Barry Simpson

BARRY SIMPSON (1941 - 2017) was an American designer and craftsman based in Vermont. He grew up in Massachusetts and graduated with a BA from Wesleyan University, which led on to a master’s in architecture from Yale University. A robust outdoorsman, he began exploring northern New England for recreational pursuits during his early adult years. Barry’s ancestors originally settled around Craftsbury and he quickly fell in love with Vermont and dreamed of a self-reliant, sustainable and collaborative lifestyle in the Mad River Valley.

Upon graduation, Barry and several of his fellow Yale art and architectural students who sought a simpler, more personally fulfilling life came to East Warren, Vermont, and led the “design/build movement” of the 1960s and ’70s, completing projects around the Mad River Valley and all over the Northeast. One of Barry’s most cherished designs was that of his own minimalist home on Prickly Mountain, dubbed “The Silver Bullet,” an 8-by-10-foot mobile unit which he shared with his dog and later his wife and family where they frequently entertained family and friends in what was a true precursor of today’s “tiny house movement.”

Barry’s practice largely centered around the Bobbin Mill in Warren, Vermont, which Barry purchased as part of a partnership in 1970 after it ceased operation as a wood-turning mill. By 1974, the Bobbin Mill was well on its way to becoming an incubator facility for young entrepreneurs engaging in a variety of startup businesses, similar to the modern day “makerspace.” This included Barry’s business, Dirt Road Company, which began as a partnership with Charlie Hosford of Waitsfield. Barry was truly in his element as a designer/inventor in this partnership and over the next three decades, he engaged in the design and manufacturing of a variety of wooden products including insulating “Comfort Shades”, accessories and components of Mad River Canoes, Discovery Map racks, several styles of folding and ready-to-assemble furniture, and an extensive line of heirloom wooden rocking toys.

(Image Credit + Source: The Valley Reporter)