Born in California, Laura Guido-Clark is an experienced design consultant, impacting the human experience through design, product, and environment. Her openness and desire to learn about new ideas led her on her journey in the design world. While attending Wayne State University in Detroit, she double majored in Pre-Med and Interior Design. Although most people see these as divergent fields, Guido-Clark saw the similarities in them; professionals in both human-centric lines of work are tasked with improving their surrounding environments, and experimenting with new ideas.
“Working in a hospital made me aware of how environments really affect us, and more than ever when you are compromised,” Guido-Clark noted. This perspective allowed her to develop a sensitivity and empathy for patients and their families, and she appreciates how healthcare design has been evolving. Despite the surprisingly high level of creativity it takes to be a doctor, she ultimately saw herself flexing her creative muscles beyond medicine. “I’ve always been a sucker for a before-and-after picture,” she said.
Before applying to medical school, Guido-Clark realized her passion for design and decided to continue following her heart, soon recognizing that her experience with medicine went hand-in-hand with her future in design. Upon graduation, she didn’t get a job in design immediately. She worked in customer service, and then as a textile rep, which opened the door to product design. This opportunity helped her learn what designers are seeking and offered a unique perspective to create something different. This was when Guido-Clark launched her career as a color, material, and finishings consultant.
Today, Guido-Clark heads up her own firm, Laura Guido-Clark Design, and creates product for prominent industry names like Herman Miller and Design Within Reach, in addition to major international brands, including Google, Toyota, Mattel, Apple, and more. Design is Guido-Clark’s way of making things more relevant, humanistic, and aesthetically pleasing. She stresses the importance of being open to new ideas and new ways of thinking, and to see that design is multifaceted—it is not purely aesthetic. The most important aspect of design, she told i+s, is to be humanistic and to meet various needs. “A powerful way to design is to walk a mile in someone’s shoes to understand their needs.”
Guido-Clark is an advocate for the idea that “beauty is a human right.” When we don’t have it, she explained, it’s harder to function in this world; it is a human need. From healthcare environments to the workplace, design should always be flexible, or the space won’t be effective. As people change, so should design, she noted.
As design has evolved to become more holistic, so has her role in the industry, which now includes the empowerment of color, guiding people in the process of self-expression. As a color consultant, Guido-Clark sees color as a significant aspect of design. She takes the connection between how people respond to color and, in turn, each other, which is the more significant role of design, she said. It is not on the surface, but far deeper. She encourages young designers to think about color in the beginning phases of a project in order to convey a strong message.
While creating Project Color Corps, a non-profit organization dedicated to transforming lives and inner-city neighborhoods through the power
of color, positivity, optimism, and hope, she worked with children and communities, teaching them about the relationship between color, emotion, and environments. She learned a great deal from them in return.
Guido-Clark’s creative process is a refreshing new way to look at design. “I like to walk around [objects and environments] to process what something is, to understand how many different ways there are [to look] into a problem,” she explained. She is open to new ideas, she added, even if she is tackling a task she has taken on “a million times” in order to deliver a fresh design. Her process includes taking a problem and “turning it sideways” to find an original way to discover fresh solutions.
As for young designers, Guido-Clark believes it is paramount to be open and learn as much as possible, as design is continually changing and becoming more sophisticated and impactful. She also recommends up-and-coming design professionals stay true to who they are, embracing the element where they feel they have the most to offer. “Push and grow, but do not think you need to be someone else.”
Savanah Colestock is an Interior Design major at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, and will graduate in December 2017. She was the first-place winner of i+s’ 2017 I Like Design competition; her concept for the magazine's Materials Pavilion came to life at NeoCon.