“Sometimes a Great Notion”
One of the more intriguing companies I have written about is aLegna, a company I like because they often describe themselves as having “a passion wood,” and indeed they do. There is something about creating things with wood that is shared by, as Shakespeare might have put it, we few, we happy few, we band of brothers. OK, OK, I do actually know that those immortal lines were written for a band of brothers going into combat, there to kill or be killed, leaving a field of carnage in their wake. Even so, there is a smaller “band of brothers” that creates no more mess than a floor littered with wood shavings to be swept out at the end of the day, an imaginative group that spends many lifetimes looking for ways to create a better lifestyle for us all. That could be a “band of brothers” too, don’t you think? Who knows? Perhaps one day we’ll raise the cry, “Once more unto the breach, dear friends,” and have nothing more martial in mind that a better method for joining wood. On that happy day we may well beat our swords into plowshares, or better still, into chisels and wood planes! But I digress. What I really wanted to do when I sat down at this keyboard was talk about aLegna, so let’s get into that.
What I find particularly intriguing about aLegna is the direction in which their passion for wood has taken them, namely the design and manufacture of a number of utterly stunning items for the bathroom. The item that tops this blog is very much a case in point. Both the vanity and the sinks that set atop it are of their design and manufacture. Their sinks have always blown my mind pretty much, but what most intrigued me about this particular tableau is the way they matched the wood grain across the face of their vanity. Of course, the fact that it’s walnut surely adds to the mystique of the piece. More and more these days we are living in the land of cheap, so to see a vanity made of honest-to-goodness black walnut is rare indeed, not to mention extremely satisfying. And it is that very thing that brings an air of singular luxury to any room in which it resides.
But even though it was the vanity that first warmed the cockles of this old woodworker’s heart, I have to confess that the wood sinks are a decided miracle. I have done enough research into the subject to be convinced to a moral certainty that there are a number of products that will effectively waterproof wood, waterproof it to such an extent, in fact, that you can actually run the item through several cycles of a dishwasher with no ill effects to either wood or protective finish! But for all that I do know that these things can be done, still, whenever I see wood sinks and tubs in use I am amazed once again.
With this new and growing line of products, aLegna is often present at various Homeowners Exhibitions in Europe. No, that’s not true! Yes, they are present; and yes, they are considerably more than simply present. aLegna is one of the stars of those various exhibitions and looking at the quality and innovation of their products, it’s not hard to see why this is so.
What is more difficult to explain to the uninitiated in the USA is the sort of competition any European company faces these days, an area in which they are very much still racing to the top, both in working conditions and in product standards. It’s a lesson Wal-Mart learned to their chagrin a few years ago when they abandoned their expansion plans in Germany after nine years of embarrassment. Most unlike our own country, a mistreated working staff purveying inferior products was an abysmal failure. It’s because Europe still protects the rights of those who work and values highly the product of their hands. It’s a lesson we might do well to emulate here. We are in bathrooms and kitchens every day of our lives and touch those fixtures and that cabinetry constantly. Why not treat yourself to the very best? Just a notion I have!
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