I was flipping through the newspaper one day a few weeks ago when an insert on spring trends in design and fashion fell out. Since I was mindlessly flipping through the paper anyway, I promptly picked up the insert hoping something would inspire me. I saw a couple of neat innovations in design and home electronics, glanced at the new “it” Pantone, and was ready to toss it all into the recycling bin when something caught my eye and heart in a big way. Shwood. A collection of classic styles of sunglasses handcrafted from sustainably-harvested wood. How ingenious. My curiosity piqued, I explored their website and knew I had to share this discovery with SA blog readers. So without further ado, my Q&A with Eric Singer, founder of Shwood.
Who is behind Shwood and how did it all get started?
Shwood is a collective group of hands-on creative people. The idea was originally founded by me 6 years ago in my mother’s garage and now the brand employs about 20 talented craftsmen and women. The idea for wooden sunglasses was derived simply out of the boredom that had taken over my creative side. Everything I had done prior eventually became stagnant in some way. The sunglasses were goofy in the beginning—carved from an actual tree branch with cabinet hinges off the bathroom mirror and lenses from the second hand store down the street. It was carefree, not judged by anyone, not made to impress. It was new and in many ways revived my creativity. People were nothing but supportive of the idea and that support has lead Shwood to where it is today.
Tell us about using sustainably-harvested wood and why that is important for Shwood.
The woods we use are grown on authorized and supervised plantations that sustainably harvest these trees with the sole intention of turning them into lumber. No woods we use in any of our products come from endangered areas. We care about the world we live in and would never use materials that might harm it. That being said, wood is one of the earth’s most abundant natural resources and as long as it is harvested properly, it’s a great material to work with.
Shwood glasses are handcrafted in-house as opposed to being manufactured overseas. Why and is this related to the ideas that surround using sustainably-harvested wood?
We are a do-it-yourself brand and believe that good things come from hard work. There is a better sense of pride in something that is done by yourself and it creates a much more premium product.
How long does each pair take to create? Anything you’d like to tell us about the process?
About 90 minutes of hand time goes into every pair of sunglasses we make. Everything from chopping large lumber planks down to a manageable size to shaping parts such as nose pieces and lenses are all done by our well-trained and skilled employees in our Oregon-based wood shop. Just about everything is made here, including our packaging and branding material.
What can we expect from Shwood going forward? Any exciting projects on the go that you can tell us about?
There is a lot in the works, all very original, and all still very secret. All I can say is get ready for some limited edition products to be released within the year. They are going to be pretty exciting releases, no doubt.
All images from Shwood.