We call our secret sauce Inventive Culture. Built upon powerful theories including Open Source, Starfish Organization, Design Synectics, Living Systems, Biomimicry, Network Chaos and combining them with hard core Manufacturing Engineering and Design Intent, we have created a mix of skills and philosophies that breeds innovation.
Designbox is a breeding ground for design innovation. Located in Raleigh, NC, we are committed to fostering a creative community both locally and globally. We work on projects that propel ideologies, systems, experiences and products forward in a way that makes the world better. We have a core mission of sustainability and are working on innovative, ground breaking materials and processes throughout every design. We work with companies and brands with a philosophy of improving their communities and the betterment of the lives of their neighbors in physical and emotional ways.
We’ve been designing products and brands for clients since 1995. We are an eclectic group of individuals who all have one major thing in common: We want our place of business to be fun and effective for ourselves and our clients. That means comfort (like air-conditioning and a water cooler, and that certain feeling that comes from a relaxing environment). It means creative energy (like bouncing ideas around, and drinking too much coffee, and cool sounds coming from different computers). It means having a wonderful dog in the office. And it means knowing that the answer to any design challenge is somewhere in the room.
THE db TEAM
ALY KHALIFA :: owner
Aly is the rare breed of designer and engineer in one. He can dream big while still understanding that little thing called reality. Aly’s expertise extends to manufacturing and sourcing, invention strategy, creative process and launch strategy. He is deeply embedded in the creative and maker communities of the place we call home.Linked In :: connect
BETH KHALIFA :: owner
Beth sets creative direction and launch strategy for brands and products. She develops the brand tone, visual and content messaging with a researched understanding of the target customer. Her passion is creative empowerment and is excited when people overcome their fears to create. She is a big believer in the word TRY as the foundation of great feats.Linked In :: connect
JOEY FRALIN :: director of ops
Where is it? How fast can you get it to me? Joey knows. Inventory management, order fulfillment, warehouse organization, Joey has it under control and can guide new clients through inventory planning and forecasting. Joey is also the director of our maker space, managing all 3d printing and on-demand production.Linked In :: connect
OAMI POWERS :: chief of books
Oami keeps the lights on and the owners sane, and that’s quite a gift. She makes even the most complicated scenarios make sense and she does it all with grace and efficiency – and a great sense of humor! How often can a bookkeeper make everyone smile?Linked In :: connect
ROBERT SHANKS :: product designer
Robert can see the future, literally, and let us see it too. Not only a product designer, but master of the world of 3d models, protos, illustrations and prototyping, Robert provides the pieces that let the project move from computer to real life – like magic.Linked In :: connect
Fredrik Perman :: senior product designer
Fredrik joined the db team in 2016 as a design wizard, but we’ve known him for years before that. With 19 years of professional working experience, Fredrik has a broad range of knowledge and expertise in the fields of design, product development and manufacturing. He is dedicated to finding a good design solution and is a truly selfless team player.Linked In :: connect
MINGYU LIU :: product designer
Mingyu came to us in 2016 after receiving a Master of Industrial Design from NC State. Great skills got our attention, but great person is what sold us. Mingyu is a creative problem solver and a masterful illustrator. Taking a project from concept to completion, Mingyu also is involved with creating final 3d files for production and managing the relationships between clients and vendors.Linked In :: connect
LULU :: Office greeter
Lulu consults with businesses to help live in the moment and make the most of each day. She specializes in individual attention getting techniques and advises on ball throwing and fence jumping.
CULTURE IS ACTION
Festivals & Events
Maker Space Design
Over the years, Designbox has been heavily involved in fostering Design Innovation and Inventive Culture in home town, Raleigh NC, and around the world. A core focus for nurturing Inventive Culture is the belief in the power of creative community as both an economic force and a lifestyle enhancement. These beliefs motivated the creation of SPARKcon in 2006, an annual open source creative festival that began with a few hundred people and has continued to grow each year, with 2013 estimated at 50,000 enjoying and participating in it.
As community leaders, Designbox has enabled solutions to citywide challenges through creative process and ideation facilitation (and some times mediation!). Many of these challenges have involved politically or culturally sensitive topics. Designbox planned the public forums and facilitated a creative process amongst decision makers and the public. Results: always unexpected design direction and solutions, powerful consensus building and positive public impact. These sessions included the design for City Plaza (Raleigh’s downtown center), the initial marketing strategy for the City of Raleigh economic development and it’s new Convention Center, and even planning to deal with excess construction dirt to enhance a natural park instead of destroying it.
In the creative process, the Designbox philosophy always involves exploration and collaboration. The design and client team is intentionally without hierarchy throughout the initial concept phase in order to promote true innovation and freedom from preconceived worn out paths. The project criteria is to inform the stated objective rather than predetermine the solution. It is through this trust in process and release of fear and control that design breakthroughs, new intellectual property, and world-changing impact can happen.
Raleigh . Bali
Our world never stops teaching us. We just have to be open enough to take it in and then give back.
The Designbox mission is built upon a global perspective. We bloom where we are planted by being inspired by our local community and being involved in its evolution, but we also find inspiration and unique skill sets from traveling and participating around the world. We have significant ties to Asia in the manufacturing and product development arenas, and have worked with designers throughout Europe.
We have also been involved with the IDEAS NETWORK, a coalition of international designers who study color and product trends. IDEAS showcases trend forecasting at the ISPO tradeshow in Munich Germany each year. Designbox has participated in ISPO and Ambiente, two of the largest trade shows in Europe.
Aly Khalifa (owner) was named as a 2012 Eisenhower Fellow, which is an international leadership exchange to promote peace through knowledge and understanding. Through this fellowship, Aly and his wife Beth travelled to Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines to study modern craft in design, creative culture, and on-demand small manufacturing approaches. They continue to be inspired by everything they learned during that investigation.
The Designbox team works on sustainability projects, manufacturing and fair trade, and base of pyramid efforts with communities around the world.
GREAT MINDS THINK DIFFERENTLY
Unique and diverse perspectives drive us towards our partnerships. Designbox is sought after for expertise in innovative and efficient production techniques, patent-generating design processes and an ability to see below the surface of a stated criteria. We work with renowned specialists in their fields to remove industry barriers and create new products, systems and methodologies. We have partnered with other design consultancies, strategic visionaries, foundations, governmental and academic institutions. Some of these include:
As an Eisenhower Fellow, Aly has ongoing influence on and from world-changing inspiring thought leaders. Eisenhower Fellowship is self-described as follows: “Eisenhower Fellowships exists to inspire leaders around the world to challenge themselves, to envision how they can effect positive change, to engage others beyond their existing networks and to collaborate with other like-minded leaders across national borders and regions to better the world around them. We bring together innovative leaders from all fields and regions of the world, women and men of notable achievement who have the potential to do even more.
Through these relationships, we have a wider influence on topics close to our core principles like circular economy, social equity and using creative thinking to solve world problems.
William McDonough is a sustainable design visionary and leader. He is also an architect, advisor, and author. He is co-author of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. McDonough is focused on creating a net-positive footprint in the world (rather than a “less-bad” footprint).
Designbox has been working with William McDonough since 2012 in a design and engineering capacity on the sustainability front. Together, McDonough and Designbox plan to create change in the packaging and consumables worlds through the use of beneficial and Cradle-to-Cradle certified materials, innovative and efficient forms and enhanced functionality and usage factors. This special team is also working with leaders in the waste management industry to revolutionize systems of recycling and materials coding to enable cleaner and more effective methods of sorting recycling streams and safer, healthier usages of materials.
Stefan Sagmeister is a visionary in the field of graphic design. Blurring the lines of art and design, Stefan leads with concept and is unphased by challenges of allowing big visions to become reality. He is a believer in finding the right specialist for his groundbreaking projects, and that’s where Designbox comes in to play.
Designbox and Sagmeister have worked together on special projects since 2007. In each case, Sagmeister established the vision and artistic direction and called on Designbox to develop the design into a manufacturable object, source the manufacturing and oversee production. Projects have included a David Byrne limited edition package that was nominated for a Grammy Award, and completely custom trophies for the annual Vilcek Awards. These trophies have garnered many awards in and of themselves and have been exhibited in The Louvre.
The Cherokee Challenge is a startup competition and accelerator designed to identify, fund and develop early-stage, high impact environmental start-ups. Designbox project, Lyf Shoes, was a winner of the award in 2012 and worked with Cherokee to develop the Lyf model.
Lyf Shoes is a revolutionary approach to building shoes, dedicated to making custom fit, locally assembled footwear that is manufactured without the use of glue or toxic adhesives and is capable of collecting foot action and mobility data. The system adds job creation and enables customer service and sustainability as outcomes of these advances in the manufacture of footwear. Lyf Shoes invites consumers to “Love Your Footprint.”
Since the jump start that the Cherokee support provided, Lyf Shoes has gained momentum and made great strides in the production model. Sustainable materials and process relationships are building and it is moving closer and closer to a market launch. Stay tuned.