Tommy Tompkins


Lift Bridge Furniture is partnering with independent makers and woodworkers to build furniture through a globally distributed manufacturing process that cuts out the middle man and helps support local businesses. Visit their booth at the upcoming Minneapolis/St. Paul Mini Maker Faire to try out a new computer workstation that we designed for people that work long hours on the computer and have bad backs. Their inversion chair decompresses your spine while you work. This is a must see! To meet Tommy and learn more about Lift Bridge Furniture in person, be sure to stop by the upcoming Minneapolis/St. Paul Mini Maker Faire at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds Grandstand on June 3rd, 2017. 

Talk about the beginnings of Lift Bridge Furniture. What inspired you to begin this endeavor?

Lift Bridge Furniture arose from more of a need than anything else, even though I've always had an interest in making gadgets and things.  Long story short, I've been dealing with back pain for over 20 years and have tried all sorts of things from chiropractors to physical therapy but still couldn't find any relief when working on the computer all day.  (click here for a longer version of this story) This set me on a path to creating a workstation that would be healthier for not just my back, but my entire body.  When I created the workstation two years ago, I didn't plan on turning it into a furniture company.  But after seeing the success that I've had with it, I decided that I had to find a way to build more workstations and get them in the hands of more people that are struggling with back pain.  It's still very much the beginnings of Lift Bridge Furniture, but I'm excited to see where this goes!


Have you always been creative? What forms or channels have you explored in your creative journey?  

Yes, I've always leaned toward the creative side of things.  My formal education is in computer science and programming, but I've worked professionally as a photographer for a few years and created a software application called RedCart for professional photographers which has been my primary focus for the last 10 years. I've also been involved with creating other web based software applications in my spare time.  I'm also a drummer and have been in a few different local bands including Nathan Anderson Project and Good for Gary.  More recently I started making woodworking videos on YouTube which definitely helps satisfy the creative part of my brain!  Honestly, I just love creating whether it be music, woodworking, electronics, photography, software, graphic name it!

In terms of living and making in Minnesota, do you feel connected to this place? 

I've lived in Minnesota my entire life and feel very deeply connected here.  I grew up on the east side of St. Paul and have bounced around the Twin Cities from Woodbury to New Brighton to now Stillwater.  I also worked downtown Minneapolis for a few years and have always been inspired by the diverse creative sense of the Twin Cities.  The St. Croix river valley in the summer time is such a unique, peaceful place and what has ultimately drove my family and I to Stillwater.


What is your mission with Lift Bridge Furniture?

My mission with Lift Bridge Furniture is to not only help other people work healthier, but also to help other woodworkers create and build local businesses of their own through the Lift Bridge Furniture platform.  I see the future of Lift Bridge Furniture going way beyond computer workstations, and eventually start to incorporate other designs for chairs, tables, and other furniture for the office.  


Do you feel like making and creating through your business allows you to contribute to something larger than yourself?

Most definitely yes!  I'm not only doing this to help people with bad backs, but also to help supplement other woodworker's businesses in their local communities through the Lift Bridge Furniture platform. If I'm successful at either one of these goals, I can see the Lift Bridge Furniture community growing into something much much larger than myself!

Have you participated in MSP Mini Maker Faire before? What will you be sharing there on June 3rd?

I attended last year's maker faire with my son Caden and we had a blast!  I decided that this years Maker Faire would be the perfect place to show off the Lift Bridge Workstation.  I'm really looking forward to it!


Can you talk about the computer workstation you designed through Lift Bridge? 

The Lift Bridge Workstation was designed to help you move continuously throughout the work day which is much healthier for your joints. The workstation is basically three unique pieces of furniture that can be used independently: a standup desk, a rolling monitor stand, and an inversion chair.  When the three pieces come together, they make up the Lift Bridge Workstation.  The inversion chair is based on the concept of inversion therapy where gravity is used to help decompress the discs in your spine.  The chair incorporates a unique roller table that helps reduce friction while decompressing.  The chair can also be used in many other positions including lying prone and using the foot rest as a laptop stand, all while decompressing your spine.