Tonya Sweet

Bachelor of Fine Art in Furniture Design – Rhode Island School of Design (US)

Master of Fine Arts degree in Sculpture – Cranbrook Academy of Art

Earthquake Bench (Co-produced with Kevin Sweet) – 2016, Wellington, New Zealand
Wood & stainless steel, 2000 x 700 x 390mm

Sweet_Disaster Manual-4Disaster Manual (detail) – 2017, Tokyo, Japan
Mixed media on panel,  
1310 x 300mm (6 panels total, each measuring 210 x 300mm)

Sweet_Tectonic Probes-2.jpg

Tectonic Probes: Tremors from the Pacific Ring  (Co-produced with Ben Jack and Morgan Barnard) – 2017, Wellington, New Zealand
Powder-coated steel, wood, & digital components, 145 x 380 x 120mm



Tonya Sweet is an artist-designer and established design educator with expertise in critical and conceptual object-oriented design. Currently residing in New Zealand, Tonya was granted a Master of Fine Arts degree in Sculpture from the Cranbrook Academy of Art, and a Bachelor of Fine Art in Furniture Design from the Rhode Island School of Design in the United States. Her experience bridges three continents and a range of scales and disciplines including architecture, furniture design, exhibition design and fabrication, and the design and production of bespoke two and three-dimensional objects.

Artist statement

Tonya’s research and creative work challenges common preconceptions regarding the role of objects in mitigating the negative emotional and psychological impacts of traumatic events. This is explored through the context of speculative and conceptually-derived objects that employ empathy, humour, play, and characteristics of emotional durability in the aim to foster psychological resilience. The outcomes resulting from this pursuit are intended to facilitate critical dialogue regarding alternative functions of objects and their potential as positive agents of change.

Links & Websites