As a first generation American, designer of color and founder of LOVE GOOD COLOR, Laura Guido-Clark was taught to dream big. Having grown up just outside of Detroit, the city taught her to look beneath what’s present to find the true potential. Moving to San Francisco in 1983 was the culmination of her upbringing and Detroit roots. Coming to a city that she says supported, inspired and expected innovative ideas and entrepreneurship, Guido-Clark had no doubt that she was going to start her own company.
Guido-Clark studied Pre-Med and Interior Design at Wayne State University in Detroit, but while she never actually practiced either discipline, they taught her how powerful observation, experimentation, and empathy can be. When she became the VP of the textile firm Deepa Textiles, Guido-Clark got the opportunity to create textiles, which spurred her passion for color, materials and finishes. With a father that supported her quest for big ideas and a mother who inspired the business woman she became, Guido-Clark eventually left the company in 1988 to form her own consulting firm, which excelled in selecting color, materials, and finishes for the automotive, industrial and fashion companies, such as Toyota, Samsung and Mattel. “I loved materiality and wanted to have a sense of my own destiny. That’s why I wanted to start my own company,” she says.
Her love of people and the desire to engage their senses, affecting how they live with and experience their environments, drove Guido-Clark and her firm. She wanted people to feel empowered in their spaces, whether at work or at home. “I’ve seen through my career that people can be afraid of color. I want to explain colors’ capacity, how they can express our needs and desires and how they impact our well-being. As humans, our neurobiology desires color; color isn’t something that happens to us, it’s something that reflects us and our needs,” says Guido-Clark.
Leading her consultancy, Guido-Clark often has to go deep with her mostly corporate clients to understand what their needs are and how color can be best used to suit that purpose. For example, when she worked with Herman Miller, the famed design-forward furniture brand, she studied the shifting needs and human values of designers and consumers when she created the brand’s materials palette. A good example of this is the COSM chair designed by Studio 7.5, who worked with Guido-Clark on the color and materials of the famed office chair. The “dipped-in-color” chair has relevance because there was a priority by end users to invest in architectural materials that would endure and designers were looking for new ways to strategically use color. The palette offered three neutrals and three colors that were easy to use and integrate.
In 2011, Guido-Clark founded her nonprofit, Project Color Corps, to bring the power of color to under-invested communities, calling it the effort “Optical Optimism.” The projects which entails painting the exteriors of schools and community buildings have included collaborations across the nation with top designers like Yves Behar, o + a, Gensler, and Herman Miller. Guido-Clark envisioned a process that begins with engaging the community and reflecting its unique essence through design. In the spirit of the work, she teaches community members the fundamentals of color, the connection between color and emotion, and how color may be used in powerful ways to create equity and well-being. “The collaboration takes place by putting the power of color into the hands of communities. Project Color Corps collaborates with designers to interpret the community’s vision for each project and then employs professional contractors and galvanizes volunteers to roll up their sleeves and paint schools,” she says. Based in Berkeley, CA Project Color Corps now has chapters in New York, Chicago and Portland.
Guido-Clark launched her present firm, LOVE GOOD COLOR, in 2017. Through her 30-plus years of guiding Fortune 500 firms on the humanistic selection of color, materials, and finishes, she has realized that the need to communicate color through language and apply it with impact is greater than she could ever have imagined. LOVE GOOD COLOR empowers people to use color as a tool to design and evaluate both products and environments for emotive impact. Beginning with an educational webinar based on years of research in science and the sensory effects of color, the tool provides a new emotive dimension to color and guides the users through a series of questions that culminate in a palette and rationale.
Guido-Clark has designed a methodology that takes her patented system and approach outside of the corporate walls and to the individual. Originally hosted as live workshops, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Guido-Clark successfully transitioned the workshops to online experiences, which are now being attended by a audiences around the globe, where design practitioners gain an understanding of how to deepen their understanding of color and its influence on the end user. “In a time like this, our senses need to be attended to more than ever. We are completely removed from our normal function, and color is going to play a more vital role addressing human needs and values like safety, fear, and connection,” she says.
LOVE GOOD COLOR’s process is based on neuroscience and the senses. Imagine being able to use words to describe who you are and how you want to feel, and then having a system that allows you to translate that into an applicable palette. “If you think about it in terms of our environments, they affect our well-being, and, time and time again, I’ve seen the transformative nature of color to communicate, to support intention, and to truly inspire. Our tool leads you to the outcome you are looking for and provides a language to communicate color in a way we have never had before,” says Guido-Clark.
Entrepreneurship is an exciting journey, often filled with moments of uncertainty. Over the years, Guido-Clark has been guided by the following:
- Stay true to yourself: Acknowledge your personal strengths and surround yourself with people you respect. “As you grow your business, think about the people you draw near you because everyone and everything has energy, and you want it to be reflective of your values and what you want to put back in the world,” says Guido-Clark.
- Laugh at yourself and keep life in perspective: “I believe a sense of humor and levity help our work and make the day much more pleasurable. Laughing at yourself allows others to feel a sense of empathy and grace with themselves and those around them,” says Guido-Clark.
- Fill your life with gratitude and presence. “I’m motivated by my deep sense of gratitude about my life, my path, my journey, the people I meet, and my family. We spend so much time thinking about what may happen, but staying present —one foot in front of the other—keeps you grounded,” says Guido-Clark.