Olson Kundig Think Tank is a staff-led initiative intended to advance the firm’s existing creative leadership opportunities and introduce new avenues of creative exchange, cross-disciplinary and collaborative problem-solving, design innovation, craft, and making.
Think Tank seeks to promote the work of the practice as a collective while inviting new collaborators and clients to participate in Olson Kundig’s design culture. It illustrates the firm’s core values of design excellence; superior client service; continual evolution and expansion of practice; staff development; a culture of innovation, experimentation and risk-taking; cross-pollination and cross-disciplinary collaboration; and transparency.
Creative Exchange Residency
The Creative Exchange Residency is an external invitation to practitioners across a wide variety of disciplines to impact the collective practices of the firm. The selected resident (individual or group) will spend between two and four weeks at Olson Kundig’s office, where they will have a dedicated work space and receive a $10,000 grant to complete a project. The current call for applications is open until August 1, 2016.
By offering Travel Fellowships to staff, Olson Kundig seeks to infuse its office culture and design process with external and more global perspectives. Selected from anonymous proposals, the fellowships provide staff with the opportunity to travel for the purpose of pursuing proposed research topics, the results of which are presented to all staff and the resulting physical documentation added to the firm’s resource library as reference material.
The inaugural Travel Fellow is staff architect Elisa Renouard. Her proposal, Effimero, sends her to Rome to research the protection of the city’s cultural patrimony – the art and architecture of the city – during World War II. The product of her research will be a presentation, to take place in Seattle, and a small publication that compiles her work completed on site and her conclusions and reflections formed as a result of her investigation. Two additional travel fellowships will be offered to staff in 2016.
OK Works is the first step of expanding and integrating Olson Kundig’s existing r+D efforts and history of craft, the work of kinetic engineer Phil Turner, and Olson Kundig’s internal model shop and fabrication lab into a larger office resource that provides assistance for design research, prototyping and making. OK Works is intended to identify and foster compelling ideas into actionable concepts.
To foster continued in-house innovation, Idea Incubator creates an outlet for employees to pursue design ideas and develop design skills through in-house competitions. Idea Incubator was launched in May 2016 with an internal call for installation designs addressing the theme of “design change.” The winning submission, ICE3, designed by staff architects Gregory Nakata, Noah Conlay, Clay Anderson and Jarri Hasnain, will be submitted to the 2016 Seattle Design Festival.
The Leadership Development committee focuses on office mentorship, professional development and education programs that advance the skills, capabilities and leadership potential of staff at all levels. The committee is responsible for actively identifying internal and external opportunities to develop the next generation of firm leadership as practitioners and involved members of the community.
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