Published in Plaid Magazine Online, May 2011
Photos provided by Shwood
What better way to prepare for summer than with a pair of Shwood sunglasses? These unique shades are made with wooden frames, Carl Zeiss lenses imported from Italy, and provide 100% UVA/UVB protection. Brand Manager, Taylor Murray, spoke to Plaid about the luxurious, handcrafted eyewear with a twist.
How did the Shwood brand develop?
We refer to the Shwood story as “a simple experiment with nature.” The idea was born from the limb of a Madrone tree, a rusty pair of cabinet hinges, and lenses from the corner store. Shwood founder, Eric Singer, had always liked to create art utilizing wood found in the woods surrounding his house. One day he chopped a limb off a neighbor’s tree, and hand-carved a pair of glasses from a solid piece of wood. He attached the temples using cabinet hinges and super-glued a set of cheap lenses into the frame. The glasses looked a bit barbaric, but beautiful and eye-catching nonetheless. A few years later, Eric decided to create a business with a few of his peers. After a year of blood, sweat, and sawdust, Shwood was born.
How does your experimentation with design and materials differentiate yourselves from other eyewear brands?
By utilizing natural materials and a handcrafted manufacturing process, we are able to create products where every piece is one-of-a-kind. No two pieces of wood are identical, meaning no two pairs of shades will be either. The shapes are consistent, but there are still minute differences between each pair due to the handcrafted process. The sunglasses pass through many hands while being crafted, so there is an inherent uniqueness that derives from the human touch instead of machinery.
What is the process like when developing new styles?
Much of our design inspiration stems from the past. We believe wood projects a very timeless aesthetic, so we strive to design shapes and styles that compliment its classic appearance. We tend to re-invent classic eyewear styles such as the Wayfarer and the Aviator by putting our own spin on them. Keeping things simple and tasteful is very important. We keep wood manipulation and branding to a minimum and let the product speak for itself. As Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
What does your slogan, “Experiment with Nature” mean to you? How are natural materials incorporated into the designs? What types of wood do you use and where does it come from?
Experimenting with Nature allows for seemingly endless possibilities. A lot of people immediately think of the words “green” or “eco” when they hear the word nature. Although keeping a “green” mentality is something we strive to live by, there is much more to nature than that. We experiment with nature through the things we create, the things we eat, the places we visit, the way we exercise, and they way we make decisions. By embracing our tagline we are able to re-invent traditional products through the use of natural mediums.
We currently utilize fine hardwoods from all over the globe. All our wood is sustainably harvested, and sourced from authorized and supervised plantations in different African countries. Our range includes Zebrawood, East Indian Rosewood, Walnut, and Cherry.
Can you describe some new styles from your S/S 2011 collection and the inspiration for this season?
The S/S 2011 collection continues to pay homage to classic frame styles. New to the range, the “Oswald” is crafted with timeless “P3″ styling, and adds a look of distinction to Shwood’s growing line. The Oswald is offered in the ever-popular Zebrawood, along with European Walnut, a new addition to the lineup of sustainably-harvested woods.