SAM Talks – Jim Olson


Last night I took the other three Interior Design seniors in my class to the Seattle Art Museum for a presentation given by Jim Olson of Olson Kundig Architects (formerly Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen).  It was about Jim, and many of the houses he has designed, especially for art collectors.  I had the chance to visit one of these houses that also has an amazing 20th Century modern art collection and it was truly a gem.  Being able to hear him speak about what drives him as an architect (ultimately, nature) and his perspective on interiors, which he also pays a lot of attention to, was invaluable.  It was also reinvigorating in terms of feeling a little worn down as I’m approaching the final curve of my BFA program.  We’ve heard a lot about commercial design and looked at a lot of pictures of supercool skyscrapers in our classes, but I haven’t had an experience like this from any of my instructors yet where we really just looked at homes.  They have such a different, more intimate feel, even these large homes built to house fabulous collections.  Mr. Olson, at least, believes that these intimate moments are important, and his houses reflect that.  There is a balance between larger spaces and smaller points of gathering. 


The event was sponsored by Adobe and of course there were copies of his new book on sale (see image below) in conjunction with the University Bookstore.  There was also a reception afterward and I really enjoyed hearing what my fellow students thought of the presentation as we drank wine and munched on hors d’oeuvres.  They also seemed to be inspired by what they saw and I think we’re heading in to class this morning a little more excited than we would have been. 


I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the future as I’m getting ready to graduate and while I don’t necessarily believe, at this point, I would want to embark on any sort of “traditional” interior design career, I’m still really glad that I’ve gone through the program.  The last four-five years of my life have been transitional for a number of reasons and school has been a big part of that.  I’m very thankful to have been able to have this time to grow into myself and whatever the future holds for me, I’m ready to participate fully. 




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