O+A Year in Review 2018


It’s always great to end the year with awards—and 2018 was particularly rich in that regard. For the first time we took home two Best of Year Awards from Interior Design Magazine’s annual gala in New York—one for McDonald’s in the Extra Large Office category and another in the Environmental Brand and Graphics category, again for McDonald’s. With additional nominations for Slack and McDonald’s café, it was our best showing ever in many years of competition. And when you add the nominations we picked up for Slack and Blend at the FX Awards in London—we’re feeling pretty good about this year we’ll soon be toasting.

As we approach that toast we realize for O+A 2018 was a year of beginnings. So many great new things got rolling this year—some of them literally—we expect to be looking back on these twelve months as pivotal to a future that’s looking brighter every day.



We’ve been diversifying the kind of workplaces we design for several years, but in 2018 those efforts began to flower. The most prominent example was McDonald’s new headquarters in Chicago. Working with our partner IA Interior Architects we turned nine floors of prime West Loop office space into a celebration of that iconic company’s spirit. The Golden Arches provided a gateway to a different kind of client for O+A—well-established companies outside the tech industry that are looking to bring some of tech’s workplace innovations to their own offices. In 2018 O+A launched projects at major companies in hospitality, medicine, manufacturing, finance and entertainment—names you will recognize as the projects are completed in the months ahead.



Crafting the story behind the design is always Step One on an O+A project, and this year we hit on some truly inspired stories—thanks to our clients. Slack CEO Steward Butterfield’s passion for the outdoors led to a unique indoors at his company’s San Francisco headquarters. Our design inspired by the landscapes of the Pacific Crest Trail is still unfolding—the full ten floors will go live in 2019. At Blend the story was all about traditions of home-building in California. In its very early days O+A did a few residential projects—thanks to companies like Blend and Slack residential elements are an increasingly important part of our workplace designs.



In 2018 Food for Thought Truck, our long-envisioned design-lab-on-wheels finally hit the road. After an encouragingly green debut in San Francisco on PARK(ing) Day, the road team kicked off community projects in San Jose, Fremont and Bakersfield. The week the truck spent parked outside Bakersfield’s Café Smitten engaging with that city’s citizens in imagining their new neighborhood of Eastchester was the culmination of everything we had hoped and planned for the truck. Next year Food for Thought Truck will roll on to Los Angeles to work with River LA on raising awareness of that city’s river—did you know LA has a river?



Like every buzzing hive O+A welcomes new bees. This year we were happy to add to our staff Lauren H, Sammy, Alexis, Aditi, Keyairra, Kayla, Javier, Lauren P, Emily, Alex P, Kaylen, Amy B and Jen—and to welcome back an old friend and always reliable bee: Alex B.



We signed books in New York, San Francisco and San Jose—“Studio O+A: Twelve True Tales of Workplace Design” is still in bookshops all over the world. We threw the after-party for the San Francisco debut of Gary Hustwit’s new film “Rams.” We opened our office for San Francisco Design Week’s Studio Crawl and welcomed AIGA for a deep-dive review of the branding and graphics at McDonald’s. We seldom let a week go by without some kind of food fest, lunch-and-learn, guest speaker or product fair. We did what we could to keep our local champagne sellers in business.

Thanks to everyone who made this extraordinary year possible! We are charging into 2019 on all cylinders!