Our strongest attribute is an unwavering belief in the power of design.

Imagined by John Rouse, publisher emeritus of Contract Magazine and Rick Valicenti, founding principal of Thirst, Perception Studio represents an unprecedented combination of design marketing intelligence and creative excellence now available to the product manufacturer seeking to improve their image. We have enjoyed decades of success in the design marketplace.

Perception Is reality.

Recently we invested in conversation with several firms in Chicago as well as others from different parts of the country representing over 20 of the nation’s most successful design and architectural professionals.

Their unvarnished opinions about who they prefer doing business with, why certain companies are trusted, and which emerging brands may earn venerable status came to the surface.

You and your customers are in the business of change.

You are competing against companies with broad lines who provide specifiers with an opportunity to review many options simply due to breadth of their offering.

Your customers often specify the same trusted products, even though it is their responsibility to address familiar needs in new ways in order to offer clients new options.

You and your customers know risk mitigation is key to relationships and cost of doing business.

Exceptional representation is key to successful business as the best reps carry trust with them even though they may change lines several times over their career.

You are competing against Restoration Hardware, BluDot, CB2 and now Amazon — extremely aggressive brands with a very visible presence and a simple to understand value message.

Legacy may no longer matter.


Change in the design practice is happening fast, and attention spans have shortened.

Everyone is doing business in the high-speed age of instant trending consumption.

The exponential acceleration of change is having an enormous impact on the decision-maker.


Visibility is the first step towards brand acceptance, yet brands are reinforced by the representation.

Many times specifiers do not know manufacturer’s reps, but have had a previous positive experience with the product.

Advertising and visibility must be present when specifiers research new options.

New designers see something once and want it. Specifiers like disruptors.


Territories are growing... while manpower remains limited.

Maintaining market visibility poses real challenges... out of sight / out of mind remains more true than ever.

Today’s firms can no longer justify non-billable hours... (too many) breakfasts, lunches, etc. 

Take action:

Research the market.

Measure sales and market data.  

Craft a benchmark of knowledge.  

Develop a revenue strategy.


Strategic revenue drivers may include:

Adding well-designed products to your line. Aligning with trusted representation.

Having a best of class digital presence. Reframing your brand.

All practical tactics...all contributing to enhanced perception of your brand.

Needless to say these strategies must be carefully considered and assessed for their degree of difficulty relative to existing short and long term investment commitments.


Perception. Is. Reality. 

Take action …engage us to apply what we know: dramatically improving your image and perception will increase the awareness, specification and purchase of your products.

John Rouse, Hon. IIDA

John Rouse stands at the forefront of the most important commercial architecture and design (A&D) industry trends: design led market research. He’s invested the past three decades championing the power of meaningful, results-driven research and data in the A&D space for product manufacturers, leading industry professionals and associations, real estate management and corporate design professionals. John’s unparalleled ability to collect and interpret data stems from his 30+ years as a publisher of two of the most prestigious commercial design publications. 

John began with Interiors Magazine, becoming publisher in 1994. He joined Contract as publisher in a 2001 merger with Interiors, and then went on to launch Contract China in 2006. As Contract’s publisher for 15 years, John fully utilized all of the publication’s platforms, including print, digital, events, focus groups, and award competitions, as an opportunity to conduct research and collect data that would ultimately help product manufacturers and other A&D stakeholders transform business and institutional environments through design. 

In 2011, John was honored as one of the inaugural Public Interest Design 100 along with notables such as President Bill Clinton, Brad Pitt, and Yves Behar among others. In 2014, John received the International Interior Design Association’s (IIDA) Inaugural Legacy Award. Cheryl Durst EVP and CEO states “Through his passion for Design, John has steered Contract to numerous national awards, and continually celebrates brilliant design each year through the Interior Awards in New York and the annual Best of NeoCon award bestowed here in Chicago.” 

John is in high demand as a speaker and educator on the business of design, and he was recently honored by the New York School of Interior Design for his lifetime of dedication and contributions to the commercial interior design space with an Honorary Doctorate. John continues to challenge the A&D community to embrace the full potential of applied market research and empirical data with his new endeavor, Perception Studio.

Rick Valicenti

Artist/designer/typographer icon Rick Valicenti is globally recognized for his intelligence, influence, and passion in the fields of design and typography as well as for his unique inspiration and contributions to the contemporary design culture. 

His highly-respected company Thirst, a communication design practice providing design and immersive environments for high profile clients in the architectural, performing arts, and education communities, is renowned for its inspired and provocative work. The hallmark of Rick’s design process is his strong desire to create an authentic human presence within all forms of design communication. Demonstrated success in the design industry is evidenced by demanding clients including Holly Hunt, SOM, Maya Romanoff, Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill, and The Chicago Architecture Foundation.

The White House honored Rick in 2011 with the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt, National Design Award for Communication Design, the nation’s highest distinction for design. In 2006, he received the AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) Medal, the highest honor of the graphic design profession, for his sustained contribution to design excellence and the development of the profession. 

His work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), resides in the permanent collections of the Yale and Columbia University libraries, Denver Art Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago, and has been published in The New York Times. 

Perception Studios offers Rick an opportunity to elevate his engagement in the commercial design industry through empirical research.

In the fall of 2011, publisher John Rouse invited Thirst to redesign their industry-leading interior design magazine. Rick Valicenti/3st, Bud Rodecker/3st, and Robyn Paprocki/3st collaborated with editor in chief John Czarnecki and his team, Sheila Kim and Jonathan Marsland, to design a simple, yet bold, system that makes the access to complex content accessible and more relevant.

Perception Studio offers:

Proprietary Research
Success metrics
Strategic Design Consultation
Comprehensive Identity Design
Brand Implementation on all platforms
Media placement and negotiation

Perception Studio provides the progressive marketer over sixty years of design industry intelligence synchronized with unparalleled creative excellence to provide a resource previously unavailable to the marketing professional.

All you provide is…the opportunity.