Let the neighbors carve old-fashioned jack-o'-lanterns from great pumpkins. People who aspire to the plugged-in lifestyle might consider something less homespun for their Halloween party porch decor: the minimalist glow of a bright orange "Jack" lamp.
This wired plastic fixture would cast a distinctly high-tech shadow beside the candy bowl. Jack's not at all spooky, but very stylish -- the designer is trendy Londoner Tom Dixon. And it has advantages. It won't age, attract squirrels or leave a mess.
Of course, Jack was not created for Halloween. It was designed as an indoor lamp that triples as chair, table and toy. But New York's trendy Totem showroom, which sells Dixon's designs, sets Jack lamps outside on opening nights to alert the design faithful that something is happening inside.
Jacks are made under Dixon's Eurolounge label and can be ordered locally for $485 from Apartment Zero, the new design emporium on Seventh Street, which celebrated its official opening Thursday. Totem offers them through its Web site, www.totemdesign.co. The site calls them "a must have for any Y2K bunker," although they do need a power supply.
Says Totem's co-owner, Gail Schultz, "Some people buy them for the children's rooms. Others are more sophisticated and looking for something fun for the more casual rooms in the house."
Dixon has designed a stackable version, sort of a Lego of lighting fixtures. And he makes a smaller cousin, the "Star" light, which Apartment Zero is displaying in white for $324.
So far, Jack customers have favored white, followed by red and purple, according to Schultz. The lamp also comes in blue, green, natural, phosphorous and yellow.
Halloween notwithstanding, Apartment Zero co-owner Christopher Ralston expressed surprise that orange had turned up as the color of the season in Washington. Customers recently snapped up all his bright orange fleece clocks, leaving a stack of neutrals behind.
"We underestimated the popularity of orange," he reports. "Washington bought us out in orange. We had stocked up on gray."
His interpretation: The conservative exterior is just a front. Inside, Washingtonians are really "very hip and cool."
At last, a mailbox designed for modern living.
Smith & Hawken is offering mailboxes intended to accommodate bulky Federal Express envelopes and even the Yellow Pages. The heavy-gauge stainless steel model measures 111/4-by-15-by-41/2 inches and sells for $149, including a leather patch announcing "US MAIL."
The line, by Ecco, is in the fall Smith & Hawken catalogue and stores, including the newest one here, in Georgetown. It is designed to be mounted on a wall with screws and a bracket, but should remain under cover and away from rain or direct sun.
Ecco also makes a hand-polished stainless steel shelf sized for a newspaper. But that would require a paperboy with impeccable aim.
POINTING THE WAY
There are maps. And then there are silk maps.
The delicate squares at the National Building Museum's shop were designed to take a stranger in Paris from the Arc de Triomphe to the Luxembourg Gardens without missing a boulevard or Metro stop -- and without catching cold. The 18-inch-square map doubles as a stylish silk scarf.
More than a fashion statement, such maps are a historic blend of form and function. Easy to hide, easy to read and light as air, they were essential survival gear for Allied pilots and paratroopers during World War II.
Microsoie, the Montreal company that makes them today, provides a short history. Alex Spencer, specialist at the National Air and Space Museum, adds crucial detail. They were "escape maps," produced by the hundreds of thousands in the United States. The maps detailed a theater of operations, rather than a city, and bomber crews would have tucked them away in a pocket or sewn them into the lining of a jacket. What's more, they were actually made of rayon, because silk was in short supply.
New ones are silk, with wide white borders destined to make peacetime wearers feel chic. The Web site www.microsoie.com shows how to tie one like a Parisian.
Washingtonians can plan their own escape routes now that Microsoie has detailed the city center in two sizes. The NBM shop, at 401 F St. NW, offers a foulard for $16 and a smaller handkerchief for $10.
Spitfire not included.