Morning Rituals with Bryan Edwards
Since meeting Bryan Edwards at a friend's baby shower in Los Feliz years ago, we've continued to run into him around town. While we've known Bryan for his woodwork design company, Hummingbird + Hawk, it feels like we learn something new about him every time we see him! Recently, he showed us a new bamboo and brass tray he developed, and it sparked a conversation that led to us coming over for coffee. As it turns out, the timing was great, as Bryan, his wife Megan and their son Arlo were in the process of moving to Nashville! As usual, our friend Justin Chung joined us and took some beautiful photos
We often ask the people we feature in Morning Rituals to share some of their life story for us to write an intro. In Bryan's case, we found his story so interesting and inspiring — for its depth and its organic unfolding — that we want to simply share what he wrote! Continue on for our interview and photos...
BE: Growing up in Seattle, I formed a love of nature at an early age. Hiking, camping, and adventuring throughout childhood earned me an Eagle Scout badge! Creativity was also a big part of growing up. My grandparents met in art school. My mother was a ballet dancer and costume maker, so I was surrounded by art, design, and movement. I took up tap dancing at 11 and it became a huge part of my life.
I was also captivated by science, which led me to Duke University to study biological anthropology. But there was no tap! So I decided to start Duke’s first tap ensemble (it still exists today!). After graduating, I decided to forgo a career in medicine and moved to NYC to become a professional dancer. This led to touring the world for five years and ultimately meeting my wife, who was also a dancer in the show.
Making my way to LA, I found a career that combined both art and science. Starting with graphic design, I quickly realized that adding frontend web development would be a perfect combo.
Fifteen years into that creative career, I decided to add more to my plate! Picking up on my hobby of making furniture, I formed Hummingbird + Hawk, a line of sustainable-based designs for home and office.
What's your morning ritual? Has it changed over time?
My morning ritual has for sure changed! The alarm is now my 3 year old son humming to himself when he wakes up—around 6am. From there, the family congregates in the kitchen to make oatmeal and toast and read some Calvin and Hobbes. We only started drinking coffee three years ago—right around the time we had Arlo :)—and were taught by a friend who makes it in a very traditional way. First we grind the beans and place them in the bamboo filter over the carafe. Next we pour a bit of (perfectly) hot water over the grounds to “wake up” the beans for 30 seconds. Then we slowly pour the rest of the water in slow circles in the middle of the grounds. It’s a lot more work than it probably needs to be, but we love it, and you can’t beat the smell of freshly ground beans to start your day.
What's the story of how you came into woodworking? What drew you initially, and what continues to draw you to it?
It started 10 years ago with a quest to replace all of our Ikea furniture with handmade pieces. [No shame on Ikea! You were good to us!] I’ve always been a fan of Japanese design, having created origami since I was 6 years old. I discovered Japanese joinery and became fascinated with taking woodworking to the next level. Friends of ours would come over and see the progression and I started receiving commissions from them. Through this process I developed a look that I thought would work well as a cohesive line of furniture and products. So, at the start of 2019 I decided to make it official and started Hummingbird + Hawk.
Had you always seen yourself making a living as a creative, and/or starting your own company?
Art and creativity have always been at the forefront in my life. In my early twenties I was a professional tap dancer and toured internationally for years. That’s where I met my wife, she was an Irish dancer in the show! After we “retired” as dancers and settled into life in LA, I started my own web design and marketing company, which is work I still do today. Every business I’ve formed has come out of a curious need. My mom, who is a costume maker, needed a website 15 years ago so I taught myself frontend development and my business grew from there. It’s not easy having two full time jobs (Design + Woodworking) but for all the late nights and hard work, I get to CREATE every day. As the Japanese say, I have found my “Ikigai."
Are there any aspects of your work you consider foundational to your approach? (Be it style, materials, sourcing, sustainability, etc.)
My main focus and goal with H+H is sustainability. Respecting nature is respecting yourself. There is no reason we need to waste resources to have beautiful things. Bamboo is the foundation of the line. Most people don’t know this, but Bamboo is actually grass—not wood! Bamboo can reach harvest height in 1-5 years rather than 30-40 years, which is the typical time for most hardwood species. My metal of choice is brass, due to the fact that it can be recycled an infinite number of times without losing its properties.
Do you have any dream projects or goals for things you want to build?
A house made of Bamboo in the woods.
We happened to catch you right before making the move to Tennessee! What are you looking forward to in your new home?
Land, lightning bugs, and thunderstorms!
Los Angeles carries myriad meanings and stories to the many people who come to live here. In concluding this chapter, how would you sum up your time in LA in terms of what it's meant for you or added to your life?
The creative communities that I’ve found here in Los Angeles have been a constant source of inspiration. Seeing the different ways that people express their creativity and turn their passions into businesses helped give me the confidence to do the same. My wife Megan runs a photo agency, and I’ve had the pleasure of being surrounded by and working with some of the most iconic photographers in the industry. I’ve met some of my best friends through artistic projects here in LA, and am excited to explore the possibilities in Nashville.