Swerl Designs isn’t your typical furniture and home decor store — at least, co-owners Jason and Dave Eyer don’t see it that way.
The brothers are combining their experience with masonry and carpentry to create custom, one-of-a-kind pieces that are as much art as they are furnishing.
One prominent example in their West Reading showroom: a tabletop that’s part persimmon wood, part Glen Gery bricks and finished with epoxy resin.
“We want to push the envelope so that it’s something people haven’t seen before,” Jason said. “Specifically the brick tables, the stone tables. I haven’t seen that before anywhere.”
And the Eyers’ eclectic assortment of tables, clocks and light fixtures are only part of what Swerl Designs has to offer. Inside the shop are works from 10 other local makers, including glass pieces, wall hangs, plant life, handmade soaps and more.
“Everything mixes well together, blends together nicely,” Jason said. “It’s not just Vendor A has this spot, Vendor B has this spot. It’s all together, so when people come in they can kind of see how this will look in their home.”
Swerl Designs launched on the 400 block of Penn Avenue in April, though the concept is years in the making.
The owners of Berks County-based hardscaping company A Stone’s Throw had long sought ways of branching out when the lightbulb suddenly went on.
“When you’re in landscaping or masonry, you always have unpredictable winters,” Jason said. “So we’ve been saying for years we should do something.
“We threw all kinds of ideas around. Then, one day, Dave showed me a picture of this table he built and I was like, ‘Wow, that looks awesome.'”
How Swerl Designs wound a path to West Reading
Schuylkill County natives and Penn State graduates, Jason got his degree in landscape design and went on to start his own business in State College. Dave later switched from being an art major to join his brother.
“Too much sitting behind a computer,” Dave said of the potential career in computer animation he passed up. “That’s not for me.”
A Stone’s Throw came about in 2014 — initially as a side gig, but quickly growing to become a full-time job.
“Now, we’re booked out a year in advance,” Jason said.
But in addition to the uncertainty of winter work and the despised-yet-necessary task of plowing snow to pay the bills, there’s an itch hardscaping doesn’t quite scratch anymore.
“We’ve done masonry and hardscaping for so long, it’s just put ’em in, put ’em in,” Dave said. “People want pretty much the same style things. We can put patios in in a day or two anymore.”
“The creativity has gone away,” Jason added. “We’ve done about everything you can do. Not that they’re not challenging sometimes, but I think we’ve run into about every problem you can think of over the past 20 years of doing this.”
With Swerl Designs — the letters in Swerl representing stone, wood, epoxy, resin, lights — the Eyers are discovering a new outlet for their artistic nature.
“We have more ideas than we have time at this point,” Jason said. “It wasn’t a big revelation, like ‘We should start this. It was, ‘Maybe we should try this and see if we’re good at it,’ and I guess we are.”
“You see it in the yard, and hey, it’s art”
Swerl Designs began with Dave trying his hand at building a river table — a length of wood split by another material — something he had always wanted to try, but “never got around to.”
Jason became interested and the two of them started working on projects together. Before long, family members were making requests. A table with a Harley Davidson logo for dad. Another table made with sunflowers for an aunt.
“Then my neighbor suggested, ‘Why don’t you make clocks, that would be cool,’ so here come the clocks,” said Jason, showing a photo of a “train clock” with real railroad spikes in place of numbers. His brother was pulling another off the showroom wall, having sold it almost immediately after hanging it there.
The Eyers continue to do custom work for people in addition to what’s on display in the store.
“We can custom anything,” Jason said. “Anything in here can be custom made from any one of our other vendors.”
Jason acknowledges that with that level of craftsmanship comes prices that may not be in every customer’s range, but the brothers are certain some will appreciate the quality of work.
The hope is to eventually expand Swerl Designs beyond West Reading.
“This is easier on our bodies (than hardscaping),” Jason said. “I’ll be 40 this year and Dave’s not too far behind me. I don’t want to be doing that forever. My knees aren’t going to hold up.”
Plus, the opportunity to create seems to provide the brothers a different level of joy. Dave says they enjoy a good challenge, while Jason noted the possibilities are limitless.
“We can use anything,” Jason said. “You see it in the yard, and hey, it’s art. It’s way more, I don’t want to say fulfilling, but way more satisfying to be able to piece things together as opposed to just, ‘These stones go here, these pavers go here.’ Not that that isn’t satisfying, but it’s getting old, as anything will.
“Maybe this will get old one day. But if it does, then it’s on us, because you can really build this stuff out of anything.”