Meet Oren Sherman of Elkus Manfredi Architects in the latest chat from our Design Discussions series. We asked him about his design inspiration, take on current trends, and what he thinks is next for the future of design.

Q: What inspires you personally and professionally?

A:  To begin, my inspiration is from Voltaire who said “ It is the secret of art to improve on nature. It is the purpose of design to improve on industry.”

The color moment, the unexpected intersection, the improbable combination. My colleagues at Elkus Manfredi Architects and the design leadership from Elizabeth Lowrey, principal of interiors. The challenge of being present without the filter of devices.

PDI designs from Barroco & Scheherazade and Loves Me – Loves Me Not & Mad for Plaid. Design numbers: NH25232, HS26692, HS25755, HS27112, HS25745 (left to right)

Q: How do you stay current on cultural trends that affect design?

A: I’m most interested in how sociological shifts drive design, trend may be the deliverable but what’s the bigger story? Gaugin summed up the philosophical question in his masterpiece; “Where do we come from, what are we, where are we going?” The best inspirations come from outside the problem I am working on. Literature, museums and being a professor at Rhode Island School of Design, my wonderful students keeps me current. The Gen Z is going to save the world.

Q: What’s next for the future of the design industry?

A: We respond to the future as it’s happening in real time. Issues of sustainability are our biggest challenge. Looking at new materials and methods of manufacture has always inspired great designers. This is our time and our challenge. We all have our personal tastes and obsessions, the best time is when our interests have their moment when the market is ready, as often as not we are thinking five years out

CYP Designs from Barroco & Scheherazade (left) and PDI designs from Loves Me – Loves Me Not & Mad for Plaid. (right) Design numbers: UTHS10129, UTHS10149 (left to right) HS26713 (on wall), HS26604 (on floor)

Q: What one building or interior space do you wished you designed?

A: Well, maybe the Pantheon, then I could be buried in the basement next to Raphael, if that’s not too much to ask?

Q: What are your most favorite things on your desk?

A: I can’t actually see my desk, I’m an orderly thinker but my workspace not so much. I am looking at an Oscar Wilde quote I pinned up sent by a dear friend; “With freedom, books, flowers and the moon. Who could not be happy?” I have all those things and am very grateful for them.


Oren isn’t just one of our favorite designers but collaborators as well! In 2012, Durkan released Loves Me – Loves Me Not and Mad For Plaid, a collection by Oren Sherman that is currently “having a moment” with its vibrant spring florals and bold plaids.

The collection blends gallant plaids and fragile florals, transforming ordinary into extraordinary.

We asked Oren about the inspiration behind the collection and it ranged from rethinking a classical Dutch pattern to the modern design of a Vivian Westwood punk cropped tartan skirt.

East Meets West was inspired by the idea of looking at the intersection of Eastern pattern on the silk road, across Europe and making its way to the Americas.

PDI designs from Loves Me – Loves Me Not & Mad for Plaid. Design numbers: HS26691, HS26712, HS26681, HS16144 (Left to right)

Design has no borders, says Oren, and we are certainly glad this one made it’s way to us.

 See the full collections here: Loves Me – Loves Me Not & Mad for Plaid and Barroco & Scheherazade

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Oren Sherman is a professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, specializing in storytelling, branding, concept design, and entrepreneurship. With a career spanning over 30 years as a professional illustrator, Oren’s versatility and visual intelligence inform his distinctive approach. His art powers brand, creating a multi-level experience that resonates as an unspoken message everywhere the environment touches the customer.[/author_info] [/author]