Wood Evolution owner Michal Korer met her business partner, James Drury, four years ago, when he started helping her fix up old furniture for resale. Drury, an Iraq War veteran, had taken up woodworking as a way to handle the symptoms of his post-traumatic stress disorder. “It started out as a hobby to keep me busy and to keep my brain in a safe zone,” he says. “It would put me in a place where I could relax and enjoy myself.”
Korer and Drury (pictured) started taking wood from fallen or cut-down urban trees to create coasters and other home decor. To their surprise, customers had a strong response to their designs, which sold out at the partners’ first local market. From there, the two found a space in Tempe to house their wood shop, and they’ve been churning out unique wooden home accent pieces and kitchen items ever since.
“The word ‘evolve’ has really resonated with us,” Korer says, “because of how the business came about, but also because of the personal evolution for James. Being able to voice himself through these pieces is a tremendous journey for him.”
Korer and Drury collect the wood, come up with designs and create the products from start to finish. Using items such as a computer numerical control machine and a lathe, they’re able to create products that have specific characteristics, but the bulk of their creations come about more organically. “It’s kind of like the wood talks to you and says, ‘I want to be this,’ ” Korer says. “It’s very organic what’s happening here — things can start one way and end up in a different way.”
Most of the wood used in Wood Evolution products is collected from people’s backyards or from storm cleanup around the state. With the exception of exotic wood used in certain designs, the material is primarily recycled and local, resulting in designs that are unique and rarely replicated. Drury, who makes all the products, says most of the designs are something he visualizes after examining the individual wood pieces: “It’s an image in my mind … I can’t really explain it, but
I can make it.”
Korer says coasters are the pair’s most popular products, but they’re continually adding other items, such as charcuterie boards, decorative bowls and accent pieces. They also accept custom orders that can be personalized with carved names and messages. All finished products are sealed with a resin that protects the wood and makes it easy to clean and maintain.
“We want to know that every time [our customers] look at an item, it makes them happy,” Korer says.
Wood Evolution products can be purchased online, at the company’s Tempe location and at the Merchantile of Scottsdale.
5235 S. Kyrene Road, Suite 19