Monolith: Handmade Wooden iPhone Skins

monolith-etimoe

For a writer, I’m a rather visually oriented person. I literally spend my days in search of beautiful moments – of character, personality, and voice. What I find most intriguing is that I can find these qualities virtually anywhere. In fact, I recently discovered a gem in the mass-produced world of iAccessories.

Birdseye Maple

Monolith is a small company based in Austin, TX that handcrafts beautiful wooden skins for the iPhone. Perhaps stemming from a mutual interest in carpentry, I really enjoy the well-curated selection of species they offer (wenge, etimoe, maple, zebrawood, and teak). But my absolute favorite is their walnut burl skin (pictured below), which is about as unique as a fingerprint. It goes without saying that the great allure of Monolith is that no two skins will look alike.

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The Good Flock – “Aurora” Lamp

The Good Flock is a small designer/artisan-run company based in Portland, Oregon that handcrafts their entire line of accessories in a sustainable manner. The team only sources responsibly harvested materials ranging anywhere from domestically produced Cone Mills denim to Pendleton EcoWise wool in an effort to not only craft better goods, but to maintain our environment.

But while they have established a deserving legacy for their utilitarian carry goods, The Good Flock recently expanded it’s scope and raised the bar with their newly released Aurora lamp.

Aurora-Lamp-Edison-Bulb Aurora-Lamp-Black-Oak-Install

Consisting of sustainably harvested white oak, each lamp is turned by hand in a woodshop just south of Portland. It is designed to be minimally invasive in terms of tabletop or wall real estate – a trait which also makes the piece extremely versatile. Finally, because its lines and forms are so well balanced, its bound to complement virtually any aesthetic.

Be sure to check out their making-of video (if for no other reason than to learn about the values and considerations that make The Good Flock so special). It’s a promising step forward in building a steady future for American craftsmanship!

101: Ten Woods You Should Probably Know

Wood-Grain-2

As a carpenter, I’m always surprised at how much I enjoy working with different woods. Each species has it’s own unique qualities and characteristics, whether they are visual or physical. Seeing as I actually know a little bit about it, I thought I’d share a bit of acquired wood knowledge with you all.

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Reflections & Revelations – Glassware by Esque Studio

Justin Parker and Andi Kovel are the co-founders of Esque Studio – a small atelier based in Portland, Oregon which specializes in handmade glass wares and novelties. Drawing inspiration from different molding techniques, the duo crafts an assortment of functional and decorative goods that span a wide spectrum of aesthetics.

Nest Terrarium with hand cast bronze hook & vachetta leather strap

Nest Terrarium with hand cast bronze hook & vachetta leather strap

Cloche & Walnut Cheese Platter

Cloche & Walnut Cheese Platter

What is particularly special about Esque Studios isn’t so much their goods, but rather their enthusiastic incorporation of various working methods and materials. The duo often dips into custom leather or woodworking to keep things fresh and distinctly one-of-a-kind. For example, their hanging terrarium dangles from a strip of vegetable-tanned leather, which functions like a Chinese finger trap. Similarly, their cheeseboard features hand-formed glass cloches nestled into a heavily grained walnut or maple slab.

.38 Special Revolver

.38 Special Revolver

Anatomical Heart Vase

Anatomical Heart Vase

Much of their work is utilitarian and minimal, yet there are some playful moments throughout their portfolio. The most impressive example being their molded .38 revolver, which is entirely formed by hand. (Check out the detailing in the handle and trigger in the image above.) Aside from that, their slightly more macabre skull is an interesting decorative piece, which straddles an agreeable balance between representation and obliquity. It’s important to note that these pieces are only the tip of the iceberg. There is plenty more to see over at the Esque Studio website!

Bolefloor – Undermining A ‘Straight Line’ Mentality

The small team of engineers and woodworkers at Amsterdam’s Bolefloor is changing the way people think about modern technology and interior design. Specializing in custom hardwood flooring, the company has developed a collection of software and machinery that virtually eliminate wood waste during their very special manufacturing process.

Interior-Panorama

Though it is a meticulous operation, the idea behind Bolefloor is surprisingly intuitive. Instead of crafting straight floorboards, Bolefloor strives to keep as much of the natural curved edges as possible. Not only does this minimize the use of natural resources, but the resulting floor features a beautifully organic layout that is custom-fit to any given space.

Outdoor-Floor Interior-Vertical

In a continuing effort to maximize square footage, the technicians are incredibly careful as to how they align and install these floors. Before trimming the edges, each board is scanned into a computer system. From there, the team is able to determine how to best orientate each floorboard against one another  – all without sacrificing the unique curved edges. Once the layout is determined, each board is numbered, laser cut, and installed one by one. It’s a pretty phenomenal marriage of environmental responsibility and aestheticism.

If you’re interested in learning more about the process or you’re a fan of good ol’ fashioned techno, be sure to check out the video above which offers an insightful step-by-step guide to how these floors are made. For further information, you can also visit the Bolefloor website.

Most Popular Post #7: Blumenstein Audio’s Handmade Wooden Speaker Systems

“Travel through music brings with it whatever you desire—the thrill of discovery, a childlike curiosity, humility at the many generations that have paved our way.”  -Clark Blumenstein

Since 2006, Clark & Molly of Blumenstein Audio have shared their unique approach to audiophile equipment with discerning clientele throughout all seven continents (yes that includes Antarctica). The vision is simple: to produce an unadulterated sound experience through a no-frills approach to HiFi and a minimalist visual aesthetic. Relying on years of combined experience in custom woodworking and sound engineering, the team crafts each speaker by hand in their Seattle, WA woodshop. The result is a line of streamlined, straightforward speaker systems that are pleasing to the eyes, the ears, and are remarkably inexpensive.

Orca (Caramelized Bamboo)

Orca (Caramelized Bamboo)

 What is particularly impressive about these speakers is the lack of extraneous components which have long since been standardized in the industry. Borrowing some jargon from their website, the “Orcas have no damping, no tweeter, no woofer, no midrange (single driver), no capacitors, resistors or inductors (no crossover), no equalization, (no BSC, no Zobel network, etc.), no biscuits, no miters, no paint, no primer, no lacquer, no solder-less clips, no grill cloth, no nails, no threaded inserts, no spikes, no unnecessary curves, no nameplate, no structural plastic, no terminal cups, no removable panels, and no internal panels.” In fewer words, what’s left is an undiluted audio signal with free reign to meld into the natural resonances of an all-wood cabinet. Sound can’t get more honest than that.

Natural Bamboo

Natural Bamboo

To maintain quality, the team has a hand in every process that culminates in a finished speaker. Each one is built from solid wood bamboo ply, which has a remarkably sonorous personality. Blumenstein offers both natural and caramelized cabinets, the former producing a more resolute sound due to the baking process. Once assembled, the speakers are hand-sanded and treated with a non-toxic 200 year old blend of linseed oil and natural resin varnish for a smooth, lustrous finish. Now that they are beautiful, each speaker is tuned by ear and microphone before it’s  ready to be fully enjoyed at home.

Custom In Home Installation

Custom In Home Installation

Drawing on an undeniable passion for music, Clark and Molly are really great about working with each individual client to customize the right set up that accounts for personal taste, budget, and listening space. If you are interested in learning more, be sure to check out their website.

The Handcrafted Furnishings of BDDW

Credenza Mid

There is a certain sense of pride and personality that emanates from a well-furnished interior. To me, this relationship between a room and its contents is a particularly intriguing idea – one that forms the basis of my appreciation for the small furniture company BDDW. Perhaps better described as an artisanal conglomerate, BDDW is a creative outlet that has become synonymous with innovative design, heirloom quality, and informed craftsmanship.

Hand Fitting Butterfly Key Joints

One of the more stimulating aspects of BDDW is their conscious choice of materials and production methods. Their furniture is predominantly made from select domestic hardwoods like black walnut, oxidized maple, and distressed oak. In an effort to craft visually and structurally timeless pieces, they rely on traditional joints throughout their collection. The butterfly joints above are particularly striking examples of the marriage between stability and design.

Captain’s Mirror – wooden frame, leather strip, and machined bronze hanging puck

 In addition to their solid wood furniture, they also work in a variety of other materials. BDDW also dabbles in custom-cast bronze, blown glass, hand-thrown ceramics, and woven rugs. In fact, BDDW has a stable of visiting artists that includes woodworkers Aaron Scaturro and Kieran Kinsella, lighting designer Lindsey Adelman, and ceramicist Natalie Page. This constant influx of creative minds continually broadens the scope of BDDW’s already extensive collection.

Tall Storage Chest & Wooden Side Tables

Be sure to check out the many images from their online portfolio in the gallery below. You can also find more information about BDDW by visiting their website.

 

Loyal Dean’s “Daringly Organic” Handmade Skateboards

Loyal Dean is a small company based in Los Angeles that crafts some of the most visually arresting and functionally superior skateboards on the market. Drawing on several decades of woodworking and riding experience, the team produces one of a kind all-wooden skate decks in a variety of shapes from downhill bombers to small cruisers.

Bottle Nose Detail (image courtesy of Hiddengarments.cn)

Every board is both designed and crafted exclusively in the US – but in a very special way. Around 40% of Loyal Dean’s lumber is reclaimed and thus carries a great deal of character along with it.

Longboard 3/4 View & Side Profile (image courtesy of awsm.com)

The variety in age, color, and grain plays a major role in how Loyal Dean designs and constructs their boards. Though there are limitations in terms of available shapes, each board is constructed with a unique combination of wood species, grain directions, and overall pattern. That means that each deck is truly one-of-a-kind.

Yet their unique lamination style is not purely aesthetic; the patterned top surface design is complemented by a second ply of a parallel wood grain underneath that allows for flexibility without sacrificing structural integrity.

Unique Lamination (image courtesy of manoftheworld.com)

Parallel Grain Underside (image courtesy of manoftheworld.com)

Keeping with the design-forward nature of these skateboards, the decks are most often adorned with opaque grip tape to showcase the custom lamination. Yet it might be interesting to see whether one could add a personal touch by custom-cutting black grip tape. Who knows? But at the end of the day, it’s just important to enjoy the ride!

Be sure to check out the Loyal Dean website for more information concerning their boards, process, and overall oeuvre. You can also stay up to date with new releases and events by following their Facebook page.

Not Your Daddy’s Boombox… (But It Could Be His Old Briefcase)

Given the choice between schlepping work documents or a portable speaker system, I think most would go for the latter. It’s better use of a briefcase anyway.

Gator Samsonite ST-6 Model

 It’s worth pointing out that I’m not alone in this sentiment. In fact, a small team of audiophiles in California felt so strongly about this, that they began crafting what they call BoomCases on a daily basis. Basically, BoomCases are recovered cases and boxes that are retrofitted with custom speakers, an input cable, and a long-lasting battery. Not only is it a convenient way to carry around your tunes, but it’s also great in that it recycles otherwise neglected guitar cases, Samsonites, wooden enclosures, and plastic lunchboxes of yesteryear.

Muppet Party Bus BoomCase

BoomCase at the Skate Park

Many of the BoomCases are custom orders, so there is a constant stream of unique sight/sound combinations flowing through their studio. Their stock is always different, so anytime is a good time to take a look at their website.

Ekyog: Eco-friendly Fashion For Forward-Thinking Women

When it comes to eco-friendly clothing, there are relatively few options for the fashion-forward. Of course there are tons of mom & pop organic shops that produce great alpaca knits and whatnot, but larger labels tend to be more anachronistic in terms of global responsibility. (In fact, most are even hesitant to disclose information about their manufacturing processes in the first place). But if more companies were to follow the examples set by French label Ekyog, the entire fashion industry could look a whole lot better.

The label originally launched as a women’s concept boutique that sought to synthesize ecological awareness and yoga clothes (hence the name Ekyog). Since then Ekyog has shifted the focus onto their everyday wear, which features everything from leather biker jackets to silk blouses. And of course, all of their garments are still made according to the highest standards of what they call “positive fashion”.

They have thus developed a worldwide network of likeminded suppliers who produce wonderful materials without harming the environment. For example, their Corozo button supplier in South America gathers the nuts by hand instead of cutting down the trees. Similarly, most of Ekyog’s leather comes from a tannery in India that only uses plant extracts, tree bark, and natural oils during the tanning process. Once a group of hides is completed, at least half of the treated water is then recycled to produce subsequent batches. Because Ekyog prides itself on transparency, they also display a comprehensive list of their suppliers on their website.

But in addition to finding the right vendors, Ekyog is also concerned with finding the right materials. For example, they use a lot of linen throughout their collections because it requires very few cultivation-facilitating produces (i.e. fertilizers, pesticides, &c). Linen is also extremely absorbent when it comes to dyeing, so it cuts down on water usage and other resources. Ekyog also relies on organic cotton, natural horn, and a variety of other environmentally friendly materials.

Ekyog also supports the research and development of new sustainable fabrics. They have a particularly strong working relationship with Lenzing Textiles which produces a variety of fabrics from wood pulp. Ekyog uses two of these man-made cellulose materials throughout their lines – one made from Eucalyptus and the other from Beech. Seeing as they are both biodegradable, this fusion of fashion and eco-awareness is a perfect testament to what Ekyog is all about.

Be sure to check out the rest of Ekyog’s Fall/Winter 12 lookbook by visiting their website. There you can also learn more about the label, including the ins and outs of their philanthropic association Terre d’ Ekyog.

A New Realm of Sound with Bartholomäus Traubeck

Digital Turntable with Woodgrain ‘Record’

It’s not everyday that you can hear the sounds of growth, but designer Bartholomäus Traubeck has devised a way to do so through digitally analyzing tree rings. In short, he uses thin cross-sections of varying tree species that are cut roughly to the size of traditional records. The tree-rings are then spun on a modified turntable which analyzes the data from the rings. The signal produced is then mapped to a set piano scale that – although arbitrary by nature – creates music based on the properties in the different wood cross sections. In other words, the songs produced by maple rings sound totally different from those made from pine. In fact, because this process thrives on idiosyncrasies in the grain, any two ‘records’ made of the same wood (or even the same tree) are unique.

Be sure to watch the video of the turntable at work below. It’s pretty phenomenal. Traubeck also recently released a series of 10 new wooden records on his website.  Take a peek!

Blake Avenue Sustainable Furniture: A Serious Blow to Throw-Away Culture

Mt. Whiney Chair

For those who are interested in green building, it is definitely worth checking out Blake Avenue furniture out of Los Angeles, CA. Of their diverse catalogue, all of their pieces rely on reclaimed and recycled materials – most of which are recovered from local architecture that dates back 150 years. Through that process, they have even been known to repurpose lumber from trees that were sprouting 15 centuries ago.

Because they place such an impressive emphasis on recycling, it comes as no surprise that their visual aesthetic is left minimal. This highlights the natural beauty of their materials rather than modish lines. As they put it, “every piece has its own unique characteristics; traces of rough hewn saw blade marks made by steam powered machines built before our grandfathers were born, oxidized holes left behind by square cut nails, a beautifully nuanced patina brought about by years coexisting with natural elements, these timbers carry with them a history of use and production that will never be repeated.”

Shenandoah Platform Bed Detail

Longevity is a great inspiration for Blake Avenue, but it is more than just a quality of their materials. They strive to make furniture that is both visually appealing and structurally sound for generations. Production is kept low in the workshop to focus on proper craftsmanship. In short, they are in the business of making heirlooms from heirlooms.

Be sure to visit their website to learn more about their process & products. In the meantime, you can find some images of their work below.

Roopenian Design – Texturized Wooden Keyboard

Keyboard Detail

Keyboard Detail

Keyboard 3/4 View

Keyboard 3/4 View

It’s not often that images of nature are conjured up when one ponders about our changing relationship with technology. Yet for designer Michael Roopenian, the tactility of organic materials offered a straightforward way to improve an otherwise sterile interface. Having experimented with different textures, he developed a keyboard cut from a single piece of wood to heighten the overall uniformity and logical arrangement of the design. To achieve the dramatic texture, he sandblasted the wood along the natural grain pattern before cutting it into the individual keys. What’s left is a keyboard with a consistent, user-friendly topography that is beautiful to boot.

Be sure to view some of the images below, including some different stages in research and development.

Blumenstein Audio – Handmade Wooden Speaker Systems

“Travel through music brings with it whatever you desire—the thrill of discovery, a childlike curiosity, humility at the many generations that have paved our way.”  -Clark Blumenstein

Since 2006, Clark & Molly of Blumenstein Audio have shared their unique approach to audiophile equipment with discerning clientele throughout all seven continents (yes that includes Antarctica). The vision is simple: to produce an unadulterated sound experience through a no-frills approach to HiFi and a minimalist visual aesthetic. Relying on years of combined experience in building stereo systems and custom woodworking, the team crafts each speaker by hand in their Seattle, WA woodshop. The result is a line of streamlined, straightforward speaker systems that are pleasing to the eyes, the ears, and are remarkably inexpensive.

Orca (Caramelized Bamboo)

Orca (Caramelized Bamboo)

 What is particularly impressive about these speakers is the lack of extraneous components which have long since been standardized in the industry. Borrowing some jargon from their website, the “Orcas have no damping, no tweeter, no woofer, no midrange (single driver), no capacitors, resistors or inductors (no crossover), no equalization, (no BSC, no Zobel network, etc.), no biscuits, no miters, no paint, no primer, no lacquer, no solder-less clips, no grill cloth, no nails, no threaded inserts, no spikes, no unnecessary curves, no nameplate, no structural plastic, no terminal cups, no removable panels, and no internal panels.” In fewer words, what’s left is an undiluted audio signal with free reign to meld into the natural resonances of an all-wood cabinet. Sound can’t get more honest than that.

Natural Bamboo

Natural Bamboo

To maintain quality, the team has a hand in every process that culminates in a finished speaker. Each one is built from solid wood bamboo ply, which has a remarkably sonorous personality. Blumenstein offers both natural and caramelized cabinets, the former producing a more resolute sound due to the baking process. Once assembled, the speakers are hand-sanded and treated with a non-toxic 200 year old blend of linseed oil and natural resin varnish for a smooth, lustrous finish. Now that they are beautiful, each speaker is tuned by ear and microphone before it’s  ready to be fully enjoyed at home.

Custom In Home Installation

Custom In Home Installation

Drawing on an undeniable passion for music, Clark and Molly are really great about working with each individual client to customize the right set up that accounts for personal taste, budget, and listening space. If you are interested in learning more, be sure to check out their website.

Clomm’s “Terra Firma” Timepiece Collection

Having only launched their website on the 10th of May, UK-based fashion label Clomm has put out quite the first impression. The boutique watch brand has released six timepieces in its “Terra Firma” collection – each one with a distinct, albeit understated sophistication.

Rosegold with Burgundy Strap

Rosegold with Burgundy Strap

 While there are departure points, the common thread throughout the entire line is a thoughtful combination of proper materials and minimal design. All of the timepieces feature aerospace grade stainless steel cases, premium Italian leather straps, Swiss quartz movements, and sapphire crystal lenses. That said, three of the six watches offer natural wood faces in rosewood, oak, or cork. The juxtaposition between cutting edge and organic materials is rather refreshing – especially when you consider the subtle darkening of wood and leather overtime. For such a minimal watch there is nonetheless room to acquire character with use and abuse, all without running the risk of going out of fashion.

Natural Oak

Natural Oak

Natural Rosewood

Natural Rosewood

With longevity in mind, the watches are meant for the discerning buyer who appreciates quality more than making a statement – yet in this case those ideals are not mutually exclusive.

            Be sure to check out their work at the link above and scroll through the gallery for some high-resolution images of all six pieces, including some lifestyle shots and a peek at their hand crafted wooden storage box.

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