Meet Colter Swan: Award Winning Designer
Engineering or Design?
Meet Cotler Swan, winner of Mockett’s Annual Design Competition. We got the opportunity to catch up with the Award Winning Designer to discuss his recent design entry, his personal design influences, and his vision for the future of design in where his engineering background gives him a unique perspective through a mechanical lens, which we found quite fascinating.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Colter Swan. I was born in the Little Rock, Arkansas. I have moved around with my family a couple times until finally settling down in North Carolina. I live in the small town of Goldsboro, and I am currently enrolled in the Industrial Design Program at Appalachian State University.
What first got you interested in design?
Before I started with design, I was actually planning on studying mechanical engineering. I had started learning engineering as a freshman in high school with drafting classes and AutoCAD 2D. I continued studying engineering through high school and into my second year of community college. Our local college had a fantastic engineering program. During those 2 years, I also worked for a company that manufactured gaskets and hub seals for cars. I decided that I needed to further my education and apply to a 4 year college. However, during the process of applying, I was also looking for jobs in the automotive industry. Most of the jobs I ended up looking at were related to design, and this is how I was first introduced to industrial design.
So, you sort of stumbled upon it then?
Yes, as I was searching, the field of design seemed very interesting to me. I saw it as a chance to use what I have learned in engineering and apply it to industrial design. I applied to Appalachian State University and joined the ID department, now called Applied Design, when I was a freshman. I learned a great deal about design and fell in love with all the processes I learned and the different mediums we used to display the work we had done. I had done a lot of projects relating to what I hope will be a strong career in the automotive world. It may take a lot of work for what I am doing, but I enjoy the challenge and want to stay competitive.
What was the inspiration for your award winning design?
The idea was to make a shelf bracket that was compatible with their SHTRC and SHTRM shelf tracking system. Originally, during the development process for this part I had designed my own horizontal tracking system. During an initial review, the feedback I got was to keep it simple. In hindsight, that was definitely the right move. I could then focus on the bracket itself and make it only one material. I chose to do a shelf bracket because while I saw lots of brackets in their collection, I noticed that there weren't many shelf brackets for the tracking system. As far as inspiration goes, I wanted to go back to my engineering roots to make a stronger bracket that could withstand a higher weight capacity. So using the combination of engineering focusing on the structure and design focusing on the aesthetics, I was able to create a simple bracket design that provided a unique alternative to the existing line.
How did you react to the news? Would you recommend the competition to friends and colleagues in the design community in the future?
I actually had no idea I would win. I really wish I would have picked up the phone [when Doug called me] instead of letting it go to voicemail. After I did get the message, I literally dropped the phone and couldn't believe it. I would really recommend this competition to anyone who is interested in design to submit your design and give it a try. Doug and the team at Mockett are some of the nicest people I have had the pleasure to meet. They only use local manufacturing in the area, so consider that if you are planning on submitting. Good luck to those submitting next year!
Meet the other 2017 Design Competition Winners