“Design must be inclusive,” says Jamie Slagel, 2021 ADA judge

The American designer, Principal of Olson Kunding studio, is ready to judge the Archiproducts Design Awards submissions

Jamie Slagel, Principal of Seattle-based Olson Kunding, is on the 2021 ADA jury.

While we wait to hear the names of the winners of the 2021ADA, the jurors of the Award’s sixth edition share their expectations regarding this year’s candidates and their personal vision of the future of design – a sector that is rapidly changing due to the global pandemic, forcing us to rethink our homes, our objects, our cities and how to meet new daily needs.

Jamie Slagel is the subject of the weekly appointment with the jurors of the new edition of the Awards promoted by Archiproducts to celebrate excellence in international design.

About Jamie Slagel

Jamie Slagel joined Olson Kundig in 2011. During her ten-year career with the renowned American studio, she has always tried to break down the boundaries between natural and built contexts, old and new, public and private, small and large, pursuing a sort of osmotic design in apparently antithetical contexts. ‘Good design is achievable anywhere and on any scale,‘ says Jamie. ‘It is as possible in the largest spaces we inhabit as in the smallest details. Good design has the powerful ability to improve the way we see and experience the world,’ she continues.

Olson Kunding Architects.

Originally from Lewistown, Montana, American architect Jamie Slagel, who is on the 2021 ADA jury, cites her ‘rural’ background as the source of her keen sensitivity to the landscape, which she brings to all her projects – from private residences and large commercial projects to mixed-use and cultural buildings.

With a degree in architecture from Montana State University and a passion for architecture and design, Jamie is also interested in crafts. Her deep appreciation of the art of ‘creating objects by hand’ began with a class in which she learned to work with steel, concrete, glass and wood.

Interview with Jamie Slagel, 2021 Archiproducts Design Awards jury member

What do you expect from the submissions, and what features should the winning products have?
I hope to see functional products created to solve real needs. In particular, I would like to see a ‘sense of honesty’ in the product, which means that its use and operation should be legible and intuitive. My design philosophy is that every element that makes up a product must be essential. An object could not function as intended if part of it were removed. Well-crafted products express beauty through purpose.

What role do you think a Design Award should play today?
Design contests have the responsibility of driving us towards a more sustainable and equitable future by rewarding submissions that reflect those values. If competitions require the explicit use of compostable materials or fair labour practices, the design industry will undoubtedly move in a more ethical direction.

What should contemporary design look at, and how should it evolve to meet the community’s needs?
As the world tends towards greater equity – of gender, ethnicity, social background – design also needs to evolve to address these social issues and pave the way for new ‘best practices’. Product design is in everything, everywhere. It cannot only address the needs of one group of people. It has to be inclusive!

In the post-pandemic era, how can design define a ‘new normal’?
When we come out of this pandemic definitively, I think that differences and different approaches will emerge in the ways we live and work and in the tools we use to improve our everyday environments, whether they are homes or offices. In the near future, we will see how younger generations are more adept at working remotely than older generations who may continue to prefer face-to-face collaboration. There is real value in recognising and supporting both practices. Design will play a crucial role in facilitating and supporting that trade-off.

How do you think the pandemic has affected design?
The pandemic has made terms like ‘versatility’ and ‘flexibility’ more vital than ever. Personally, while living, working or teaching from home, I have found added value in products that can lend themselves to many uses and that I can move from one space to another.

Entries for the 2021 edition of the Archiproducts Design Awards are now open!


Dragonfly, Olson Kunding

Dragonfly, Olson Kunding

Chicken Point Cabin, Olson Kunding

Chicken Point Cabin, Olson Kunding

Collywood, Olson Kunding

Collywood, Olson Kunding

Anoha, Olson Kunding

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