At Purible, we love beautifully designed things and hard-working entrepreneurs, but we’re also fiercely passionate about our planet. We believe in doing the right thing and doing it well, and we celebrate the brands that embody that ethos here.
This month, we want to talk about trees. In researching our first original infographic about the magnitude and impact of deforestation, we honestly found ourselves chilled to the bone and vibrating with anger. Deforestation is a quickly expanding problem in multiple countries (particularly South America) that needs our attention and unified support for change. A good place to start making this change is with our dollars, supporting businesses that are outwardly opposed to deforestation, and who craft their products in direct opposition to our dying forests. We are proud to introduce 3 entrepreneurs dedicated to working only with reclaimed wood. Finding a way to magically repurpose the cut down, splintered and forgotten into something beautiful, unique and new...
Wouldn't that be nice?
The drought in California has been well publicized. How has this affected your ability to salvage wood in the Sierra Nevadas?
The lack of water both above and below ground these past 2 years has caused more trees to die than normal. If a tree is already struggling for whatever reason, lack of water and overall dryness makes it susceptible to fire and wind fall. The rim fire we had last year was so close to home that my aunt and grandma had to evacuate there homes. I have seen a huge increase in driftwood that has been scarred by fires. Overall, there are more trees than ever that are down from natural disaster and the drought has been a large factor.
From a design standpoint, we always find the balance of “nature meets modern technology” to be compelling. Do you believe this plays a part in what makes your docs so incredibly popular?
I believe that nature connects us to the overall picture of where we live and the reality that there is something so much bigger out there. If you have ever stood in a giant redwood forest (we have one 25 minutes away) and listened to the wind blowing through the tops of those monsters, you can’t help but be in awe of just how young and puny you are in comparison to the Giant Redwoods. Merging nature and tech is a dichotomy of sorts as an incision is made in the wood to allow for a wire that will charge your phone. I think people like our docks because they want to get away from the plastic world and have a useful product that is grown from nature.
You clearly have an eye for the natural aesthetic of wood. What do you look for when selecting a piece of wood from the forest?
The wood must be fallen first and foremost. We never cut down trees. Most of what we find are branches that have broken off trees. The branches must also be free from bugs and rot. Once the wood is back at the shop, the eye of design begins as the pieces are chopped into rough shapes and sizes. From there it is a process of form and function. Every piece of wood is unique, even pieces from the same branch have slightly different curves and thicknesses. After making thousands of docks, I have gotten pretty fast at determining the best use of the wood pieces and I always make sure that I show the best side of the piece. Finding whatever wood has the most character and uniqueness, this is my goal.
San Francisco, California
In our humble opinion, the natural visuals of wood make for incredibly hip, stylish eyewear. Why isn’t wood used more often for this application, and what drew you initially to creating sunglasses?
We agree. Our customers love the natural look of wood. It can be bold or understated, always classy and stylish. We chose to express our artistic side by creating one of a kind pieces of art that you can wear. We started with simpler objects, like bow ties and cuff links, then moved on to the very complex world of making glasses. It feels like its taken us forever to perfect our styles and each pair is still made by hand. Many people who begin making wooden glasses, even experienced craftsmen, don't realize the skill and level of detail it takes to create even one pair. We are now able to work with each piece of wood and produce a durable and exciting style piece that anyone can wear proudly. It's been slow going and we're proud of what we've created.
Where do you source your wood from?
We source from wherever we see premium wood going unused. We began by buying wood from specialty stores like MacBeaths in the Bayshore part of SF. You would be shocked what a small block of some of these woods costs -we were buying by the ounce! Now we source from reclaimed wood specialists like North Cal Good Wood in Ukiah. They document the wood from the source. We're working on a project with them where they reclaimed some old cabins from a resort. We're making styles named after the cabins using the wood from each one. Lastly, we do specialty projects, using wood from partner's specific wood. One example is Tank Garage Winery in Calistoga. We're making their used barrels into oak glasses. Cool stuff!
What is your favorite pair of Wooed glasses?
Every design is like our kid. We love them equally (at least publicly).
You donate part of your profits to reforestation projects. Where are these projects happening now that need it most?
We are focused on using local woods and creating these projects (we have plans for much more than glasses) right here in SF. We donate to projects that are rehabilitating forests for sustainable use right here in the US. After all, we may need that wood some day!
You use only reclaimed wood. Where do you source this from and what do you look for in selecting each piece?
We source the wood from all over the world: Israel, Ukraine, New Zealand, and more. Some barnwood and shipping palettes come from flooring companies that supply offcuts directly. We search for 100% reclaimed wood of the highest quality. Our hope is that these trees and the forests they came from connect you to something timeless.
In our opinion an elegant, skillfully engineered pen is like a good watch: everybody should have one. Talk about what sets Allegory apart from the cheap plastic alternatives.
It is so easy to just buy things without thinking first. But when you purchase something that is handcrafted, part of the energy from the person who made it is instilled in it. We have worked hard to find and only use woods that have an important story behind them, and we hope that these pens create their own stories that are passed on. An example of this is that we recently made a pen from the reclaimed wood of an old treehouse a father made with his son, knowing that one day that pen would be a really meaningful symbol for his boy.
Your commitment is to create lasting products that survive in a world of disposable stuff. How long do Allegory pens last?
Unlike quick disposable pens, we hope a lifetime and beyond—passed down through generations.
Discuss your partnership with the National Forest Foundation.
We plant a tree with them for every ten pens that we sell, which has been a very proactive relationship for us thus far.
Till They All Fall Down.