Birchfield Hardware was founded out of the belief that a product should last a lifetime, hopefully more than one lifetime, rather than clutter a landfill. So we spend most of our time searching the globe for makers producing products that meet our high standards for design, materials, and craftsmanship. Thankfully, one of the many personal reasons I founded Birchfield Hardware was to align my work with a lifelong interest in travel. I had this in my previous careers working in publishing and foreign affairs and I appreciated traveling to interesting destinations like Japan, Denmark, and Columbia with a specific purpose. Don't get me wrong, there's certainly a place for leisure travel and I hope to have plenty of that in my future, but work travel, when you're doing something you deeply enjoy, yields an altogether different experience. I find that I meet a diverse group of people and go far beyond the tourist path while traveling with a purpose. And in the case of sourcing products and partnerships for Birchfield Hardware it takes me to the doorstep of some very interesting entrepreneurs, out of the way shops, and towns and neighborhoods known for small, often family-owned manufacturers. These are places that feel very authentic and often don't show up in tourist guides.
Over the course of this year we plan to travel throughout Europe, Japan, and the U.S. in search of undiscovered makers producing goods intended to last a lifetime. The first trip I'd like to share takes us to a city where I have a long history and that never fails to provide plenty of inspiration. New York. Here are just a few favorites. – J.F.
La Columbe Coffee Roasters
What I love about about La Columbe, beyond their great coffee, is the Scandinavian openness and careful selection of high quality materials used in their shop. Every element of their space exudes quality and craftsmanship and they clearly take the same level of care with their coffee roasting.
The High Line
Originally built in 1934 as an overhead train track running from 34th to Spring Street, The High Line is now a 1.45 mile aerial rails-to-trails park that is truly an oasis in the city. A masterpiece of urban planning that draws nearly 5 million visitors anually.
Before departing Portland I asked the city's best bartenders at Rum Club, Expatriate, and Ava Gene's which NYC bars they considered to be the most influential on the trade. They each offered a number of contenders, but all included Death & Company on their list. The bartender on the evening of our visit provided a valuable consultation on barware and we're now carrying the impressive Japanese Bitters Bottle she recommended as a result.
The Ace Hotel
A great start to any day in NYC involves a cup of Stumptown Coffee and bit of news reading in the Ace Hotel lobby. Many people don't realize that the Ace Hotel empire – now in London, L.A., New York – launched with a humble beginning in Seattle.