IDSA is saddened to hear of the passing of Aaron Lown on July 17, 2019. Lown was a prolific designer and co-founder of BUILT NY; a recent adjunct faculty member at the Maryland Insitute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore; and a beloved friend, mentor, son, husband, and father.
With BUILT, Aaron won IDEA Gold twice: first for his design of the byo wine tote in 2004 and again for his design of the byo lunchbag in 2005. His work has been displayed in the MoMa and enjoyed by countless people across a range of design categories, from neoprene tote bags to household goods to his Vuff.com brand of lightweight, comfortable dog leashes and collars.
Leslie Speer, IDSA, Chair of Product Design at MICA, briefly worked with Lown at the college. With her permission, excerpts from her email to the MICA community are republished here:
Aaron Lown came to MICA in the recent academic year. He brought to faculty and students in the Product Design Department his infectious enthusiasm, his love of the beauty in simplicity and nature, and his passion for design entrepreneurship.
His many accomplishments were a result of his entrepreneurial spirit and grand curiosity. From his time at IDEO, Kate Spade, Calvin Klein, and Material Connexion to his spearheading the globally successful company BuiltNY, it was his more recent work at Vuff.com that brought him to MICA. As an accomplished design entrepreneur in practice, he brought this talent and focus to the studio and his students. His familiarity with working locally resonated with our community, especially his current work with a felt manufacturer in Newburgh, NY (where his studio is located). He brought this connection into the product design studio as inspiration, but it drove a deep connection between materials, design, making, and meaning to the students' practice.
Through collaborating with the Product Design and Fibers departments, he made connections here at MICA that we hope will grow and mature. His commitment to his work community in Newburgh, NY and his fascination and respect and wonderment of nature that surrounded him at his home in Tuxedo, NY made its way into conversations and manifestos in the studio here at MICA, with both students and faculty. We have all learned much from Aaron in this very short period of time and we will all take this with us as we forge ahead on our paths in the design world.
As our community thanks Aaron for gracing us with his amazing mind and heart, our hearts and thoughts are with his wife Elizabeth, his daughter Vivian, his son Gus, and his beloved dog Starlite. At this time, there is a GoFundMe site set up to accept donations to help defray expenses for his children.
Best and thank you,