Tinker, Tailor
Metropolis Magazine|June 2019
Tinker, Tailor

Olson Kundig’s new Seattle office balances elements historical and experimental.

Erin Langner

Entering Olson Kundig’s newly renovated office feels like walking into the heart of the design process. Its centerpiece “Commons” is filled with people from all stages of the Seattle-based firm’s work—from in-house teams and partners to clients and consultants— sitting across from one another at structures resembling picnic tables. In a corner, makers move among industrial equipment stations, their noise and debris contained by the workshop’s glass walls. Nearby, a quartet of interns congregate beside a long table covered in models of the firm’s projects. Clusters of caramel-stained plywood workstations run along the room’s perimeter, punctuated with staff from across departments. Hovering above it all, a 14-by-25-foot oculus bathes the space in natural light.

Filling 27,000 square feet, the office occupies a brick building in Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square neighborhood. Tom Kundig, the studio’s owner and principal, likens the swirl of activity in its walls to a hive. Spaces are porous. Designers move freely between workstations, maker zones, a materials library, and a virtual reality lab. Taking it all in feels as though you’re peeking into the future of design.

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June 2019