The Sacred Crafts Takes Us Behind the Scenes of Its Newly Launched ReclaimedWood Flooring
Just this year, The Sacred Crafts launched an engineered, reclaimed wood flooring collection, Kudmai, which is crafted from decommissioned and vintage fishing boats found in the coastline of Thailand. To give us a closer look at the Kudmai collection and The Sacred Crafts brand, Founder Matthew Harkins shares his story.
Can you briefly explain your sourcing process? Who do you work with in Thailand?
It’s really hard to express how exciting it is to make this product. This is why we also spend the time to document our experiences and share the adventure with our audience. Setting up the supply for this product was a full-on expedition! To experience such deep, cultural immersion and bring together many talented hands that contribute to this process is simply humbling. This product was developed with a good friend of mine who lives in Thailand. He is originally from Japan, but has lived in Thailand for many years now. Without his network and support, this would have been a much tougher process to manage. We basically spent all of last year mapping out the intercoastal waterways of Thailand and finding boatyards and boat owners whose boats are not going back to the commercial fleet. We buy their boats directly and hire local craftsmen to take them apart…very, very carefully. Along the way, we document our travel so we can share the stories with the world.
Once we have the wood in clean stacks, they get trucked over to our supplier. This is a wonderful facility in Western Thailand, surrounded by farmland and the Gulf of Thailand. It’s run by a husband and wife team and they have been making wood flooring for over 30 years. They are super, super kind and a huge wealth of knowledge for a dreamer like me. I just love going there and soaking up the culture.
How do your efforts positively impact the environment in Thailand?
I love this topic because our efforts are both local and global. These boats are at the end of their lifespan. They are not going back to sea. As such, it’s a problem because they are huge, heavy and no one really knows what to do with them. The owners can’t invest enough to send them back to work and they don’t really have anything to do with them. We provide the owners with a reason to part with the vessels and we also remove the boats from taking up space in the coastal waterways. We pay local craftsmen to responsibly decommission these beautiful, wooden boats with the care and dignity they deserve.
The results are a cleaner coastline, support for the local economy and a sustainable, unique product that is inherently rich in story. In a global sense, we share the craft, culture and beauty of a wonderful country like Thailand with everyone as we do the work of removing these structures from very sensitive coastal ecosystems. The Thai economy relies heavily on tourism and our products allow the interiors industry a type of souvenir memory in a luxurious, one of a kind material that just begs to have its story told.
How did The Sacred Crafts begin?
I have been working with elevated, reclaimed products for the past 8 or so years — primarily with fashion products, like watches and jewelry. In the last company I helped to build, I designed a break-out product line of watches made from used whiskey barrels. It was the passion behind the whiskey culture that really made me realize how much people want a story behind what they spend their money on. When I decided it was time to forge a new path, I was set on bringing not just sustainability, but elevated storytelling, to the interiors industry — mostly so I could express myself on a larger scale and do even more to clean up this world that has become full of secondary materials just ready to be reborn into new products.
How do you believe The Sacred Crafts differs from other companies that create reclaimed or engineered wood/building materials?
That’s exactly the point…we really are just different. I don’t think it’s more passion or more expertise per se. I think it’s that I bring with me such a wide range of reference in all the product categories I have learned over the last 25 years of making things…surfboards, apparel, watches, sunglasses, skateboards, furniture and fine art. There’s a little bit of all these things in our products. It’s so fun to approach products with an out-of-the-box perspective and it’s even more fun to share it with our customers and industry partners.