Behind the Goods at Shwood’s Shop in PDX
Shwood, the Northwest’s premiere purveyor of wooden shades, is ridiculously cool. If you haven’t had a chance to check out their line of unique wooden eyewear, do it now. Their frames are all clean and modern, while at the same time the material they’re made from lends itself to a rustic, natural aesthetic. It’s this sort of old-meets-new, hot-meets-cold dynamic that helps Shwood spectacles hit that Goldilocks sweet spot – they’re juuust right. We got in touch with them when we caught word about their new stone line a few weeks ago, and set up a date to come see where the magic happens.
From the outside of Shwood’s manufacturing facility, you’d never guess what goes on behind the doors; but as soon as you set foot inside, your nose clues you in. The air is filled with that warm woody aroma you only get in a woodshop, and soon after your nose catches on, your eyes realize that just about everything in the room started life as a tree: the front desk, the waiting bench, the wall hangings, displays – even the spectacles on the receptionist’s face.
I only had a minute to gawk before my tour guide Ryan (who also happens to be the company’s CEO) came out to greet me. After a quick introduction, he filled me in on how Shwood got started – a charming story about Eric Singer fashioning a pair of shades from a tree branch that caught his eye. With no formal design experience, Singer used some old cabinet hinges and thrift store lenses to make the first pair, and then refined the design over time. After the quick spiel i suspect he’d done before-
Clearly, the company has come a long way since those humble beginnings, but that spirit of gonzo creativity has stuck around. And not just in the glasses either – it permeates every aspect of the company. Many of the tools used throughout Shwood’s production process are custom made; designed over years of trial, error, and fearless experimentation. Take their new pewter inlays for example: rather than paying outlandish prices to have them made by a machine shop here in the states or have them imported from China, they just played around until they figured out a casting process. If Shwood wants to try something new, it just dives in and does it.
Shwood’s mantra is “Experiment With Nature” and after touring their shop, we’ve got to say they really do live by those words. They’re constantly toying around with new materials, new ideas, and their shop is overflowing. We can’t tell you how many boxes full of awesome unreleased designs they had just sitting there collecting sawdust. After seeing first hand how deep the spirit of innovation runs in this place, Shwood’s stone line looks like a drop in the ocean. Expect to see a lot more from these guys in the future – they’re just getting started.