Charles Mouchtaris knows all about wood, having acquired most of his craftsmanship from his grandfather, Christos and today mouchmouch designs can create anything from phone cases made of bamboo and walnut, to a handcrafted shot tray with custom glasses and even a rack in clear natural color. You can even create your own custom-made wooden phone case with a quote, a logo, and an engraved message.
It all started in 2005, when Charles, an architecture student back then, could not find the appropriate size desk to work on, and decided to just make it himself.
Is there a common language that carpenters, architects and designers use?
Scale. Scale is by far the most commonly exchanged form of communication I come across. It can be gestural, verbal or written. When discussing a new idea, we constantly refer to dimensions of everyday objects, draw small or life-size sketches, we even use our arms as measuring tapes to get the vision across to all parties involved.
Unique items for extraordinary people, or, maybe, extraordinary items for unique people. Can you explain that?
I would say unique items for extraordinary people. Due to the nature of our business, which crafts bespoke commissions using raw materials (wood/ stone and hand machined steel), no two items will ever be alike. Each slice of wood we use for an iPhone case will have both different wood grain as well as engraving depth. Therefore, our furniture, which is handmade out of wood with stone or steel parts, will never be exactly identical, as we handpick all our materials in order to suit each specific project.
Because it’s alive! I find wood to have amazing material properties. It’s incredibly hard to master and I believe it’s a never-ending learning journey that keeps you humble. Ever since I can remember myself, I have been drawn to wood. I admired wooden creations and was baffled by how a tree could become a dining table from start to finish. I like authentic, raw materials. Perhaps this is the main reason why I started exploring carpentry as well. It is not a manmade material. When you have, or use, something wooden, you connect with it. The more you use it, you develop a relationship with it, you can see it age with you.
You learned your craft from your grandfather. Can you share with us a quote or phrase he used to tell you?
Make it once and make it count; be authentic in your production method; never sacrifice functionality or reliability to cut costs in order to get the job done. People try to get the best for the least, but there is a fine line that we must not cross. It’s much better to be known for impeccable quality in the long run than for cheap quick fixes in the short run which don’t last.
At mouch mouch designs, anyone can order anything from a queen size bed to an engagement gift box. What are the most awkward orders so far? Which have been the most exciting, funny or difficult ones?
Our most awkward order so far would have to be an all-wooden professional spear gun. It was commissioned by a client who is a fanatical spear fisher. He wanted a higher standard spear gun. It was by far the most complex thing we ever did with custom made handles and measurements to suit his size. We ended up making a few variations including a teak one with carbon fiber detailing. As far as exciting, I would have to say I have a weakness for our chandeliers.
Due to their overwhelming size, I really look forward to the assembly process and seeing everything fit together, becoming a reality. Once we manage to finally hang it, it’s a very fulfilling moment.
The absolute No1 best-seller? And a product that never went to production?
Our best seller would have to be our iPhone cases. They are by far the product that we have sold the most quantity of. We have produced a variety of designs, collaborated with graphic designers and engraved a plethora of company logos for corporate gifts. Each case is unique and, therefore, has a personal connection with each client. We have a variety of products that haven’t reached the production line yet. One example is our handmade wooden MacBook cases. I would like to see them out there one day; however, we want to get them exactly right, with both the highest quality materials and the right price for our customers. It takes a while for each idea to reach the market, especially when it’s handmade.
An interesting quote to engrave on your phone case?
Quotes are a hard thing to suggest to people. Depending on how each person looks at it, they can have completely different meanings. I don’t remember where I saw this, but one which has stuck with me is “Your future is as bright as your faith in yourself.” As cheesy as it may sound, at the end of the day, no one will give you a handout. If you honestly know your potential, believe in it. As long as you keep pushing, you will eventually get there. Be patient, persevere and persist.