2013 SMA | Feild Craddock | Virginia Tech
Most students who begin the journey through design school emerge as qualified designers equipped to solve all of the world’s problems. Some also acquire the kind of business acumen that positions them to create industries out of ideas. Virginia Tech’s Feild Craddock is among both the most and the some.
Feild's journey began when he traveled from his parents’ home in Richmond, VA to Northern California to attend the Senior Show one of his sisters participated in at the California College of the Arts (CCA). She exhibited some of her film and video work there, but it was an industrial design student’s work that caught his attention.
“I saw a bunch of Gameboy concepts as part of an ID exhibit.” he recalled. “After my sister’s show, I googled industrial design and found frog’s web site. I always wanted to be an inventor, but I assumed you’d have to study something like engineering to do that.”
Not long after discovering industrial design, Feild enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) where he studied for a year and a half before transferring to Virginia Tech. “I had never worked as hard in my life as I did at RISD,” he said. “It taught me what you can do when you are challenged to go past what you think are your limits.”
Like all design students at Virginia Tech, Feild set up shop in Burchard Hall, the single-serve design studio where aspiring designers from each year of the program work out of one massive room learning alongside and challenging each other.
“Everyone’s in the same room,” he described. “With the different classes talking to each other, you’re always aware of who’s above you. As a second year, I could see who was above me and it made me want to do better. As a senior, I saw the second years coming in with some of the work they’re doing and it made me want to step my game up.”
One project tracks Feild’s chronology at Virginia Tech pretty closely. As a second year student, Professors Larry Fenske, IDSA and Martha Sullivan welcomed Feild and his classmates back from winter break with a two-week project where they were tasked with giving form to a toothbrush. At the close of the second week, Feild had conceived of Squeeze, a solution to help arthritic users get a more comfortable grip while brushing their teeth.
He started with some quick and dirty research. “I talked to my dentist and some of his staff. I also did a lot of research online and learned a lot about arthritis,” he remembered. “It was no substitute for sitting down and talking with people or watching them use the product, but I had to meet the original time constraint.”
During his tenure at Virginia Tech, Feild kept the Squeeze in mind as other assignments and opportunities arose. For a professional practice project, he and some of his classmates used the concept as the basis for writing a business plan to create a new company. As a senior, Feild took a rapid prototyping class to figure out how to 3D-print a prototype of Squeeze. Later this summer, he and his classmates will travel to Asia to present their business plan as part of a student competition sponsored by Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
“I’ve always been interested in entrepreneurship” he said. “And I’m super inspired by people who take their design ability and turn it into business success. In school, we’ve heard the potato peeler story from OXO a lot. My classmates and I thought this could be like an OXO of home dental care.”
While the product solution only exists as a prototype at present, the presence of the design in Feild's online portfolio has stirred up some interest. “Every few months, I get a phone call from an elderly caretaker or a dentist wanting to buy it.”
Additionally, Feild's educational experience has taken him to Brooklyn and Baltimore for internships at Inch, Inc. and Key Tech, respectively. At Inch’s small office, he inched into position to observe the entrepreneurial process. “I sat five feet away from the owner and five feet away from the engineer so I got to see what it looks like to run a business,” he said. At Key Tech, Feild gained insight about the particulars of designing medical and scientific instruments. “I did a lot of design work for them and learned a lot about the different regulation issues involved in working on medical products.”
Following graduation—and apart from his upcoming trip to Hong Kong—Feild will begin a three-month internship with Smart Design in their New York office.
For more information on him or his work, please visit: www.feildcraddockdesign.com