Design Links: Rick Valicenti, Holly Hunt & Nick Adam


Editor’s Note: This is part 30 in Emily Potts’ inspirational series, Design Links. Every other week she features three artists whose work offers fresh, fun, and stimulating creative inspiration. Each artist picks the next link—someone who personally inspires him/her. Check out the twenty-ninth part in the series, featuring Molly Z, Sharon & Peter Exley, & Matthew Hoffman.

Matthew Hoffman is inspired by …

Rick Valicenti

He brings it every time, is incredibly engaged, and you leave feeling so excited about life. He has the magical ability to remind you why you’re passionate about what you love. We made incredible art together, through a collaboration of our studios. Some really thought-provoking work came out of it. It was certainly more interesting for the process, beyond the destination.


We worked together to create an entire typeface from my classic font. There were plenty of Easter eggs, including that every letter had its own word. There was a wonderful laser cut word set, and limited-edition poster.


The project combined wood and laser cutting, specialty printing, font technology with a digital delivery. It was the entire package. The editions were one off, and snatched up quite quickly. It was a project well received by the design community, and was an incredible experiment, with a lovely keepsake to remember it by.

Rick Valicenti is inspired by two people this week. First…

Holly Hunt

It was hard for me to decide between Stanley Mouse (age 75) or Holly Hunt (age 73). Holly Hunt is my choice perhaps because I have known her for almost 30 years, and admire her unflinching pursuit of a unique vision of hand-crafted design. Excellence and perfection allude each of us, but Holly wakes each day trying, as she puts it, to “get it right.” I love that in her, and she inspires me to do the same.

Holly’s lovely furniture and textile showrooms reside in major design market cities on three continents. Her design studio is in Chicago. I am choosing to select recent projects that represent my collaboration with Holly.


On a recent photo shoot in the Hamptons, Holly was game when I suggested we put the dining room setting in the field under a canopy of trees. To activate the image, the home owner’s guinea hens were released from their cage. Holly was delighted as any creative person should be! When her son saw the ad in Architectural Digest, he thought she had designed “magic” chairs. We all assumed that everyone would know that the chairs were cantilevered on a base buried in grass.


Minutes before the Uber arrived to take me to meeting with Holly, the toner ran out on the last printout I was to present. It should have been a silver-gray sofa on a black background, but instead looked like a solarized gray sofa on a white background. Holly loved it and asked me to print this magical image of her Waterloo Sofa just as it was. With a bit of hi-res modification, the Epson mistake became the focal point of her most recent collection catalog. To preserve that moment of delight, I asked the second-shift pressman to add gold dust to the UV fountain and sprinkle this image with Holly magic dust.

Rick’s second pick is …

Nick Adam

Nick’s best work lives on the street. He’s a muralist, an artist, a typographer, a strategist, and at the core, he is a designer. In a world assaulted by graphic excess and commercial seduction, the artifact Nick puts out there breaks through and always captures my attention. And, if I may, I am delighted he is my son-in-law.

Nick Adam_This isn't us

Nick’s THIS ISN’T US protest campaign, cuts right to an emotional core. Punctuated with a flag and detailed with a new ligature, this tight three-word gothic lockup arouses “us” to our core beliefs. If a graphic can go toe to toe with the wanna-be autocrat, this work will surely take down today’s paper tiger candidate.

Nick Adam_Divvy

From my point of view, great designs leverage the familiar to forge a new functional message. Done right, the familiar+function can never ever be separated. Milton Glaser’s I Heart NY is case in point. While at Firebelly Design (and in conjunction with IDEO), Nick, along with Will Miller, made the indelible wordmark for Chicago’s DIVVY bike sharing program. He put it over the top by spelling the double-Vs with the familiar ubiquitous traffic motif identifying Chicago bike lanes.

Tune in next time to see who inspires Nick Adam!