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East Meets Best: Grove Laser-Engraved Bamboo iPhone Cases

Bamboo Bombshell

True to the organic premise, the finished case feels less like a product and more like a work of art. Solid. Smooth. Warm.

The extra effort for an oiled finish pays dividends. Tomita’s oldest case – only three months old – has a patina and character of its own, and has softened with handling and use, like the arm on a favorite chair or a hickory axe handle.

“The whole point of our company is, we want things to feel good,” Tomita says. “We spent quite a bit of time perfecting this profile.”

Although it adds some bulk to the phone, the Grove cases are surprisingly comparable to most plastic cases in size, and feel almost impossibly lightweight. Grove makes no claim of great durability for its cases, but that’s not part of the appeal. This is art.

Green? You Decide

Despite their use of sustainably harvested bamboo building materials and natural, nontoxic oils for finishing, Tomita and Mansfield refuse to label their company “green.”

“We don’t throw big labels out there, saying we’re a ‘green’ company, or we’re sustainable,” Tomita says. “I’m tired of all the greenwashing going on right now, people just throwing that out there for marketing purposes. We don’t want to be like that. We want to do what we think is right, tell people about it, and people can decide on their own.”

Fast Forward

With the iPhone 4G on the way this summer and the iPad already quickly gaining a stable of aftermarket accessories, Tomita and Mansfield concede either might be ripe for bamboo cladding soon, but with a launch only weeks in the rearview mirror, it will take some time.

Both Tomita and Mansfield run businesses aside from their joint venture, leaving the door open for larger techie collaborations as well. Mansfield’s company Engrave has handled everything from Macs to moleskin notebooks, and Tomita Designs builds all sizes and shapes of custom furniture.

As for the steep price tag, don’t expect the duo to ship it off to Taiwan so they can cut it in half any time soon. “The one thing that’s very important to us is to do it here, and do it ourselves,” Tomita says.

“We care about how we do it just as much as we care about the product itself.”

You can check out Grove’s official site at www.grovemade.com.

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