An Evening with Vermont Makers

We had a blast with the teams from Imhotep Design, Birdwalk Press, and Stonecutter Spirits at our Designed by Tradition Maker Panel at the beautiful Scout & Company Coffee Shop in Burlington, Vermont's North End. 

The night started with delicious small bites from Scout & Co. and 'Alpine Love' cocktails from Stonecutter, featuring their award winning single barrel gin, homemade pineapple/juniper/grapefruit syrup, and soda. The group took their places and the conversation was underway. 

Founder Lou Joseph started the night with a quick intro to the Alps & Meters brand and creative process. We started by discussing the origin of each of our brands, from Lou's discovery of a vintage ski sweater in Sweden, to Mina of Birdwalk's creative yearnings while working in the field of Plant Science. Sas and Sivan, the Founders of Stonecutter first conceived of aging gin in Vermont when they couldn't access the types of liquors that they wanted to drink. David from Imhotep created a few pieces of furniture and caught the bug. In each story, founders were driven by creativity. By a desire to make something that reflected an appreciation for goods that were rooted in tradition, while also updating and modernizing the process, technique, and design.

Sas Stewart of Stonecutter Spirits and Alps & Meters Founder Lou Joseph

Sas Stewart of Stonecutter Spirits and Alps & Meters Founder Lou Joseph

 

We discussed how design innovation can be intimidating, without the validation of the herd behind you. At Imhotep, a Design/Build firm, David Rossiter and his team often have to talk clients into trusting the process, knowing that folks can be scared to do things that are perceived as different. According to David, they're always thrilled with the results. 

If it’s not uncomfortable, you’re not doing something that interesting. You have to believe in the process. It’s going to be a little weird, but when we’re done you’re going to have something unique and something interesting, and your neighbors aren’t going to have it. You’re not going to see it anywhere else. That’s how we move forward in this process. That’s how we get to have new things.
— David Rossiter of Imhotep

We discussed breakthroughs in the entrepreneurial journey, whether it was Stonecutter Spirits going "Double Gold" at the prestigious World Spirits Competition, or Birdwalk receiving an inbound call from one of the top stationary stores in the world. The panel agreed that it's these victories that makes the entrepreneurial journey worthwhile and so fulfilling. 

Tradition was a topic that each panelist had a unique take on. At Alps & Meters, tradition informs every piece that we make. We take inspiration from the past and update classic silhouettes with natural materials and contemporary technologies, but much of our design is informed by the ski wear that's been forgotten over the years. 

Ian Johnson of Birdwalk Press

Ian Johnson of Birdwalk Press

In letterpress tradition, the goal was NOT to make a tactile imprint on the paper. Ian and Mina explained that that's exactly the opposite of what their clients are now looking for. Although they're printing using vintage German presses that are over 60 years old, the craft has been flipped on its head, and the format has changed. They came to letterpress printing specifically because they love the tradition of handwritten correspondence, and wanted to do their part to keep the handwritten note alive. 

Sas Stewart talked about the tradition of barrel aging, and the way that they're modernizing the process at Stonecutter. Their first whiskey is currently aging, and they've taken a bit of a different approach to the process. Sas says that this whiskey will be "distilled like a bourbon, aged like an Irish Whiskey, and finished like a Scotch", offering a unique flavor profile. Their first whiskey will be available this June, after four years of barrel aging. 

Barrel aging at Stonecutter Spirits

Barrel aging at Stonecutter Spirits

David and Imhotep certainly have a reverence for traditional building techniques as well, all while trying to innovate in the field of design. They have no interest in creating replicas of houses that have already been built. David and his team instead are inspired to create something totally different and new. 

Big thanks to our partners and panelists for this Vermont Designed by Tradition stop! Keep an eye out for future events by subscribing below.