Olson Kundig (OKA) was the gracious host of our fieldwork trip on Tuesday. We were greeted by Elisa and Jerry, two OKA designers who spent the day giving us a tour of their beautiful offices, brainstorming possible design ideas for the computer lab and showing us how to be design professionals.

Jerry and Elisa at OKA

Jerry and Elisa led us through a tour of the offices where we couldn’t help but be wowed by the stunning and functional harmony between the building’s wood, brick, glass and steel. The building (which used to be a shoe factory) reflects its industrial origin with exposed brick walls, solid metal hardware and high ceilings.

Stairs at OKA

These heavy materials juxtapose with the the light airiness of the glass elements in the building: the large skylight which allows the cool sea air in, the glass -sided staircase that makes the steel steps seem like they’re floating, and the large windows in the conference room that peer towards downtown Seattle.

Jerry and Elisa show us one of the most striking designs in the building--the sky window.

We eagerly delve deeper into the offices where we see desks of all configurations, bookshelves filled with resources, wooden models, and tables covered with material samples. Who knew there were that many different types of stone?

Jerry and materials

material samples

OKA bookshelves

We headed back to the cork-walled conference room, where Jerry and Elisa inspired us to think more about what we want in the computer lab by helping us create a “wish list”. After seeing how OKA organized their offices into individual and collaborative work stations, many designers want to create the same environment in the redesign. But the space shouldn’t just be for serious work; the designers also advocate for a lounge area, replete with bean bags, couches, music, TV, Xbox and PS3. Overall, every designer wants to get rid of the busy mural and make it a more “useful” space.

Elisa OKA

The designers then work on creating a visual representation of their wish list, by drawing their visions for the space. In order to really start collaborating, we head back downstairs to the “piazza” and start to flesh out our ideas. For our entire visit, we have been talking about how different kinds of work requires different kinds of spaces, and our movement from the conference room to the piazza really demonstrates this idea.

Raul and Victor at OKA

The designers then present their plans to the group. It’s amazing to see how just being in a beautifully designed space like OKA can get the ideas flowing!

OKA presentations

At the end of the day, each designer shakes hands with their hosts. Thanks to OKA, DYH designers have gotten to experience the professional design workplace, while also improving their design skills. We all left inspired, motivated and excited to start our own project!




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