The Top 6: All About Designer Shawn Sowers

The Top 6: All About Designer Shawn Sowers

Maxwell Ryan
Oct 3, 2011

Designer: Shawn R. Sowers
Location: Perrysburg, OH


Design: Block Desk and Quartet Chair
Materials: Solid Walnut, Painted Maple, Clear Finish
Price Point: Block Desk $2340.00, Quartet Chair $585.00

The word common, as used by my grandmother, has an entirely different meaning from what is found in the dictionary. She uses the word to describe a person whose character is the perfect balance of simplicity, familiarity, and goodness. I set out to translate the idea of "common" into modern furniture. What I arrived at is an elegant collection of pieces that represent those three ideals through form, construction, and material. Simple is purposeful forms that let the materials, structure, and joinery serve as the decorative elements. Familiar is utilizing the materials and construction methods of traditional furniture in an updated aesthetic. Good is never having to buy the same thing twice.

Shawn's original entry with comments



I don't have a dedicated workspace or studio. The place where ideas start for me is usually on our couch or chair. I spend a lot of time looking at books, magazines, and online to see whats happening and what's been done thus far. I also sketch here. Sketching isn't sacred to me, it's simply a way to explore ideas and refine mental images a little further before going into CAD.

The kitchen table is phase two of my design process. I like to spread out, consume the space with ideas, sketches and inspiration. I do my CAD work here using Pro Engineer. Using the table keeps me focused; it keeps me from getting lazy and filling a desk with things I think are interesting but not relevant to what I'm pursuing.

The shops of my builders are the place where I see my first prototypes, good and bad, and start the process of refinement. Its a collaborative process, pushing and pulling ideas about what I'm seeking and how we can achieve it.


Jens Risom is my favorite designer. I was fortunate enough to visit Jens at his home several times to talk with him about his career and get his thoughts on my designs as I was developing the Commonhouse line. It was incredible to see how he lived, and I was lucky enough to be there when he was working on drawings for DWR's Risom Rocker. His work has impacted my designs and my thinking about furniture and the role it must play. Elegance is always present in his work, but the comfort of his seating is what captivates me. I also have a great deal of respect for the risk he took pursuing his entrepreneurial vision, leaving Denmark in the middle of the Danish Modern rising to come to the US. He saw a void in American Design and had the insight to realize that was an opportunity to develop his career and make a name for himself.


Richard Sapper's Tizio lamp stands at the forefront of my favorite designs. It has everything that makes for Good Design: strong form, dynamic gesture, innovative function, bold use of color, graphic elements, and a memorable visual imprint. During my time at IBM & Lenovo I was fortunate enough to work along side Richard. Seeing how he thought and the way he approached a design problem was when I believe I truly began to learn about Design and what the act of Design is meant to be in its purest form.

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