When Capsule Projects conceived the Rock Me Again campaign in 2008, the idea was to demonstrate that the terms sustainable fashion and cutting-edge design were no longer mutually exclusive. The beautifully designed wooden watches made by WeWOOD, the product that Michael Rowlinson and business partner Leon Gazet Du Chattelier are bringing into South Africa, fits in well with the campaign’s mission to promote style with substance. Emerging out of Florence, Italy, the time pieces are crafted with 100% natural wood. At once stylish and avant-garde, some of the WeWOOD pieces (there are 11 different models) will be used in the Rock Me Again photo shoots. Capsule Projects asked Michael Rowlinson a few questions.
Photography Alexia Webster
People are becoming increasingly aware of the environment and try to make their lifestyle more sustainable. Do you think that design has discovered a new sense of purpose?
I feel it is more that people are seeing the benefit in using and promoting certain materials such as wood, rather than design having a new sense of purpose. The purpose of good design hasn’t changed, rather the need to be conscious about the effect of that design on the environment has increased – which I suppose indirectly does lead back to giving design a new sense of purpose. So probably so!
How many of your friends will make a purchase decision based on a product’s ethical values?
People endlessly criticize the work place standards and ‘sweatshop’ mentality of the East, but the sad reality is that the majority of the technology and clothing that we use are made in China. So many products that are ‘essential’ in our lives – such as a smart phone – are only made in China – and so there is little alternative to avoid the purchase. And people will buy those goods because necessity trumps the products ethical values. But when there is a product alternative that has a clear ethical benefit or value, it will no doubt swing the majority of my friends even if it is slightly more expensive.
WeWOOD also plant trees. How does this fit in with your business of selling watches?
Part of the global philosophy of WeWOOD is to increase the demand of wood, and through that increase the supply of wood through sustainable forests. If we do not use wood, there will be no need for sustainable forests and that will decrease the number of trees planted! So when someone buys a 100% wooden watch from WeWOOD, it is nice for them to know that a tree has been planted increasing the cycle of sustainability…
What is WeWOOD’s contribution to the Rock Me Again project?
WeWOOD Watches have committed to involvement in the Rock Me Again Project and in return have pledged to plant trees for the clothes donated by the public.
Rock Me Again has always been influenced by music. What’s your favourite music and music artists?
We are into a lot of indie music here at WeWOOD. Niche product means niche music! We actually have the ‘WeWOOD Friday Afternoon Awesome Music Moment’ on Twitter where we feature videos from the likes of Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, The National, The Kills, Interpol, The Naked and Famous – you get the vibe…
Are there any interesting blogs or sites that you follow and won’t mind sharing with us?
We like to keep a watch on independent online stores overseas to spot any trends. A good one: http://prime135.com
Besides watches, are there any other products that you are keeping an eye on?
We have just received our first shipment of wooden sunglasses handmade in Paris, France. The brand is called ‘Waiting For The Sun’ – and the entire range is ridiculously awesome! We are currently displaying them at the WeWOOD Store at 208 Albert Rd, Woodstock.