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Tyler Hays, Craftsman Extraordinaire

Tyler Hays, Craftsman Extraordinaire

October 1, 2019 by

Hilary Jay Hilary Jay

4_Deck_Swing.jpg

If today is like most, Tyler Hays woke up around 3 am, sketched ideas for a wood gasication kiln for ceramics; considered pizza dough recipes for his new brewery at a century-old general store in Lostine, Ore. (population 214); and checked production schedules on his latest wingback chair and leather credenza. By sunrise, he was no doubt plotting out strategies to end America’s reliance on planned obsolescence. “I have a bit of a disease,” admits Hays, 51, a self-described hillbilly, of his lifelong compulsion for making everything he needs or desires. Like a scene from A River Runs Through It, Hays grew up in rural Oregon, hunting elk and deer, fishing trout, and even sewing and cooking. After art school, he moved to Manhattan, where he successfully navigated the gallery milieu. Paintings sold, but “I didn’t like the complications of needing to make art to eat,” he says. Plying deft carpentry skills and engineering acumen provided enough cashflow to found BDDW (bddw.com) in the mid-1990s, now an American heritage and luxury brand based in Philadelphia. Hays is the sole designer for BDDW, as well as for the M. Crow brand of handcrafted home goods and clothing. In his North Philadelphia complex, 80 or so artisans kiln-dry American hardwoods for frames, forge chandelier parts, sand and polish live edge tabletops and weave upholstery yardage. They produce one-of-a-kind ceramic dinnerware, vessels and tiles from proprietary Frankford clay, painting them with blue-and-white drawings inspired by the salt-glazed crocks his mother collected. “We make our own denim and buttons; the springs in our upholstery are all hand-tied,” Hays says. “And we built some of the machines we work on.” Not surprisingly, prices are just as exquisite, with furniture running from $10,000 to $100,000 or more. A cult-like following of rock stars, high-flying CEOs and international design cognoscenti happily buys it all. "I had no idea of the journey I was embarking on, or that I had this inside me,” Hays says. "We planned to do furniture for the people—populist and affordable—because I assumed it was a better business model. But, I was allowed by my clients to follow my true passion of quality and artisanship, sparing no expense.”

9_Leather_Credenza.jpg













Tyler Hays, Craftsman Extraordinaire

October 1, 2019 by Hilary Jay

4_Deck_Swing.jpg

If today is like most, Tyler Hays woke up around 3 am, sketched ideas for a wood gasication kiln for ceramics; considered pizza dough recipes for his new brewery at a century-old general store in Lostine, Ore. (population 214); and checked production schedules on his latest wingback chair and leather credenza. By sunrise, he was no doubt plotting out strategies to end America’s reliance on planned obsolescence. “I have a bit of a disease,” admits Hays, 51, a self-described hillbilly, of his lifelong compulsion for making everything he needs or desires. Like a scene from A River Runs Through It, Hays grew up in rural Oregon, hunting elk and deer, fishing trout, and even sewing and cooking. After art school, he moved to Manhattan, where he successfully navigated the gallery milieu. Paintings sold, but “I didn’t like the complications of needing to make art to eat,” he says. Plying deft carpentry skills and engineering acumen provided enough cashflow to found BDDW (bddw.com) in the mid-1990s, now an American heritage and luxury brand based in Philadelphia. Hays is the sole designer for BDDW, as well as for the M. Crow brand of handcrafted home goods and clothing. In his North Philadelphia complex, 80 or so artisans kiln-dry American hardwoods for frames, forge chandelier parts, sand and polish live edge tabletops and weave upholstery yardage. They produce one-of-a-kind ceramic dinnerware, vessels and tiles from proprietary Frankford clay, painting them with blue-and-white drawings inspired by the salt-glazed crocks his mother collected. “We make our own denim and buttons; the springs in our upholstery are all hand-tied,” Hays says. “And we built some of the machines we work on.” Not surprisingly, prices are just as exquisite, with furniture running from $10,000 to $100,000 or more. A cult-like following of rock stars, high-flying CEOs and international design cognoscenti happily buys it all. "I had no idea of the journey I was embarking on, or that I had this inside me,” Hays says. "We planned to do furniture for the people—populist and affordable—because I assumed it was a better business model. But, I was allowed by my clients to follow my true passion of quality and artisanship, sparing no expense.”

9_Leather_Credenza.jpg