A Wendell Castle & Josh Owen
collaboration in support of knowledge

The Project

The Support for Knowledge project began as a dream to help the internationally renowned RIT industrial design program grow into a new facility that would mirror its status in the world. Building on the collaborative nature of the industrial design field and its cohort in and around RIT, we envisioned a collaborative project worthy of capturing such a spirit - distilled into a product that could be sold in limited edition to act as an heirloom to memorialize our intentions. Leveraging the storied Shop One as a conduit and our friends at Autodesk to explore production ideas, students, alumni and faculty could collaborate to develop limited edition works of art/design to help our cause.


The redesigned Industrial Design Studio will be the embodiment of good design to prospective students.The program has grown and matured over the years, consistently ranked in the top ten nationally. Providing students and faculty with facilities on par with the quality of the education will help drive the program into the top three nationally.


For the inaugural project launch, two experienced makers set out to apply their individual approaches to jointly create a pair of bookends. Their existing bodies of work show very different vocabularies. Each one designed one half of the set. Their goal was to produce an object set where each side has its own distinct style, but successfully interacts with the other side to create a holistic design conversation for the pair.

Unlikely Partners

Wendell Castle went to school to be a designer and became a sculptor. Josh Owen trained to be a sculptor and later became a designer. Wendell and Josh became friends shortly after Owen moved to Rochester in 2010. Known as the Father of the American Craft Movement, Castle’s connection with Rochester, NY and Rochester Institute of Technology runs deep. Harold Brennan, the Director of School for American Craftsmen recruited Castle in 1962 to join the faculty at RIT to teach woodworking and furniture design. Castle also maintained his own studio in Rochester. More recently Castle was affiliated with the students and faculty of the industrial design program where he taught regularly since 2010. Josh Owen was recruited to RIT in 2010 and has been the chair of the industrial design program at RIT since 2012 making connections to the Vignelli Center for Design studies.

Designer, Educator, Artist

Wendell Castle

Wendell Castle (1932-2018) created unique pieces of handmade sculpture and furniture for over four decades. Since the outset of his career, Castle consistently challenged the traditional boundaries of functional design and established himself as the father of the American studio furniture movement. Castle was renowned for his superb craftsmanship, his whimsically organic forms and his development of original techniques for shaping solid, stack-laminated wood. His iconic masterpieces in wood and in Technicolor gel-coated fiberglass from the late 1960’s and 1970’s are fast becoming some of the most important and coveted examples of 20th century design.

Castle was born in Kansas and received a BFA from the University of Kansas in Industrial Design and an MFA in sculpture, graduating in 1961. He moved to Rochester, New York to teach at the School of American Craftsmen and established a permanent studio in the area. He also served as head of the woodworking department at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Castle’s numerous awards include a 1994 ‘Visionaries of the American Craft Movement’ award sponsored by the American Craft Museum and a 1997 Gold Medal from the American Craft Council. In 2007 he received the Modernism Lifetime Achievement Award from the Brooklyn Museum. He has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, among others. His work is included in the permanent collections of museums including The Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Arts and Design, and the Brooklyn Museum in New York; the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C.; The Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Detroit Art Institute.

His work is represented by Friedman Benda Gallery in North America and Carpenters Workshop Gallery in Europe

Wendell’s impression on RIT has been indelible. Generations of our students will be forever impacted by his lessons.
— Josh Owen

Designer, Educator, Artist

Josh Owen

Josh Owen is the President of his design studio, Josh Owen LLC. He is also a Full Professor and the Chair of the Industrial Design Department at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he teaches in both the graduate and undergrad areas, developing programming across disciplinary lines, most notably under the umbrella of the Vignelli Center for Design Studies.

Prior to joining the faculty at RIT in 2010, Owen held the title of Associate Professor and Craig R. Benson Chair for Innovation at Philadelphia University, where he spent ten years teaching while concurrently maintaining his studio practice. From 2008-2010 Owen was also a Lecturer in the Graduate Department of Architecture at The University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design, where he developed programming that served the Design, Engineering and Business Schools through the Integrated Product Design nexus.

Owen's work has been featured at the Venice Biennale and is in the permanent design collections of the Centre Georges Pompidou, Chicago Athenaeum, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montreal, National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Taiwan Design Museum, among others. Significant manufacturers in the U.S. and Europe produce his home/design, furniture, and office products, which are regularly featured in design books, periodicals and in critical design discourse. Owen’s “Build” and “Meta” design academic projects have successfully pioneered integrated practice pedagogy for the field of Industrial Design.

Josh is a superb addition to the Industrial Design Department. His impact has been immediate and immensely positive.
— Wendell Castle
The Support for Knowledge Project began as a dream.

In 2010, Shop One was channeled and reborn in the spectacular Global Village on the Rochester Institute of Technology campus. Shop One is a contemporary fine art, craft and design shop on the RIT campus that showcases work by RIT affiliated artists including alumni, faculty and students.

Shop One is the destination to discover original works that include paintings, prints, photography, ceramics, blown glass, textiles, jewelry, furniture, sculpture, music, and literary publications; all of which represent the diversity of RIT design talent and creativity.

The Bookends are available exclusively through Shop One. Your purchase contributes over 90% of the sale price to the Industrial Design Building Renovation Fund.

PURCHASE $6000 USD / Numbered Set, Fixed Edition of 20 Available at Shop One
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