown here is modeled after insect and crustacean shells and made of a tough aluminum-polymer composite. Created by two Dutch designers, the pack weighs just 3.2 pounds and has a coated scratchproof finish. Its hinged lid opens to reveal interior straps and compartments to keep a laptop and other gear from banging around. Foam padding on the back makes the pack surprisingly comfortable. Polymer versions of the same pack start at $225 and come in various matte colors.