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DaW: Searle Design Group & Designer 151 Studios

October 2, 2018 /// Featuring: Searle Design Group & Designer151 Studios

October 2, 2018 /// Featuring: Searle Design Group & Designer151 Studios


Searle Design Group’s office at Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket, RI.

Searle Design Group’s office at Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket, RI.

Searle Design Group is a landscape architecture firm led by Principals Colgate Searle, Jr. and Taber Caton. For over 40 years, Searle Design Group has created landscapes that are embraced by the communities they serve. Their office is now located in the basement of Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket, RI (they moved here about 2 years ago), and it’s full of light and bright colors!

Driven by the mission to "Protect. Enhance. Restore,” Searle Design Group works primarily on projects involving environmentally sensitive land, historic landscapes, and restoration. I sat down with both Colgate and Taber and hear about the firm’s design process, their current and previous landscape projects, and more:

What’s your DESIGN PROCESS? “Right now, we’re working on a series of housing development in East Providence, and we’re working on renovating them because they’ve been kind of neglected for several years.

The way we start is really by going to the site: looking at it, visiting it, talking with the client, gathering information, and doing that initial analysis. Then from there, we do a concept plan that we do by hand. We like to work by hand because we feel that it leaves more options for the client to interact with the design - as opposed to once you put it in CAD, it feels like it’s done - and so we show them a very loose sketch that they can draw on top of and still work with. After that, we move into more of a hardline drawing, done in CAD. From there, we move into construction documents that someone could actually build from.” -Taber Caton, Principal.

What’s one of your CURRENT PROJECTS? “We’ve been working on a pro bono project for about a year; it’s Blackstone Boulevard. We’re looking at the Complete Streets concept, which is a design concept in which the bike, the pedestrian, and the car are all treated fairly AND it’s supposed to be green. Right now the car is still the king on the Boulevard. So we’re trying to figure out - how do we cleanse the runoff from nearby houses and from the street before it gets into, in this case, York Pond, which is in pretty bad shape? How do we deal with the [street] surface of the Boulevard to improve water quality in Narragansett Bay? So this actually has a very big aspiration.

Right now, I’m looking at one piece of the Boulevard as a possible pilot project, but the entire project is about 7-10 years off because of the amount of money that has to be raised. But the quality of the Seekonk River water is really really low, and Providence will be under more and more pressure to help it. So this may become a more urgent and a much larger scale project.” -Colgate Searle, Jr., Principal.

Why RHODE ISLAND? “The stewardship element of Landscape Architecture is the theory that guides my work, and working in Rhode Island is the perfect place to practice stewardship in design. There is an abundance of natural resources in Rhode Island’s landscape, and the state provides access and benefit to its citizens in its landscape. this allows us to have greater impact as landscape architects because there are more resources than people. Also, as a professor and researcher at RISD, there is a valuable back-and-forth between teaching and practicing landscape architecture.” -Colgate Searle, Jr., Principal.

Searle Design Group is the force behind massive projects including the Blackstone River Heritage Park and Bikepath and the Master Plan for the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center as well as smaller projects including residential designs and landscapes for schools, libraries, and other institutions. See photos from their Blackstone River Heritage Park and Bikepath project below!

Photos from Blackstone River Heritage Park and Bikepath (extending from Worcester, MA to Providence, RI). SDG’s design of the Blackstone River Heritage Park incorporates remnants of the historic canal, new canoe portages, scenic overlooks, footbridges and picnic areas. The design integrates the bike route with many other land uses along the river corridor, ranging from the historic canal, an active railway freight line and a landfill while remaining sensitive to natural habitat. In 2014, the Blackstone Valley was designated a national park!

*See the Design Is Rhode Island Instagram now to see videos from our visit to Searle Design Group. And stay tuned TOMORROW - the team at SDG is taking over our InstaStories!*


A studio display of many of Designer151’s projects, including marketing and branding materials for Hasbro, Puma, Alex And Ani, MarCam, Sperry, and many more!

A studio display of many of Designer151’s projects, including marketing and branding materials for Hasbro, Puma, Alex And Ani, MarCam, Sperry, and many more!

Designer151 Studios is a multidisciplinary design firm based in Hope Artiste Village and led by designer Manuel Cordeiro! After over a decade working in the design field, Manuel founded Designer151 Studios about five years ago.

The studio mainly focuses on retail experience and retail marketing of consumer goods, but in the past five years Designer151 Studios has expanded to become a multidisciplinary firm, working on everything from package design, retail marketing, catalogs, production of displays, giant sneakers… all sorts of marketing materials for retail. "We’ll do the full 360 for clients or we’ll focus on a small portion of their needs,” Manuel told us.

Manuel and his team work with everybody from small local businesses to large corporate partners, like Hasbro. AND they work everywhere from the East to West coast in the United States and beyond. All out of little Rhode Island! 

Outside of retail experience design, Designer151 Studios also creates retail marketing experiences within companies. They recently worked with local jewelry company Luca + Danni (based in Cranston, RI) on new marketing materials, including a catalog design for their precious metals collection. Designer151 Studios likes to create things a little bit differently, so instead of designing a typical tri-fold brochure, they made an offset accordion fold that opens up to tell the story of their journey along with the three components of their jewelry business. The final version is way more interesting and exciting than your normal consumer handout. (See images below!).

((See more of Designer151 Studios’ work in their online design portfolio and on their Instagram page))

WHY RHODE ISLAND? “We find that this is absolutely an amazing state to work and collaborate with other designers - we have great talents that you couldn’t even imagine, not only designers but also production facilities that we work with. Rhode Island provides great access to talented creative partners and creative production facilities. Everyone is open to working together, and communication is easy here, especially compared to New York and Boston where networking is much more difficult. The creative collection of people here is inspiring, and our access to RISD and the RISD Museum is also unique and a great source of inspiration.” -Manuel Cordeiro, Owner & Creative Designer at Designer151 Studios.

You can visit Designer151 Studios for yourself during Hope Artiste Village’s new Open Studios! The Hope Artiste Village Community is hosting a monthly Open Studios and Market to support the local businesses within the village. The first one is TOMORROW, Wednesday October 3, 5-8pm! Visit Designer151 Studios in Suite 1205.

*Stay tuned for videos from Designer151 Studios coming to Instagram Stories this Thursday (10/4)! And learn more on their website:*

Thank you to Searle Design Group and Designer151 Studios for having us at your studios! Check out videos from Searle Design Group NOW on Instagram (@designisrhodeisland) and stay tuned for videos from Designer151 Studios coming this Thursday (10/4).

Want to join in? Post yourself working on something cool using the hashtags #DesignIsRhodeIsland and #DesignersAtWork on Instagram, or reach out to if you know a Rhode Island designer who should be featured in this series!

Katherine Magee