Carbone Smolan Agency (CSA) is an independent design-led branding agency. Our vibrant company of strategic thinkers and designers has built an award-winning portfolio of international work that spans four decades.

 

Founded by two celebrated design visionaries, today CSA integrates design, content and technology to create differentiated brand strategy and design systems. Our clients rely on us for their most important challenges and together we deliver impressive results that are engaging and measurable.

Our Leadership

Paul Rossi

CEO

Paul Rossi is the CEO of Carbone Smolan Agency. Paul believes that in an increasingly visual world, how brands act and present themselves has never been more important.

Prior to joining CSA, Paul was president of The Economist Group’s global media businesses, responsible for running the Group’s media properties, including The Economist, The World in and 1843. Under his leadership, The Economist transitioned from a niche magazine to a leading multi-platform media brand. During his tenure, Adweek named The Economist the “hottest magazine in America” and Paul “Executive of the Year.” Paul was also named a Top Innovator by Media Business.

After building out The Economist Group’s marketing services business, including acquiring two agencies, he focused on helping brands migrate from traditional advertising to using meaningful content to engage customers in print, online, on social media, and in person.

A true global citizen, he has lived and worked on four continents and is a frequent commentator on the changing role of media and advertising. He is an advisor to the Sustainable Ocean Alliance and has served on the boards of The Hope Program and The Association of Magazine Media (MPA). In 2018, he received the International Advertising Association’s inaugural Global Compass Award, alongside Ogilvy's Shelly Lazarus and Unilever's Paul Polman.

Ken Carbone

Founding Partner

Ken Carbone is a designer, artist, musician, author, and teacher. As Founding Partner of the Carbone Smolan Agency, he is among Americas most respected graphic designers, whose work is renowned for its balance of substance and style.

Ken has built a reputation for creating outstanding design programs for world-class clientele that includes W Hotels, Morgan Stanley, Christies, Tiffany & Co., Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, and Canon U.S.A., and celebrated institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, and the Musée du Louvre.

Ken is the author of The Virtuoso: Face to Face with 40 Extraordinary Talents. Its emphasis on human achievement in all walks of life reflects his wide-ranging curiosity. He is also the co-author of Dialog: What Makes a Great Design Partnership, which celebrates his 35-year collaboration with Leslie Smolan. Ken often speaks about the value of design in the corporate, consumer and cultural sectors. He is also a professor at the School of Visual Arts, and a blogger for Fast Company and Huffington Post.

Ken is a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI) and the AIGA. He received the 2014 AIGA Medal in recognition of his contributions to the field of design and visual communication. He has also been recognized by Print, Graphis, Idea, Communication Arts, ID, and the New York Art Directors Club.

Leslie Smolan

Founding Partner

Leslie Smolan is a strategist and designer known for her relentless pursuit of timeless beauty. As Founding Partner of the Carbone Smolan Agency, she applies the wisdom of her 40 years of experience to mentor clients on the power of strategic design to transform businesses.

Leslie has been internationally recognized for her distinct aesthetic and carefully nuanced detailing in brand identity, cross-platform marketing communications, and publishing projects, and has developed longstanding relationships with a roster of distinguished brands, including Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, and Canon. Recent projects include the graphic identities for two of Starwood Capitals newest international hotel brands, a branding and marketing campaign for Tropicalia, an ultra-luxury resort and residences in the Dominican Republic.

Leslie is the author of The Hat Book, which won every major design award including AIGA: The 50 Great Books Show, the Silver Medal from the Leipzig Book Show, and an International ANDY Award. Leslie curated and co-wrote “Dialog”: What Makes a Great Design Partnership with Ken Carbone, which celebrates their 35-year collaboration. She is a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI), a select group of international designers. Recognized by design associations around the world, Leslie received the AIGA Medal in 2014, in recognition of her contributions to the field of design and visual communication.

Justin Peters

Executive Creative Director

Justin has been solving complex branding challenges for top-tier consumer brands, professional services companies, nonprofit organizations, and governments around the globe for over two decades. As CSA’s Executive Creative Director, he leverages deep understanding of global markets, geographies and cultures to breathe fresh and enduring life into brands of all shapes and sizes.

Justin is a legacy member of the CSA family. He began his career here 25 years ago and has grown into the creative leadership role for signature clients, including Assurant Health, Disney, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Sesame Workshop, and The White House Millennium Council. After 15 years at CSA, Justin moved on to travel the world, serving as Global Executive Creative Director for international branding agency, Siegel+Gale. He lived, worked, and spoke across the US, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, while leading engagements with Google/Motorola, Hewlett-Packard, Ingersoll-Rand, Tata Group, Dubai Telecom, GE Real Estate, Aetna, and Rotary International.

In 2015, Justin returned home to CSA with a wealth of experience and an unshakable belief in the power of design to transform businesses, brand experiences, and people’s lives. Since his return, Justin has been integral in keeping CSA’s renowned creative work fresh and focused for clients new and old.

A native New Yorker, Justin is a lifelong member of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, and a design critic at Rhode Island School of Design and The University of the Arts. He has received multiple design awards, internationally and domestically, including the Presidential Design Award for his work with the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum.

Dave Weinberger

Executive Director of Engagement

A branding and identity expert, Dave Weinberger leads CSAs engagement team, which oversees all new business, marketing, and PR efforts.

Dave spent much of his career as a creative director and believes that design is a communication and problem-solving tool. Design can change behavior, moods, and relationships. Dave has directed and designed programs around the world for major corporations such as JPMorgan Chase, Marriott International, BP, Quintiles, General Motors, Western Union, and others. In 2015, Dave was featured in Design:Retail magazine's inaugural “40 under 40” list of design professionals impacting the retail industry.

A veteran of multiple global branding agencies, Daves work and writing have been featured in numerous publications, blogs, and books. He has won multiple creative awards and has been invited to speak for several universities and corporations, including the American Institute of Graphic Arts, CSP, and the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada.

Erin Kelley

Executive Director of Operations

Erin Kelley is an expert at creating order out of chaos—whether building a team, building a process, or building a brand. An accomplished account and agency leader with over 20 years of experience, and a big fan of Occam’s razor, Erin loves an opportunity to dig into complex problems and find the simplest, most logical, creative solutions.

Erin began her career working with the legendary brand-builder, Hal Riney, on managing and growing the Saturn automotive brand. She also had the opportunity to work on major telecom, media, cultural institution, e-commerce, and luxury consumer brands at agencies in both San Francisco and New York. Soon Erin began to specialize in B2B, professional services, and specifically, financial services. She has worked with almost all of the top global financial services brands including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, MUFG, AXA, Merrill Lynch, MassMutual, and BNP Paribas.

Over the years, Erin has worked on all aspects of marketing, at agencies specializing in advertising, branding, digital, and media, and on the client side in corporate and relationship marketing. Recently, she has focused on building and developing agency teams that can partner with clients to solve complex business problems, build brands, and develop ground-breaking creative. At CSA Erin continues that work, leading a skilled account team that is responsible for managing the client portfolio, as well as focusing her efforts on creating and optimizing agency processes for greater quality, efficiency, and financial stability.

Ellen Elfering

Director of Talent

For as long as she can remember, Ellen has always loved design. This passion, coupled with a genuine desire and drive to help people achieve their goals, has led to her role as Director of Talent. She is most fulfilled when communicating with, recruiting for, organizing, collaborating, managing, mentoring, and nurturing a creative team.

Over her 30+ years in the business, her diverse experience within the design industry has given her a 360-degree perspective on organizations—from macro to micro. She understands the importance of the bottom line and the significance of happiness and balance in company culture. She is a practiced developer of well-crafted and thoughtful processes.

At CSA, Ellen puts her fine-tuned listening and mentoring skills together with her empathetic approach to help create a wonderful and welcoming experience for candidates and staff.

Our Clients

Arts and Culture

Deeply invested in the arts, we proudly partner with esteemed cultural institutions.

Open Positions

It’s our culture that defines our work and our workplace. We are a group of thinkers who can’t help but analyze and explore. We open up and give our trust to clients and to each other. We sweat the details and go out and get it done. And it’s all because we love what we do. Our enthusiasm is what drives us. Does this sound like you? Our open positions are below.

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