Shervin Rankin’s hair – a mass of waves and curls that frames his face – is not the hair that you would expect on a former finance man. But Shervin defies expectations.
Growing up in a family of carpenters and contractors, he left a successful banking career in 2008 to start his own furniture business, Kayotics Cayman. Since then he has become renowned for his stylish yet functional outdoor furniture. Having built a business mostly on word-of-mouth referrals, Shervin now counts The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort and the recently opened Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa among his clients.
For Seafire, Shervin pivoted slightly from furniture to sculpture. When designing the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, interior designers Ted Berner and Dayna Lee of Powerstrip Studio wanted to impart a deep sense of place into the design by selecting island-inspired furnishings and commissioning art from local artisans to create a space that could really be found “Only in Cayman.”
Part of this vision was to reflect Cayman’s architectural past within a contemporary context. Enter Shervin’s 14-piece sculptural installation, “Wattle Without Daub,” a series of large woven wooden wall hangings found throughout the resort property including the seaside bungalows and flanking the elevators in the lobby, which harkens back to the wattle-and-daub style of building used by Cayman’s early settlers.
Found on the island as early as the 1700s, wattle and daub is an ancient building process where vertical wooden stakes, also known as wattles, are woven with horizontal branches and then daubed with a mortar made from mud or clay. In Cayman, wattles were traditionally made from ironwood, a sturdy and dense wood, and woven with thin flexible strips of green wood such as sea grape or cabbage wood. The daub was made from coral rocks, which were broken down by hand and then burned in piles until they formed a fine powder known as lime, which was mixed with water to form the daub.
Shervin gave a lot of thought to how he would create a slice of Cayman history as art. “I’m a perfectionist and I spent weeks thinking about how to make this wall sculpture before I started working on in,” he says. “In the end, I designed a jig to hold the beams for the frame steady while I wove smaller sticks throughout.”
Shervin made the sculptures from from the wood of wild tamarind trees, chosen for their abundance and the straightness of their branches. He removed leaves and outer bark from the tree, which were then fumigated to remove any lingering pests.
Each wattle wall is a triumph of engineering composed of five 8-foot vertical veins and between 60 to 100 11-foot branches woven across the frame and secured with thatch rope at various angles to create stability, resulting in a rustic, yet polished, piece.
Since finishing “Wattle Without Daub” Shervin has been, in his words, “Busier than a bee making honey,” with a number of private commissions and commercial work.
To find out more about Shervin’s work visit kayotics.ky.