OG11 Exclusive Interview with Jonathan Mergele and Sean Daly, Founders of FIFTY by US

Posted on 13. Oct, 2011 by in Design & Culture, Entrepreneurship

FIFTY by US is a collaborative production team drawing upon varied backgrounds in film, advertising, curating, marketing, and event production. Founded in 2009 by Jonathan Mergele, Sean Daly, and Fairfax Dorn, FIFTY by US helps clients realize projects with an eco-driven perspective.

FIFTY by US founders Jonathan and Sean sat down for an Opportunity Green Insights exclusive interview to answer questions about their beginnings, challenging projects, and future endeavors.

How did you meet and start your business?  

Jonathan (J): We met through a friend. After getting to know each other’s work and aesthetic, we realized we shared the same drive in our design process. After encouragement from friends, we decided to join forces and become an artist collaborative in fall 2009.

Sean (S): I wound up in Marfa, Texas designing a Halloween party for Interview Magazine and Gilt Group. Jonathan and I had been in touch about what needed to be done. The clients were impressed with the results, and weeks later we did it again for another client. We have never looked back. Four hands turned into 50 pretty quickly.

Previous events have included a gala benefit at The Kitchen and a window installation at Akris Boutique in NYC.

About how many events or projects have you worked on so far?

J: We have worked on about 10 projects, including the OG 2010 conference, pop-up retail spaces and a couple of nonprofit galas.

S: We had a very busy spring 2011 designing events. It’s not something we set out to do, but were pleased with the outcome. We are currently working on a logo branding project for art fair magazines, and collaborating to design a fashion show in NYC.


Describe one of your favorite projects and what you got out of it.

J: My favorite project so far was our work with Ballroom Marfa’s benefit last April. It was an all-inclusive design concept that was carried through every event aspect, from the invitation to the gift bag that guests received as they departed.

S: I liked our pop-up stores in Marfa, Texas. We had this enormous space that we made our own and filled with merchandise we made ourselves. We ran the store over the course of a long weekend and became shopkeepers. It was a lot of work, but very rewarding.

What’s been your biggest challenge and how have you worked through it?

J: The biggest challenge always seems to be focusing on one particular concept and running with it. I feel that we get distracted along the way by other great ideas that turn up while working on a project. We love to try everything out, which eats into our production time. We are still working on that balance.

S: We are fixated on handmade, process-based work that requires lots of time-consuming, tiny. But the finished products are always fulfilling in their payoff.

What do you like about Marfa and how do you see that area developing?

J: Marfa is a great escape. It’s in the middle of nowhere, in one of the best parts of Texas. The community is great. It has lots of great places to eat, which is abnormal for a small town- restaurants include Food Shark, Cochineal, and Miniature Rooster. Marfa has a constant flow of interesting visitors coming through, so you never know who you will bump into. I think it will continue to develop and be an inspiring place for artists and travelers to unwind.

S: Don’t be fooled by the size of Marfa. It’s the busiest tiny town in the world. There’s always something interesting going on. I love the sense of community there. Everyone has weight to pull, and people wear a lot of hats. There is incredible support from everyone who seems to attend everything.

Describe your ideal client.

J: It’s always great working for someone who understands your process, trusts your vision, and gives you free reign. Those types of clients are few and far between, but when you are in that situation there is this sense of limitlessness that makes for a fantastic work environment.

S: An ideal client would be one with an existing story behind them. We could see where they have been and where they are looking to go, and start there. We love brainstorming- I consider it an extreme sport!

What else would you like to design? 

S: I am currently designing a line of furniture, based on camping equipment and old luggage. I think it would be the best gift for the person who has everything. There will be nothing like it!

Jonathan and Sean’s involvement in a wide array of projects demonstrates their versatility as designers, artists and event planners. Their eco-friendly aesthetic will continue to be asset to the OG community.

Photo source:

Huffington Post

Fifty By Us

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One Response to “OG11 Exclusive Interview with Jonathan Mergele and Sean Daly, Founders of FIFTY by US”

  1. Joel Zavalla

    13. Oct, 2011

    wow. those are some of the most creative event decor ideas I’ve seen in years and the fact that they are eco driven is just brilliant.

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