Wood is a noble, strange and human material: it has a life, a story to tell and above all the possibility of reinventing itself. “Woometry”, Wood + Geometry, is a project born in Portugal in 2018 by three friends, Kate, Mike and Diogo. Despite different academic paths, the three guys decided to enter the design sector, to work with their own hands and to experiment with wood by spreading the use of recycled materials. Giving a second chance to materials that are discarded by people, who have rejected them, represents the great challenge of the three designers. The idea is that those who purchase a Woometry product buy it not only because it is an attractive product to hang on the wall or to put on the table, but because they decide to embrace a new way of life, to support the second life of the tree, spreading the use of recycled materials in the art and design industry, reducing fast and unconscious consumption to shape a better world.
People throw away wood when renovating their homes without understanding its potential: old furniture, fixture of doors and windows for city services to pick them up, so we realized that this is a resource that can be turned into something new.
Hello, Kate, Mike and Diogo. How did you meet?
Kate and Mike are a Ukrainian couple who moved to Portugal in 2015 — Kate to get her master’s degree in architecture, while Mike, after gaining experience in the entrepreneurship sector and in game development, decided to work with his own hands. While Kate was writing her thesis, Mike went to workshops where each student could try out how to work with different materials, and by pretending to be a student Mike had access to the woodworking equipment. He watched many tutorials on Youtube and then tried what he had learned in those workshops and in this way he mastered carpentry on his own.
Then, after graduating, Kate started working in an architectural studio, where Diogo had been working for some time. Besides being colleagues, they have always had topics to talk about and thus an excellent friendship was born. Meanwhile, Mike had rented a space in the old factory near Lisbon, bought some equipment and started experimenting with wood. Then, Diogo resigned from the architectural studio, which also prompted Kate to quit her job and start working with Mike in his wood workshop.
In June 2020, Diogo joined “Woometry”.
How and when was “Woometry” project born? Where does the name come from?
“Woometry” was born when Kate started working with Mike, it happened in March 2018. Even then we noticed that there is a lot of discarded wood that people throw away when renovating their homes without understanding its potential: old furniture, fixture of doors and windows that people leave on the street for city services to pick them up, so we realized that this is a resource that can be turned into something new.
Kate’s architectural background was also implemented thanks to Mike’s woodworking skills. We had the idea of building our visual language on the basis of isometric grids and modules that could be multiplied and combined in many different geometric compositions. The scale is set by the material the recycling of wood became another layer that not only dictated the conditions and set the vector, but also strengthened this combination and formed the final product.
Speaking of the name “Woometry” — it is a mix of two words “wood” and “geometry”. It occurred to Mike when he was experimenting with wood in the faculty workshops, playing with different patterns and trying to put some pieces of wood in geometric order – the geometry of the wood was actually what he was exploring. So we never had to brainstorm names for our studio, it just came to us from the process and we felt like it was always meant to be “Woometry”.
Describe your work and what each of you does.
The main product that distinguishes us on the market are the wooden panels, which are based on the use of a module and an isometric grid. Thanks to this, a unique visual language is created, evoking a three-dimensional sensation on a flat surface, which attracts attention and makes you wander and explore with your mind the volumes it represents.
Mike is responsible for the collection of material, production processes and technology. He is the one who actually works with saws and machinery and panels. Kate takes care of the general vision of the project and social media marketing. And Diogo deals with design, PR and communication. From time to time, when necessary, we are all involved in the final stages of production, such as painting the details or assembling them into panels. We always discuss the design together, take decisions together and always have fun.
Wood is a very special material, there is a lot of life and soul in it, as it is something that came to us from nature and has a strong connection with time.
How would you describe wood, your main working material?
Wood is a very special material, there is a lot of life and soul in it, as it is something that came to us from nature and has a strong connection with time. Just imagine, someone once planted a seed in the ground, sprouted it, then for many years it grew, it became a tree, became stronger and bigger, it breathed, absorbed the energy of the sun, fed on rainwater, synthesized oxygen - it was a real living and complex organism.
And since we work with recycled wood, all this overlaps with the life of this tree that once was part of nature, but in the hands of the master it became a piece of furniture, and spent “its time” serving in the house of a certain family, until the moment of falling into disrepair, when it was thrown into the street.
This path behind each piece is something that really inspires us and we’re really glad to use the maximum potential of the material and give it a second life.
Unlike other materials, how is wood processed?
Since we work with recycled wood there are always a few extra steps that need to be done before we can actually start working on it – we have to clean the piece from dust, remove all layers of paint, remove the nails and plane all the parallel/perpendicular sides to each other — only then we get the piece that looks like the one we could buy in the store, so we “pay” its price with the time it takes us to process it. But also there are many nuances that we need to pay attention to, like the humidity of the air in the space we work in or the understanding of which part of the tree trunk this piece of wood was made of, the direction of the fibers, the geometry of the future piece to make sure that the final product does not sag or crack.
But the most magical thing about working with recycled wood is that often the wood we collect can look so shabby that an ordinary person would never think that something else could be made from this peeled piece. But we have learned to notice and select such a wood and after working on it a little, cleaning it from the layers of time, its true beauty is revealed to us.
Besides the finished product, what do you want to give to customers and their interior spaces?
We want to give our customers the feeling that by purchasing our products they will not only acquire an attractive item to hang on a wall or put on a table, but will sustain the new life of the once-sawn tree, spreading the use of recycled materials in the industries of art and design, and helping to reduce fast and unconscious consumption, shaping a better world.
Your work is certainly linked to the ethics of sustainability. How do three young designers make their way into the design market?
The fact is that what we produce now does not quite fit the design market of the moment, after all, the design is supposed to be more utilitarian, and our panels do not have that much functionality, and people believe they don’t need it. Since wood recycling implies a large amount of craftsmanship, our product cannot be cheap, so we are still looking for the perfect formula and balance between what is requested on the market and what we produce. We know for sure that we have found something interesting and that we are very motivated by what we do. We are on the right track and will see where this path takes us.
Do you have a project you are proud of? And why?
In our studio we focus more on making products and selling through our website. Only once we realized a commissioned work for a restaurant in Lisbon. It was a big and important project for us, but we believe it won’t be the only one and there will be more to come.
Behind your works, we can also read an existential note: the ability to reinvent yourselves. “Woometry” collects waste wood and recycles it into design objects. In your experience, what does the value of a product depend on?
We think that the value of a product depends on many motives: it’s great when manufacturing is based on the principles of sustainability, responsibility for the footprint of a business, desire to improve other people’s lives, to solve their problems or requests rather than only on the creator’s desire to fulfil his creative vision and make some profit. And we’ re really happy to see that there are more and more brands appearing on the market that have values and that aim to make this world a better place.
To know more about Woometry's work, click here.
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