Charles Letherwood

Charles is the guy behind Arete Design and is a much happier person than he looks to be here.

He earned his Bachelor of Industrial Design (with minors in Psychology and Art) from Auburn University in 1989.  He has since worked as a designer of interactive museums, tradeshows, products, graphics, theatrical sets, custom displays, interior environments, and more, in all phases from initial concept through project completion.

He lives in bliss in the Bubble of Portland, Oregon, with his wife and daughter and currently a couple of cats.

“I learned about the idea of Areté and the field of Industrial Design at the same time, just as I was changing college majors from engineering to art.  Design’s demands on creativity, technical ability, artistic talent, and so much more were the embodiment of Areté, so that became the name I used when I started in the design world.  Twenty-eight years later my understanding of both Areté and Industrial Design are still growing, but to me the ideal of Areté still means the best of what Industrial Design can be.”

Skills and Abilities

  • In-depth experience in interactive exhibit and product design
  • Excellent drawing and rendering skills from loose ideation through final presentation in pencil, pen, marker, paint, and computer
  • Strong scale and full-scale model building abilities in wood, plastic, RTV molding, foam, and foamcore
  • Amateur experience in photography and video production
  • Fine artist in both 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional media
  • Extensive CAD experience
  • Development and drafting of design concepts into final construction drawings
  • Anthropometric/ergonomic research and documentation
  • Mechanical and motion design
  • Material and equipment specification and project documentation
  • Proposal preparation and presentation to clients
  • Graphic design and layout
  • Exhibit content research, planning, text writing

Employment History

Marketing Director, Tom Dwyer Automotive Services

Current position since 2008.  Responsible for all aspects of marketing for high-profile auto repair shop

Arête Design, Designer/Owner

(1997-2008 as a business; 2008-present as freelance) Product, museum, and exhibit design; model building and specialty fabrication

Promotion Products (PPI), Staff Designer

1995-97 Museum, exhibit, and tradeshow design

Arête Design, Freelance Designer

1992-95 Products, museum, and exhibit design, graphic design and illustration

Wolf & Company, Staff Designer

1991-92 Stage sets, museums, interiors, and exhibits

Museum Design Resources, Staff Designer

1989-91 Interactive science and historical museum design

CCC Associates, Staff Designer

1988 Displays, signage, and packaging

Organizations and awards

Art Institute of Portland (2006-2009) Program Advisory Committee

MicroEnterprise Inventor’s Program of Oregon (MIPO) Consultant

Phame Academy Board of Directors (1998-2009)

Phame Academy Set Design (1996-2011)

“KidsTown” project selected in Dallas Observer as Best Indoor Amusement for Kids (1995) and Best Indoor Playground (1994)

Honorable Mention, ID Magazine Annual Design Review (1989)

Compack project displayed in Design Excellence traveling museum exhibit (1989-1991)

Paintings, sculptures, and photographs included in numerous gallery shows and private collections

Additional Interests in politics, science, art, philosophy, camping, martial arts, and photography

No one does it alone.

Arete Design frequently works with other designers, fabricators, and artists of all kinds.  Here are some of our favorites, who (we promise) are also much happier than they appear below…


Jennifer Rombach

Jennifer does amazing work in hand-cut paper, mosaic, costuming, and other esoterica.  Check out her stuff at


Bill Cheek

Bachelor of Industrial Design from Columbus College of Art, Bill has been called on for help since the earliest days of Arete.