Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
Weekend edition May 17, 2024 | Katelyn Keenehan

Knoxville architect is crafting the culture of the Scruffy City

Forrest Kirkpatrick has been an architect and designer for decades in Knoxville through his company, Fork Design.

Think about your favorite place to eat in Knoxville. What makes it so special? The food? The drinks? The people? Or is it the atmosphere?

For me, it’s the latter. The atmosphere changes the whole mood of a place – everything from the architecture of the building, and interior design, down to the lighting and comfort of the seats. There’s a lot that goes into cultivating an experience, and Forrest Kirkpatrick has long been a part of that in the Knoxville community.

TN Valley Bicycles
TN Valley Bicycles

If you are unfamiliar with his work, look no further than SoKno Taco, the former FLOW: A Brew Parlor, Marc Nelson Denim, and the Mill & Mine. He’s crafted architectural and interior designs for these hot spots, as well as commercial buildings and spaces for Animal Wellness and Rehabilitation Center, Tennessee Valley Bicycles, Vagabond Roaming Boutique, and the Urban Wilderness. His architectural work is everywhere; in fact, you have probably interacted with it at some point.

Kirkpatrick founded Fork Design in 2011, after a long-time desire to step out on his own. He graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) College for Architecture and has been pursuing creative endeavors ever since.

Unlike most architects who may spend decades at a singular firm, Kirkpatrick is much more entrepreneurial-minded. He enjoys the variety of creative projects he can do on contracts. Plus, they have taken him to many interesting places.

He spent six months living in a brownstone in Brooklyn Heights, New York working on renovating the property. He learned from the experts about crown molding and plaster. Then, from there, he spent six months in Alaska working on a Kilcher Family Homestead Farm and exploring the frozen state.

“I had two different experiences back-to-back. You can’t get more different than city life and Alaska,” he laughed. “But, regardless of where I went, something always brought me back to Knoxville.”

Right before the recession in 2008, Kirkpatrick got a “gut feeling” that he needed to settle down and work an office-based architecture job. He landed a position at Benefield Richters in Knoxville, where he stayed for four years. He said it was the perfect place to hunker down, learn the ins and outs of business, and prepare to officially launch his venture.

Fork Design was forged during the recession and came to light shortly after. He’s operated on a referral basis ever since.

The Animal Wellness Center
The Animal Wellness Center

“Having these unique skill sets in architecture, design, digital fabrication, and traditional fabrication, I never really have to market for work,” he said. “I just do a job and the next one comes.”

We asked Kirkpatrick which project has been his favorite.

“The next one is always my favorite,” he said. “Each project is an evolution of the ones that came before it.”

However, some of the designs he is particularly passionate about are the design of the Vagabond Roaming Boutique and the architecture of Animal Wellness and SoKno Taco. He said they were all great opportunities to cater to many different, unexpected audiences. For example, SoKno (being one of the first restaurants in the area) needed to cater to the hikers, bikers, the gameday crowd, families, and singles enjoying a night out.

Vagabond Roaming Boutique
Vagabond Roaming Boutique

“I would say that more than 80 percent of the projects I have done have generated deep satisfaction. It’s why I continue to do what I do,” he said.

In addition to his creative architecture work, Kirkpatrick was also a founding member of Nourish Knoxville and a member of the Mayor’s Maker Council and has long been involved with the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC).

Check out more of Kirkpatrick’s projects on the Fork Design website.

SoKno Taco Cantina
SoKno Taco Cantina

Like what you've read?

Forward to a friend!

Don’t Miss Out on the Southeast’s Latest Entrepreneurial, Business, & Tech News!

Sign-up to get the Teknovation Newsletter in your inbox each morning!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

No, thanks!