Tyson Baker Sheds Light on the Importance of Effective Storytelling in Design

08/06/2019 By Adrian Thompson

You wouldn’t know that Tyson Baker entered the design world unexpectedly when walking through the retail shops of your favorite theme park, zoo or aquarium. An interior designer for PGAV Destinations, Baker has worked on a range of nontraditional design projects that create immersive experiences and memories for guests.


Baker spent the first half of his 20s performing onboard cruise ships as a production dancer. When a relationship took him to Missouri, being from Canada, he needed a visa to stay in the country. That is when Baker decided to enroll in community college and chose the most interesting major on the list: interior design.

Space Shuttle Atlantis - designed by Tyson BakerHe believes his rebellious spirit has been a huge benefit to his career as a younger designer. 

“Great designs are produced by great designers who are willing to envision a new future by constantly asking, ‘What if?’” he says. “As designers, we are given the opportunity to challenge the status quo every day and propose innovative solutions to imagine a new future.”

Telling A Space’s Story Through Design

Baker thinks that challenging the status quo is more important than ever, especially with the rapid progression of technology in design. He says that all designers should frequently evaluate new methods and materials to produce the best possible design.

Cardinals Hall of Fame
(Photo: St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame)

“Because of the unique nature of my work at PGAV, I am often tasked with problems that require unique solutions and innovation,” he says. “It is not unusual for the spaces we design to be visited by millions of guests each year while exposed to widely varying weather conditions. My work requires me to navigate these challenges while maintaining immersive storytelling moments.”

St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame - designed by Tyson Baker
(Photo: St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame)

Some of PGAV Destinations notable projects include the Space Shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center, St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum, St. Louis Aquarium and the Goose Island Taproom in Chicago.

St. Louis Aquarium Rendering from Tyson Baker
(Photo: Rendering of the St. Louis Aquarium)

Within these spaces, he has created retail experiences, hospitality environments and workspaces for employees, from accounting and HR to dancers and costumed characters.

“It is exciting working for companies and brands that I have known and interacted with throughout my life, and now have the opportunity to shape their interior environments and tell their stories through physical space,” says Baker. “Spending time understanding a brand’s unique history and story helps us design truly authentic spaces that reflect the core values of our clients.”

Rendering of the St. Louis Aquarium designed by Tyson Baker
(Photo: Rendering of the St. Louis Aquarium)

Bringing Stories to Life

Everything Baker and his team do at PGAV begins with a story. Once a project’s story is established, they work collaboratively to ensure that every element within a space works cohesively.

“When a team is able to collectively contribute to a project’s story or design concept, the project flows smoothly and the collaboration between people and disciplines happens naturally,” he says.

Along with good communication, Baker notes that technology has been a valuable tool in his design process.

“Young designers, being fresh out of school and having a deep understanding of the latest design software and technology, must work to integrate these skills and knowledge into a new setting with a firm’s standard practice,” he advises. “The challenge is to adapt and utilize available technology to make the design process and design communication as collaborative and efficient as possible.”

Goose Island designed by Tyson Baker
(Photo: Goose Island)

Looking ahead, Baker believes the design industry will continue to grow and adapt as those in it continue to push for more diversity in design and welcome dynamic collaborations that value innovative thinking.

“At the end of the day, great design is a result of the thoughtful application of basic design principles,” he says. “While I design fully immersive, themed environments that have unique challenges of their own, the guiding principles of design remain the same no matter what market sector you are working in.”

This Month's Profiles:

 Jacquelyn Hunter of Corgan

Kyle Berry of AECOM

► Tyson Baker of PGAV Destinations

Arthur Garcia-Clemente at Partners by Design

Austin Crowley from Michael Graves Architecture & Design

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