February 24, 2016 / As we enter 2016, I’m filled with much hope and inspiration. There’s never a moment that doesn’t inspire me, and never a challenge I don’t want to take on.
Having grown up in a world of music and fashion, I’m naturally inspired by style and home design forecasts. I browse through fashion and architectural magazines and websites daily, not just for entertainment, but also to subliminally index color and design trends to inspire my next projects. Besides men’s and women’s wear color and texture trends, I look to color trends for future appliances as well. I’m a full believer that the everyday objects that surround you will unknowingly influence your choices. It’s a comfort level.
Early design exploration
I started my design career working for Junior Colony, Inc., a fashion chain with 130 stores up and down the East Coast. The company was anchored in Allentown. During this time, I was also a freelance designer for Hess’s department store working on catalogs and advertisements for their marketing campaigns. I worked closely with our buyers and learned how to foresee future choices. The experience still influences me today in the way I think and the inherent way I make design decisions. At this time I had also become very involved in the national music scene, working for several major record labels and musical groups. The radical, risk-taking thinking of these clients made another large impact on my concepts.
Taking on the next phase
Later on in my career, a move to Connecticut opened my eyes to a much larger corporate world and the importance of brand consistency. My firm, The Donaldson Group, was led by an amazing industrial designer, a smart, savvy and fashionable executive and her husband, an ex-television director for IBM. The mix of what I’d learned from them was invaluable. The history of our firm was rooted in the innovative and responsible industrial design. The firm worked in many industries, from the firm’s inception and aerospace designing of the first space gloves and helmet, to creating corporate marketing material for Pitney Bowes, 3M, Kodak, Loctite and others, to the crafting impactful messages in business and annual reports for corporate shareholders. We also did some really unique, fun projects, like working with Hasbro Milton Bradley to create toy concepts and packaging. What inspired me most was The Donaldson Group’s admiration in my offbeat perception, and their support that allow me to truly and freely think out of the box. It was that out-of-the-box thinking that helped us win our first CLIO award for recreational packaging for Orvis.
Welcoming what comes next
Working as Design Director for City Center Lehigh Valley is a natural segue from my past experiences, and one that brings me great personal satisfaction. Moving back to the Lehigh Valley I was immediately immersed in the concept of “place making”. I have worked on the SteelStacks concept and brand, the rebranding of ArtsQuest and the branding of Miller Symphony Hall, PPL Center and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Allentown’s AHL hockey team. For the past five years at City Center, my job has been helping to create unique places and memorable experiences. These are my most amazing and rewarding challenges to date. From our historic renovations to our corporate office buildings, every place has a piece of history (both Allentown’s and my own), and I’m inspired everyday by the people around me. I strive to create special experiences that will in turn inspire them to come back to visit, and want to dwell here.
In my new blog, I plan to show you through this Valley-born designer’s eyes how so many of us here are helping to revitalize our city, one that was once a hub of charm and innovation. While there’s still lots more work to do we are on our way, with great success. This past “All American City” is being regenerated and transformed into an innovative city of tomorrow, and I look forward to sharing this journey with you.