Lyons Named DesignTex President After Tom Hamilton’s Retirement

Will her stellar design skills help turnaround a money losing operation?

by Fabrics and Furnishings

May 21, 2012

NEW YORK, NY—Susan Lyons has been named president of DesignTex and will start her new post in June.

Neither Steelcase Inc., the owner of DesignTex nor DesignTex executives would comment on this development but for whatever reason, they will not officially announce the position for several more weeks. Lyons also could not be reached at her New York office.

Rumors of her appointment for the past month have become fact for industry insiders.

DesignTex is a New York based contract specialist jobber with approximately $70 million in sales to the corporate and hospitality markets.

Industry insiders find her appointment curious since her skills lie in the design area as opposed to sales but she had extensive previous experience with the firm and was well regarded by her peers.

DesignTex has been losing money the last few quarters and a turnaround specialist had been sought to head the company but instead, they are hiring Lyons a veteran designer who previously held the top design post at DesignTex but left several years ago due to a major disagreement with Tom Hamilton, former president who has now retired.

George Whalen has been interim president of DesignTex in the absence of a fulltime president since Hamilton retired to Jacksonville, FL several months ago.

Lyons reports to Frank Merlotti Jr., who is based at Steelcase Inc. in Grand Rapids, MI where he is president of Coalesse, a premium furnishings brand wholly owned by Steelcase Inc., and also oversees Designtex.

Lyons will work out of DesignTex’s Varick Street headquarters in New York. 

She returns to DesignTex after starting her own consulting firm, Lyons Consulting, which specialized in the design of environmentally intelligent products for industrial and consumer use.

Her last post at DesignTex was creative director and executive vice president of design. 

She is a lifelong champion of sustainable design and collaborated with William McDonough to create the first collection of compostable contract textiles.

Lyons is also one of the inventors of a patent-pending, closed-loop printing system designed to incorporate only reusable materials.

She is the recipient of numerous national and international design awards, and her work is found in museum collections in the United States and Europe. In addition to her own practice, Lyons has served as creative director for color & materials at Herman Miller, Inc. Zeeland, MI where she created materials for the office, healthcare, education and residential markets.


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