There is nothing more pleasant than living a life dedicated to naturalness. Here at A&H, living well is something of extreme importance to us; we take the idea of a well-lived life seriously. Intimate details such as knowing where your food comes from and using natural, organic ingredients to prepare meals is further vital to us. Ideas like less is more and “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” rings true. Kipos is a company with aims of spreading light on living a natural and stylish life. Bryan Cash, founder of this very unique company, shared with us his ideas on the well-lived, his limited products, and advice on how to start living a more organic lifestyle.
When was Kipos founded?
Kipos was founded in the summer of 2011 and presented its first offerings in the spring of 2012.
What was the inspiration for creating Kipos?
The inspiration was many-faceted and long-brewing, from Yvon Chouinard’s example of a sustainable business creating durable low-impact products (Patagonia) to Alice Water’s project to recreate a bit of French culinary integrity in California and invigorate local farming in the process (Chez Panisse) to Axel Vervoordt’s search for authenticity and beauty in living environments (with his art, antiques, and interior design business) and Prince Charles’s (of Wales) quest to convert all of his properties to organic methods, decades ago, when most people thought it was crazy. There are many more that I could list, but I think it was a sort of subconscious amalgamation of many things that I admire together with a habit of researching endlessly that led to the desire to create a collection of great objects.
Kipos offers beautiful garden tools in bronze. What is your background in relation to gardening?
I have always loved gardens. They might be my favorite thing. My experience thus far has been in small kitchen gardens: vegetables, herbs, and maybe a fruit tree. This is the sort of garden mainly in mind in regard to the gardening gear planned for offer at Kipos. However, I enjoy all kinds of gardens and read extensively on the subject, including works about garden design, the biodynamic methods suggested by Rudolf Steiner, Prince Charles’s work in organic cultivation (mentioned above), Masanobu Fukuoka’s writings, and the works of Viktor Schauberger and texts on his ideas. Viktor Schauberger created bronze ploughs and was the inspiration for the crafting, in his native Austria, of the garden tools we offer. His ideas are fascinating and I highly recommend his writings on nature. I am also looking forward to reading the work of F.H. King, about traditional farming in the East, and Lord Northbourne, the 4th Baron Northbourne, who created the term or phrase “organic farming.”
Tell us about your other products like the wooden cooking utensils and the clay cooking vessels.
I am a purist and spend completely unreasonable amounts of time looking for what I consider just the right objects, or at least what seem to be the best available. I was happy to find the wooden cooking utensils made with untreated wood, which really seems the best way for cooking utensils. The linen offered at Kipos comes from a small mill in Austria that I was thrilled to find. Besides the pleasantness of working with a small skilled operation, they are the most focused on the naturalness of linen that I have found, paying great attention to the sources of the fiber and doing all their processing and finishing without chemicals (a rarity in the modern textile trade). I learned about clay cooking pots a number of years ago and have loved them ever since. There is a feeling to cooking with them that is hard to describe, besides maybe just “Earthy or elemental,” and they really do seem to enhance the flavor of food. I love to cook whole grain rice or fresh stock in them, but pretty much anything seems to reach a new level in a clay pot. I love the red-orange terracotta of Italy and chose to have the maker use just a clear glaze to let the natural color be the focus.
Kipos encourages one to live a well-lived life. Can you elaborate on what the brand’s idea of a well-lived life is?
This is an important part of the idea behind Kipos. It has a lot to do with paying attention to details, while still being able to understand the bigger picture wherein they combine. To really understand a good meal, you have to understand from where the ingredients have originated. Or to furnish a home, it really takes a great deal of thought (or innate good taste) going into each piece. We also think of process being as important as the end result. This is not necessarily a new idea, but one that I think is often forgotten. The tools you use and the experience they create is a big part of what creates the result. It is not enough to have good ingredients; you must also have good tools. Synthetic materials beget synthetic lives. That is why Kipos focuses on natural materials and pursuits that we consider to be essential to a dynamic and healthy life: organic food, authentic art, and craftsmanship and muscle-powered exercise.
How does the Kipos team decide what products they will stock?
Well, first the decision was made to focus mostly on cooking and gardening gear (with perhaps a few other objects). Then there are certain qualifications that are considered for each object, including where it is made in relation to what it is, the materials used, its usefulness and durability, its healthfulness and sustainability (not always the same thing), and its beauty. In addition, a big part of every selection is its authenticity. This also goes back to the previous question about a well-lived life. It must be authentic. This does not necessarily mean an antique, but something that has been made in real and traditional ways. There are a great many products now that are all about gimmicks or features and not about substance. And this goes back to the question about the inspiration for Kipos. It is getting harder and harder to find “real” objects, which are being made in fewer and fewer places, and I want to be able to educate people about and make available this gear. Fortunately, there does seem to be something of a renewed interest in natural authentic objects. A good number of additional products are planned for Kipos and will be added when resources allow.
What is one piece of advice you would give to an individual who wants to begin living naturally and organically?
One of the first steps would be to simplify. This has multiple advantages. First of all, it reduces consumption and waste. But it also allows you then to focus on the essentials, you can spend more time and resources on getting those few things you really need. I like to say that a sort of non-consumption is our object, a philosophy of buying less and buying better. It allows you to begin to better appreciate and understand and recognize what is natural and healthy. Being focused on “natural and organic” for so long, I think this is something I often take for granted, that everyone can discriminate between the natural and the unnatural, but I have found this is not always the case. Simplifying frees you to learn, and once you begin to learn you will instinctually and intellectually gravitate towards natural choices.