On the Road with West Falls: Big Sur, CA

by Nina Myers McCammon


Kelly Shea and Brendan Banks of West Falls, a creative studio on wheels, are crisscrossing the country in a restored 1984 VW camper van until approximately Thanksgiving and sharing a weekly diary and gorgeous photography with 50 States of Style readers.

West Falls Studio

Today Kelly and Brendan (AKA "a couple of hippies") are sharing their thoughts on Big Sur, which happens to be one of my favorite places on the planet. They captured it so perfectly...I can practically smell the kelpy coastal air from 3,000 miles away. Hope everyone has an amazing weekend and a very happy Halloween!

West Falls Studio

What we saw...
Big Sur has a spectacular coastline lined with steep cliffs and breathtaking flora, but what makes the experience of visiting so entrancing is the fog.  It rolls in and out, concealing and revealing parts of the landscape at short intervals and adding an air of mystery around every winding turn.  Driving up and down in the course of an hour can show you walls of white and then expanses of blue.

West Falls Studio

What we ate...
Our drive brought us back to Nepenthe, a spot that we had eaten last year when we had done a camping trip to Big Sur. The restaurant is located right on the cliffs and overlooks the water.  I had a veggie burger and Brendan had the "ambrosia burger" (both excellent), but the view alone would have fulfilled our appetites. We waited for seats on the railing, where we looked down at the kelp-filled waters below.

West Falls Studio

Who we met...
When we stopped the van along one of Big Sur's many pull-outs for a venture down to the beach, a white-haired, white-bearded man sitting in his car stopped us. "Are you guys a couple of hippies?" he said. "No, not us," said Brendan. "Good," he replied, sort of laughing and returning to his cross word puzzle. We still joke about this.

On the radio...
This American Life #529: Human Spectacle

West Falls Studio

Van start time...
7:00 p.m.

Where to next?
Yosemite, CA

West Falls Studio


Autumn Blend: 9 Fall Cravings for the Home

by Nina Myers McCammon


Clockwise from top left: 1. Color Theory wall hanging; 2. Vermont Farmhouse maple rolling pins; 3. Creekside Farms magnolia wreath; 4. Solid Manufacturing campfire stool; 5. Schoolhouse Electric crescent moon bird framed art; 6.. Langdon Wood barrel aged maple syrup; 7. Insek Design copper hanging planter; 8. Finex cast iron skillet and cover; 9. Woolrich wool throw blanket.

Warm desert shades and coppery accents; an inviting but not overly holiday-esque wreath to hang on the front door; a cast-iron skillet with an ergonomic handle that really does make the best pancakes; something delicious to pour over said breakfast (this stuff is seriously the best we've tried in a long time thanks to its subtle bourbon kick); a rolling pin that makes a mean pie but also looks good displayed; the sweetest little fireplace stool; and of course, a cozy American-made blanket for cold fall days.

 


A Peek Inside Etsy Headquarters

by Nina Myers McCammon


When my friend Dayna, a publicist at Etsy (shown below in front of that amazing mural!) invited me to dine with her at "Eatsy," I jumped at the chance. "Eatsy" is a cleverly-named catered lunch that Etsy provides its staffers and their guests free of charge (!) at their DUMBO headquarters in Brooklyn every Tuesday and Thursday. On those days, employees and their friends begin lining up in the cafeteria at around noon for a buffet-style feast from local restaurants and caterers like Ted & Honey, Nahvae Frost, The Meatball Shop, and Mile End. An interesting meat and vegetarian option is always provided.

On the day I visited, there was a choice of beef or Moroccan stew, loads of dipping sauces, and no shortage of bread. Some employees chose to eat lunch at their desks, but many of them poured into the sunny, plant-lined cafeteria, and dined together at communal-style tables. It was so refreshing to see colleagues and friends actually taking a break from their busy work days to eat a hot meal and enjoy each other's company.

After lunch, Dayna gave me a tour of her office. It's obvious based on decorative choices alone that there's a huge push to promote creativity, team building, and to support local businesses. Artwork made by either Etsy admins or makers is proudly displayed all over the office, including (but not limited to!) various murals, yarn-wrapped pipes, an oversize owl mascot named "Mir Grit" by artist Conrad Carlson that welcomes visitors in reception, and large industrial felt panels framing the doorway to the newsroom-style offices. There are nods to the world of handmade at every turn. 

There's no shortage of meeting rooms either, all slightly different, and there are no landlines on desks, which makes for a quieter, less chaotic environment; if someone needs to make a call they can use their cell phone or enter one of several cozy "phone rooms" on the perimeter of the office, one of which actually mimics a Britsh-style booth from the outside (shown above); once inside the booth, the similarities end, as there are no windows and Legos are playfully scattered across a desk. Every room in the office, whether it's one of the phone booths, the on-site Etsy "museum of unusual history," or meeting rooms, have punny names like "Soy Division" and "Depeche a la Mode." The majority of Etsy employees live in Brooklyn and ride their bikes to work, so there's a whole room off the entrance devoted to bike storage. Check out that colorful graphic mural (below). Can you imagine starting and ending your day in such a cheerful environment? The bike room is also where Etsy keeps its compost bike. Etsy composts. Of course.

I thanked Dayna for a fun afternoon and headed out through the dramatic, vertical planter-lined entrance (commissioned by Greenery NYC). Once I was back out on the street, I started thinking about what appealed to me so much about their offices and I realized it was the quirkiness and lack of sterility and stuffiness. I can't say what it's like to actually work at Etsy—that's a post I'm certainly not qualified to write!—but I was definitely inspired by their clever and enlightened decorating choices and I left smiling and with a full belly.