In This Issue:


Columbus, Indiana: A Modernist Oasis
“Red Tide” at the de Young

Curated stories from around the world:
History of Ballot Design
Design for the Future When the Future is Bleak
Marionettes and High Fashion

Events, webinars, readings



As experts in workplace design, O+A previously developed a guideline publication for space planning. There was demand for a book detailing O+A’s approach to design. TYPOLOGIES is not exactly that—it’s more of a guide to the basics of space planning, but it does open a window onto the O+A aesthetic. Conceived as a field guide to the vocabulary of workplace design, the book identifies ten space types commonly spotted in the wilds of American office architecture.
Each typology is a character with unlimited dimensions – the living room, the think tank, individual work areas, studios, the workshop, the townhall, the library, shelters, anywhere, the war room. They collectively make up the landscape of a well-balanced workplace with a multitude of spatial varieties.
These new typologies are comprised of tactical studies about the evolving purpose of the office and how the human experience will change. Now more than ever the trust and confidence we bring into a workplace will be as important as its interior architecture.
O+A believes the new workplace will be an environment shaped by what the crisis taught us to value most. We believe it will be a workplace that is healthier, more deliberate, more agile and more welcoming than the workplace that preceded it. The new workplace will have choices that are at once familiar and Innovative, highlighting the need for togetherness – both in person and virtual – as well as advancements in health and wellness.


Columbus, Indiana: A Modernist Oasis

Located a modest 75 miles from my hometown, Columbus, Indiana is a quiet architectural mecca, curiously rising out of an endless plane of cornfields. The driving directions are simple enough: make 4 lefts, then a right. With my parents in tow, masked up and with pockets full of hand sanitizer, we embarked recently on what was, for me, a much-needed connection with design after months of sheltering in place in San Francisco. For my parents, it was an opportunity to tilt their heads quizzically as I photographed seams in stone slabs, marveled at alignments, and gushed with a schoolgirl’s crush on the brilliance of Alexander Girard.

How does a small town in the middle of nowhere accumulate a continuously growing collection of world-class art and architecture? It all started with a family business called Cummins Engine Company, and an industrialist named J. Irwin Miller. After making Diesel engines for US warships during WWII, Cummins Engines became the leader in the post-war boom, powering the development of roads and infrastructure projects across the country. With a desire to lift the decaying town up with the company, J. Irwin launched the Cummins Foundation. Rooted in the belief that architecture is a means to civic-improvement, the Cummins Foundation would pay for all architects’ fees for new public buildings in Columbus. The only catch? The architect had to be selected from a shortlist proposed by Miller himself.

Through his philanthropic generosity and passion for design, J. Irwin Miller lifted the town through gifts of architectural genius and civic function. Churches by Eliel & Eero Saarinen, a fire station by Robert Venturi, and a library by I.M. Pei are just a few of the highnotes in the city’s impressive collection.

In this short series, I’ll take you on a guided tour of some of Columbus, Indiana’s landmark buildings.- Elizabeth Vereker, Brand Director

Read full article here.

“Red Tide” at the de Young

O+A’s Laura Hapka was visiting family on the farm in Minnesota when she got an email from San Francisco’s de Young Museum asking for more information about the painting she had submitted for their 125th Anniversary exhibit. “I got nervous,” she says. “My work is so minimal. All we got to submit was one flat, 2-D image with no context. Not even an artist’s statement. There’s texture to the piece that didn’t come through in photos.” She worried it might not translate.
But it did. Laura’s painting “Red Tide” debuted on October 10th in Gallery 4 of “The de Young Open,” an exhibition celebrating the Bay Area’s community of artists. Over 6,000 submitted work for this show. From the 11,514 works entered, the de Young’s jury selected 762—including this one, Laura’s first in a major art museum.
Laura  also has a solo show coming up at Themes + Projects Galley at Minnesota Street Projects titled “Primary Process”. The show will run from January 9, 2021 to the end of March, 2021.

Read more here.


The act of voting has never felt so critical. With accusations of rigged elections, voter fraud, machine malfunctions, and vote tampering, the ballot is at the center of the debate. But before we start complaining about badly designed layouts and typography, let’s take a minute to examine how this banal and bureaucratic piece of paper represents our long struggle to make elections free, fair, and honest. While the nineteenth century was a lousy time for electoral equality and integrity, it was an amazing heyday for ballots.

Design for the Future When the Future Is Bleak
New York Times
At its core, design is an inherently futurist medium. In the 1960s, as the writer Maggie Gram has noted, key figures in the Modern design movement often used the word “design” indistinguishably from the word “planning.” This isn’t surprising: Design, like planning, was the profession most concerned with the future. Today is not so different, but what we mean by “the future,” a utopian ideal throughout much of the 20th century, is now undeniably much darker as we progress further into the 21st. To look ahead at what role design will play on an increasingly troubled planet takes us back to the fundamental polysemy behind the word itself.

Jeremy Scott curates socially-distant puppet show for Moschino’s Spring 2021 fashion collection 

Marionettes dressed in inside-out-style garments replaced human models for Italian brand Moschino’s Spring/Summer 2021 womenswear fashion show, which aimed to convey a world gone “topsy-turvy”.

Wittily titled No Strings Attached, the Moschino SS 2021 fashion line was presented as socially distant as possible by creative director Jeremy Scott.

A System Is Not Imagined
Places Journal
I saw the Hans Haacke retrospective at the New Museum here in New York on the morning of Wednesday November 13, 2019. I know this not because I recall the otherwise unremarkable day off the top of my head, or because I found an entry in my calendar, or because I came across a ticket stub in the pocket of a winter coat. I know it only because I took a photograph, just one, while I was there and my phone recorded the date of that image.

Why ‘The New York Times’ reinvented its front page to cover COVID-19 
Fast Company
In May, when the United States reached the grim milestone of 100,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19, The New York Times turned its front page into a powerful memorial, a list of every American coronavirus fatality to date: name, age, hometown, and a personal detail. Topped by a banner headline, the gray page was as solemn as a tombstone.


In recent months, our standard calendar of events has taken on a different look. Through webinars, podcasts, panels and storytelling, we’re continuing to create a dialogue, stay engaged and discuss the issues that matter.

Break Some Dishes
Weekly podcast
Break Some Dishes, a podcast by Verda Alexander and Jon Strassner, takes a closer look at some of the environmental crises we face as a global community, and under the lens of creativity and design, talks to outliers who have worked to break some dishes and find solutions.

New Realities, New Spaces // Workplace Innovation Summit – Design Museum Everywhere
Dec. 9, 11:00 – 11:30 a.m. EST
From the moment California offices locked down, Studio O+A and its co-founder, Primo Orpilla, began to explore what the next generation of workplace would be. The result: “A Toolkit for the Times,” O+A’s guide to going back to work not just safely, but happily. It’s a map through the uncertainties to a workplace based on individual agency, health and wellness, creative engagement and harmony with nature. The new typologies O+A is designing address this moment by imagining where we want this moment to take us and demonstrating how we get there.

The de Young Open – de Young Museum
In celebration of the de Young museum’s 125th anniversary, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are hosting The de Young Open, a juried community art exhibition of submissions by artists who live in the nine Bay Area counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma. (Features O+A’s Laura Hapka.)

Food for Thought Truck Book Readings – Studio O+A
In the next installment of our audio excerpts from Food for Thought Truck, published by Artifice Press, Verda introduces Phil Horton from PK Tool and Production, our man with a saw and the courage to use it.