RENATE

Renate—meaning “renew”—was founded to rethink the relationship between institutions and community, to create systems that deepen creative collaboration, and to discover more meaningful ways of sharing stories. As an award-winning firm specializing in planning and design, we create memorable experiences that engage, educate, and inspire diverse audiences. We believe the best design is more than words, graphics, and space: our designs connect people to the past, to important ideas, to new possibilities, and to each other, with a focus on inspiring actions that make an impact on the world.

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26Corvallis Museum

Over a decade in the making, the Benton County Historical Society Corvallis Museum is a brand-new one-of-a-kind museum located in the heart of the Willamette Valley. They came to Renate with a unique directive: design inaugural exhibits that showcase the history of Benton County, with an art museum approach. No stuffy dioramas or traditional history displays here!

The primary challenge? Marrying an eclectic collection and rural life in a college town with a modern aesthetic and brand-new building designed by Allied Works Architecture. Every aspect of the design needed to have all the character and charm of the collection itself, while being flexible for future use and complementing the contemporary architecture. We designed simple wood casework, expertly crafted by a local woodworker, that wouldn’t need to be repainted with each exhibit and would always work with the materiality and modernity of the architecture. Whimsical exhibits like Hats & Chairs — where, you guessed it, hats are paired with chairs! — gave us the opportunity to work with a mount maker on truly unique object mounts. Stanchions to protect objects on display aren’t your traditional posts with ropes; rather, we used the same materials as the flooring, to look like the floor had peeled up.

Through intensive writing sessions, we worked with the staff to develop a playful, casual writing style that suits their whimsical exhibit style and the laid-back nature of the collection. We designed object labels that can live on beyond opening exhibits and feature highly detailed photographs of each object, helping visitors associate the stories and information with the objects. Photographs and artwork in hinged frames allow visitors to interact with traditionally static displays and learn more about particularly intriguing local stories. We worked with Sticky Media to develop simple digital interactives throughout the museum; in a playful nod to the museum’s many donors, we plaster-cast the hands of community members to hold iPads, emphasizing the fact that the community brought this new museum into being in a very unexpected way. The Benton County history exhibit becomes a gallery-wide map of the county, with all objects and stories located in place amongst floor graphics of the Willamette River and Siuslaw National Forest.

The Corvallis Museum is unlike any other history museum out there. The past and present of this vibrant rural community is celebrated in every detail of exhibitry and every object on display.

Role: Experience design & writing

Client: Benton County Historical Society

Size: 5,650 sq. ft. (galleries and lobby)

Type: History & art museum

Components: 200+ objects, 200+ photographs

Partners: Allied Works Architecture (architect), Sticky Co (interactive media development), Corbin Cabinetry (fabrication), Matchless Builds (fabrication), R3 (printing), ICHO (printing), Mark Gostnell (mount making)

Completion: Anticipated Summer 2020

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25Moab Museum

Small museum, big stories. Renate was brought in initially to help the Moab Museum, located in Moab, Utah, refresh their 20-year-old exhibits and become a place that locals and tourists alike would treasure. The project quickly grew to include rebranding the institution and a full overhaul of the exhibit design.

Working hand-in-hand with the Museum, we helped them determine a new vision for the institution, one that was centered on telling the many stories of the community. This helped set them apart from the many cultural and recreational attractions in Moab and the surrounding region that tend to have one impressive focus: dinosaurs! While the Moab Museum may not have one-of-a-kind fossils, we helped them figure out that they can stand out by telling the stories of the people of Moab, from time immemorial to today.

New branding meant an opportunity for fresh colors inspired by the landscape, a bold and playful font, and a clean, modern materials palette. Low casework and long, linear shelving makes the space feel bigger and is reminiscent of the layered landscape just outside the Museum’s doors. Flexibility for this small space was key, so we introduced a custom pegboard for vertical exhibits and many of the cases are on wheels. At the heart of this experience is a huge map of the region, connecting visitors and locals alike to the landscape.

Moab is a truly breathtaking place with so many stories to be told. The Moab Museum may be short on square footage, but the history of the community is as big and grand as the landscape of the Colorado Plateau.

Role: Experience planning & design

Client: Moab Museum, Moab, UT

Size: 1,500 sq. ft.

Type: History museum

Components: 100 objects, 7 photographs, 12 interactive audiovisuals, 2 visitor-contributed interactives

Partners: Moab Museum (writing), Cinnabar (fabrication)

Completion: Anticipated Sprint 2020

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24Nevertheless, They Persisted: Woman Suffrage and the 19th Amendment

In honor of the centennial anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the Oregon Historical Society asked Renate to design a temporary exhibit that would tell a well-rounded story of the women’s movement in America. The goal from the start of the project was to tell the more complicated story of woman suffrage; we’d celebrate the triumphs and acknowledge the disparities that existed within the movement.

One of the main challenges was giving an exhibit primarily built around documents and text dimensionality. We also wanted to capture the nuance and multiple perspectives within the women’s movement in the design. Inspired by the fabric banners and protest signage used throughout the movement (and even today!), graphics throughout the gallery were printed on banners of varying translucency, creating a layered effect as you move through the space. A color story guides visitors from the beginning of the women’s movement, represented in black and white, through today, in full color.

We were thrilled to be a part of this exhibit documenting this significant moment in history. As the exhibit was in the final stages of installation, the Equal Rights Amendment was in the news again for potential ratification — here’s hoping women will persist and achieve equality under the Constitution once and for all!

Role: Experience design

Client: Oregon Historical Society, Portland, OR

Size: 3,000 sq. ft.

Type: History museum

Components: 100+ objects, 80+ photographs, 4 audiovisual/interactive media

Partners: OHS (writing, asset acquisition and fabrication), PVS Graphics (printing), Upswell (media)

Completion: March 2020

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23San Diego Museum of Man

The San Diego Museum of Man is undergoing an incredible transformation away from the typical anthropology museum, with the vision of becoming a fully decolonized institution: a place where visitors are asked to embark on a journey along with the museum to tell the hard truths of injustice while inspiring change and building empathy. We were brought on to assist the museum in a full re-branding of the museum and planning for an altogether new experience.

Because they’re setting out to do something completely different — and truly leading the field in decolonizing their internal practices — the museum needed a way to succinctly express to potential donors and trustees their vision for the new experience. Through many charrettes with the staff, board and advisors, we developed a Vision Book, which documents the first step in this journey.

Our goals for the experience are to create environments that turn the San Diego Museum of Man into a new type of museum: one where communities, not curators, hold knowledge and expertise; where all surfaces of the museum are fair game to write on or interact with; where immersive and participatory experiences replace static displays. As Micah Parzen, the CEO of SDMoM, likes to say, “this work moves at the speed of repairing the world,” and as such the museum’s experiential and brand transformation is very much in-progress.

Role: Experience planning & rebranding

Client: San Diego Museum of Man, San Diego, CA

Type: Anthropology museum

Components: Experience plan, rebranding development, campaign messaging & design, Vision Book

Completion: February 2020

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22Wu Fei & Abigail Washburn

Role: Art direction and graphic design

Client: Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Components: LP & CD package

Completion: 2020

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21Providence Academy

As part of a long-term effort to update and refresh Providence Academy’s public spaces, The Historic Trust asked us to design a new interpretive experience in the Academy’s corridor cabinetry. The new exhibit provides an opportunity for building visitors and residents alike to learn about the diverse history of the facility’s development and the impactful work and programs of the Sisters of Providence.

Working with a multifaceted story, a limited amount of space, and a super tight budget, we wanted to maintain the rhythm and detailing of the existing architecture while bringing a fresh look and feel to this small corner of the building. We redesigned the cabinetry to retain existing paneling and trim-styles of the building while updating lighting to help highlight the display. Key objects from Providence Academy’s history speak to the work that went on within the building during the time of the Sisters of Providence. Layering imagery and text on multiple surfaces brought dimensionality and nuance to the small space. The design serves as a template for future updates throughout the Academy.

Next time you visit Fort Vancouver, be sure to check out this small exhibit, where the history of the community and the legacy of the Sisters of Providence is shared for all to enjoy.

Role: Experience design & writing

Client: Providence Academy, The Historic Trust, Vancouver, WA

Size: 50 sq. ft.

Type: Community & office space

Components: 10 objects, 7 photographs, countless stories to share 

Partners: Infinity Images (printing)

Completion: December 2017

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20High Hopes: The Journey of John F. Kennedy

In celebration of what would have been John F. Kennedy’s 100th birthday, the Oregon Historical Society asked Renate to design a 6,000 square-foot exhibit to honor his lasting legacy. John F. Kennedy’s life spanned the advent of modern media, and as such we were tasked to create an experience that evoked a living memory not only of his life and time in office, but of the age itself.

We proposed unique immersive exhibits to embody key moments from Kennedy’s childhood, his journey to the White House and the pressing issues he faced as president, incorporating iconic imagery and historical media moments throughout. Upon entering the gallery, visitors were taken back in time to 1963. An old tv screen, triggered by their presence, played Walter Cronkite’s emotional news bulletin of Kennedy’s death — a defining moment in the country’s history. Surrounded by a noteworthy collection of objects related to Kennedy’s life, visitors wander through time and place. Visitors-turned-Executive Committee members (EXCOMM) were invited to play an addictive and educational digital game. Helping the president, they play action and recovery moves drawn from actual events as Soviets do the same thorough historical events of the Cold War, Cuban missile crisis and space race. The goal: to dominate international affairs and beat the Soviet Union.

The exhibit showcased Kennedy’s handwritten letters, notes and personal items, as well as his legendary rocking chair and Oval Office coffee table. Pop-up style life-sized photographs are used to mimic the experience of passing through a memory as the visitor moves from gallery to gallery and moment to moment in Kennedy’s story. Audio and visual elements serve a similar function, from a viewing room mimicking the experience of Americans watching the President address the nation from their own living rooms for the first time in history, to a record player on which visitors could play two of Kennedy’s campaign songs, one of which inspired the name of the exhibit.

This exhibit gave us the opportunity to dive into the life and legacy of one of America’s most beloved public figures.

Role: Experience design

Client: Oregon Historical Society and Museum, Portland, OR

Size: 6,000 sq. ft.

Type: History museum

Components: 100+ objects, 4 audiovisual programs, 1 digital interactive

Partners: OHS (writing), Sticky Co. (media), Infinity Images (graphics)

Completion: March 2017

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19Fullers Overlook Farm

Nestled in the foothills of Pennsylvania, Overlook Farm lives as a testament to a family's dedication, care and love. The owners, the Fullers, have been dedicated to wildlife and environmental conservation over many generations culminating in present day efforts to restore the landscape.

We worked with the family to develop an engaging, thoughtful and inspiring experience to capture the spirit of the farm, document the Fuller family history and share the innovative plans for the future of stewardship and sustainability as the site of the Fuller Visitor Center at the Old Barn, to be utilized and treasured by generations to come.

Role: Experience planning & design

Client: Fullers Overlook Farm

Type: Historic & community space

Components: Historic building & structures, flexible & multi-use spaces

Partners: Stephen Dow Beckham (writing), kubikmaltbie (fabrication)

Completion: October 2017

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18University of Washington: I-Labs

We were asked to develop environmental graphics for the newly opened Institute for Learning and Brains Science (I-LABS) Brain Studio designed by SHKS Architects. Referencing the existing signage and pulling inspiration from the new space, we designed recognition graphics that help orient visitors and quickly identify the studio, within a busy and often crowded walkway. As a bonus, we provided a template for further signage to follow these designs to make for an intentional, cohesive system.

Role: Environmental design

Client: SHKS Architects, Seattle, WA

Components: Recognition signage

Completion: April 2017

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17Burke Museum: Content Design

Building on the experience plan and Vision Book we developed with the Burke Museum, we continued our partnership with the museum to take the vision one step further. We collaborated with the leadership and staff at the museum to strategize, plan and develop the stories that would be integrated and shared in the new Burke. 

Role: Content design & development

Client: Burke Museum, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Size: 110,000 sq. ft.

Components: Project brief & opportunities, content plan & matrix

Completion: April 2016

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16Juno Therapeutics

Blurring the lines between architecture and interaction, functional and fun, explicit and inspirational, is what we do. For a brand new building for Juno Therapeutics, a place of cutting edge scientific research and therapies for cancer patients, we worked with the lead architect, Flad, to plan environmental graphics and wayfinding. However this wasn't just letters and numbers: the directive was to design an effective, dynamic, responsive, flexible environmental graphic and wayfinding system expressive of the people, mission, personality and work of Juno. This was our focus as we developed designs that also integrated with and accentuated the built environment and architecture. The designs expressed not only the Juno brand in color and form, but in attitude and emotion, creating moments of much needed energy for researchers and connection between patients and family. 

Role: Environmental & interactive design

Client: Flad Architects, Seattle, WA

Components: Approach & concept, brand expression, signage, participatory interactives, flexible & multi-use

Completion: January 2016

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15Democracy’s Blueprints: The Documents that Built America

In advance of the 2016 American presidential election, the Oregon Historical Society hosted a temporary exhibit designed to highlight the documents upon which American democracy was built. Renate was tasked to design an exhibit featuring the five documents that form the pillars of American democracy — broadsides of the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Monroe Doctrine — and engage visitors with their historical and present-day significance.

With a tight timeline and a small budget, we set to work on creating an experience that would be evocative of the historical significance of the documents on display. Low lighting, elegant murals in duotone navy and gold, and casework that allowed the broadsides to be featured in the center of the space gave the experience a modern gravitas and helped visitors understand the historical importance of each document in sequence. Three themes helped unify the major artifacts and focus the exhibit’s scope: Balance of Power, Political Factions, and Foreign Policy. Provocative text written by a former journalist provided further context and noted the lasting relevance of these monumental documents during the election season and beyond.

As they say, art imitates life (or life imitates art) — as a takeaway, we featured printed copies of the Constitution for visitors to bring home. Just as this exhibit opened, Americans were reminded by a gold-star family of the moral guidelines and rights the Founders set forth for our country, and the takeaways had to be replenished shortly thereafter.

Role: Experience design

Client: Oregon Historical Society and Museum, Portland, OR

Size: 3,000 sq. ft.

Type: History museum

Components: 20 objects, primarily documents including broadsides of the Magna Carta, Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution, Bill of Rights and Monroe Doctrine

Partners: Mike Wyne, Morgen Young & Renate (writing), Infinity Images (printing), Figure Plant (fabrication)

Completion: June 2016

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14Mercy Corps Action Center: Refresh

Many years after we first teamed up with Mercy Corps to redesign the Action Center — their education and community space at their headquarters in downtown Portland — we jumped at the opportunity to follow up. Since the inital redesign, they had used the space, made the most of the flexibility and updatability, and, had realized some of their needs had changed. The experience was built to be changed every few months, or even overnight if there was an event that called for a quick changeover. They needed the experience to be more consistent for three years, still as relevant and responsive, but with less attention, time and resources required from staff. So we got to work to refresh the space A few design shifts, a bit of restructuring content and a few additional interactives made change happen.

Role: Experience planning & design

Client: Mercy Corps, Portland, OR

Size: 3,000 sq. ft.

Type: Classroom, event space & visitor center

Completion: July 2018

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13World War II: A World at War, A State Transformed

Iconic black and white imagery. A recreated war room. A local story of resilience and community. In 2014, the Oregon Historical Society tasked Renate to create a powerful, immersive and interactive experience about the people, events and impact of World War II. Alongside the OHS team, we set about creating an exhibit that would do justice to a global event that only some remember but we all have been impacted by.

Creating a dramatic, impactful space that would evoke the magnitude of a world at war and draw a connection between the past and today was our goal. Every detail and design move was intended to immerse visitors in the time period. Amongst rare documents and objects, larger than life black and white historical photographs lead visitors on a path from global to local, from beginning to aftermath. A third of the gallery space was dedicated to telling the local story, connecting visitor’s understanding of what was happening at a global scale to the war efforts and effects right here in Oregon. An actual size war table transforms into a hands-on interactive, field phones deliver news clips and newsstands become integrated graphics — sweeping visitors back in time while remaining grounded and relevant for today.

From Churchill, Eisenhower and Truman, to the workers of the Kaiser shipyards and the internment of Japanese Americans, to the heroic stories of members of the “Greatest Generation” who served on the front lines of freedom, we were honored to help tell the stories of legendary historical figures and local Oregonians alike from this truly historic event.

Role: Experience design

Client: Oregon Historical Society and Museum, Portland, OR

Size: 6,000 sq. ft.

Type: History museum

Components: 150+ objects, 9 audiovisuals, 3 digital interactives, 2 visitor-contributed non-digital interactives

Partners: OHS (writing), Sticky Co. (interactive media development), Axiom (fabrication), Forge (graphics)

Completion: June 2015

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12W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory

While SHKS began reenvisioning architectural renovations and an expansion to the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory in Tacoma, WA, they brought us into the mix to work with them to refresh the Conservatory's identity and recommend a new graphic system of wayfinding and signage for the building, new and old, and all of Wright Park, where the Conservatory stands. 

Our directive was to develop a graphic identity and signage system unique to the Conservatory that reflected a connection to Metro Parks and integrated the new expansion with the existing building to create a cohesive, functional and beautiful experience for all visitors. 

 

Role: Graphic identity & environmental design

Client: SHKS Architects, Seattle, WA

Components: Analysis of two existing brands, creation of a new graphic identity, designs for brand, wayfinding, informational & identification signage

Completion: December 2015

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11Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture: 100 Stories, 100 Years

The Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture in Spokane, Washington, popularly known as the MAC, fosters understanding of the history, cultures, communities, commerce and art of the Inland Northwest. The MAC’s upcoming centennial anniversary presented an opportunity for the museum to reinvent its overall approach to exhibit presentation and visitor experience. They asked Renate to help them elevate the entire museum experience, using a centennial exhibit as a starting point.

Typically, the MAC features a rotation of visiting exhibits in most galleries while programming a single gallery from its collection. We proposed a large-scale exhibit with a simple premise: 100 Stories, 100 Years. To tell those stories, we took advantage of the museum’s vast collection of objects, essentially converting the history of an entire region into one multifaceted presentation. And not just one gallery is used, but the entire museum, campus, city and region. The visitor is truly immersed in the MAC. There are interactive exhibits that ask the visitor to contribute their own stories and their artwork. There are also be small, intimate spaces filled with sound and open, bright spaces packed with objects. All of this, with a design that allows for the objects to be changed throughout the two years, creates a new experience upon each visit.

This new exhibit sets the museum in a new direction that is truly all MAC.

Role: Experience planning & design

Client: Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture (MAC), Spokane, WA

Size: 11,000 sq. ft. (galleries)

Type: History, art & culture museum

Components: 100+ objects on display, from paintings to machines to fossils, 3 digital-based experiences (audiovisual, audio and iPad app), 2 visitor-contributed experiences (with opportunities for more!)

Partners: MAC (writing, fabrication), Designer Decal (printing), IQ (interactive media development)

Completion: February 2014

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10Ohio Veterans Memorial Museum

After partnering up for the competition to design and build the new Ohio Veterans Memorial Museum, we continued the collaboration with Allied Works Architecture as the selected team. We worked with the Museum and AWA during the initial architectural planning to develop an experience plan fully integrated into the architecture. The intent was for the building to be informed by the visitor experience, and the experience to be cohesive and ever-present throughout the campus and building.

Through working meetings, interviews and worksheets, we honed in on the vision, goals, audience and aspirations of the new museum. We researched and conceptualized how the stories they wanted to share, the messages they wanted to express, and the impact they desired to have for every visitor could become an actual experience. We worked hand in hand with AWA and the landscape architecture, Olin Studio, to strategize how these would inform and be interwoven into the architecture and landscape.

Then, we took the next step and envisioned what the experience would look and feel like. As a written narrative, the plan describes the types of interactives, media and collections experiences the visitor might expect. It details opportunities and recommendations for programming and outreach. It also documents how their brand identity, the physical building, classroom, outdoor spaces, exhibits, collection and more will work together to create the visitor experience.

Here's a bit from the plan, describing what a walkthrough of the new museum might be like:

"The museum allows for the visitor to ascend to a place of inspiration and provides a place for the memory and history of veterans to alight. The experience is rooted in a courageous past while reaching for an inspired future. The shape of the building is reminiscent of the eddies of air as a bird or an aircraft takes flight. The curvature of the Scotio river and the curvature of the berm frame the site. The layered, spiraled arcs of the building embrace the site and fill the frame. At the heart of the site is the ceremonial Sanctuary. The Sanctuary, a nestled exterior space with views to downtown Columbus and up to the sky is a place of refuge for the memories of the past and aspirations for future. At night, the Museum is visible from aircraft flying overhead and the International Space Station, as a tribute to John Glenn. (When he orbited the Earth in 1962 and 1988 the residents of Perth Australia turned on their lights so that they would be visible from space)."

And a bit later in the plan, here's an introduction to the visitor experience within the museum:

"The Museum honors its mission and place in the city by creating a center of inspiration, learning, dialogue and remembrance. The interpretation is organized by experience type rather than themes. This creates a visitor-focused experience driven by the actions designed into each space. The interpretive program follows the same emotions as the physical forms of the building and the landscape. The interpretation roots itself firmly in a tribute to past service and sacrifice and through the heartfelt stories of veterans. The circulation propels the visitor upward, physically and emotionally, so that visitors are filled with aspirations of giving to their country. Permanent and temporary exhibits are mixed into the gallery spaces. There is opportunity scattered throughout for changeable, updatable and flexible exhibits. This keeps the entire experience alive and changing. Like the exterior experience the circulation of the interior experience winds visitors through the Lobby into the Great Hall, through into immersive galleries and up to the Sanctuary where the experience is crowned by light; it is a beacon for the city of Columbus — constant yet evolving — symbolizing the light of freedom that shines across the world."

Opened in 2017, the Ohio Veterans’ Memorial Museum is a tribute, a symbol for all veterans, past and present. Situated among a revitalized riverfront, the Museum stands as an iconic beacon of pride, a ceremonial parade ground and gathering place for civic events, an living archive of military memories from around the region and a teaching space that communicates the importance and experience of service to future generations.

Role: Experience planning

Client: Allied Works Architecture, Portland, OR and New York, NY

Size: 15,000 sq. ft. (dedicated exhibit space)

Type: History museum, education & community space

Completion: Februrary 2014

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09Place: Framing the Oregon Landscape

From history of the past, to history-in-the-making, the Oregon Historical Society often shifts from sharing stories of the past to stories being made today, as they did with this exhibition. We joined the team at OHS, along with curator Laura Valenti Jelen from Photoluncinda, to create an innovative and interactive experience on contemporary photography. The directive was to create an immersive experience exploring the photographs, the photographer's world and the duality of the land and its people. 

There were ten contemporary photographers chosen to be featured in the exhibition. Although the photographs were in various formats, colors and processes, all were captured images of landscapes and people in Oregon. The photographs were emphasized in the space and experienced by the visitor in multiple ways. The photographs were appreciated for their interpretation and depiction of the dramatic beauty of the land as well as the relationship between the land and its people. Narrative, imagery, maps and objects — featuring those from the OHS collection — provided context to the photographs. In addition, the experience included an interactive and participatory activity that allowed visitors and the community to contribute their images. These images were projected into the space to be integrated into the overall exhibition.

Beyond the expected, visitors were immersed in the world of ten photographers of the Oregon landscape, transforming a small gallery inside the museum into a portal to the expansive landscape that lies just beyond its doors.

Role: Experience design

Client: Oregon Historical Society and Museum, Portland, OR

Size: 2,500 sq. ft.

Type: History museum

Components: 10+ stories to share, 1 audiovisual interactive, 1 visitor-contributed interactive

Partners: OHS (writing), Sticky Co. (interactive media development), Infinity Images (fabrication)

Completion: November 2014

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08Two Years, One Month: Lincoln’s Legacy

For this experience, the Oregon Historical Society and Museum told us: “We want to do something different.” Their directive was to explore the legacy of Abraham Lincoln from the many perspectives of slavery, the end of the Civil War and Oregon, (and the visitor!) using key historical documents and objects from three truly amazing collections with an added focus on engaging school-age kids.

With a modest budget and short timeframe, we got to work quickly and efficiently. Collaborating closely with the museum’s team, we dove into developing a design, seeking to answer the questions: How can we build a powerful experience that relates the complexities of the time period, events and diversity of perspectives? How do we engage a younger audience so they don’t just learn a set of information, but actually consider how and why this history matters today, and to them?

Our approach? Visually, we created a vivid experience that conveyed the magnitude of the story through immersive use of color; by playing with scale using huge dates telling visitors they had moved in time and super graphics; and by pulling documents off the walls to be experienced in a new way. To help show the complexity of the story, we used handwritten callouts on super graphics of the 13th Amendment and Emancipation Proclamation to point out little known facts and the story behind these documents (to literally read between the lines!) We invited visitor participation throughout the exhibit using hands-on interactives both digital and lo-tech, games and questions and a take-away to do at home or school. The interactives challenged every visitor to consider a perspective different from their own and to share their thoughts and perceptions on write-on walls.

With such a high degree of visitor participation, we all became part of the experience, and hopefully a little bit of the experience stayed with each of us, too.

Role: Experience design

Client: Oregon Historical Society, Portland, OR

Size: 3,000 sq. ft.

Type: History museum

Components: 35+ objects, 5 visitor-contributed interactives, 2 audiovisual programs

Partners: OHS (writing), Sticky Co. (media development), Infinity Images (fabrication)

Completion: April 2014

Lincoln at OHS
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07Burke Museum

The Burke Museum, on the University of Washington campus, just opened a new museum — but not your typical museum. The vision for the new experience was to turn the museum model inside-out by placing the collection and study of objects and specimens at the forefront of the visitor experience. The Burke challenged Renate to transform this concept into an inviting and enriching interpretive plan that would set the stage for an altogether new and one-of-a-kind museum experience.

Through eight months of intense cooperative work with the staff, board, University and community leaders, we built on their shared vision to develop an interpretive masterplan plan that would define and visualize the new Burke experience. The plan outlined an ideal walkthrough that included an active lobby, multipurpose study spaces where researchers would interact with visitors and a café that showcased collections. We described the ways in which visitors would interact with each area of the new museum, calling out all opportunities for engagement. Pathways lay out likely experiences of different visitor groups, such as researchers, university students and school groups. The interpretive plan became a powerful unifying tool that was used by the staff, board and University to build excitement and support throughout the capital campaign, inform the building design and act as a foundation for exhibit development and design.

We then came back in a few years later to assist in more detailed content development and once again collaborated with their staff to flush out the future experiences. Their input — as we find happens with every project — helped to educate us, inform the design and inspire everyone. The end result? A museum unlike any other, with collections storage and lab prep spaces visible to all, and objects and stories that had been hidden from public view brought to life.

Role: Experience planning & book design

Client: Burke Museum, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Type: Natural & cultural history museum

Components: Transformation of the museum model, millions of objects, limited exhibit space

Completion: June 2013

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06Smithsonian Folkways: Ella Jenkins

Role: Art direction, graphic design & illustration

Client: Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Components: CD package

Completion: 2012 (Get Moving), 2013 (ABCs, 123s)

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05Levi Strauss & Co. Headquarters

Integrity. Courage. Empathy. These are the values that propelled Levi Strauss & Company to become an iconic brand, beloved for its jeans and classic apparel. We brought these values to life in the company’s visitor center at its San Francisco headquarters.

We worked with the team at LS&Co. to re-envision the visitor's experience from the entrance, through the atrium and into the Vault, a visible archive. The new design creates an interactive, immersive and brand experience that shares the LS&Co. story through artifacts, garments and the voices of archivists and designers. The experience includes substantial curated permanent exhibits mixed with flexible, fresh and relevant temporary installations. Historical artifacts, one-of-a-kind garments and the voices of archivists and designers all help tell the Levi Strauss & Company story.

Role: Experience planning & design

Client: Levi Strauss & Co. Corporate Affairs, San Francisco, CA

Size: 10,000 sq. ft. (Atrium), 4,800 sq. ft. (Vault)

Type: Public space

Components: Re-envisioning of the overall visitor experience, integration of LS&Co. brand and 75th Golden Gate Anniversary celebration

Completion: May 2012 (Atrium), 2013 (Vault)

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04Mercy Corps Action Center

As the public venue for Mercy Corps, one of the world’s most respected humanitarian aid organizations, the center engages a steady stream of school groups and the general public at their downtown Portland location. Working hand-in-hand with a team of leaders and educators, we redesigned the experience to embody their mission and inspire action. The experience had to reflect the constant action of Mercy Corps staff, community members, and programs around the world. Of utmost importance was that the space not be stagnant — people aren’t stagnant, the world isn’t stagnant — but be flexible and evolving over time. The space and exhibits had to be tailored to be used for their established education programs, so they needed to be functional, accessible and enticing to students.

The center is all about action — what you can do, what Mercy Corps does and what’s happening in the world. The design we crafted expresses this with succinct messaging throughout the space: if you’re merely walking through, you’ll see these messages and get the big idea. For those who linger awhile, there are interactive self-exploratory digital and non-digital exhibits that make use of the Center’s existing multimedia resources, objects and successful programs. Smartphones — a primary communication prevalent in nearly every corner of the world — hold a digital interactive that leads the user through a series of stories, complete with writing, photos and videos, all uploaded from staff in the field, and constantly updated. All around the space are low-tech interactives that teach complicated issues and processes in simple, direct ways. On one table sites a balance beam with one block on the edge representing a crisis, the other a space to add smaller blocks, each representing a potential solution to the crisis. The goal? To find solutions that will help to resolve the crisis, creating balance: what Mercy Corps does every day.

Throughout the exhibit, there is integrated flexibility and changeability that allow the educators and program leaders to truly utilize the exhibits and entire space to teach. A floor to ceiling gallery of clipboards may hold a series of photos one day, then a series of articles another. A set of acrylic boxes may hold a stack of books one day, then water bottles another, arranged as a 3-dimensional graph within the space. Within 24 hours, the entire space may be changed by staff to reflect an event or issue. At all times, the space is welcoming, inviting all visitors to engage in the experience.

The Action Center experience embodies their mission: change is happening. And, it’s happening here.

Role: Experience planning & design

Client: Mercy Corps, Portland, OR

Size: 3,000 sq. ft.

Type: Classroom, event space & visitor center

Components: 40+ stakeholders within the institutions and across multiple departments, 20+ updatable and interactive experiences designed and built, 2 audiovisual programs, 2 years from planning to opening

Partners: Arxi Interactive (interactive media development), ACME Scenic (fabrication)

Completion: November 2012

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03Mobius Science Center

Not your typical science center. That’s Mobius. Being highly interactive wasn’t enough — this place needed to be loved whether you’re 8 or 108. Our solution was to create a space that was all about building, making, testing, collaborating and competing. The experience also needed to feel warm, comfortable and refined, all while being flexible and updatable. To create a unique experience, we combined classic science exhibits and innovative interactives with smart, modern, elegant design to create a place where children and adults alike lose track of time. After all, science really is for everyone.

Located in downtown Spokane, Washington, the science center includes over 80 hands-on experiences, four digital-based interactives, and ten audiovisual programs within 12,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space. Renate led the board, staff and community through two years of planning, design and production. The experience itself builds on the community’s physical and natural scientific assets and partnerships: a vibrant medical community, a unique geology, an emerging innovation cluster and the largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the world, Hoopfest.

Every component is functional in its construction, form and use. The work tables are built to be used, abused and to age gracefully. Stackable benches provide flexible seating and save space. Chalkboard sliding panels provide writable surfaces for classes. Updatable projections activate the floor with graphics and signage.

At Mobius, you are surrounded with endless possibilities. So many that you’ll have to come back.

Role: Experience planning & design

Client: Mobius Science Center, Spokane, WA

Size: 12,000 sq. ft.

Type: Science center

Components: 160 multi-outcome exhibits designed, 80 built, 10 audiovisual programs, 4 media-based interactives, 2 years from initial planning to opening

Partners: Arxi Interactive & Upswell (audiovisual & interactive media development), kubikmaltbie (fabrication), ALSC (architecture)

Completion: September 2012

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02Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center

Often, our expertise comes into play at the very, very beginning of a project. Such was the case for the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center in Prosser, WA, a 15,000 sq. ft. visitor center on a 24 acre site overlooking the Yakima River.

As the planning for the new center was forming, we worked alongside ALSC Architects and the Design Committee at the Center to develop the visitor experience. We analyzed the vision, objectives, audience, needs and aspirations for the new Center: to be an inviting space for tourists and locals like to enjoy and celebrate the wines and foods of Washington State. We dove into the space itself to recommend ways for the visitor experience to be fully integrated into the building, as the design was evolving. 

The Clore Center — with a tasting room, demonstration kitchen, exhibit space, classrooms, conference rooms, office space and a retail shop — serves as a point of departure for visitors exploring all that Washington has to offer. If being all about wine wasn't enough, endless outdoor gardens and vineyards extend and amplify the experience. The experience aspired to include classes and events to broaden visitors’ respect and knowledge of the state’s gastronomic products and wine.

Our recommendations focused on one primary move: weave the story of Walter Clore into the entire visitor experience, from the parking lot to the hallways to the outdoor decks. We envisioned a mix of personal stories mixed with scientific data to reinforce both the family history of the Center and the science behind wine-making. We recommended using the landscape as a tool for orienting visitors to the geography of the region both through outdoor exhibits, but integrating maps and topography into the space design.

This type of early collaboration ensures that the visitor experience, from how people will move throughout a space, the stories they'll learn, how they'll be engaged, and what they'll take away from it, are all conceptualized and planned from the start.

Role: Experience planning

Client: Waltor Clore Wine and Culinary Center, Prosser, WA

Size: 15,000 sq ft 

Type: Community, event & education space

Completion: 2012

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01Water Resource Center

With an important message, the Water Resource Center set out to design an experience that would inform the public about the nature and importance of the Spokane Valley Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer. Their goals: raise awareness about wastewater treatment and inspire sustainable practices to facilitate efficiency and water conservation. Renate worked closely with staff and the local community to create a fun interactive experience to educate and inspire citizen action.

There was a lot to say in a small space, so the design needed to be efficient and flexible. The Center includes multiple spaces suitable for class groups including a multi-use lab table. A flexible message wall uses a simple system of clips to post class work, interpretive messages and/or supporting printed material. To activate the space, iPad and touchscreen interactives create opportunities to engage in the content. The interactives are both individual and group-based. One interactive provides a virtual tour of the reclamation facility, giving access to an otherwise restricted area. Another interactive allows visitors to determine their own water use and challenge one another’s knowledge of water sustainability and conservation.

The entire building — from the windows to the bathrooms — is used to tell the story of water. The complex process of wastewater treatment may not be at the forefront of our minds, but the Center allows folks young and old to understand its importance to our everyday lives.

Role: Experience planning & design

Client: Water Resource Center, Spokane, WA

Size: 1,800 sq. ft.

Type: Community, education & visitor center

Components: 15 exhibits designed and built, 2 media-based interactives, 1 year from initial planning to opening

Partners: Zach Archer (interactive media development), Quisenberry (fabrication), Designer Decal (printing)

Completion: May 2012

PROJECTS
26
Corvallis Museum
25
Moab Museum
24
Oregon Historical Society: 19th
23
San Diego Museum of Man
22
Smithsonian Folkways: Wu & Abigail
21
The Historic Trust: Providence Academy
20
Oregon Historical Society: JFK
19
Fullers Overlook Farm
18
University of Washington: I-Labs
17
Burke Museum: Content Design
16
Juno Therapeutics
15
Oregon Historical Society: Democracy
14
Mercy Corps Action Center: Refresh
13
Oregon Historical Society: WWII
12
W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory
11
Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture
10
Ohio Veterans Memorial Museum
09
Oregon Historical Society: Place
08
Oregon Historical Society: Lincoln
07
Burke Museum
06
Smithsonian Folkways: Ella
05
Levi Strauss & Co.
04
Mercy Corps Action Center
03
Mobius Science Center
02
Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center
01
Water Resource Center
ABOUT US
Planning & Design

Whether planning a new museum, refreshing an existing brand, or designing a specific exhibit, we take an integrated approach to our work. We consider how the experience we are creating will become a living component of the community. How will it be remembered? How should it change over time? This approach of thinking across time as well as spaces lets us create immersive and engaging experiences that connect with people, and that remain powerful and fresh in an ever-changing world.

We begin each project by getting to know you and understanding your goals, needs, aspirations, and challenges. Then, we research. A lot. We reach out to your leadership, staff, and communities. We connect with your audience and stakeholders. Together, we build a thoughtful team. Throughout every project, we apply a creative and systematic approach to all phases of planning and design. And we implement an efficient and transparent method of project management. We work collaboratively to generate ideas and possibilities, to develop options and solutions, and to transform your vision into a powerful, memorable experience.

Creative & Systematic

Creativity is an unbridled explosion of brainstorming, innovations, outside-the-box thinking, and what-if-we-try possibilities. Systems are about building a solid foundation and working with consistency and efficiency. To some people, those may seem like contradictory approaches.  But not to us. Creativity and systematic thinking are both integral to our work. Combined with collaboration and community engagement, they are the methods by which we meet challenges, solve problems, and design the perfect solution for each particular project.  

However, we know things change: audiences, needs and wants, stories. So systematic should never mean rigid. Our projects are enduring because we design to allow for change over time. We use a systematic approach to create experiences that are reflective of and responsive to the audience. That's what makes them relevant. That's what builds audience investment and engagement. And that's what every client and every project deserves.

Collaboration & Community

Collaboration fuels our work, because the more collaborative the process, the better the outcome. From clients to consultants to community members, we work to include everyone's perspectives and insights in the design process. Through consistent and effective coordination, Renate's collaborative approach infuses richness, vitality, and, most importantly, relevance into every project. We foster collaboration by building open and transparent communication into all aspects of our workflow, in every phase from kick-off through completion. True collaboration—sharing ideas, tackling challenges, and reaching solutions, together—is what we enjoy most about what we do. 

We put community at the heart of each project. With our emphasis on collaboration, we have developed proven methods for engaging community members in the planning and design process. And we integrate the community itself into the experiences we create, sharing their stories and focusing on their active participation and contributions. No design firm can be expert on every community. That's why we come to each project ready to listen, to learn, and to ask productive questions. And why we apply each client's and community's insights to create designs that transform your vision into a powerful experience. 

TEAM

Anne Bernard
Principal
Experience: 22 years

Principal and founder of Renate, Anne oversees every project. She leads the collective design team, providing oversight and support, and fosters synergy between the team and clients. With over twenty years in the field, she brings in-depth understanding of institutional and organizational challenges. Her thoughtful and inquisitive nature has drawn her to work that embodies transformation: from re-imagining an institution to making an experience collective and inclusive.

Caroline Gut
Creative Director
Experience: 20 years

As creative director, Caroline leads the creative vision for each project. She oversees all components of an experience — from story and space to interaction and immersion to communication and collaboration — throughout the design process in order to transform that vision into reality. Any given day, she may be working on brand development or graphic design or media storyboards. She champions a project’s aspirations with enthusiasm, lots of ideas and smiles all along the way. 

Amelia Woock
Project Manager/Designer
Experience: 8 Years

With a background in architecture and a passion for organization, Amelia brings a balance of creativity and pragmatism to her work. As a designer, she weaves narrative into the built environment, from comprehensive content organization to the minute details of code requirements. As a project manager, her systematic thinking keeps projects smoothly coordinated from concept through opening. She applies a thoughtful and rigorous approach to solving all design challenges.

Zachary Stocks
Project Coordinator
Experience: 8 Years

Specializing in museum learning and community engagement, Zachary provides strategic insight on visitor experience and participation in the cultural sector. As Project Coordinator, he draws on his previous roles in nearly every department of museums to support operational and content objectives. As an advocate for inclusion and equity in our public institutions, he believes experience design has a transformative potential to advance human dignity and positive social change.

Karina Salgado
Graphic Designer
Experience: 10 Years

Karina is a graphic designer and illustrator with a strong interest in patterns, illustration, custom lettering and typography. If you ask her about what she loves about design, she’s quick to say that simply, design is fun. For her, creating graphics on different canvases from digital to 2d to 3d satisfies her need for creativity and discovery. She knows that good work comes from curiosity, mutual respect, ceaseless effort and team work. And, we agree.

Grace Andrews
Researcher
Experience: 4 Years

From content coordination to research, Grace brings a deep understanding of the creative process to her work at Renate. For every project, she’s able to collaborate efficiently and effectively. She’s organized and thorough by nature, able to both mind the details and the big picture at the same time. She truly appreciates (and enjoys!) the research involved in each project whether searching for imagery, gathering references or compiling writing samples. Keep a lookout: she’s prone to spotting inspiration at any moment and sending it along to share.

IN-PROGRESS

Capitol History Gateway

SEL Visitor Center

 

 
PARTNERS

Allied Works Architecture

ALSC Architects

Arxi Creative

Available Light

Axiom

Brown/IHCO Printing

Charles Morrow Productions

Cinnabar

CREO

Ennead Architects

Electrosonic

Figure Plant

Flad Architects

Hacker Architects

kubikmaltbie

Mithūn

Olson Kundig

Opsis Architects

Pacific Studios

Pinnacle Exhibits

Place

PVS Graphics

Richard Lewis Media Group

SHKS Architects

Sticky Co.

CONTACT

We’re based in Portland, OR, with a satellite office in Philadelphia, PA. We’d love to hear from you! Give us a shout at info@projectrenate.com.