Byron Conn will receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Furniture Design from the School for American Crafts, as well as minors in Entrepreneurship and Art History at Rochester Institute of Technology in the spring of 2013. Rich Tannen, Andy Buck, and Richard Newman have taken a prominent role in Mr. Conn's professional growth. Mr. Conn worked for Frank Klausz at Frank's Cabinet Shop in Pluckemin New Jersey, and assisted Thomas Hucker in Hoboken, New Jersey. Studying abroad in Dubrovnik, Croatia and at the Danish Royal Academy for Design in Copenhagen, Denmark have also shaped Byron Conn's approach to design. Mr. Conn has received the Furniture Society's educational grant, and was chosen by the Furniture Society to show the "Canasta Reliquary" in the 2012 International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York City. Other major achievements include; honorable mention of "Demilune" in the Veneer Tech Craftsman's Challenge 2012, and RIT's honor show selection 2011 and 2012. Nature inspires Mr. Conn's work while the quality and attention to detail in studio furniture is applied to a small, handmade production setting.
As technology advances the relationship of the creator to the created object changes. I am exploring this relationship through computer controlled processes and traditional hand-making techniques of functional wooden furniture. The goal for my work is to maintain a relationship of objects and the environment they will exist in. So being inspired by nature is crucial for myself personally and as a designer. During my adolescence I spent my summers in Montauk, Long Island learning how to surf with my uncle. While admiring the ocean and the beach I grew a strong appreciation for nature. Both my father and brother are avid enthusiasts of new technologies, adding an appreciating of anything hi-tech to my love for nature. My passion for creating furniture began in my high school wood shop. This is where I decided I could not spend the rest of my life sitting behind a desk, I needed to fabricate and create with my hands. I believe there is a lack of connection to an object when the making process is computer automated. And so the goal of my work is to combine the best from both hand-making and computer aided processes into a seamless design.
Studying Furniture Design within the School for American Crafts at Rochester Institute of Technology gives me a strong foundation in woodworking. As a result my design process occurs as much during research and ideation as it does while physically making the piece. Typically I spend the first few weeks solving the problem I have defined. This is done through research, testing, and sketching both on paper and through quick models. During this time nature inspires me both visually and functionally. I relate the relationships I see in nature to the relationships people will have with the objects I create. After the initial design process I make accurate scale and full scale models as well as technical drawings/renderings. These allow me to understand form and what it will truly take to fabricate the piece. The goal of my design process is to consider every possible aspect of the object I am creating. The CNC router has become another tool in my repertoire. I use it for jig and mold making, but also to roughly replicate forms that are difficult to achieve by hand. Currently none of my work has finished surfaces that remain unworked by hand. Hand tools play a large role in the development and completion of my work.
My ultimate goal is to change the way consumers think of furniture. They simply do not have to break the bank to buy a product that will transcend generations. Making one off furniture is not a solution to this, so my plan is to design furniture to be made by hand in batches. CNC technology plays an integral role in keeping costs down on complicated parts by enabling rough surfaces to be replicated efficiently, and accurately. The final hand shaping becomes quick and precise, allowing a human touch to be the final test for an immaculate surface and finish. Wood embodies sustainability, warmth, and tactility that attracts touch. I have explored other materials but wood remains the focus of my design solutions.