There’s something to be said for a product which is handcrafted by artisan crafters. We aren’t exactly talking green gadgets in this particular case, but rather the accessories that go with them. iPhone cases are a big business as an accessory for this popular smartphone, but unfortunately most of the cases are mass built in cheap labor factories overseas to meet demand. A handful of enterprises, however, carefully labor to build quality cases which have the potential to be longer lasting, more earth friendly and also nicer looking.
One such outfit doing this is Grove, a small collective of designers, programmers and makers based in Portland, Oregon that we first highlighted back in April. This small team, lead by Joe Mansfield and Ken Tomita, do everything in the production process, including product and package design; logo and graphic design; web design and development; photography; CNC/laser programming and operation; all handwork and finishing; and marketing. Tomita, who we interviewed for this story, is a custom furniture builder who makes use of bamboo, often sustainable, as the building material for these beautiful cases.
What follows over the next several pages of this article is the interview of Tomita as well as some photos from live production of new iPhone cases at his workshop. These cases are actually hand built in two locations, with the second stop after the wood workshop being the laser engraving handled by Mansfield. It should be noted that these cases are made to be as green as possible through practices like using sustainable materials, natural finishes, and responsible packaging. You’ll find Tomita and company not doing it this way to build hype,but more so because their standard is “to feel good about what we do, both in terms of the quality of our product and its impact on the environment.”