The Story Behind Topanga, Our Newest Line of Handcrafted Luxury Vanities
Topanga Series: Our new bathroom vanity collection is made of walnut sustainably sourced from eastern Europe and arrives with a built-in love story
Woodworking in eastern Europe dates back centuries. Its traditions and knowledge have been passed on through the generations and have remained fed by the rich forests that stretch from its plains, through its mountain systems and along the Danube river.
Now, these forests provide the sustainably grown, FSC-certified walnut that Native Trails uses to make the new Topanga Series of vanities. Available this fall, Topanga comes in four sizes — each with its own special details and combining midcentury modern-inspired styling with fine woodworking traditions.
In addition to a 36-inch floating vanity, the Topanga vanity comes in a 30-inch size with two doors, a 36-inch size with a door and three drawers, and a 48-inch size with two doors and three drawers. All feature a minimalist, modern silhouette, cutout drawer and door pulls, and can be customized with any number of Native Trails sinks and vanity tops for a luxurious finishing touch.
Bathroom vanities reimagined as fine furniture
What if your bathroom vanity was the nicest piece of furniture in your house? That’s what Native Trails aimed for when we partnered with an esteemed woodworker in eastern Europe to create our newest and most luxurious line of vanities yet.
A true woodworking marvel, the Topanga vanities spare no detail, delivering everything you’d expect from a fine piece of furniture. Not only are they stunning to the eye, but close examination reveals artisanship in everything from the dovetailing and comb joinery to how the doors are braced (with walnut, not MDF) to how the drawers glide. Even the hinges meet high quality European standards.
As for the series’ name, some folks hear it and think of the character in “Boy Meets World.” With all due respect to her, we intended, rather, to evoke the sun-streaked, bohemian aesthetic of L.A.’s Topanga Canyon in the ’60s. It was home to a community of artists, surfers, filmmakers and musicians who lived in the area’s now-iconic midcentury homes. We imagine the Topanga vanities would have been right at home there.
A word on walnut
The entire Topanga Series is proudly fashioned from walnut. One of the most prized hardwoods, walnut is sourced for both its durability and beauty. Walnut has also become known for its dark, rich coloration. But in truth, walnut comes in a range of dark and light hues — a quality reflected in the Topanga vanities.
What traditionally happens is that furniture manufacturers pick through walnut and only use the darkest, richest colors — in grains and colors that are similar. This creates a lot of waste, which isn’t Native Trails’ ethos.
On the contrary, we set out to honor the beauty in this magnificent wood’s natural variation, by more faithfully representing what true walnut looks like — rather than what many people think walnut looks like.
As a result, no two Topanga vanities will be alike. They coordinate beautifully, but each will have individual coloration variations. This is something we want people to be aware of when ordering a pair of Topanga vanities for a bathroom. We did this on purpose! We believe this uniqueness makes each piece extra special, and it also ensures this series is as sustainable as possible and meets our commitments as a B Corp.
Can’t help falling in love
In many ways, the story behind the Topanga Series is representative of how Native Trails has found artisans for the past 25-plus years. We go to new places all over the world and meet people who are already making beautiful things. Then, we help them make items we believe our market needs, sustainably.
However, the Topanga story also comes with an important personal footnote. Native Trails’ CEO, Naomi Neilson — who lives in San Luis Obispo, California, where Native Trails is headquartered — originally found herself in eastern Europe because it served as a meeting place during the pandemic for her and her then boyfriend Alberto, who lived in Spain.
One-time college sweethearts, the couple had reconnected in 2019 via when she was had a quick weekend stopover in Spain during a business trip. This was some 25 years after originally meeting when Naomi was a college exchange student in Spain. The two dated in the early years of Native Trails; in the ’90s, Alberto went with Naomi on her pioneering ventures to Mexico in search of the artisans who would create the company’s first wares.
In 2020, knowing that she and Alberto would be visiting the national forests along the Danube, and a region of great furniture making traditions, Naomi’s team identified a few artisans and furniture suppliers to meet with while they were there. One really stood out — the man who today is the maker behind the Topanga Series.
Fast forward a couple of years. This past July, Naomi and Alberto were married, blending two cultures, during an extraordinary weeklong event in Spain. And the exquisite Topanga Series will be fully available across markets this November.