Category Archives: Interior

Design Discovery Labs

WPress GraphicCreating a collaborative environment amongst stakeholders is a key strategy to designing a new building or redefining existing spaces. FSB has developed a specialized design workshop process – FSB Design Discovery Lab – that creates a partnership between an owner and the design team resulting in highly successful projects.

FSB Design Discovery Lab is a collective, partnering exercise, between all stakeholders and the design team. These forums IMG_1094are work sessions that explore facility uses, defines user needs and experiences, and ultimately outline a strategic design direction for the space.

The Discovery Lab promotes critical thinking, communication, creative problem solving and collaboration. Intersecting thoughts and ideas, from varying stakeholder points of view, provides opportunities to assess, engage, agree or disagree on important project issues – which is essential to significantly strengthening final project outcomes.

FSB’s Discovery Labs enable the entire team – stakeholders and designers – to:

Share knowledge

  • New and innovative thinking will remain unrealized unless there are opportunities to shape ideas by involving all key players.

Create community

  • Providing an open forum to talk about stakeholder roles in a project opens doors to forming partnerships – that may not have existed – and promotes collaboration beyond the workshop.

Facilitate decision-making

  • An essential first step in successfully designing a Fred_VWSnew space is to establish expectations, define purpose and outline the process that will be needed to meet the goals. Establishing common ground is key to encouraging stakeholders to work together and, in the end, reach consensus.

FSB’s signature approach to defining a client’s needs, through a collaborative Discovery Lab environment, was recently demonstrated on the Oklahoma State Capitol Building Interior Restoration Project. As part of this project, FSB and Capitol Design Team are redefining the visitor experience. Fred Schmidt, FSB principal and project leader, recently facilitated a Discovery Lab that provided the design framework for this aspect of this highly visible and historically significant project.

Held in FSB’s newly designed Team Lab space, this five hour, collaboration session included Capitol Restoration Committee members, key stakeholders, art historians, collection curators, historical preservationists and representatives from the design-build team.

The Discovery Lab focused on Brainstorming and Creative Thinking for four main topics:

1. The New Context of the Capitol’s Visitors Level
Current Visitor Experience

  • Pros: what’s working well with the current experience?New Exp Diagram
  • Cons: what’s not working as well?

2. If These Walls Could Talk

  • What do you want the architecture to say to the visitor?
  • What do you want the initial thoughts of the visitor to be?
  • What is the one thing you would like a visitor to remember at the conclusion of their visit?

 3. Big Picture Ideas – Defining Form and Function

  •  What are the performance requirements that will Visitor Exp - Context trimshape the building design?
  • What are the issues that will affect building shape?

4. Telling a Story

  • What is the symbolism that creates a connection?
  • What is important to creating a progression of experiences?
  • How can we connect the visitor to the space being Big Ideas‘theirs’?
    • This is your state
    • This is your state house
    • This is your place of government
    • This is your state’s story
  • How can we demonstrate that this is where Oklahoma Government history is made?
  • Who do we want to showcase: famous men, famous women?

Upon completion of the Design Lab, all participants emerged with a clear vision of the goals and objectives for the new visitor center. A detailed storyline to guide the desired visitor experience was established, providing the design team with the needed direction to pursue creative architectural solutions.

The FSB Design Discovery Lab allows owners to:

  • participate in a collaborative workshop setting
  • visually ‘see’ and represent the project prior to formal design
  • be involved in creating their own spaces in collaboration with the design team
  • obtain buy-in to both the project and business objectives
  • express their experiences – increased understanding and empathy from the design team
  • reduce stakeholder conflicts and factions working in silos
  • make better strategic decisions and reach stakeholder consensus and commitment
  • define and support synergies in inter-disciplinary strategies
  • create cross-functional team development, understanding and learning
  • generate enthusiasm and positive energy towards the project

If you are interested in learning more about how the Design Discovery Lab experience can benefit your project or want to learn more about the Oklahoma State Capitol Building Interior Restoration Project, visit us at or contact Fred Schmidt at 405.840.2931.


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The Grand Hall

Grand Hall 2

As a part of the programmed space and needs for the OCU School of Law, a large multipurpose space that gives the school the flexibility to add a broader venue of activities was desired. To gain maximum value for every square foot, this space could perform many functions. On a day to day basis, the grand space would be used as the living room of the school and be a part of first impression for visitors and guests that is a part of creating the intangible air of greatness for the law school. In addition to being the living room, it provides the function of being a great reading room for the library. The space will have a variety of seating and open collaborative areas that will allow it to satisfy both of these functions concurrently. Continue reading

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Design Is A Juggling Act

 Library Perspective

Keeping the project design on track is a challenge. Several special efforts come to mind. The challenge of meeting the owner’s expectations for the look and feel of the project is one that readily pops up after all this is the visible part of the project that everyone sees. Descriptions of look and feel are often hard to get your arms around: Continue reading

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A New Outfit – trying it on for size

Central HIgh School

As we begin the due diligence effort for the OCU School of Law to investigate the feasibility of placing the law school within the old Bell building, now American Farmers and Ranchers Insurance Building (AFR), we engaged in the process of program validation to explore changes to the space needs that may have surfaced in the time span since the last quest to try a building on for size. Academic programs evolve and change over time and we needed to understand where things stood with the last version of the space needs.

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Testing Design Options and Creativity

FSB-TKA Scheme B-C - 1

Studying how a vertical circulation spine and the interaction that it can introduce to the building organization was an enlivening and creatively infusive exercise. Each scheme that was developed seemed as strong and powerful as the previous one and yet each one very distinctive with its own strong character statement.

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Finding the Right Path

Atrium 1

Pathways thru Buildings

Part of the story at the law school at the Fred Jones Manufacturing plant is that FSB had to compete or perhaps the term would re-compete for the project. This was a new field of teams that were each paired with firms with a greater national presence. FSB was partnered with TKA of Cambridge who had previous law school design experience as well as having repurposed a Ford Assembly Plant not as a law school but as an academic scientific research facility.

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Divergent View 1

Custom Light

Every now and then there is an experience so singular that it demands interrupting the flow of the current story to share.  A recent experience presented one of those moments. It was a trip to Grand Rapids and a surprise visit to a project designed by one who is considered to be the greatest American architect of all time. The project is the Meyer May House. Continue reading

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FF&E in the Raw

FF&E Floor Plan

FF&E Floor Plan

Earlier in the design phases when we are designing and exploring furnishings, we typically put together a rendered floor plan that provides a suggestion of how furniture would lay out in the spaces. The process we go through is shared in the post “FF&E what duh heck are we talking about.” We have reviewed the approach to FF&E planning and had a conversation with the interior designer for the project, so now it’s time to look at the documents that were produced for pricing and installation. No pretty pictures, no touchy feely material samples, just plain raw data for getting ‘r done. Continue reading

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FF and E – what duh heck are we talking about


This term means something different to a variety of professions. It seems the greatest use of the term is within the accounting world. From an accounting view-point is has to do with company value. This comes into play when a company is for sale or worse is being liquidated. In this sense we are talking about a company asset albeit one that is aggressively depreciated. So what is this term we are talking about?

FF&E is an acronym for “Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment.” These are movable items that have no permanent connection to the building and include items like desks, chairs, computers, other equipment, tables and bookcases. It can also include “Accessories” which can consist of designer waste baskets, lamps, pottery, pillows, area rugs and art objects.  How does this tie into what FSB does?

open furniture

Our involvement in FF&E is in the very early stages before it ever becomes an asset on the books of a company. One of FSB’s professional services to clients is the planning, selection, specifying, bidding, purchase and installation of FF&E. Didn’t know there as so much involved? Just ask one of our interior designers about want it takes to pull this all together and end up with a successful installation.

It begins with the programming/project definition that sets the overall aesthetic flavor and objectives for the project. The furnishings must achieve the same goals as the design of the building while complimenting the building design and achieving specific furniture goals that include ergonomics, feel, character, style, texture and color. FSB’s interior designers focus on merging the expectations of the owner, end-user along with those of the FSB architectural designers.

office furniture

We strive to achieve a creative artistic vision while working within the owner’s unique brand and characteristics. Our end product is to deliver design solutions that make a difference in the distinctive character of the building and enhance the interior environment. Here are the basic steps we go through:

  • Participate with the overall FSB Team to understand and document the client’s vision and goals
  • Interpret those design objectives into furnishings concepts
  • Provide alternative selections for each type of furniture and accessory
  • Facilitate the final selection of FF&E with the client which includes samples of products, fabrics, wood colors and mock-ups
  • Develop drawings and specifications for pricing, acquisition and installation
  • Participate in the bid process by providing clarifications
  • Review submittals to ensure that the design intent is being achieved and the owner is getting the greatest value
  • Work with the suppliers in developing a fabrication, delivery and installation schedule that coordinates with the schedule and completion of the building
  • Provide representation and coordination during delivery and installation
  • identify items that are damaged for replacement
  • Provide quality control throughout the process

The FF&E for the Chickasaw Visitor Center has achieved all of the vision and goals and then some. Installation is happening as we speak.

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A Material World – but not just yet

Gallery Space

The Gallery Area is the grandest space in the Chickasaw Visitor Center, high volume, high level of finishes, rich, warm, lots of natural light, and fantastic views. The space is essentially closed in and there is attention now being given to this grand area of the building. Progress is steady but not particularly rocking and rolling. Continue reading

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