About Thomas Newhouse

Thomas J. Newhouse – Artist & Designer BSD IDSA

For more than 45 years Tom Newhouse has been designing furniture, lighting, major appliances and other products as the owner/principal of an industrial design firm in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Prior to 1978 he was a member of the corporate design staff of Herman Miller Inc.

Go to Tom’s industrial
design website

He holds a degree in industrial design from the University of Michigan School of Art & Design. His design studio practice since the late 70’s has focused on environmentally sustainable design solutions. Tom & his wife Jill live in a low energy consumption, passive solar, earth sheltered, green roofed residence/design studio just west of Grand Rapids, which Tom designed and built in 1978.

View Residence/Design Studio

He is now semi-retired from his industrial design practice, and has transitioned his studio to fine art, specifically sculpture and colored pencil drawing. He also draws with graphite pencil plein air, as he and Jill travel. He enjoys nature and architectural photography in those travels, and while hiking and kayaking.

Thomas Newhouse standing with his sculptures

Artist’s Statement

Three dimensional sculptural form, and the act of drawing, have always been Tom’s two primary passions, whether in his past industrial design projects, or his current contemporary fine art efforts. His continuous study of the world’s architecture has primarily informed his industrial design and fine art creations.

His “Reflection Series”, “Undulation Series” and “Totem Series” of wall sculptures are part of a body of work begun after Tom semi-retired from the industrial design business in the fall of 2018. These pieces explore the possibilities of metallic fabrics stretched sinuously over complex understructure armatures. Tom feels that the dynamic curves and reflections of light, created when the stretch fabric bridges the hidden armatures, has myriad contemporary sculptural possibilities.

Tom also has done plein air pencil drawings as he has traveled for over 40 years in the Americas, Europe, Japan and the Middle East. He has built a collection of over 110 of those drawings, always completed when he was at a specific place….never working from photographs. 

His newest pursuit is full color Prismacolor pencil drawing. This medium, with over 200 color choices, greatly expands the possibilities of the pencil, in comparison to his life-long use of graphite pencil for spontaneous black and white plein air drawing expression. These intricately detailed color drawings are done in studio.

Nature photography and architectural photography are also important to Tom, as he and his wife Jill travel. Hiking and kayaking have been important activities that have inspired his photographic creations.