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’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…]
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.
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.”