For our first ever couple's feature, we reached out to Ally Walsh and Casey Wojtalewicz, the partners-in-life-and-coffee behind cult Los Angeles roastery, Canyon Coffee. We felt that Valentine's Day gave us the perfect excuse to see what personal object this dream duo would chose to place in their so-called 'Permanent Collection.'
Ally and Casey: Our “thing” is a W. Somerset Maugham quote printed on a poster that reads,“To acquire the habit of reading is to create for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life." We chose this as our “thing” amongst other pieces of art, books and ceramics, all of which we treasure, because it serves as a reminder both of a memory we cherish and a simple truth we live by. When we’re home, if we’re not cooking, eating, cleaning or sleeping, you’ll likely find us curled up with a book or magazine.
Permanent Collection: Tell us more about the piece itself.
A.W. & C.W.: The print was made and framed by Book/Shop. We found it as-is at their original location in Temescal Alley on our first trip to Oakland together. We loved everything about the print, beginning with the quote itself. But the texture of the words, the font and spacing of the text, the pastel blue color, white border and walnut frame, together contributed to a feeling of quality and simplicity that made the print stand out.
P.C.: Any other romantic tidbits?
A.W.: When I look at the print, it brings back memories of one of our first road trips together, stumbling into this bookstore and proceeding to spend at least an hour paging through seemingly every book inside. They had so many wonderful prints framed and hanging on the walls. The quote felt right, simply because it spoke to our mutual passion for reading.
C.W.: I love how complete the print feels, I really think it’s perfect. It’s so simple, but it holds this depth or gestalt that makes it greater. It’s kind of meta: to look at it is to read it, and thus to be reminded of this simple truth about the pleasure reading can bring. On the surface, it speaks to our shared love for books. On a deeper level, it speaks to our curiosity—the very trait that brought us into a random little book shop in Oakland where we found it one day.
P.C.: I love the serendipity of it all. In general, when you acquire things for your home, do you do it jointly? How do you decide which new pieces will become shared pieces?
C.W.: Most often, Ally finds pieces and brings them in. She’s got a great eye, it’s really one of her talents. Over time, she’s slowly filled out our home with baskets, blankets, bowls, pillows, vases, rugs, lights, and other furniture that have culminated in a really warm, calming and comfortable space for us. My contributions have come in the form of plants, some art pieces, fresh flowers and furniture I’ve built, including our kitchen table, work desks, and a daybed. All of our things are shared. Even shirts, if they happen to fit both of us!
P.C.: What does your ideal date involve? Do you have a favorite haunt?
A.W. & C.W.: One version of the ideal date is breakfast with our books and the paper at Amara Kitchen or Honey Hi, followed by a hike up one of the many canyons of LA. Another version involves going to a matinee at the Los Feliz theater, with time before to get smoothies, rummage around Skylight Books and their art/magazine annex, and poke around other shops along Vermont Ave. We also love picking up a bottle of wine from Psychic and just making dinner together at home.
P.C.: Do you have a favorite museum or gallery to visit together?
P.C.: What special food or dish do you make for the other?
A.W. & C.W.: We usually make dinner for each other — whoever’s had a busier day usually gets to come home to a meal ready on the table.
C.W.: Ally makes me banana bread! She also whips up the best salads out of nowhere.
A.W.: Casey makes a delicious red lentil stew! He also makes the best salmon—on the stove or on the grill.
P.C.: You guys are adorable! Can we move in? ...Ok, ok, moving on, tell us, what's the best gift you’ve ever received as a couple? What made it special?
A.W. & C.W.: We feel so lucky to have talented creative friends. A few of them have gifted us with their art, most notably Justin Chung and John Zabawa—both of whom have also always been so willing and happy to help us with Canyon. We will always hold on to and treasure the pieces they have given us.
From John, we have several drawings and paintings. Our favorite is probably a print of a painting of a coffee mug with the word “NOIR” on it. It's one color (black) on pink paper. It’s special for the act and power of friendship it conveyed when John gave it to us, partially because it’s one of only a few prints John made of it. It’s also special because, to put it simply, we take our coffee black!
From Justin, we have a large print of one of his photos of Georgia O’Keeffe’s home inAbiquiú, New Mexico. The photo is taken in the courtyard, with the roof of one wall casting an oblique shadow across another. There’s a door leading inside, and a sagebrush plant, singled out and alone in a landscape its species dominates, takes on an ancient, almost bonsai quality. Georgia O’Keeffe is one of our favorite artists, both for her work and her story. We visited her home together, and the trip played a significant role in the development of Canyon Coffee. The photo brings us back, and speaks to a timeline greater than or outside the daily or weekly routine. (Justin also took the color photos below of the two of us at home).
P.C.: Do you have a favorite date night restaurant?
A.W. & C.W.: Elf! Delicious vegan/vegetarian restaurant, with a great natural wine menu. They also serve Canyon!
P.C.: Describe a current project you are currently working on, or a current obsession, or really anything that's gotten your mind or imagination churning of late.
A.W. & C.W.: Our ongoing obsession is learning, which you could consider an umbrella term that invokes reading, podcasts, and traveling. Currently, we’ve both been pretty intrigued by writers and thinkers who give much needed perspective and names to things like the attention economy (Jenny Odell), surveillance capitalism (Shoshana Zuboff), and the ways phones and social media are impacting our lives (Jia Tolentino). The upcoming election could also be considered an obsession! Ally is excited to plan trips to Greece and Bhutan. Casey has been releasing music as Woj and is working on more music and artistic projects in conjunction with the material. And finally, we always have a couple coffee shop or restaurant projects we’re helping bring to life, which is one of the most fun parts of what we do!