One reason Woven rallies around makers and craftsmen is the conviction that draws an individual to return to traditional crafts. What would compel a person to spend eight hours a day making one handmade product, that a modern machine could effortlessly churn out 1,000 in the same span. It is this profundity of cause and craft that we seek, with each craftsman or woman having their own unique point of entry. In a post-industrialized world, these makers connect us to a love of labour our assembly lines and efficiency metrics can’t seem to provide, and remind us of what slow can offer, why less is still more.
For folks like Alex Devol, it’s all about carving away what is excess. From his remote woodshop in the northwestern English countryside, Alex has fashioned a career from fallen timber and bits of wood found not far from his home. It’s a picture of of stripped down simplicity, like peeling back the bark on a new tree. As serene as it sounds, Wooden & Woven was born from the crucible of discontent, and a mid-course correction for Alex and his craft. It’s a pursuit of what it means to make better products, tell better stories about what we make or buy, and trading in trend for products that will stand the test of time.
What distinguishes Alex’s approach as a woodworker is the honesty and experience he brings to design, hardwon over ten years among the ranks of fast fashion. After dropping out of university and flying to Australia on his would-be tuition funds, he fell into freelance work to make ends meet. At first it was illustration and art, that led into graphic and product design back in the UK. “When you take whatever job gets offered to you, you end up doing lots of interesting things,” he remembers. As a young creative, the perks were good enough, getting fed and a roof overhead, but as time wore on the practicality of life as a just-above-starving artist set in. “For the first couple of years you’re living quite hand-to-mouth. Then at some point you have a little freak out and think, “Am I going to do this for the rest of my life, or am I going to get a real job?” Entrepreneurial at heart, getting a “real job” for Alex meant starting his own brand selling his designs on hand-printed t-shirts.