Hans Wegner proudly showed his scale models of chairs to Marissa Halewijn Brown in his studio,
carefully describing the love that went into each prototype. This had a profound effect on Marissa, a
young industrial design graduate from Rhode Island School of Design in the early 90’s. Her father,
an accomplished career Time Life writer, had brought Marissa to Denmark on assignment to share
his love of Danish design. The trip proved formative to her career.

While studying Marissa apprenticed with a renowned bow maker for violins, many of his clients being
members of the National Symphony Orchestra. She fondly recalls weighing out horsehair and sanding
wood to a precise beautiful state. During school she was granted a travel scholarship to Indonesia to
study artisans creating woven rattan furniture. In Indonesia Marissa thought “it liberating to see skill
used in such freeform expression”. Her draw to working with craftsmen lead her to high-end custom
furniture designer Dakota Jackson, who brought her in as Director of his studio. Dakota retained a team
of master woodworkers, upholsters, and finishers in his factory. “It was like being in the United Nations
of craftspeople, many being first-generation Americans. I loved the energy of a design process that
necessitated collaboration directly with the workers. Pragmatically it required a flexible and open mind
to finishing a piece. But the team always sought ways to push the process to stay true to the design’s
original spirit. I try to maintain this approach in my own work.” Designing for Dakota always brought
new and inspired commissions, such as Marissa’s contributions to a collaboration with Steinway and
Sons to design a tricentennial piano, and a Dakota Jackson - designed synagogue interior.

By the late 90’s Marissa opened her own studio in Tribeca with furniture designer Michael Havely
Graves. It was during this period where many of her contemporaries were starting to make their mark
on the industry, such as David Weeks and Jeffrey Bernett. Marissa’s philosophy was to transfer her
real world experiences into her design. She sees chair design as a layering of processes, from
sketching and modelmaking, to melding materials and their unique properties, to important dialogue
with builders - all stages that add to an intuitive approach. Marissa has a penchant for sketching her
chair concepts in side views, affectionately referring to these stages as “characters” or “fonts”.

Eventually her unique experience in design combined with her intimate connection to the factory floor
attracted Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. As Design Director for Martha Stewart, she designed and
managed furniture and decor across a variety of home and living spaces. For 11 years, Marissa
learned how to design for large scale production as well as how to navigate licensed partnerships. Her
efforts for Martha Stewart has been sold through Macy’s, The Home Depot, Bernhardt, Staples, and
Home Decorators collection, bringing a broad exposure across many markets.

In her time outside the industry Marissa has long maintained a home in Brooklyn with her three girls,
filmmaker husband, and their dog. They make annual trips upstate to North Pitcher, NY to a
farmhouse that has been in her father's family for 180 years. In an age with increasingly digital tools, it
is the time she immerses herself in Brooklyn’s artisan culture and upstate’s pragmatic approach to life
that still has a large influence on where her design looks to go