New York moment (with the Bureau of Friends)

The Bureau of Friends mixed up a very nice New York evening last Wednesday. This is the seconds event we (the Bureau) have concocted, this one yielded a great conversation inspired by 20 interesting doers. Mostly local to NY. The conversation revolved (literally) around stitching (with depression era techniques taught by Natalie Chanin). We all kept our hands busy, while talking about our own projects which ranged from Hello Kitty Crop circles (Gordon Hull), to the film Billie the Kid (Jennifer Venditte), and so much more. Instead of going on about it I’m going to link to Pilar Viladas’s posting today in the NYT’s blog about the event, she summed it up perfectly…


(Here’s the post below, and here’s the direct link, also my pictures from the evening)



October 30, 2009, 10:00 am

Meeting In Progress | The Bureau of Friends

By Pilar Viladas

Bureau of Friends
Photos courtesy Bureau of Friends The table, set for sewing and snacking.

Not long ago, I attended a meeting of the Bureau of Friends, a recently formed group of creative people devoted to the appreciation of beauty, the pursuit of quality and authenticity, and how best to attain those things without killing the planet. Masterminded by Maria Moyer, the founder of WINK Communications, its charter members also include Cathy Bailey, the creative director and co-owner of Heath; Natalie Chanin, the founder of the clothing company Alabama Chanin; Julie Gilhart, the fashion director of Barneys New York; and Nicole Mackinlay Hahn, a digital artist and the founder of Reap What You Sew, which promotes awareness of trade and sustainability issues. The members of the bureau like to get together and invite people to talk about their projects, ideas and ideologies. But what made this meeting — the second of three in the bureau’s “Making and Meaning” series — particularly memorable was that everybody sewed.

Bureau of Friends
Natalie Chanin talks craft.

I knew from the invitation that we were going to be making a memento of our evening, but I had no idea that when I sat down at the long table that had been set at Partners & Spade on Great Jones Street, I’d be presented with a stack of cotton knit squares, several spools of thread, a needle and scissors. I gulped; apart from a couple of needlepoint pillows, I hadn’t actually made anything in decades. But after the friends — particularly Chanin, whose artisans are trained in Depression-era stitching traditions — spoke briefly to the assembled guests, who included editors, designers, filmmakers, creative directors, etc., I plunged in. Unlike many design or fashion-industry gatherings, this had a distinctly nonpromotional slant, made all the more so by the fact that everyone was stitching away as they talked and listened. No resolutions, big ideas, or deals came out of the evening — and if the follow-up e-mail messages were any indication, the Bureau of Friends is onto something with its latter-day sewing circle approach to the professional powwow. Next, they’re off to Los Angeles, where they are organizing another by-invitation event to kick off the Opportunity Green business conference, which takes place Nov. 7-8 at U.C.L.A.

Bureau of Friends

A product of the evening.