A Conversation with Product Designer Lucia DeRespinis

Product designer Lucia DeRespinis has been designing since the mid-1950s, creating everything from lighting for George Nelson Associates to the ubiquitous Dunkin’ Donuts logo, designed in 1976 and still in use today. Join us for a conversation with DeRespinis as she discusses her long and highly influential career in design at a time when women designers were few and their work often unacknowledged. DeRespinis’s indoor/outdoor pendant lamp, designed in 1960 for George Nelson Associates, is on display in Acquired! Shaping the National Design Collection. She will be joined by Hillary Petrie, a fellow product designer and co-founder of Egg Collective, an award-winning women-led design studio based in New York City. The conversation will be moderated by Matilda McQuaid, Acting Director of Curatorial at Cooper Hewitt.


Matilda McQuaid (Moderator) is Acting Director of Curatorial and previously Head of Textiles at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.  She oversees curatorial and exhibition programming often working collaboratively with other Smithsonian museums on projects and exhibitions. As a curator she has organized nationally and internationally acclaimed architecture and design exhibitions with accompanying publications, including Extreme Textiles: Designing for High Performance (2005), Color Moves: Art and Fashion by Sonia Delaunay (2011), Tools: Extending Our Reach (2014), and Nature—Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial (2019). Formerly at the Museum of Modern Art (NYC) for 15 years where she curated over 30 exhibitions, she is also an accomplished author and editor on art, architecture, and design, with many books, exhibition catalogues, and articles to her credit.

Lucia N. DeRespinis, born in 1927, has been an industrial designer for over 60 years. She attended St Lawrence University and Pratt Institute, graduating in 1952 as one of two women in her class. During her time at Pratt, she studied under notables Rowena Reed Kostellow and Eva Zeisel. While working as a senior designer at George Nelson Associates, she designed many products. She also worked on the iconic 1959 American Exhibition in Moscow designing a four-room apartment and furniture exhibition. This necessitated supervising installations and working in Russia for seven weeks. In 1960, George Nelson Associates partnered with the famed Nessen Studios, run at the time by Greta Von Nessen, to create the Leisure (Indoor-Outdoor) Lighting series which included the Beehive Lamp. DeRespinis worked in the Nelson office until early 1963, finally leaving when she was “too pregnant to lean over the drawing board.” While DeRespinis is still underrepresented in museums, many of her designs are now icons and are still manufactured and sold worldwide. Her clock designs for George Nelson Associates were recently included in the Serious Play exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Denver Art Museum and have been reissued by Vitra. She is perhaps best known amongst graphic design aficionados for the pink and orange Dunkin’ Donuts logo. The logo’s vibrant pink and orange were inspired by her five-year-old daughter’s favorite colors, and the bubbly lettering was selected to suggest the appeal of a doughnut. The logo has represented the food-service chain for over 20 years. Among other clients were Abbott Laboratories, Delco Tableware, Walker China, and Herman Miller furniture. DeRespinis was, until recently, a Professor at Pratt, passing on her wisdom, teaching design thinking to a new generation of talent.

Hillary Petrie is a designer and co-founder of Egg Collective, a furniture design and manufacturing company founded in 2011 with Stephanie Beamer and Crystal Ellis. Based in New York City, Egg Collective has a retail showroom in TriBeCa and a manufacturing facility in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Egg Collective is a creative partnership synthesizing the founders’ backgrounds in art, architecture, and woodworking, and in addition to the design and production of its own furniture, the company also represents a small selection of emerging and mid-career artists and designers. Born out of a desire to highlight the many and diverse women whose work has contributed to the rich history of art and design, Egg Collective founded an exhibition series entitled Designing Women (with presentations in 2017, 2018, 2021, and 2024). Tying into Egg’s longstanding commitment to fostering the creative community, the Designing Women series also aims to challenge the status quo in hopes of creating a future that is more inclusive and supportive for all. Petrie received her BFA in architecture from Washington University in St. Louis, where she also met Beamer and Ellis. She is a designer, mother, wife, and a New Orleans enthusiast.


  • Program Length: 90 minutes
  • Interactivity Level: Low to medium
  • Intended Audience: People interested in design, design history, and product design 
  • Museum admission is not included in ticket price


  • Location: This program will take place in person in the Process Lab at Cooper Hewitt (2 East 91st Street, New York, NY). The Process Lab is on the first floor of the museum and fully wheelchair accessible. There is an accessible restroom on the ground floor, accessible via elevator. Read more about accessibility at Cooper Hewitt.
  • What to Expect: This program will include an illustrated presentation with slides followed by a moderated conversation and an audience Q&A. The program will be recorded and available on Cooper Hewitt’s YouTube channel.
  • Accommodations: The program includes live CART captioning.
  • For general questions, please email us at CHEducation@si.edu. If we can provide additional accessibility services or accommodations to support your participation in this program, email us or let us know when registering. Please make your accommodation request as far in advance as possible—preferably at least one week before the program date when possible. 


Please visit Cooper Hewitt’s Plan Your Visit page for up-to-date information on health and safety guidelines. 


Generous support for Acquired! Shaping the National Design Collection  is provided by Cooper Hewitt’s Collections Committee and by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation.