Smith Optics Design Studio Headquarters

Portland, Oregon

How do we transform a deteriorating 100-year-old building into a high-end creative office space and showroom?

Two men sit across from each other at a large, low table made from an old metal fire door and surrounded my mid-century-inspired chairs and a sofa. On the wall behind a large, unfinished oak beam is the phrase "The experience is everything" is painted in swirling script. Behind the men is a conference room space with sliding wood-slat doors for semi-privacy. Work stations and windows can be seen beyond the wood slats.

Smith Optics came to FFA looking for high-end creative office space to which they could move their entire staff from their headquarters in Idaho to Portland, Oregon. The third floor of the historic Industrial Home Building in Portland’s inner east-side offered the ideal combination of historic character, location, and room to express the client’s brand and personality. Working closely with the client, the FFA team listened to their visions and aspirations for the space and also gave careful attention to the variety of day-to-day functions that needed to be accommodated.

As creators of high performance eyewear, goggles, and helmets for outdoor sports, the Smith Optics staff feel a close connection to nature and wanted to utilize materials to reflect the outdoors. It was equally important to provide an architectural environment that did not compete with the vivid colors of the products. The resulting workplace design balances the use of a variety of wood products and species while still providing an elegant, neutral backdrop for the display of product designs and prototypes. The design also takes advantage of the existing open floor plate, and provides flexibility which allows staff not only to work collaboratively together, but to choose how and where they work throughout the day.

Year Completed:
8,710 sf
Project Contact:
Richard Grace, AIA, NOMA
Partner, Market Lead

ArchDaily Publication

Open Office
Flexible Furniture


A key component to the design is a custom wall of pivoting panels with slat-wall display on one side, and magnetic white board on the other. It allows side-by-side display of working design drawings and product prototypes. The 180° pivots provide multiple configurations of display surfaces to accommodate various types of projects and activities and creates a canvas for creative brainstorming.



The design team developed a space plan that utilizes modular benching systems with adjustable height desks, as well as multiple flexible common areas for collaboration, and smaller quiet areas for concentration. Strategically-placed enclosed spaces and private offices are designed to sit lightly within the space and create transparency – allowing outside views and light to be shared. At the center of the office is a semi-private flexible conference area surrounded by custom wood sliding screen walls. This space is designed to function for meetings, collaborative work sessions, as well as office social space. It embodies the type of active workplace environment that is a key component of Smith’s culture.