This story describes the process I went through to develop and make Swoop Frames, a picture frame company focused on creating a better DIY framing experience and building unique frames from sustainable materials.
Start of the Idea
I became focused on creating a better picture framing experience after being frustrated with framing some prints I gifted to my family for Christmas. The traditional-style frames I used required a lot of time, research, and specialized tools to mount and hang each print properly. I'm sure a lot of you are familiar with creating t-hinge mounts, cutting precise mattings, and installing framing points. All of which require a lot of practice to execute properly and make it a real challenge for an inexperienced person to protect and display their artwork.
Finding a Solution
In the beginning I explored a wide variety of mechanical fasteners and design features to solve those problems. The best solution I could think of was a tool-less way to assemble a picture frame. I figured if using specialized tools and hardware was the critical pain point then why not get rid of them?
A Common Theme
One feature of the frame remained consistent through each different concept though. I had originally envisioned a minimalist, understated frame that would complement many different styles of photography and art. To keep that goal intact, I made the thin frame and rounded corners the foundation of each new concept.
Solving the Problem
After a lot of trial and error and multiple generations of prototypes, I found that a combination of high quality materials and simple interlocking forms would make for a more reliable solution than my other concepts could offer.
Key Design Features
The main reason for choosing this concept was the DOT mounting system. This unique approach to hanging a frame uses a single aluminum dot to interlock with the interface on the back of the frame. Using this method allows for adjusting the frame between portrait and landscape freely without making any alterations to the backing.
Other desirable features of this concept were the press fit backing and thread loop corner mounts. By adding welting chord to the edge of the backing, a friction fit is created that securely assembles all of the frame components together and seals out dust and debris. Integrating thread loops into the fabric backing was a late design decision, but testing made it clear that it was much more convenient than the traditional hinging methods or plastic photo corner mounts that are available.
Each prototype you see in the photos was handmade by myself. There were a lot of ups and downs throughout the process, but it was worth it to execute all of the details.
Once the first couple of prototypes were made I was able to explore different ways the frames could live in a space. Hanging each frame individually on the wall is great, but they also display well on tables or shelves, and can pair together to make a unique art or photo gallery.
Making Swoop a Reality
Bonus: Behind the Scenes
Here is a look behind the camera at some of the setups and rigs I used to create the product photography for Swoop.
I hope you enjoyed this story and thanks for reading :)
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Visit our website to learn more about Swoop here