Murray State Alumni Craig Bayens was mesmerized by possibilities in a neighbor’s garage and he decided to jump in headfirst to Murray State’s functional design program. Bayens hasn’t looked back since.
Some of his recent successes include being cast on Spike TV’s newest reality series, “Framework.” “Framework” is a 10 week furniture building competition show that aired its first episode on Jan 6. Hosted by hip-hop superstar Common, the elite builders fight for a $100,000 prize.
Bayens runs his own studio and creates high quality furniture. Located in Louisville, Ky., Bayens utilizes reclaimed, recycled or locally harvested wood. According to his website, “Each board has a story to tell and Bayens celebrates the honesty of each piece and does not hide or subdue any flaw or imperfections.”
LK: How did you first get involved in functional design and furniture?
CB: After I transferred to Murray after my second year I lived off campus. I became really good friends with my neighbor. I went over to his house and he had built this rocket ship table. It just blew my mind. I asked him where he learned how to do that. I didn’t know people could even make stuff like that. He said intro to functional design. I just thought to myself I have to do this.
Once I got in there I realized I had a natural proclivity for building and designing. I never looked back and the professor Paul Sasso asked me to be his teacher’s assistant, and I did that until I graduated. Obviously I wasn’t meant for the rodeo.
LK: What is your all-time favorite piece you’ve created?
CB: My favorite piece I’ve ever created is called American Chompers. It’s a gigantic set of chattering teeth. I built that in 2008. It was actually for Paul Sasso’s retirement ceremony at the Clara M. Eagle Gallery. The original chair is in my studio. I’ve built a few more for really high profile CEOs and corporations.
LK: How did you end up on “Framework?”
CB: I was on Facebook and Paul Sasso had posted the casting call and I think he was doing it ironically. He was posting it to someone else’s I’m friends with on Facebook and I saw it and thought, well hell. I’ll roll the dice.
What have I got to lose? The post said send us a picture and tell us why you would be good on TV. I didn’t take it seriously. I don’t take much seriously. I sent them a picture of the American Chompers. I wrote: “I’ve been building furniture for 14 years. I’m hilarious.” They called me the next day.
LK: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given and how has it influenced your furniture building?
CB: When you force a solution, it may not be the best option. If you slow down, clear your mind and let the solution present itself everything will fall into place.
Tune in Tuesdays at 9 p.m. central standard time to watch Bayens and fellow Murray State alumni Brown compete in “Framework.”
Story by Laura Kovarik, Contributing writer