“The people who come in express the way it affects their senses – the smells of the bison leather, the warmth of the wood. You can tell everything was made with love.”
This is the way Michael Levenberg, co-owner and founder of Buffalo Collection, describes the furniture line he and his wife Laura created together years ago. Located in the heart of historic downtown Scottsdale, their showroom features extraordinary, hand-crafted, heirloom furniture, home décor and accessories – all of which blend luxury with the rugged American West. And, for many people – whether they have heard about the collection, seen an ad or read about it in a magazine, they don’t really understand and appreciate it until they’ve set foot in the store and experienced it firsthand. “It is very experiential in here,” Michael said. “We want people to come in and look, touch and feel what we have to offer.”
Buffalo Collection contains work from more than 50 craftsmen and artisans, and includes everything from exquisite paintings and bronze sculptures to gorgeous wood tables and furniture. Every item in the store is made in the USA and personally hand-picked by the Levenbergs, who travel often to meet with each of their artists. Many of their artists have been with them from the very beginning of the company’s founding, and the owners take great pride in representing each of them.
And, while the two share business responsibilities, it is Laura who provides the layout and design, putting her touch on the showroom. “I like everything to look beautiful from all sides and all angles,” she said. “Each item has a purpose and its own space with room to breathe. Using natural elements like wood and stone brings nature into a space, creating texture, interest and warmth in a wonderfully subtle way.”
The couple take great care when producing their products to be environmentally responsible as well – and they have from the start.
It all began on a beautiful ranch in Colorado. The land was settled on by a botanist who restored the native buffalo range and ended up developing a commercial buffalo meat business in the process. Guest lodges were eventually built on the land and the available buffalo hides were used to make furniture that could withstand the rugged cowboys, ranchers and hunters passing through. Michael, who was in the art gallery business at the time, and Laura were visitors to the ranch and collaborated with the local artists to build what is now known as Buffalo Collection.
Unlike much of the furniture we see today on the market that is spray-painted and thin cow leather applied, the bison leather used for Buffalo Collection is made to last, minimizing what will end up in landfills. “We build in craftsmanship of the highest quality so each piece should last at least 100 years. They are so strong, you’ll never wear through them through normal usage,” Michael said.
The buffalo leather they use is aniline-dyed, without the use of chromium that would end up in the environment and potentially our water supplies. “We did not want to use spray paint, so the colors are dyed all the way through the hide,” Michael said.
In addition, and contrary to what some may think, the buffalo on the ranch were not raised to be used for the leather. The buffalo population was introduced first to restore overgrazed land, then to be used for meat, as a means of producing leaner, healthier meat. Their leftover hides were then put to good use and turned into durable, high-quality furniture. “We try to put all the various pieces to use,” says Michael. “There are a lot of things we do consciously and subconsciously, but ultimately everything we do is for good.”
Michael and Laura are passionate about being environmentally responsible in everything they do. Even the wood is sourced responsibly, with all of their wooden furniture frames being made from replanted maple. Using maple—one of the strongest, most durable types of wood—complements and adds to the strength, durability and comfort of the bison leather used in their furniture.
One of their suppliers has a license from the Forest Service to gather wood from fallen and dead trees, which is then made into products for Buffalo Collection. Not only does this aid by cutting down fewer trees, but it also helps to thin the forest, removing potential fuel for forest fires.
Buffalo Collection’s tagline, “A State of Mind and A Way of Life,” conjures up thoughts and feelings of attitude for the Levenbergs. “Similar to our branding ad with the cowboy relaxing in the chair in the field on the ranch, under his cowboy hat, with a bison approaching—a feeling of whatever comes your way, you can handle it.”
With approximately 50% of their furniture custom made, it’s a true compliment when customers are fascinated with and fall in love with Buffalo Collection furniture.
Stay tuned for a new Buffalo Boutique, opening in November. Visit www.buffalocollection.com for more information.