DESIGNxRI Announces RI Design Hall of Fame 2019 Inductees


DESIGNxRI Announces RI Design Hall of Fame 2019 Inductees

The JFK, Vietnam, and Civil Rights Memorials, Gorham silver legacy, typography and the web, leather and handmade, and iconic New England homes – the 2019 RI Design Hall of Fame honorees showcase the breadth of design talent in Rhode Island. On Wednesday, September 18, 2019, three RI designers will be inducted into the Lifetime Achievement category of the RI Design Hall of Fame, and two Emerging Designers will be recognized, at a celebratory event at the Wexford Innovation Center, 7th Floor, Providence from 6:00-9:00pm.

Established in 2014 and presented by DESIGNxRI, the RI Design Hall of Fame recognizes proven leaders in the Rhode Island design community for their contributions to the industry on local, national and international levels. The 2019 honorees will be inducted at an event during DESIGN WEEK RI - which takes place in locations throughout the state from September 12-21, 2019.

The 2019 RI Design Hall of Fame inductees in the Lifetime Achievement category are:
The 2019 Emerging Designers are:
Inductions take place at the RI Design Hall of Fame Party - the annual party for design in RI. The event host committee, co-chaired this year by Rosanne Somerson and Tom Peterson, and DESIGNxRI staff, board and 2019 Hall of Fame committee celebrate and honor the inductees with a presentation and remarks from the community.

  • John Everett Benson, stone carver, sculptor, typeface designer
  • James Estes, architect, principal Estes/Twombly Architects
  • Burr Sebring, silversmith, flatware designer
  • Lindy McDonough, creative director and co-founder, Lotuff Leather
  • Jason Pamental, designer, typographer, speaker, writer

Tickets to the RI Design Hall of Fame Awards Party are $85 in advance, $95 after September 15; and include heavy hors d’oeuvres and cash bar. Proceeds go to support the ongoing work of DESIGNxRI. Advance tickets and information at

The RI Design Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes those individuals with more than 25 years in their respective fields of design that have proven a true commitment to design in Rhode Island and have made a significant impact over the course of an extensive career.

The RI Design Hall of Fame Emerging Designer Award recognizes those individuals with less than 15 years of experience in their respective fields of design who show a talent and commitment that ensures they are the future design leaders of Rhode Island.

A panel of distinguished design professionals from New England reviewed potential candidates for induction and selected the 2019 RI Design Hall of Fame honorees. The jury included John Day of LDA Architects, Brett Gerstenblatt of CVS, Kaki Martin of Klopfer Martin, Amy Parker of Woods Creative, Gail Ravgiala of the former Design New England, and Nick Scappaticci of Tellart.

Since its establishment in 2014, 19 designers have been inducted into the RI Design Hall of Fame.

Celebrating design and the Rhode Island design community, DESIGN WEEK RI is 10 days of happenings and activities that showcases the talent, innovation and impact of RI designers in talks, tours, luncheons, showcases, parties and more in multiple RI communities. The 6th annual event runs September 12-21, 2019. More details are available at

DESIGN WEEK RI is organized by DESIGNxRI. The event is made possible by the contributions of a diverse range of sponsors, including Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, Signature Printing, IIDA New England, City of Providence, IOLabs, RISCA, (add)ventures, DiLeonardo International, KITE Architects and Bradford Soap.

# # #

DESIGNxRI is a nonprofit economic development organization with a mission to create an opportunity-driven environment for the RI design sector to thrive. We believe design is a critical economic sector that drives change globally, socially and locally. As the only nonprofit economic development organization for design in RI, we build value in the sector by investing in RI design talent, increasing strategic assets in the field, and connecting this talent to cross-sector prospects. Learn more at

2019 RI Design Hall of Fame Inductees

Lifetime Achievement: John Everett Benson

John Benson
John Benson

Photo by William Clift John Everett Benson is a calligrapher, stone carver, sculptor and typeface designer. He is the second of three generations of Bensons to run The John Stevens Shop, a 314 year-old stone carving and lettering business in Newport, Rhode Island. After a summer of study with his father, Benson enrolled in the sculpture program at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he graduated in 1961. Soon after, Benson joined the staff at The John Stevens Shop, eventually serving as Director from 1965-1993.

Benson’s career is marked with innovating typography, inscribing national monuments, and designing graceful and glorious headstones and memorial tables. Under Benson’s leadership, the John Stevens Shop fulfilled major commissions to design and carve the inscriptions on the John F. Kennedy Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama and the Franklin D Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, DC. Benson’s inscriptions also grace the walls of major American museums, universities and government buildings throughout the United States, including Brown, Yale, and Harvard Universities, The National Gallery of Art, and the Georgia O’Keefe Museum. He has also made headstones and memorial tables for a wide array of notable public and private figures in America, including Tennessee Williams, Lillian Hellman and George Balanchine.

Additionally, and of particular note, Benson designed fonts and lettering that are still available on the Adobe Systems, including Alexa, Balzano and Caliban. Another was designed specifically for a project at the Roger Williams Zoo, Aardvark.

Since his retirement, Benson has worked as a figurative and portrait sculptor in clay and bronze.

Lifetime Achievement: James Estes

James (Jim) Estes graduated from Rhode Island School of Design in 1971 with a degree in Architecture and since, has become known for his iconic place-based designs. His style of quiet modernism is reflective in his professional and personal work, designing his own house and others by drawing inspiration from the landscape and history of New England.

Since 1994 his firm, Estes & Company Architects, which was later rebranded in 2000 to Estes/Twombly Architects, has been responsible for some of the most impressive houses in the Northeast. The company and associates affiliated with Estes/Twombly have won over 150 awards and honorable mentions.

The simplicity of Jim’s work is rooted in his goals to make houses, “...that respond to place,”. His pursuit of this goal has led to the firm’s success, the building of several beautiful properties, and a published book of his work.

With numerous awards, a book about his works, features in over thirty books on architecture, and over a hundred articles and profiles, Estes’ accomplishments certainly speak for themselves. More importantly, his commitment to sustainable, simple, place-inspired architecture has inspired designers, given people’s homes, and helped nurture a growing tradition of environmentally sustainable homes with roots in history and culture.

Lifetime Achievement: Burr Sebring

Burr Sebring has a long history of designing silverware and silver pieces in Rhode Island. After serving in the army, Sebring attended the Rochester Institute of Technology’s School of American Craftsmen. While there, he won a national competition in silversmithing. That fortuitous occasion set his path to leaving a grand design legacy in flatware design.

Upon graduating from RIT, Sebring was hired on the spot at Gorham Manufacturing Company, a global silverware powerhouse founded in 1831. Gorham’s legacy includes using the industry’s first Steam Powered Drop press in the United States and being the sole supplier of Tiffany & Co.’s silverware during their time. For the decades leading up to the 20th century, Gorham was at every international fair and won numerous awards.

In 1972, after fourteen years as a designer, Sebring was promoted to Design Director where he stayed until his departure from Gorham in 1981. During his time at Gorham, he crafted several award winning sets and worked globally for over a year across several different Asian countries. In his time at Gorham and after, Sebring has been handcrafting quality silver pieces and silverware sets that enhance the dining experience for their owners.

Sebring’s designs are not just beautiful, they’re a homage to Northeastern culture. Designs of this nature often reflect the different geographical essence, and with this, Sebring’s silverware designs reflect the rustic simplicity present in Northeastern design.

Sebring has been featured in museums across the country, including the RISD Museum of Art. He has designed silverware and decorative silver pieces throughout his entire career, and today, Sebring continues his silversmithing independently at Burr Sebring Designs Limited located at his home in Barrington, RI. Sebring’s most recent projects include a working model ferris wheel which he is in the process of donating to a children’s hospital in Rhode Island. Ultimately, he is trying to realize his dream of getting Providence its own ferris wheel.

Emerging Designer: Lindy McDonough

Lindy McDonough is the creative director and co-founder of Lotuff Leather in Providence, Rhode Island. Lotuff is an in-house leather studio where classically trained artisans hand-make technically complex leather bags. With over a decade of industry experience and a brilliant eye for design, Lindy’s multifaceted efforts have allowed Lotuff to establish a firm foothold in American luxury leather goods. All the way down from pattern-making to stitching, she possesses the unusual ability to see each of her creations through to the end while training the next generation of makers in the process. Lindy holds a BFA in Industrial Design from The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and in November 2018 she was the first Rhode Island based designer to be inducted into the The Council of Fashion Designers of America. (CFDA)

After graduating from RISD, she moved to New York and apprenticed at one of New York’s top independent boutiques. There, she discovered a space in the market for emerging designers. Things aligned when two childhood friends approached her to partner on a luxury leather goods collection. Since 2010 she has immersed herself in every aspect of Lotuff Leather. In addition to designing, she learned how to draft patterns, operate machinery, and make a bag from start to finish. By establishing the Lotuff’s Providence Studio in 2013, she has helped build an ever-growing team of 21 dedicated artists, many of whom continue to maintain their own studio practices and bring their talent and artistry to each handmade piece. The standard that Lindy sets for quality allows Lotuff to guarantee each piece for life. Lindy’s goal is for Lotuff to become a renowned atelier, sustained by the collective effort to make the highest-caliber leather bags and empower Providence’s creative community through meaningful employment. Her collection is available at 72 retailers worldwide, from the first floor of Barneys to Moda Operandi. Her designs have been featured and lauded by GQ, The New York Times, Vogue, Buzzfeed, Bloomberg, and Conde Nast Traveler.

Emerging Design: Jason Pamental

Jason Pamental is a designer and specialist in web typography in Rhode Island. He spends much of his time working with clients to establish their typographic systems and digital strategy, helping design and development teams work smarter and faster, and running workshops about all of the above. While mostly focused on design and user experience strategy, he has held a number of high-level creative and technical roles. He has also served for the past six years on the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, is a board member of ATypl (Association Typographique Internationale) in Toyko, and recently as an Invited Expert to the W3C Web Fonts Working Group.

Pamental’s clients range from type industry giants like Monotype and Adobe, to Ivy League and High Tech clients like Yale University and Boston Dynamics, to the NFL and America’s Cup. He also researches and writes on typography for the web: having authored the book Responsive Typography: Using Type Well on the Web, published by O’Reilly Media, as well as articles for TYPE Magazine, .Net, PRINT, HOW,, and being a frequent podcast guest.

Pamental has taught graphic design at Rhode Island College, authored several online courses for Aquent’s Gymnasium platform and Frontend Masters. He is also a prolific speaker and workshop leader - having presented at over 100 national and international conferences.

Pamental lives in Rumford with his wife Ellen Diamond and two rough collies, Tristan and Tillie. He spends his real time following his dogs around Turner Reservoir and posting photos on Instagram.
Established in 2014, the RI Design Hall of Fame recognizes proven leaders in the Rhode Island design community for their contributions to the industry on local, national and international levels. It is presented by DESIGNxRI, an organization working to maximize the assets of the RI design community, highlight the breadth of talent in the state, and nurture growth in the sector. Honorees are inducted and celebrated during the annual DESIGN WEEK RI.

DESIGNxRI is a non-profit organization with a mission to create a vibrant and opportunity-driven environment for RI designers, design businesses and the design sector to thrive. Through education, economic development and community development, we coalesce designers, elevate awareness of the RI design sector, spotlight the diverse talent base located in the state, and invest in strengthening and growing RI design-driven businesses. Learn more at