The swings are designed and made by Thomas Mortimer (Sweden) and Jenny Etherington(New Zealand). Jenny and Thomas met in Western Australia in 1986. They made their living for a few years by making and selling jewellery inspired by Same craft from northern Scandinavia. They traveled between Sweden and New Zealand for many years until settling in rural New Zealand in Jenny's home village Matiere, a few months before their daughter Solvej was born.
Thomas, previously a cabinet maker and teacher, wanted to share the wonderful memories he had of swings in this own childhood with his young daughter, and designed the first Solvej Swing for their daughter in 1993. He had a dream of owning his own workshop, and Jenny the dream of providing employment in her rural home village. Coupled with the overwhelming positive response to the swing they established a design company. Both are particularly passionate about design, and environmental and social responsibility, values imbued in every aspect of the business. Twenty-five years later production remains in Matiere with the wood and sewing workshops in local heritage buildings they are in the process of restoring. Their daughter Solvej, studying architecture, is now also continuing the family legacy in the business.
Business philosophies and principals.
As individuals we want the products we use and are surrounded with to be of high quality, to buy them for a fair price, to care for the environment, and to contribute to society in more ways than just working and paying taxes. These principals are also the principals Solvej Swings is operating by.
A: High Quality
Number one in high quality is good craftsmanship. This leads to a good quality product for the customer, and also gives work satisfaction. We believe in continually developing the skills of all people involved in our business. That is not enough though. A good craftsman also needs good materials. We believe in using the highest quality materials, tempered with control over price, insuring the product will be long lasting. Good design is also an important part of high quality. Products need to function well and be attractive to the eye.
B: Fair price
We believe in a fair price for all involved from consumer to deliverer-seller-"makers" (staff and factory)-providers of raw materials-"Creators" (founder of business, investors and designer) down to the community who provides the infrastructure. Looking at what's happening today it seems like one or more of those involved are treated unfairly. Solvej Swings endeavour to have just and fair pricing on all parts in the chain that we are in control of.
C: Care for the environment
As individuals and a family we try to live in a decent balance with nature since we are an integral part of and are dependent on the whole of creation. A business is no different and has to operate and live according to the same rules and principals. In our business we are trying to find a balance between old knowledge and wisdom and new discoveries and technical advancement. The materials we use, wood, cloth and rope, have been used for thousands of years and therefore feels very familiar and natural to us. In our choice of materials we are faced with the challenge that we want them to be durable outside as well as inside and be easy care for the busy modern lifestyle.
The choice of timber has to fulfil the criteria of being naturally weather durable to avoid chemical treatment with the pollution that can come with that. It also has to come from a planted or sustainable source.
The choice of fabric was difficult because of the fact it had to be suitable for outdoors as well as indoors. After careful consideration we decided to use on our standard Solvej swings a 100% acrylic canvas (with a 10-year manufacturers guarantee from fading) because it is rotproof. It is also very easy care.
The rope we use on our Solvej swings is a NZ made soft high performance polyester yachting braid. We decided on a synthetic rope because it does not rot. Polyester has excellent UV resistance and is strong.
We use a non-toxic natural Tung oil on the wood.
D: Contribution to society
We like to contribute to society in more ways than just working and paying taxes. To be a healthy and happy individual we believe that one must have not only the goal to look after oneself and ones family but also have unselfish goals which are outside of and bigger than oneself. We think the same principal applies for a business to be healthy and truly prosperous. We believe that the countryside is a great place for the soul. The employment opportunities in the country are becoming less since the modern farming industry needs fewer people. We think one of the best ways to halt and reverse the urbanization trend, and give people a real choice to live in the country, is for other industries to establish themselves in the rural area. To create employment in the rural area is one of the aims and goals that guide and drives Solvej Swings.