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Weston man wins design contest aiding children with disabilities

Nicholas Swerdlowe explaining his concepts during a design competition at Savannah College of Art and Design.

Nicholas Swerdlowe explaining his concepts during a design competition at Savannah College of Art and Design.

Nicholas Fjellberg Swerdlowe, a graduate of Weston High School who received a bachelor of arts degree in industrial design from the Savannah College of Art and Design in June, has won the International DesignSense Competition for children with disabilities.

The competition was run by Easter Seals of Southwest Florida, which provides services for persons with disabilities and their families across a lifetime by empowering individuals to live their lives to the fullest extent. Mr. Swerdlowe was awarded $1,000 and invited to speak at the organization’s national conference.

“Sense Space” is an adaptive play area designed by Mr. Swerdlowe to encourage muscle development, incidental learning, depth perception and textural exploration for young children. The form of Sense Space allows easy access for children to crawl in and explore tight spaces within, promoting mobility, exploration and creativity, he noted.

Mr. Swerdlowe’s inspiration for the project began during his studies at Weston Middle School, where he worked as a volunteer with children with learning disabilities at Hurlbutt Elementary School.

His other projects include the Calatrava lamp, inspired by the Spanish architect and the dance forms of tango and salsa; and “Hors D’Oeuvre,” a table designed for the Italian furniture company Poliform.

Mr. Swerdlowe has also designed the brand identity for “I [Heart] Connecticut.” The brand consists of three T-shirt variations based on a sailing theme. One features a screen-printed 13’ Sunfish on the front and a crest with the Mark Twain quote, “Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company” on the back. The concept behind this series was inspired by Twain’s love for coastal Connecticut.

His work has been published widely. He graduated from SCAD in Georgia with honors, having maintained a 4.0 grade point average over the last two years. He served as assistant director at Nuartlink Gallery in Westport during the summer of 2011.

Mr. Swerdlowe was the subject of a feature story in the July 13 issue of Norwegian American Weekly. The article, “Helping people through design,” noted that during his college years he spent a summer studying at the International Summer School at the University of Oslo, taking Norwegian history and intermediate language courses. “Some of the best memories were from nights out at Chateau Neuf (the student bar located at the Majorstuen stop on the T-bane), the international football tournament, cliff jumping at Bygdøy, summer concerts in the park, and hanging out downtown by the pier with my new friends,” he is quoted as saying.

Norwegian American Weekly reported that his “efforts to create functional, simple, and sustainable products exemplify the important aspects of Scandinavian design and their efforts to help people.” Mr. Swerdlowe told the newspaper, published in Seattle, that “Being Norwegian has put pressure on me to become a good designer” because “Norwegians have an incredible sense of product design and architecture.”

He has taken a design position at Product Ventures in Fairfield.

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