Resilient Design, Speculative Design, Social Design, Sustainable Design; creative practice; design pedagogy
MFA, Sculpture, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA
BFA, Furniture Design, The Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
Joining VUW’s School of Design in 2012, Tonya Sweet is an artist-designer and established design educator with expertise in object-oriented critical design. Tonya was granted a Master of Fine Arts degree in Sculpture from the Cranbrook Academy of Art, and a Bachelor of Fine Art in Furniture Design from the Rhode Island School of Design in the United States.
Tonya’s research and creative work challenges common preconceptions regarding the role of objects in mitigating the negative emotional and psychological impacts of traumatic events. Tonya’s current research explores this subject through the context of furniture that aims to foster psychological resilience in the face of pending and direct earthquake experiences. The speculative outcomes resulting from this research are intended to facilitate critical dialogue as well as to cultivate alternative approaches for the meaningful design of human-centred objects.
For more see TonyaSweet.com
Tonya is a passionate design educator with diverse university-level teaching experience across three countries including the United States, the United Arab Emirates, and New Zealand. Through her extensive engagement in cross-disciplinary education from student’s first year to their postgraduate studies, Tonya has developed pedagogy and taught courses in design theory, sustainable design, maker culture, foundational principles of design, analog and digital fabrication techniques, sculpture, architecture, interior design, and furniture design. She is an advocate of facilitating heuristic and empirical learning opportunities that synthesize critical thinking, theory, and practice, and that foster an innovative, conscientious, and inclusive approach to design development.
Prior to dedicating her career as a design educator, Tonya gained over six years of professional experience as a furniture designer and fabricator. Her experience bridges a range of scales and disciplines including architecture and construction, exhibition design and fabrication, and the design and production of bespoke furniture.