Who: Greg Swyny
What: Carpenter
Where: Singapore
Years of experience: 2

In the final instalment of our three-part series about craftsmanship in Singapore, we speak to carpenter, Greg Swyny, about learning life skills from his dad, and his most significant project.

I started calling myself a carpenter when I first started The Woodwork Initiative at the end of 2014. However, I’ve been doing carpentry in one form or other for about 20 years. It’s something that I love doing, and I always dreamed of starting something that I could call my own. I really enjoy the whole creative process, and the satisfaction of making something with your own hands is priceless.

Before I started The Woodwork Initiative, I was working full-time in Theatre as a stage and lighting technician.

One of the first things I learned from my dad was how to use basic tools properly, and the importance of selecting the right tools for the job. In the beginning, I would assist him on projects and observe how he worked, and how he handled his tools. This is something I would recommend to anyone new to woodworking; start with the fundamentals.

The most important life skills I’ve learned is patience, patience and more patience! And perseverance. It’s a labour of love, and not something you should rush through. Woodworking can be a time-consuming, tiring process and your best work will only be achieved when you are calm and relaxed, and fully focused on the task at hand. Woodworking has definitely helped me become a more patient, careful and resilient person.


The most significant work I’ve done was for a whole project––when my wife and I got our own apartment, and I did most of the woodwork myself. This included the kitchen cabinets, our bedroom wardrobe, shelving and storage units in the spare room, and even restoring the doors. We didn’t have a store room, so I needed to create storage for all our things.

My favourite is a bi-folding, double layered unit that looks like a bookshelf when closed, but when opened reveals a shoe rack and storage behind it. Overall, it was at the time the biggest project I’d ever attempted, and it took a long time to complete on my own, but it was definitely worth it.

Your best work will only be achieved when you are calm and relaxed, and fully focused on the task at hand

I loved interacting and sharing ideas with the other craftsmen, and learning how each other worked and developed their ideas. Sharing our creativity was our greatest benefit from the Connoisseurs of Craft. I’ve always been interested in mixed materials, and through interacting with the other craftsmen, I’ve developed a greater understanding of how to use other materials such as metal and leather together with wood. I am also really looking forward to more collaborations with the others in the future.


My goal is for people to recognise The Woodwork Initiative as a brand that complements quality craftsmanship and unique products with exceptional service.

Photos and interview courtesy of The Balvenie Connoisseurs of Craft.

Cindy Tan

about Cindy

Cindy heads Departure’s Curator section. She is an avid traveller and night owl, known for her contrarian stance on a number of issues. She has criticised such public and generally popular figures as Mother Teresa, Taylor Swift and Pope Benedict XVI.

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