Inspiration Board | Travis Norman

Steel Worker

There is no other way to put it…Travis Norman and his long-time girlfriend, woodworker and darling of the design world, Kelly DeWitt are living the dream (have you seen the whimsical photo essay of their life on Design Sponge?). They watch the sun rise and set with their dog Ellie from the porch of their cozy home in the country just east of Austin and spend their days doing what they have both always loved most—building things. Most mornings, they head to their shared workshop in Northeast Austin in Norman’s '68 Chevy pickup truck. "Kelly [DeWitt] and I end up bouncing design ideas off each other everyday, and so our work ends up showing each other's influence,” he says. Norman, a self-proclaimed “tinkerer,” learned the art of wood working when he worked in a small cabinet shop 10 years ago. After a small fabrication company hired him to be their go-to “wood person,” he learned to weld and fell in love with the art form. "It's easy to get metal to stick together, but it takes years and a lot of practice to get it look beautiful along the way,” the Austin native says. Now, he is focused mostly on steel projects, making everything from windows and doors to furniture in both commercial and residential spaces. "I love the scale of the projects you can accomplish with steel. Nothing is cooler than pulling a door you've been working on off the bench to realize it's twice a tall as you had been imagining in your head. With wood, you tend to be more limited with the size of projects.” Norman and DeWitt’s co-project they often find themselves daydreaming about is a "house/ shop/land complex that would suit all our needs.” And, we predict it won’t be long before these two visionary makers turn that dream into a reality.

  • IMG_9242.jpg
  • Tom Kundig: Houses: A book of my favorite steel-centric architect’s work.
  • Notebook: I always keep one on hand to jot down designs as they pop in my head.
  • Miller Lite: This helps me through late night welding sessions.
  • My dog Ellie: Oh gosh, I couldn't get through the day with out this little girl.
  • Welding glove: I couldn't do the job without it.
  • Country Furniture: The man who taught me woodworking gave me this amazing hand-illustrated book on traditional furniture one year for Christmas. It still remains a source of design inspiration.
  • Motorcycle Helmet: I love riding my bike these days. It takes the stress of the day away. Dan Aykroyd said it best..."You do not need a therapist if you own a motorcycle, any kind of motorcycle!"


Photography by Bill Sallans

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