Just when you think every possible “content” story has already been unearthed, obsessed over and whirled around by a bunch of blogs — Dustin Cohen goes and tells the fascinating tale of Conrad Milster, Pratt Institute’s long time chief eccentric (and engineer). This brilliant story is about as interesting and touching as I have ever seen in a short little Vimeo. The take away, this man is incredible and New York certainly doesn’t make em like Conrad anymore. Much admiration both to him and Dustin for keeping things interesting around here.
The idea of “simplicity” seems to get thrown around quite a bit. It’s something Apple has used to build a literal mountain of cash (that and 10,000 other genius ideas — lest we get carried away here) and it’s a concept that everyone seems to rally around regardless if their business is making cheap fast fashion or high-end luxury. At the same time, it’s something that lies at the core of ACL, but simple is not the only thing I’m looking for. It’s when simple is combined with tradition, consistency and quality that things really become an obsession.
What does this have to do with a film about scissors? Everything.
There are few companies that do a better job with design than Best Made Co. From the packaging to the product to the company’s TriBeCa shop, everything is beautifully arranged. Much of the reason everything is so aesthetically on-point draws back to the company’s founder and chief creative Peter Buchanan-Smith. If you consider his work across the varied projects and organizations which he has contributed, you start to get a glimpse into the simplicity and beauty of his approach. I’ve met Peter on a few occasions before, and I’ve known him to be both extremely smart and exceedingly kind man. It seems that everything he does is appealing to me in one way or another. Even if it is a subject matter that I am not inherently interested in, Peter’s enthusiasm and his approach always seem to lure me in.
There’s a lot of content out in the world today. Much of it barely deserved of a spot in the YouTube line up. And then there is this film, a masterful look at the life and work of John Benton. Now let us all bow down at the alter of Benton Performance. These are going to be the best six minutes of your day. Fuck. Me.
Thanks to Silver Arrows for the tip.
Over the past few years the guys at Hodinkee have quietly ramped up to become prolific producers of content, churning out watch editorial from all over the world. Two recently released videos are focused on subjects closer to home. The first (above) is another installment in the Talking Watches series —which shines a light on the collections of celebrities, athletes and aesthetes alike— profiles Man of the World founder Alan Maleh. You may have met Alan at one of the Pop Up Flea events, or maybe you have shopped at his store Gentry; anyone who has had even the shortest brush with him can easily recognize that the man is as product obsessed. He’s a prolific collector of everything from Japanese denim, to classic cars and of course, watches. This video doesn’t do him justice, though it is a nice glimpse into his (quasi-insane) watch collection.
Generally I feel comfortable away from home. I’ve lived in New York for 12 years and I don’t ever think I will feel like a New Yorker. I don’t think I ever want to. When I say “home” I am referring to Ohio. It’s a place I have barely lived as an adult, but it is still where I feel like I fit best into the world. There’s some sort of Midwestern draw that comes back to me very quickly when I am there. My business partner and I are both from Ohio and I think we both like to hire people from the Midwest because we all seem to think about the world in similar ways. We just make sense to each other. It’s also the reason we love to work with Red Wing. Part of it is the spirit of the company, and part of it is the people. Nothing is forced and nothing is insincere. If something doesn’t make sense, they don’t do it.
A few months ago I flew to Minneapolis to see Red Wing, but we didn’t drive down to its headquarters on the Mississippi, we got in a car and drove a few hours straight into the Wisconsin countryside to Eau Claire. With the talented director Andrew David Watson, we set out to make a film about the supremely talented musician Justin Vernon. We knew that he had an affinity for Red Wing and that he has been wearing the boots for years, having learned of the brand the same way I did, from his dad. More than make a marketing video, Red Wing really just wanted to tell Justin’s story because it is honest and real.
There’s an unwritten rule on ACL where I try and make a point of not doing overtly obnoxious blogger things – though I’m sure some find me overtly obnoxious nonetheless. I attempt to avoid posting pictures of myself on this site and I don’t actively post any sort of press coverage that I am fortunate enough to get. Part of the reason I avoid this stuff is because I don’t want this site to be about me per se, I want the focus to be on the truly interesting and deserving people, places and stories that are out in the world. Though recently I have been struggling internally about going against my self-prescribed code to post a video that involves me in a roundabout way. Ultimately, I decided that the benefits for the subject of the video outweigh the possibilities an appearance of a self-congratulatory blogger parade.
Chris Hughes from Omaha, Nebraska struggled himself, though in a much more real way. He grappled with the recession spending the better part of a year being unemployed or underemployed. During this troubling time of his life he started to focus energy making leather goods, bags and aprons on the side. He hoped to transform his hobby into a business and take a massive leap of faith to leave his job with health insurance to work on his company Artifact Bag Co. full time. In December of 2010 he did just that and has been building Artifact ever since. In a TEDx talk in Omaha he recently gave a speech (see video above) about a tweet and our brief encounter that changed his life.