Several weeks ago, at the tail end of the remodel of his flat in Poble Sec, a friend of mine emailed me asking if I had any leads on where to buy actual, good wood in Catalonia. You could probably add in anywhere in Spain to that as well for it is basically impossible to buy an actual plank of wood that isn’t flimsy pine or laminated particle board. Sure, the carpenters can make you furniture out of good wood which they obviously get somewhere, but they have a mafia lock on it. To get access to this wood you need to be a carpenter, with a shop and a grumpy disposition.
For those people looking to make even the simplest of things, there is no Home Depot in Spain where you can run down and buy a 4×8′ sheet of plywood in any degree of styles and have at it. The closest option is Bauhaus which has options as such: pine or particle board at 1.5cm in thickness and either 100cm or 240cm in length. Unsurprisingly, if you calculate that last length in to feet, you’ll find it to be the ubiquitous eight feet you see in the US. And… that’s it.
In San Francisco, a friend of mine makes some pretty awesome modern furniture with his small business, Das Form Bureau. I’m not sure he’d be able to do this in his native Germany as he has a nice shop in the former basement of my old apartment, access to no end of wood (reclaimed and new), as well as hardware stores that sell more than key chains, paella pans, and sordidly dull kitchen knives.
And this is of course the irony. People in the US (where choice is as abundant as dog farts) will say, “How can you be away from burritos or Thai food for so long?!! I’m like totally craving that after a week!” First off anyone who “totally craves” anything has a problem. I do thoroughly love many, many types of food, but when I’m in say Spain or France or Croatia or Ivory Coast, I eat the foods they have there. There is interesting food the world over and you need to take advantage of what a specific region has to offer, although I do admit in the Ivory Coast I was really missing fresh greens, but that was more of a nutritional issue than anything else.
I’ll tell you though that when in Spain, what I miss more than anything, is hardware. The fact you have to call a plumber to cap off a pipe or a carpenter to install a shelf is maddening. I have no designs to start my own furniture business like Das Form Bureau, but I would like the option to be able to go out and get a hefty piece of wood (even paying a decent price if need be) to make something unique for my living room as opposed to paying a carpenter to do it who will charge 1,000€ and deliver a heaping pile of turd, that will have every corner possible cut to make him the most money by using cheap, shit Chinese hardware.
By the way, my friend is still looking for that piece of wood to make a desk, so if anyone has any leads, pass them on. We’re all waiting, saws at the ready.