Studio O+A

Submitted for: Designer of the Year

About the Designer

Diversity of purpose was the through-line in O+A’s work this year and last—both in the selection of projects they took on and within the spaces they designed for those projects. This year they branched out from their tech industry comfort zone to work with a global food giant (McDonald’s), a major sportswear manufacturer (Nike), a San Francisco apartment complex (Abaca), a New York furniture showroom (Kimball Office) and an international design exhibition (Salone del Mobile). They also completed some of our most striking tech spaces yet (Slack, Meraki, LiveRamp).

In each of these O+A focused on creating environments that recognized the swift pace of change in every living and working context, a pace that necessitates versatility, adaptability and ease of use. Whether it’s a furniture showroom that allows visiting designers to turn the space into an impromptu workshop or a corporate HQ that functions also as brand museum and company orientation school, the idea throughout was to design spaces capable of multi-tasking.

At the same time they refined their process of space-based storytelling with design narratives that recreated in an urban office the geography of the Pacific Crest Trail and predicted the future of work at the world’s greatest furniture fair. (The future of work looks like nothing we’ve ever seen). Overall they are heading into next year with discovery first and foremost on our minds—and prominently in their floor plans.

Why they’ve been nominated

For 27 years O+A has been a leader in workplace design. When a company has been in the game that long, the temptation to rest on your laurels or leverage your expertise with projects similar to what you’ve done before can be strong. O+A chose a different path. If anything, they have become more experimental, keener to accept adventurous assignments and design challenges they’re not quite sure how to solve.

Their collaborations with fine artists for projects at Nike and McDonald’s, their enthusiastic embrace of pop-up installations at Salone del Mobile and San Francisco Design Week, their pursuit of different types of clients in locations that are new to them—all speak to O+A’s belief that only by constantly reinventing yourself do you remain relevant in the world of design.

Everything they’ve learned in that 27 years gets put to use every day, but the deepest lesson they’ve learned is that you have to keep learning. Their passion for experiment, their impatience with the limits of what they know is the engine that drives O+A today. They can’t wait to see what comes next.

Slack Headquarters—San Francisco—Workplace—2018 Slack is a multi-story project that embraces the CEO’s enthusiasm for wilderness hiking and turns it into a metaphor for the uncertainties and surprises of work. Drawing on natural inspirations for finish and palette choices, O+A designers crafted spaces that offer as much visual and operational variety as a path through the woods. The result is a design that encourages the spirit of camaraderie and shared experience that hikers know from the trail. Photographer: Garrett Rowland

Slack 2026 2 Copy
Slack 1180 Copy
Slack 0304 2 Copy

McDonald’s Headquarters—Chicago—Workplace—2018 When one of the world’s best-known brands moves its headquarters from the suburbs to the liveliest district downtown, it’s a signal that change is happening. O+A’s contribution to this project—working in partnership with IA Interior Architects—was to turn shared spaces into alternative work areas, in effect to echo the growing trend in hospitality design to make every lounge and café a potential work or meeting space. It was also to tell the story of McDonald’s long journey in a series of spaces that represent various aspects of the company’s success—while making clear the forward-looking thrust of its modern culture. Photographer: Garrett Rowland

Mc Donalds Shoot2 0929 Copy
Mc Donalds Shoot2 0679 Copy
Mc Donalds 1001 2 Copy

Blend Headquarters—San Francisco—Workplace—2018 Blend is an experiment in design as a stress reducer. The home financing transactions that Blend facilitates are inherently high-pressure experiences for the customer. Blend’s mission as a company is to simplify that experience and lower its stress level. O+A’s design for Blend augments that effort by assembling a collection of home-like comfort zones and friendly spaces that are as soothing to Blend’s employees as they are to its clients. Warmth in a financial office often comes across as stuffy. Here’s its surprisingly light and welcoming. Photographer: Garrett Rowland

01 Oa Blend 5 Copy
02 Oa Blend 11 Fire Copy
06 Oa Blend 4 Copy

Salone del Mobile—Milan—Installation—2017 Even as it devises work environments for companies at the forefront of modern business, O+A is thinking ahead to what the business world will be when today’s resources, economic and political conditions and cultural expectations have changed. At the 2017 Salone del Mobile O+A imagined a future workplace that looked and functioned more like a meditation center (or a stage set) than an office. Wearable work surfaces, light sculpture as a vehicle for mental refreshment, water as a model for the fluidity of technology—all came together in this provocative pop-up project. Photographer: Lorenza Mercuri

Oplus A Watercooler 04 Lr

Are you sure?

Remember that you can only vote once per award category.