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  • Writer's pictureJosh Lederer

History of Lexicon Design

With all of the excitement and focus on current projects at the studio it's easy to lose sight of how far we've come since our humble beginnings. So in the spirit of reflection we'd like to share a little about our company journey and what we've learned along the way.

In the beginning...

It was the summer of 2007 Josh Lederer and his wife Lisa had just married in Boston, where they were living at the time. She was accepted into a graduate program at the University of Pittsburgh, and like so many natives of the "Burgh," Josh boomeranged back to his beloved hometown. Initially working out of the living room of their one bedroom apartment in Shadyside, he began freelancing with his former employer and started picking up other design projects around town. Reconnecting with groups he had worked with before moving to Boston led to more project work over the next few years. Work started to get busy enough to grow the team when a talented, fellow CMU-trained, industrial designer began moonlighting with Lexicon. When it was possible she joined Lexicon full time (shout out to Sophia!).

Growing up

By early 2010 it was obvious Lexicon needed a space of it's own, so we began looking for our first office (at that time it was Product Lexicon's office, more about that in a minute...). We were fortunate to find a great space on the border of Friendship and East Liberty in a former car dealership building. Like any startup, we designed our own logo, made some business cards, picked up some desks at Ikea, and got to work!

The 20Tens

The studio hummed along into the early 2010s and we grew the team with the addition of Laura and Nancy as well as interns Dylan and Rita. When Sophia moved to Chicago in 2012 we opened a satellite office there in a shared workspace between 2012-2013.

After Sophia and Laura ventured out together to form a women's product startup in 2014, our colleague Albert, a former intern and talented designer, stepped up to help deliver great product solutions for our clients (especially in 2017 when Josh's son was born and sleep was not a real option!). Managing staff changes in the early years was challenging but we maintained our focus on supporting our client's needs throughout the transitions.

From a project standpoint we began working with General Sleep on their initial diagnostic device and accessories and helped Little Earth Productions develop sports-licensed products for the NFL, MLB, NBA, and college teams. We worked with Tortuga to redefine their backpack collection and designed luggage for Samsonite, Ricardo, MCM, and other travel brands. Collaborations with the University of Pittsburgh on a dental tool and work on sensor-based consumer electronics with Anglr and Diamond Kinetics soon followed. Exciting times!

Over the next few years we had great collaborations with David Aliberti, Jen Rocket, Nick Huber, Eli Wiegemann, Aura (intern) and others as we tackled new and compelling projects in medical, pet, travel, sports, consumer, and industrial products. A side venture into specialized safety workwear (East End Workwear) gave us valuable insights into new technical textiles and domestic manufacturing of industrial soft goods.

In May 2018, Lexicon hired a Senior Designer, Ben Azzam. He joined the team having worked at Emerson and run the design department at RIDGID. With deep experience in electronics, UI design, industrial and consumer products brought added capabilities and a new outlook to a small Lexicon studio.

Shortly after, Ben Matzke joined in as a freelancer, who would later take up residence in the office, and work with us to add mechanical engineering capabilities to the team over the next few years. We continued to grow when Kyle Fisk joined the team after graduating from the

University of Cincinnati in 2019. With a swelling team we needed more space, in 2020 we moved to our current space on N. Braddock Avenue in February 2020.


And then .... the pandemic. Shortly after the last box was moved into our new studio, we had to transition to work from home. Like everyone else, we learned how to be effective on Zoom and figured out the right tools for productive remote collaboration. We took the opportunity to design our own pandemic tool, Purus, to learn more about crowdfunding and marketing campaigns. What we learned from that exercise serves our clients who are looking to do the same thing for their businesses. Throughout 2020 we managed to continue in our growth as a team and hired Will Grosskopf, our 4th team member!

Reemergence and Partnership

As we were able, we regrouped in our new studio and in 2021 we added teammates John Puskar-Pasewicz (Senior Mechanical Engineer) and Audrey Clarke (Industrial Designer).(Snickers (greyhound) also joined the team as office greeter). Ben became a partner in the business that year, helping spearhead the growth strategy and managing some of our most complex programs.

So far in 2022, we expanded into an additional space in our building to grow our prototyping capabilities. We expanded our work and meeting space within the existing studio to better serve our clients.


Lexicon began with a focus on industrial design and soft goods but has grown to support all types of new product development. The team has added capacity and diversity in industrial design and expertise in mechanical engineering. Lexicon is currently building it's in house prototyping capabilities which currently includes SLA and SLS 3D printing, cut and sew, and painting/finishing. We work collaboratively with a few select partner companies for projects that require electrical and software engineering expertise. The team has had the opportunity to develop products in robotics, medical devices, industrial safety products, consumer products, travel goods, connected/wearable devices, pet products, exercise equipment, outdoor products, as well as some UI for software platforms. Never a dull moment!

Product Lexicon or Lexicon Design?

So what was that about the name Product Lexicon? When we first started, we went under that name because it seemed clever (to us, anyway) that we understood the "language" of product design. To rehash our old tagline, "We speak Design". What we learned was that our clients referred to us as the team at "Lexicon" so, as any marketer will confide, you are what your clients call you (for the better in our case) so we adopted it and became Lexicon Design! A reimagined brand identity was hatched and a new website built to convey our increased capabilities and breadth of experience.

The Future

While we haven't yet had the opportunity to design a functional crystal ball, we're excited for the future. Our goal is to continue growing the company by expanding our capabilities in digital and physical product development while staying true to our creative and collaborative culture. Contact us to learn more about our plans and how we can help you develop your product!


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