2013 BMW 7 Series Coming Soon to Showrooms
Newly spruced up 2013 BMW 7 Series adds more performance, luxury, efficiency, and safety.
June 15, 2012
The newly spruced up 2013 BMW 7 Series adds a touch more performance, luxury, efficiency, and safety to its already significant packaging.
Technically speaking, the V8 engine for the 2013 model has been given a boost—receiving a 45 horsepower jump and a torque increase of 30. Specifically, the 740i and 750i will feature BMW’s eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission, xDrive all-wheel drive, Auto Start Stop, and a freshly enhanced powertrain. The ActiveHybrid has adopted the 6 cylinder to replace the previous V8.
The subtly revised exterior boasts new technologies, including LED headlights (LED fog lights are included on models without the M Sport Package) and a sleeker 9-slat kidney grille—opposed to the BMW classic 12-slat. But the internal changes are more of note, with the upgraded interface and redesigned iDrive (dubbed “iDrive 4.X”), which promises a crisper display, faster start-up, and a more functional navigation with the ability to learn your driving route. And for a little something extra, the Bang & Olufsen high-end Surround Sound system is also an available option.
Expect the new BMW 7 series: 740i, 740Li, 740Li xDrive, 750i, 750i xDrive, 750Li, 750Li xDrive, and the 760Li in showrooms late this summer with pricing starting at $74,195.
Alex Wayman Tees Off for Charity
The Boston resident chairs The National Kidney Foundation Cadillac Golf Classic.
June 11, 2012
Alex Wayman never imagined his lower back pain could be caused by a renal blockage in his left kidney. But in late 2004, the pain became unbearable and he ended up in Massachusetts General Hospital.
“I am fully recovered now, but the experience changed my life, and made me realize the importance of healthy, functioning kidneys and how lucky we are to access world-class medicine here in Boston,” says Wayman, who will chair The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) Cadillac Golf Classic on June 12. Held at the prestigious Boston Golf Club in Hingham, this is the first NKF tournament hosted in Boston for years.
Wayman feels the excellent host committee, dedicated sponsors, and incomparable golf course will make the tournament exceptional. Teams must consist of four amateur golfers whose total USGA Handicap Index is 42.0 or more. Each qualified winning team and the second and third finishers are also invited to compete at the national championship in Pebble Beach, CA. Proceeds from the event will go directly to NKF vital programs and services.
Bentley Reveals Luxe SUV: EXP 9 F
The luxury brand's first SUV boasts all the usual Bentley trappings, but raises some debate.
May 04, 2012
Bentley made a statement the night before the Geneva International Motor Show during VW’s Group Night, where each of the parent company’s brands showcased their latest and most spectacular vehicles. The British luxury maker wowed the crowd with its first SUV concept, EXP 9 F.
Massive 23-inch alloy wheels; the signature bold Bentley grille; a powerful 6-liter W12 engine that can make up to 600 horsepower; an 8-speed transmission; a fold-down champagne cooler; and luxury tailgating fit for the Kentucky Derby, seem to overly exceed expectations of consumers looking to purchase an ultra-elite SUV. Bentley’s sports utility vehicle is in competition with other luxe cars like the Range Rover and Porsche’s Cayenne Turbo. While the design and composition keep all the usual Bentley trappings, it is unknown if this foray into SUVs will be met with negative or positive feedback.
Test Drive: The Fisker Karma
Fisker Automotive gets the electric car right, thanks to a sleek, sporty style and performance to match.
April 30, 2012
I knew the Fisker Karma had stand-out styling when I pulled into the valet of the Four Seasons Hotel and the doorman promptly moved another car and parked me "between the pillars." A hybrid electric vehicle with futuristic appeal and the presence of a Riva yacht, this car is poised to become the benchmark for luxury automakers as they enter the electric age.
Henrik Fisker, the Danish designer of the BMW Z8 and Aston Martin DB9 Coupe, cofounded Fisker Automotive in 2007, and the Karma is his first car to come to market. It combines design language from these legendary vehicles with cues from 1960s American muscle cars and the science fiction flair of Star Wars. It is a big car, with standard 22-inch wheels and gigantic Brembo brakes, and it weighs in at about 5,000 pounds, 605 of which can be attributed to the battery pack.
The drivetrain is electric and is powered by A123 Systems lithium ion batteries, invented at MIT and developed in Waltham. A four-cylinder turbo engine spins a large generator that powers twin AC motors delivering more than 400 horsepower.
The Karma is always propelled by the electric motor; the gas engine powers only the generator. Launching in "stealth" mode—it’s so quiet you can hardly hear it—the car runs on battery power for the first 50 miles. After that, the gas engine automatically starts to power the electric motor, and regenerative braking helps to recharge the batteries. If you hit the "sport" mode, the gas engine instantly fires up and combines a boost of generator-driven energy with the batteries for acceleration from zero to 60 in about 6 seconds.
On a clear day I drove from the Fisker Norwood dealership toward Rockport, a route that combines both highway and twisting back roads. The steering has excellent road feel and very linear turn-in response, with little or no body roll, even when cornering at high speeds. But the real exhilaration started when I took the off-ramp to Route 127 North and accelerated briskly into tight turns and variations in terrain; the car handled like a big go-cart with its low center of gravity enhanced by the chassis-level battery pack.
With a base price starting at $102,000, this is an expensive car that offers cutting-edge technology in a beautifully designed package. Sometimes it takes a little science fiction to re-energize an industry, and Fisker has tapped into the Force. Fisker Norwood, 449 Neponset St., Norwood, 781-619- 9000.
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF FISKER AUTOMOTIVE
Rolls-Royce Phantom Series II: Technology & Tradition
Rolls-Royce’s new Phantom model embodies the brand’s dedication to quality and customer connection.
April 23, 2012
From connecting with their clients via private tours of their plants to throwing exclusive events for owners, Rolls-Royce is a brand that treats its customers like a close-knit family. These individual discussions with owners on what R-R stands for, what customers expect from the company and the product, and what it needs to be in order to move forward are exactly what inspired the brand’s new Phantom Series II model.
“When considering changes to our iconic Phantom, we first carefully listened to customers,” said Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös. “Around the world they explicitly told us, ‘Do not change Phantom too much but introduce new technology where appropriate.’ And this is precisely what we have done.”
The end result is a blend of traditional and classic with modern technology that allows the Phantom to keep up with customer expectations. “It combined the spirit of its famous pedigree with superbly elegant design work, ground-breaking technology, and visionary engineering techniques,” said Müller-Ötvös.
Of note technologically are the full LED headlamps, and the completely revamped satellite navigation system with 3D landscape topography, guided view tours, and more, all on a much larger monitor. Best of all, its famous V12 direct injection engine has been updated with a new eight-speed automatic gearbox and rear differential, which results in 10-percent improved fuel consumption and reduced CO2 emissions.
The car’s appearance has also gotten a few updates. In addition to the aforementioned LED headlamps are a virtual constellation of stars in the interior, and a slightly tweaked bumper. Just as with its unparalleled customer service, the brand will go above and beyond to create a custom luxury vehicle to your specifications—from humidors to drink cabinets to constellations in the shape of your zodiac sign, virtually anything is possible.
“Since its first appearance in 2003, Phantom has reclaimed the pinnacle of automotive luxury and refinement,” said Müller-Ötvös. “It is a completely unique and unequaled achievement that goes beyond its primary role as a car and becomes to many a work of art, a fine piece of jewelry, or a rare and collectible object of desire.”
Ken Dietz brings New England designers’ private collections to a new online showroom.
March 26, 2012
LEFT: House special: Dietz with one of his trademark Murano lamps. RIGHT: Handblown Murano glass lamp on acrylic base.
After years of sourcing and importing Murano glass and lamps, Boston-based interior designer Ken Dietz of Dietz & Associates had a bright idea: Why not offer some of the hard-to-find vintage pieces he had collected over the years to savvy shoppers in an online boutique? The designer, who has acquired pieces from Massachusetts, Vermont, and as far south as Florida, has long been fond of handmade Italian glass. “I sold quite a few lamps to local designers,” says Dietz. “We all have a passion for something, whether it’s rugs, antique pillows, or chairs, so I started thinking about all these inventories sitting in designers’ warehouses waiting for the perfect client.” From there, Market 27 was born.
The online store, which launched at the end of 2011, offers fine furniture and home accessories from Queen Anne to midcentury styles. Dietz, a fan of the James Bond feel of 1960s furnishings, including original chrome and Lucite pieces, handpicks a New England designer each month to curate a virtual boutique of items selected from his or her private collection. Featured designers will discuss why they chose each piece, and shoppers will find a continually changing inventory of pieces, such as a pair of mirrored armoires (a Dietz favorite) or beautiful Chinese altar tables.
“I’ve always had a great appreciation for glass lamps,” says Dietz, whose favorite piece is a Venini glass chandelier similar to the one his grandparents had in their home. “You can just update them with wiring and a shade, and they fit right into someone’s home.”
And while Dietz is hoping to gain shoppers from across the country and the globe, he knows the local point of view. “I have found that the client base in New England has changed dramatically in the last 10 years,” says Dietz. “They are now more accepting of outside influences, and I am pleased with how open my clients are to new ideas.”
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MATT BALDELLI (LAMP); STEPHEN GROSS (PORTRAIT)
Jerry Uelsmann’s unmistakable photography comes to the Peabody Essex Museum.
March 12, 2012
Photographer Jerry Uelsmann has been creating unexpected and at times haunting images for the past five decades, such as this house with gnarled tree roots or a winged woman rising from the sea. The Detroit-born, Florida-based photographer will be presenting recognizable pieces from his collection as well as never-before-seen works at the Peabody Essex Museum in The Mind’s Eye: 50 Years of Photography by Jerry Uelsmann, curated by Phillip Prodger.
“When you are young, people show you photographs that have a veracity element, so we are conditioned to believe that photographs are real,” says Uelsmann. Playing with that expectation, the photographer’s gelatin silver print Untitled (1982) mixes reality with the implausible. Uelsmann photographed the abandoned, weathered house in Victor, Colorado, a town whose population was between 30,000 and 50,000 people during gold mining days and now has a mere 441 residents. Intrigued by the idea of a house remaining the same while its residents left, the photographer blended the house image with one he had taken of tree roots. “The way I have evolved working is more like an artist and a painter in the studio,” says Uelsmann, who created the image without a computer program. “Then I go into my dark room and experiment with what I have.” The exhibit will be on view until June 30.
East India Square, 161 Essex St., Salem, 978-745-9500.
Culture Watch: Barber of Seville
Boston Lyric Opera’s director Esther Nelson nails drama and comedy in The Barber of Seville.
February 27, 2012
Few general directors are also artistic directors in the world of performance, but BLO’s Esther Nelson is one of those with both artistic vision and financial acumen. She honed that acumen as a management consultant for various arts programs around the nation and during her time running Glimmerglass Opera, one of the country’s most prestigious opera festivals. Her time growing up in Europe has given her an international point of view, which she calls upon when pulling together productions like the BLO’s latest, The Barber of Seville.
Which is more difficult in opera— being dramatic or comedic?
ESTHER NELSON: They’re equally difficult, but in terms of timing I think comedies, whether in opera or in theater, are more difficult to pull off. Comedy is so extraordinarily important because it has to fit on many levels, including singing. Slapstick is only funny if the humor is evident to the audience without the actor telling you, “This is funny, people.”
How close to the edge do you take farce?
EN: This was part of Rossini’s popularity—with his comedies, he was an absolute master. But there is a delicacy in the piece too. Rossini isn’t just slapstick funny. It’s also about the rising middle class and the abuse of power by the aristocracy, and that’s often ignored.
Barber was one of the first Italian operas performed in America. Why did it resonate?
EN: I think because of its genre. It’s also a perfect little jewel because musically it’s so pleasurable; it appeals to every generation. I even love the Bugs Bunny versions. We had all of them in our house. They’re hilarious.
People can be intimidated by opera, but this one centers so much on farce, lust, and gossip— fodder for so much of today’s popular entertainment.
EN: If Rossini had had television at the time, it would have been true slapstick. [With Barber of Seville] you cannot help but smile and laugh, and if it’s done well, you can’t help but be happy for the next few days because it gets into your bloodstream.
The Barber of Seville runs March 9, 11, 14, 16, and 18 at Boston Lyric Opera, 11 Ave. de Lafayette, 617-542-4912.
Echo the Season with Home Décor
Rich fall color abounds in the décor and furnishing options at The Morson Collection.
November 18, 2011
Designer David Hacin in the showroom
It can be a challenge to present recurring trends in a fresh way, but The Morson Collection on Lincoln Street has its technique down pat. The key, according to co-owner Caroline Morson, is to “pick pieces that are timeless. You can buy something from The Morson Collection today that could have come from 10 years ago or 10 years in the future.” Case in point: the resurgence of brass, this fall mixed with sparkling Baccarat crystal in the form of colored sconces, table lamps and bold statement chandeliers.
Morson’s eye for the season’s blend of rich colors and warm materials carries through to the showroom’s stock of nightstands, coffee tables and dining tables made from elm wood, popular for its gray-green and gold specks. The deep plum hue seen throughout the interiors market this fall also figures prominently at The Morson Collection, paired with houndstooth throw pillows in the traditional black-and-white pattern as well as fresh taupe and white.
Caroline and her husband, Gregory, source many of their pieces from the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan every April, which keeps their selection ahead of the curve. True to the couple’s personalities, though, they strive to make their showroom comfortable and inviting, rather than overly trendy and intimidating. “I always find it such a compliment when clients say the showroom is very comfortable,” says Morson, who works closely with many designers, including architect and interior designer David Hacin.
“It’s always a pleasure to set foot into The Morson Collection,” Hacin says. “It’s a sanctuary of modern, minimalist design.” With an eye for detail, he points to the “inviting personality” of the Minotti Jensen armchair with its subtle sexiness and nod to fall’s midcentury minimalist influence. The designer also praises the luxe Missoni carpets, especially the brand’s Leeds rug, which “incorporates a focused, beautiful statement color with lots of visual texture and depth.” With its European sensibility and fondness for clean lines, The Morson Collection is embracing the resurgence of once-again popular materials this season. 76 Lincoln St., 617-482-2335; themorsoncollection.com
A Strong Foundation
Homebuilder Cindy Stumpo takes luxury from the ground floor to the skylights.
October 25, 2011
|Tough as Nails indeed: “Please and thank you don’t work in construction,” says Stumpo.|
Cindy Leonard Stumpo hears one phrase so frequently that she jokes it could serve as her epitaph: “You don’t look like a general contractor.” Which is certainly true for the Boston homebuilder. Missing the Y chromosome of most of her peers hasn’t put her at a disadvantage, however. It’s the novelty of being a woman in a man’s business, as well as her skill as a builder of multimillion-dollar estates in Chestnut Hill, Newton and Brookline, that landed a role on HGTV’s Tough as Nails last year. Even so, potential clients often stare in disbelief when they first meet the five-foot-five, 127-pound, 47-year-old Stumpo—numbers she shares as readily as a contractor ticks off the dimensions of a room.
Relocating to Newton from West Peabody at age 13 laid the foundation for Stumpo’s future livelihood. “I had never seen houses like this before,” she recalls. It was detail work that first caught her attention, and now this eye for detail is her trademark. It’s hard to drive through the neighborhoods just west of the city without spotting a home bearing the Stumpo stamp, such as stucco facades and imposing front doors. Price tags on her properties range from $1.5 million to the multimillions, and all are customized down to the last vanity.
Stumpo personally oversees all of her projects, and while she might substitute a Gucci belt for a tool belt, this veteran builder can handle any motley construction crew. “When I first started out at age 23, I would try to find that balance of how to be a young lady and still get my point across,” she says. “I don’t care anymore. ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ don’t work in construction. You have to stay on these guys all of the time. People ask me what I do for a living, and I tell them I own an adult daycare center.” That said, Stumpo cares for her guys like they’re her extended family.
Stumpo says her on-the-job toughness can be chalked up to a few hard knocks—with the death of her brother when she was 26 being most difficult— her North Shore roots and a genetic disposition toward being a strict taskmaster. But what truly sets her apart as a contractor, she says, is the “why factor.” As a teenager, asking her father “why” to the point of delirium while shadowing him in his businesses taught her the ropes. Now, she asks herself the same question dozens of times a day to ensure that her homes are well thought out and not merely a product of protocol.
Meanwhile, Stumpo’s neighborhood nucleus is holding strong in an economic downturn. She has upped the ante, reinventing the outside façades of her homes and using little restraint when it comes to interior bells and whistles—because when the going gets tough, Stumpo gets tougher and her projects become more beautiful.