alex_002-color

Alex Turnwall heads up design efforts at BevSpot, where he gets to pursue his passions of interaction design, web development, restaurants, and adult beverages—sometimes simultaneously.

I design.

I’ve been professionally designing in some capacity since 2007—either freelance or at small studios. From 2010-2013 I ran a small studio called Hifinit Design with Geoff House—it was pretty great, but life was tugging in a different direction. During that time I started teaching part-time at the College of Arts, Media and Design (and also built their website). Teaching transitioned into a more-or-less full-time commitment, and in 2014 I helped a group of very talented students create Scout Design Studio as their first faculty advisor.

On the side, I was exploring the viability of pursuing my other passions professionally (hint: adult beverage creation)—when a chance email from a small startup offered the possibility of doing it all… sort of. It seemed like fate, so now I’m at BevSpot—trying to make the beverage industry a little bit easier through intuitive web tools every day.

I have an insatiable curiosity.

I’m very interested in “what’s next” for the web: wearable devices, augmented reality, (big) data visualizations, and the like. I’m also really interested in open-source platforms, and I’d love to see a ubiquitous, standard, open-source something for the hardware/software interface with household appliances and home networking. I think that’s going to be my next side-project. [Edit: I wrote that last paragraph in 2013. Things move quickly these days…]

Personally:

I live in Boston, MA. I grew up in Hamburg, NY—a suburb of Buffalo—where design wasn’t a profession that people did or knew about. At least not the people I knew.

When I’m not glued to a computer, I try to spend time outside. I have a newfound love of kayaking on the ocean. I don’t hike in the summer much because I like the way up, but not the way down, which is why I telemark ski and snowboard.

Skiing Mt. Katahdin

Skiing the Great Basin at Mt. Katahdin, Maine. Photo Credit: Peter Evans.

I’m a caretaker (LCA!) of a rustic Loj in New Hampshire, and I think it’s one of the most magical places I’ve ever been (although we don’t make it there quite enough). I love capturing photos of these things, but rarely do anything with them because that would involve sitting in front of a computer again.

I really love cooking and brewing beer, and frequently think I’d like to do those things for a living. Every restauranteur and brewer I’ve ever met insists that doing what I do is a far better idea. Time will tell. [Edit: I also wrote that last bit before I started working at BevSpot. Getting to work with great folks in the industry is a pretty good middle ground… for now.]

If you’ve ever met me, you probably know that I like bikes. A lot. I have four of them, plus two trailers to pull behind them: one to haul gear and another to haul my kayaks so I can go for a paddle without worrying about Boston traffic. I think bikes are the epitome of simple and beautiful design, and I really think they could be a tool that can make the world a better place, in so many ways. I made a video about it a long time ago:

I play guitar and write music sporadically. I try to sing (sorry neighbors!) and once opened for the Allman Brothers. (That’s only sort of true but I’m going to tell my grandkids one day regardless.)

A long time ago, a mentor gave me a book of inspirational quotes with one highlighted. The choice of author was, I think, an intended irony. Still, I hope I’ve lived up to the sentiment and can inspire half as many people as the person who gave it to me.

 “You were born an original. Don’t die a copy.”