Minneapolis-based Blu Dot makes cool stuff. The company designs and produces a wide array of sharp, savvy, distinctly modern furniture. Maurice Blanks and John Christakos founded Blu Dot with Charlie Lazor in 1997. (Lazor now leads the Minneapolis-based Lazor/Office design firm.) Blu Dot has since become a global brand with retail stores in many top U.S. markets including New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, plus outposts in Mexico and Australia. (The company has an outlet store in NE Minneapolis.) Blu Dot won the prestigious National Design Award for product design in 2018, another boost for its rising business profile.