Today we’re sitting down with Clark Davis, creator of Sprout, a company that creates wonderful interactive furniture for creative kiddos.
Please tell me a bit about your background – what led you to creating Sprout?
I feel that my childhood had a huge influence on me as a designer/inventor/entrepreneur. I grew up in rural Utah, in a small community called Genola. I am the third in a family of eight. We didn’t have any close neighbors until I was about 10 and we didn’t have a TV growing up, so as kids we learned to entertain ourselves. This does great things for your creativity. All summer long we would build huts, bike trails, and rope bridges in the stand of trees down the road. Then come winter our free time was spent our time making lego empires. My mom would tell us that legos were made to make and break, meaning that the value was in the learning and creating processes more than in the final product. I think it is true.
As I got older I went from hand tools to power tools. I worked at my dad’s cabinet shop where I gained alot of experiences in wood working. We also taught myself to weld and work with metal. I think it was my junior year in high school that my younger brother and I made steam engine out of old machine parts that we found around the cabinet shop and entered it into a science fair. I was very blessed with a great developmental environment: Lots of stuff (junk) to work with, parents that modeled a desire to learn, and the freedom to try with out mom freaking out.
I realize that not everyone has the same opportunities but I feel blessed that I did. I want to give some of that opportunity to kids growing up. So while every kids mom won’t let him use saws and welders at a young age, I think I can bring the thrill of building your furniture (or at least having a part in it) to them. That is what legos did for me. Think about it. Legos let a 3-year-old kid become an inventor. They lower to barriers to creativity and allow real exploration. Not just role playing with stuff, or using stuff. But creating the stuff. How amazing is that? I love learning.
The world is the best classroom, if you learn to see it that way. As a child this is the natural and only way we learn. We shouldn’t loose this ability to learn from everything around us. Overcome the fear of being wrong. We don’t learn by being right, but trying, making mistakes and adapting.
Why the name Sprout?
I love the color Green! But really, sprouts grow – I love the imagery. I hope this product will help little sprouts sprout. Also, our products are designed to be eco-friendly. Recycled and local materials, little waste, made in the USA, smart cardboard packaging, compact shipping. I think there is beauty in simplicity.
I find nature absolutely inspiring and try to mimic the simplicity of nature when I design. One example is the way that our furniture assembles. While most designers use screws or nails, Sprout uses the natural flexibility of the wood to keep the parts together. We try to take advantage of the inherent properties of the materials we are using. Another example is the natural raw edges of the furniture. I wouldn’t paint them if I could. I think that they naturally add to the aesthetic of the product.
How did you start Sprout and where is it going from here?
I first had the idea for an easy to assemble student desk about 2 years ago – at the time I couldn’t make a desk at an accessible pricepoint for students so I started doing kid furniture. But in the future, we might (wink wink) have some student products coming.
What’s your workspace like?
Just a few months ago I moved from the basement office gig to a studio and I love it. What a difference. It also makes it a little easier to bring on some other people. There are a couple of us working together and what a difference it makes. The studio, but has a skylight. Absolutely love the natural light.
Thanks so much to Clark for taking the time to wax philosophical with us today!