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June 17, 2016


Meet the Maker: Colin Tury

Colin Tury (pictured) Photographs by Ali Lapetina

June 17, 2016

National Week of Making kicks off today, and we're celebrating the people who have risked everything to start small businesses based on their passion for craft. Meet a maker working right within our office, Colin Tury.

Outside of his work as an industrial designer for Shinola, Colin is an artist that values craft as a vital factor to culture because he believes it provides a reminder that we are all still humans who make things for a reason, not just to look at. By carefully choosing materials and presenting them in their true nature within his artwork, furniture and lighting designs, he strives to bring conceptual meaning to every piece by presenting a story that goes beyond the physical existence. 

"A story can exist just in bringing two materials together in an interesting way," he says. 

Colin in his workshop.

What are you working on in your role as industrial designer at Shinola? 

My role isn't limited to one thing, but originally started as fixture design and store rendering. I would help the architects lay the stores out and visualize their ideas, and then it sort of evolved into other things like packaging design. Most recently, I’ve been working on audio design, which has been super exciting because it’s an actual product that we’re going to sell, and so being a part of that form language and material study has been exciting for me.

Currently I’m working on a turntable, and I’m also helping design a single stereo unit (SSU); it’s like a stand-alone Bluetooth speaker with more capabilities. We're using cues from the product lines that we already have, and using subtle design details to tie them into our brand vocabulary. 

How long have you been at Shinola?

A little over a year now, so it’s been pretty exciting for me. After living in New York for two years and then living in Indianapolis for two years, Detroit was a given for me. New York City was crazy fast, Indianapolis felt too much like home, so coming back just felt right. Being back home with familiar faces and strong community is really nice. Shinola is interesting because it's creating opportunity in Detroit, but it’s doing it in an honest way. The process of assembling watches, and then just seeing all of the people involved and being a part of that is truly magical. Also, the company has a very modest presence in the local community helping those in need.

As someone who could be classified as a designer, maker and artist, what does being a modern maker mean to you? 

It’s important for me to do both design and make artwork because I think art informs design and design informs art — they go hand in hand with one another. Design is nice because there’s generally a right or wrong way to do it and that keeps me sane. Whereas with artwork, there’s never really a right answer, so it keeps me curious about my own existence. Having the balance of both of them to me is critical.

Everything he does starts with a drawing, Colin says.

What is your ideation process like?

My ideation process itself always starts with drawings, and I love drawing, I always have. I think that’s sort of where everything started for me, that’s what got me into art class, that’s what was allowing me to design furniture, so drawings to me are very important. Sometimes I like to do very tight sketches and renderings that are super descriptive and detailed, and sometimes I like very loose, gestural drawings because it allows me to be a little freer when making something more artful.

If I spend too long on a drawing, sometimes it limits the interpretation of the 2D to the 3D. I try to be very aware of that here at Shinola because there’s a very specific aesthetic approach that we have, but I also have to try to embed my ideals into the process. 

How do the materials you use help keep your ideas fresh? 

In my recent work, I enjoy materials as they are. The whole reclaimed movement, and the sort of raw aesthetic, to me, it’s more of a trendy thing from a general approach. If I’m using something raw, it’s because I’m conceptually trying to convey a raw idea. Material to me really tells the story of this object and the relationships. Material is opportunity. 

If you keep drawing and making the same chairs, you’re going to get bored, so how do you make it exciting? There are different ways to finish materials, there are different approaches to processing those materials, there are different ways to connect a leg to the seat of the chair, for example. To me, it’s more of a challenge where I try to come up with a new way to stay creative. I'm continually exercising my ability to design and problem solve, and that really keeps me excited about this job. Sometimes I’ll be working on something at Shinola and think about one little corner of the project, and then that detail can resonate in my shop, in my studio, and it will inspire a whole series of work that I had never thought of before — it’s an ongoing cycle.

One of Colin's newest creations.

Read about other makers on The Journal, here

Discussing the value of craftsmanship with Heath Ceramics

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