One of the great things about New York is that it harbours some of the best (pardon the pun) owner-managed stores that we know. The types of places that are clearly labours of love, borne from personal experience and an artisanal commitment to quality. One such store is Best Made Company, nestled in the heart of TriBeCa and founded in 2009 by graphic-designer Peter Buchanan-Smith. Conceived from Peter’s desire to create a better axe, the store now offers a wide range of clothing, tools, accessories and homewares; all of which stay true to Peter’s original commitment to making something that was high-quality, functional and honoured the traditions of the product concerned. However, this is not just any outdoors store, these are goods designed to pass through generations and is worth a visit for anyone interested in utilitarian design.
Best Made’s history is an interesting one and helps explain the ethos that is evident throughout their entire product line. It was through Peter Buchanan-Smith’s varied experiences, including paddling and portaging the lakes of North Canada, that he identified the need to create a better axe (he struggled to find one that could chop wood small enough to make a truly hot fire). This he did (note that the axe is the product of a collaboration with Council Tool, a technical review of which is here) and the axe became the start of the Best Made offering, reflecting to this day the ethos of the brand. The company sees the axe as a symbol of survival, productivity and broader virtues; virtues which they adopt in their wider business. With this mindset, in 2010 (the year their axe featured as part of a Saatchi Gallery exhibition in London) Best Made extended their catalogue by working with trusted designers and manufacturers, ensuring that expansion did not mean compromise of the brand’s values.
It should be made clear that Best Made Company is not simply a destination for woodsmen, it will be appreciated by anyone interested in good design, clothing and looking for something a little more credible than the usual run-of-the-mill offerings. It is an ideal place to find unusual gifts or homewares and during our visit people were buying pen knives (expressed to be an item that was going to be passed to the purchaser’s son), clothing and bags. Speaking of generational spanning penknives, Best Made stocks the (eye-wateringly expensive) but nevertheless highly coveted Chris Reeve Sebenza 21. For our part, we left with enamel mugs, bowls, outdoor stools and a few more accessories along the way. That said, we still regret not picking up one of their blankets so a return visit is definitely in order.
The store itself is an example of well-thought out and beautiful design. Products adorn the walls together with historic artefacts – Eames designed leg splints anyone? There are so many interesting items, in such a relatively small space, that it is worryingly easy for time to pass you by as you browse the walls as well as the products. For those wanting to put their newly acquired goods into action, Best Made Company also offer a number of workshops, including axe restoration and field medicine. That said, we think Foraged Cocktail making has our name written all over it…
The facts: Best Made Company is located at 36 White Street, NY10013 (btn Church Street and Broadway). Opening Hours are Monday – Saturday noon – 7pm and Sunday noon – 6pm. Their website can be found here and their twitter handle is @BestMadeCo