Sha Hwang and Rachel Binx launched Meshu earlier this year with a catchy concept: Enter in a series of locations, as general as a city or specific as a street address, and the company would transform the paths between these points into a piece of custom jewelry.
Both have extensive experience parsing introspective information: Binx, who works at the San Francisco design and tech studio Stamen, studied her own moods over time for her senior thesis, and Hwang, a Stamen alum and currently at Trulia, developed a tool to allow himself and others to view their Last.fm habits.
Translating their web expertise to physical materials, however, was a bit of a challenge. "My friend Bryan Boyer calls this ‘matter battle’—the inevitable struggle that happens when engaging with the real world," Hwang says. Despite the slow and unpredictable process refining all the elements of fabrication—thickness, density, size—and getting familiar with a friend’s laser cutter, it’s precisely this tangibility that made the endeavor so rewarding. "The excitement and ruckus and chatter around a project oftentimes lives in a fine mist across tweets and likes," he says. "But with Meshu, the appreciation and excitement of our customers is palpable, intense, and direct."
In fact, once the Meshu orders started coming in, the pair realized that they were capturing something far more intimate than mere geographic representation, and started to understand how truly poignant the pieces were. "They’re like mirrors, making ways to look at our own histories and paths," Hwang says. On the site, they’ve shared a few of the more heart-tugging custom notes over a greyscale map with the jewelry itself, and the results are quite poetic.
Now, they’re turning their attention to a new evolution. While the original Facet style connects the dots, Radial focuses instead on a single location—and was actually conceived as a roundabout response to customer feedback. "Some people were disappointed when their travels ended up in something very ‘boring,’ like a line or a triangle," Hwang says. "They felt sad that their personal stories didn’t look beautiful, and, of course, that was never our goal." The new system creates a sprawling motif centered around a particular place, all contained within a perfect circle.
The inherent appeal of the brand exists in the highly personal connection with these unique creations, not the technology behind them. "There are a lot of people experimenting with generative forms and evocative geometry, and it’s really gorgeous work, but what has resonated about Meshu is that it is ultimately about the people," Hwang says. "It just doesn’t exist without these stories and memories."