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HOK Announces New Product Design Group



LOS ANGELES – Global architectural design firm HOK has launched a new business: HOK Product Design, LLC. Through this venture, HOK designers from across the firm will design products for use in and around the firm's core business of architecture and interior design. HOK Product Design will license its designs to manufacturers for fabrication and sale.

"HOK has a history of harnessing our entrepreneurial culture as a way to advance our practice and profession. This is especially relevant in difficult economic times such as these," says Riccardo Mascia, AIA, a member of HOK’s executive committee and head of HOK's Idea Board. The Idea Board is a group of firm leaders and external business advisers charged with collecting, vetting and funding proposals for new business pursuits from HOK's people.

"Product design is a new outlet for our unique brand of design thinking that aims at creating value for HOK by creatively responding to the needs of a new range of customers, in addition to those of our current clients," explains Mascia. "We also want to offer our people new opportunities for creative expression and professional development."

HOK Product Design, LLC, which is structured as a standalone business within HOK, is led by Susan Grossinger, former director of interiors for HOK Los Angeles. The business will support the development of products ranging from architectural and interior design to consumer, health care, and sustainable offerings. "Product design is a natural extension of what we already do in terms of developing innovative solutions to our clients' challenges. Our goal is to start from square one in terms of creating new concepts, as opposed to simply modifying existing products that are already on the market,” says Grossinger. “We also operate as an extension of HOK’s long-term leadership in sustainability, and are committed to having all our products enhance environmental quality.”

The new company already has secured business arrangements with manufacturing partners for 12 products designed by HOK people. Designed by HOK’s planning and architecture designers Matt Snelling and Paul Wilhelms, the FRENO Rain Garden is a kit-of-parts, urban rain garden for stormwater filtration and groundwater recharge. This patent pending modular system saves clients more than 30 percent over traditional construction in both budget and time and is licensed to Midwest Products Group. HOK Chicago interior designers Tom Polucci and Natalie Banaszak designed Mannington's rubber and carpet tile Spectrum Collection, and HOK Houston interior designer Paul Smead designed an executive lounge seating group as part of the Cumberland Furniture Designer's Speak program. The Shadowline Wall Coping designed by Los Angeles architect Chris Anderson is licensed to WP Hickman and was simply a response to the lack of commercially available standard options. Other products under development target the health care, lighting, urban planning, furniture, finishes, fire and life safety, and sustainable sectors.

"HOK's global experience in strategic planning, workplace, health care, science and technology, and other specialties gives our designers the creative vision required to identify gaps between what's available in the market and products that can provide value to our clients while improving the experience, health and productivity of end users," says Grossinger. "We want to fill these gaps with our innovative product ideas." 

[View video of FRENO Rain Garden]

HOK Blue Box Ventures, LLC
HOK Product Design, LLC, is the first business to form under the umbrella of the new HOK Blue Box Ventures, LLC, company.

The ideas for both the product design business and HOK Blue Box Ventures, LLC, emerged from HOK's three-day Blue Ocean Design Charrette in October 2007. In that meeting, a diverse group of more than 180 HOK leaders from across the world gathered in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to re-imagine the firm's future.

The Blue Ocean Strategy concept is based on the business strategy book of that name by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne. The authors advise companies to create new, uncontested or "Blue Ocean" markets rather than competing in an overcrowded "Red Ocean" market space.

"During our Blue Ocean Charrette it became clear that instead of finding a single Blue Ocean market, HOK needed to be a firm that was continuously searching for new ideas to transform our business," says Mascia.

The Idea Board was charged with funding Blue Ocean strategies as part of HOK Blue Box Ventures, LLC, to look for ideas that are "ambitious, far-reaching and creative," explains Mascia. Ideas that receive funding must exhibit the ability to create meaningful value for HOK and its clients through revenue growth or significant cost savings.

HOK is a global architectural firm that specializes in planning, design and delivery solutions for buildings and communities. Through its collaborative network of 23 offices worldwide, the firm serves diverse clients within the corporate, commercial, public and institutional markets. HOK is committed to developing resources and expertise to help lead the world toward sustainable communities and building environments. Founded in 1955, the firm's expertise includes architecture, engineering, interiors, planning, lighting, graphics, facilities planning and assessment, and construction services. For more information, go to