David Coleridge Ryan was born in Wales, he is an artist, designer, engineer, teacher and poet. His creative work includes industrial design, appropriate technology, painting and poetry, and as you will see, all his work is connected through a similar process. This creative process is well illustrated by the story of a famed Indian carver of elephants who, when asked how such beautiful elephants were made, replied – “Oh! it’s really quite simple, I get a piece of wood and remove everything that is not elephant!”
His early years were spent as an electromechanical engineer but his passion for art and design soon led him back to college where he discovered the field of industrial design. He studied design at Cardiff, Wales, and won a scholarship to Manchester Polytechnic, England, where he received a Master of Arts (with Distinction) in Industrial Design. Since then he has worked as a designer, an artist and a teacher.
His design experience covers a wide range of projects in many countries including the UK, Holland, Algeria, USA, Japan, and Ecuador as a volunteer, designing simple farm tools for disadvantaged campesino communities. He also worked in Milan, Italy, where he collaborated with his friend and mentor Enzo Mari on projects for Kartell. He has received many design awards including; the Lighting Prize for his Delft lamps at Interieur 94, Belgium; a Design Distinction in the ID Annual Review and a Good Design award from the Chicago Atheneum for the Rover series of seating; two Gold Awards for furniture from the IDSA, one for LeanToo and the other for the Light Lounge. His work has been exhibited at the Design Centre London, the Chicago Athenaeum, Manchester City Art Gallery, the Tacoma Art Museum, and has been featured in many publications, including; The Best of British Product Design, New and Notable Product Design, Design Magazine, ID magazine, Design Issues, Arcade, and Innovation Magazine which featured the LeanToo perch on the front cover.
Before coming to the USA, he worked as an industrial designer and taught at many notable institutions in the UK such as Manchester Metropolitan University, De Montfort University and Cardiff Metropolitan University. In 1989 he was invited to the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana, as a visiting professor in industrial design. He continued to teach there until 1995, receiving his tenure and becoming head of graduate studies in Industrial Design. In 1990 he opened a design office, working for many international clients including Herman Miller, Steelcase, Muji, Metro Furniture, Starbucks and Knoll.
He moved to Seattle in 1995 and then to Whidbey Island in 2017. Since being in the Pacific Northwest he has taught at Cornish College of the Arts, the University of Washington, Pilchuck Glass School, Elderwise, the Frye Art Museum, and has also expanded his scope of design work, particularly into the field of seating and systems furniture. He continues to pursue his passion for painting, poetry, and particularly drawing, which he believes is the creative wellspring for all his endeavours.
Recent accomplishments include ……..
2010 - for a group drawing show at the Anchor Art Space in Anacortes, he executed a large wall drawing ”Composition in 2B, 4B and 6B” and exhibited a series of works on paper.
2013 - completed a collaboration with the Northwest poet Sean McFalls on a project entitled iKu, a melding of words and images created exclusively on the iPad.
2014 - selected for the Tieton 10 x 10 group show, juror Vicki Halper.
2015 - finalist in the DWR (Design Within Reach) Champagne Cork chair design.
2015 - 3 paintings (Ikebana #1, Lacrimis Veritatis and Landscape, Arboretum #21) selected for Arts at the Port Exhibition, Anacortes Arts festival, juror Stephano Catalani.
2015 - 2 landscape (Arboretum) paintings selected for the Tieton 10 x 10 group show, jurors Sharon Arnold and Jerry Beck.
2015 - painting "Deep Green falling on Pale Blue" selected for the Living Mark exhibition at the Verum Ultimum gallery, Portland, Oregon.
2015 to 2016 - Co-facilitator with Elderwise, Seattle, whose mission is "to recognize and nurture the value and wholeness of older adults, regardless of their cognitive or physical ability, and to meet their need to experience life deeply in the present." My chief input is in facilitating watercolor painting and other creative activities. http://www.elderwise.org
2016 to present - Outreach Facilitator with Elderwise, Seattle. See description above.
2017 - Industrial Design consultant to Herman Miller Inc, USA.
2017 - Teaching artist, Frye Art Museum, Seattle, in the Hear:Now program.
2017 - Moves to Whidbey Island.
2017 to present - Industrial Design consultant to Aimée Jacobsen, president of InclineRX, Seattle, for the reimagining of a low-angle inversion table called 'Lull' which was brought to the market in 2019/20.
2019 - Started work on a series of larger paintings in oil, the 'River' series.
David lives near Langley on beautiful Whidbey Island with his wife Robin, two greyhounds and two, very talkative cats.