We’re always on the lookout for the next great design. Of course, great designs don’t create themselves. Learning to craft something beautiful takes patience, time, and willingness to learn. We’re proud of all the dedicated folks out there committed to learning to do what they love. That’s part of the reason we started our UncommonGoods Scholarship program.
This time around, our scholarship team was mesmerized by the beauty of winner Tyson Cromwell’s furniture design. Tyson received $1,000 to use toward continuing his education at Academy of Art University in San Francisco, where he’s currently studying industrial design.
We asked Tyson to share a little more about his career aspirations, his love of design, and how his father helps inspire his work. Check out our Q&A below to learn more.
Describe your background for us a bit. How do you think your surroundings and early life experiences helped shape your interest in industrial design?
I think a major part of my interest in Industrial design came from my love of wanting to know how things work. I would often take things apart, like my toys I got for Christmas, and then put them back together again. My parents encouraged this, once they knew I could put things back together, and gave me lots of cardboard and duct tape to help my imagination flow. I also enjoyed sketching as a child and would open the encyclopedia and sketch from the pictures I found in there.
When did you first learn about design, and how did you decide to major in it?
I initially majored in Mechanical Engineering, but there was less artistry then I preferred. My wife was looking on job boards for me and found a job opening for an industrial designer. The job description fit me perfectly and when we saw that an Industrial Design degree was required for it, I looked further into that degree and decided it was worth pursuing.
Do you have a favorite artist or designer whose work has influenced your own?
I would say my father has influenced me as a designer. He has a love of nature and a passion for woodworking that I have always looked up to. That same passion for carpentry and nature was what inspired me when creating my crib.
Describe the creation of these pieces. How did you decide what materials to use? Were there any particularly trying moments in the process?
I have always thought walnut was a beautiful wood. The dark tones ranging from purple to black are stunning in any shade. The rustic maple is a perfect compliment to walnut while also bringing in a nice contrast.
I think the hardest part of this design was the compound curve of the top rail compiled on top of the angled curved corner post and concave sides. I wanted it to bend both downward and inward in order to easier lay the baby down. Cutting out the inlay for the corner posts was also very tricky.
Do you believe that design can be a force for good in the world? If so, how?
I absolutely think Industrial Design can be a force for good. People need beauty like they need air and water and if something can be beautiful AND functional then it is even more important to be designed. Things that function well are better for the environment, easier on our bodies, and better for our future.
Now that you’ve won the scholarship, look into your crystal ball… as best you can, anyway. Where do you see yourself after graduation?
My goal is to work for Polaris designing the next generation of snowmobiles. I actually built my first snowmobile out of K’Nex as an 8-year-old. It had working steering with handlebars and skis as well as a motorized track. I’ve been thinking about snowmobiles and how to improve them ever since.