While growing up in Lubbock, Tyson Pendergrass constantly dabbled in creative pursuits, taking art, wood, and metal shop classes. At 15, his hobby got more serious when he started building skateboard ramps and metal rails with friends. This passion became the foundation for the business he would start in Austin in 2011 with Gable Bostic. Today, Petrified Design makes what it calls “Texas modern” furniture and home accessories. We chose this sleek Nodo Chair and these wood cutting boards with vibrant colors for this year’s Made in Texas Gift Guide. We caught up with Pendergrass in his studio in Southwest Austin.
How did you come up with the name Petrified?
Petrified means changing one material to another—we like to think of it as taking organic materials we find or source and turning them into something people can use. When Petrified first started, we were using a lot of reclaimed wood and salvaged materials, mainly because we were starting from nothing, and we had family with properties that were stockpiled with those type of materials. As we grew and started designing products and building custom pieces for clients, we realized that from a product standpoint it was difficult to replicate designs with materials that were one-of-a-kind. Since then we’ve changed how we use material, but all material is locally sourced from lumber companies that take pride in where they source material.
What was the first piece you made for Petrified?
The first thing we made was a chair. We learned a lot about design, being efficient with our time, and creating pieces from a product standpoint. From there, we started designing our products around using a half-inch solid-steel rod that we bend and shape around jigs.
What inspires your designs?
Most of our design inspiration is drawn from nature—the places that surround us and places we’ve been. A lot of our designs are clean and simple, with modern lines and a timeless aesthetic.
How does one of your designs begin?
Most designs begin from an idea that is transferred to paper. When on paper, we mess with patterns, lines, and visual components. When we are happy with what’s on paper, we take it to the computer to get angles, dimensions, and renderings together. From there, we create prototypes that are often changed and tweaked multiple times before we are ready to introduce it to the public and let people interact with it.
You call your aesthetic “Texas modern.” What does that mean to you?
‘Texas modern’ means taking natural and real materials that you can feel, touch, and see the character of, and creating timeless pieces that highlight the characteristics of the materials we use. Our clean lines, pops of color, and patterns are a modern way to complement the materials.
What’s next for Petrified?
I just bought some land in southwest Austin by Jester King Brewery, where we will be building a new workshop. Soon after that is finished, we will look for a storefront space to show our products. We’re also doing a lot more commercial work—it allows us to take our design and fabrication skills to do the project build-outs, but we can also provide furniture and packages. We will also be releasing a new batch of home goods in the spring.