Saturday, January 21, 2012

Fresh Food on a Snowy Day

Even in the dead of winter, it is possible to put together a fresh meal.

For today: chicken soup, hot cocoa and tapioca pudding

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


 Lotuff Wells Bag.

If TDP readers were asked to imagine a luxury line of products that could compete globally on, for example, the Main Floor of Barneys, what might their commandments be?
One suspects they would include:
  • Be made in the U.S., and for some, preferably even in New England
  • Use very high quality materials.
  • Use very high quality craftsmanship.
  • Epitomize simple, timeless designs. The product should be as understated as possible, yet beautiful. The quality should enable a Shaker-esque (or is it better to say Steve Jobs-esque) simplicity. It should have absolutely no bling or unnecessary adornments. 
  • Design so that the product will be in service 30 years now. Parts inevitably destined to be worn should be easy to replace. In fact, it should get better with age. Of course the company itself should stand behind the products.
These are, interestingly enough, the same guidelines Lotuff is following. Their goal is to embody these principles.

Brothers Joe (left) and Rick (right) Lotuff

Talk started with design.

"A designer knows that he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away" - Antoine de St-Expurey
 Craftsmen, some with over 30 contiguous years of experience around building and repairing bags, add a perspective around design, especially when the explicit goal is to create products that will last that long and longer.

The Signature Handbag in Red
Learning about interiors and layouts.
Having handled one of the bags gingerly. Joe set things straight. (Insert your own early days of football reference here!)
The manufacturing process starts with the vegetable-tanned leather.

Rick explained why they use vegetable tanned leather. The more popular alternative is to use an iron based process (chromium) which actually rusts over time, leading to cracks in the leather.
Stacks of Leather
For precision, each product is cut one at a time. (Mass producing, in contrast, requires the cutting of stacks at a time, which often results in mismatched shapes.) 

The tools included modern and ancient.

(And I got to choose my number!)

These bags have no exterior logo, though they can be monogrammed.    Historically, it recalls the old custom suits.  But in today's brand-obsessed world, when purchases are made first to be shown off, having a product that projects substance from every pore rather than relying on the crutch of a super-sized logo seems so civilized.
And then the real assembly began.
The hammer is an incredibly useful and satisfying tool of the trade.
Some of the final steps (like fire) being applied to other items.
The final Lotuff products glow.
The Exquisite Lotuff Small Leather Tote
The Lotuff iPad Case.

Rick, Joe, Greg, and Lindy
Perhaps the substantive journey of record here is New England's. Because at the same time the largest corporations are pandering to the lowest brow tastes (and collectively scuttling their organizations for the next generation in the process), many emerging companies written about here are competing at all market price points and all over the world by uniquely meeting the needs of new breeds of customers with classic tastes. 

Together, they are creating, taking on, and leading previously ceded market segments (and employing our neighbors in the process). This export of taste and values and even sanity is the true tale worth chronicling.