SoleWood Designer Profile:
SoleWood was founded in Miami by Elie Man in August 2011. Man, a South Florida native, began his career in 2004 after graduating from Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in Industrial Design. Man has worked at the highest levels of design as a footwear line-builder and brand manager, designing shoes for world renown brands such as Kenneth Cole, Tommy Hilfiger, Guess, Pajar, Freddy, True Religion Brand Jeans, and Ben Sherman. This summer, the SoleWood collection is launching with an expansive lineup of products including footwear, eyewear, headphones, iPhone and iPad accessories, bags, and apparel.
Man’s vision for SoleWood as a luxury lifestyle brand encompasses more than just cool gear made with wood. It’s a reminder of fun times spent with our friends and loved ones, doing the stuff we like doing most. Wood is all around us, its makeup is found in the stuff we use every day. Man realized his passion for building furniture, playing ping pong, corn hole, and beach paddle pall all involved wood. “My love of wood in its infinite beautiful variations combined with my passion and knowledge of product design allowed for the creation of Solewood,” says Man.
SoleWood’s Art Deco inspired wallets feature seersucker lining, and a pear wood panel that doubles as an extra pocket. “The products take on an artisan approach, and they are all about uncompromised quality,” says Man. The stitching, pantones, and patterns on each product have all been meticulously thought out and seamlessly relate to one another. The headphones have a modern yet sustainable and environmentally friendly aesthetic, “the warm natural acoustic sound of wood headphones is unlike any you've experienced before,” says Man. Solewood headphones are crafted with woods such as Bamboo, one of the world’s most sustainable and fastest growing woods.
SoleWood footwear features wood as an aesthetic and practical feature, with a wood keeper on the vamp of a sneaker-loafer hybrid, and pops of wood in variants of zebra, ebony, and walnut wood. Most people can’t even begin to imagine what a huge undertaking creating a footwear collection can be. The process begins with only a concept, and then there are the hand sketches followed by computer aided design renderings, blueprints, steel-cut tools for outsole molds, and an endless pursuit of the perfect silhouette in the shoe’s shape called the last. Finally, when the prototype is perfected, the materials are all hand-selected for their vibrant colors with premium tanned hides. “This has been my life’s dream to build my own brand, and I have worked tirelessly and sometimes with no end in sight to create this collection. I am forever thankful for my wife and her continued encouragement and involvement,” says Man.
It takes more than just the creator to show an undying passion and appreciation for the product. People can pat you on the back, and tell you what a great job you’ve done with your collection. But the proof is in the pudding, and there is a buzz about Solewood that is truly exciting as the brand just begins to grow. “There are so many avenues this brand can take, and it is so wonderful to have the support of all my friends, family, colleagues and mentors I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to learn from in the design community,” says Man.
People are so busy just keeping up with today’s fast pace of life that they often forget to take a moment to figure out what life is all about. For 29 year old entrepreneur Elie Man, his passion for design was found at an early age. Before turning 6, Elie was already sculpting and painting in evening art classes with his father, Dr. Daniel Man.
Man says, “My parents have an appreciation for art and design that impacted my design sensibility on a tremendous scale. As a teenager, I decided to become an industrial designer and my parents were fully supportive of my career decision, after all, they had Eames lounge chairs and ottomans in the house when I grew up. They still have an appreciation of product design and my father still paints and sculpts in his studio when he’s not busy operating.”
Man also takes inspiration from American design icons Charles and Ray Eames, and recalls how their work from the 1940s into the 1970s created a visionary concept of modern design as an agent of social change. Their wholehearted belief that design could improve the lives of Americans and people around the world remains their greatest legacy. “If I can make a few more people smile every day, and enjoy the products I’ve created then I have begun to complete my goal,” says Man.
Today, SoleWood has found its place in the luxury design market as a brand driven by Man's passion for product design and love of wood. Phyllis Man, an industry recognized producer and wife to Elie, has also found a role as Vice President at SoleWood. The brand is fresh, and growing every day by leaps and bounds. SoleWood is a lifestyle brand encompassing a range of products designed with one element in common, wood.
In an industry where venturing off the standard trade routes in Los Angeles and New York is regarded as sailing off the edge of the world, Man has turned his upstart Miami based company SoleWood into a nationally recognized wood brand with edgy and affordable product design at the forefront of the company’s brand image. SoleWood is designed in Miami, USA in Man’s studio in South Beach, and utilizes Man’s global resources in manufacturing and industrial design to bring SoleWood products to market.
Concentrating on a market niche of smart and sustainably designed products with a bit of an edge for the fashion forward consumer, Man has built SoleWood into what he hopes will become another household brand in America.
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