Join Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and Verda Alexander of Studio O+A, the San Francisco-based design firm that won the 2016 National Design Award for Interior Design, for a hands-on workshop and studio tour.

Designers tell stories through the spaces they design. Good design starts with a good creative concept. This overarching “Big Idea” unifies design decisions, and imbues them with meaning and purpose. From McDonald’s Innovation Center in Chicago to Nike’s Corporate Office in Oregon, Verda Alexander will share her behind-the-scenes perspective into Studio O+A’s creative process for designing impactful workplaces. During this workshop, participants will explore innovative storytelling techniques that can be applied to creative projects of all kinds.

This workshop is suitable for college students, educators, nonprofit leaders, and design enthusiasts.


As co-founder of Studio O+A, the San Francisco design firm responsible for groundbreaking offices at Facebook, Microsoft, Yelp, Cisco and many others, Verda Alexander has spent 28 years in the design industry redefining workplace. Now branching off from the commercial mainstream of O+A’s core business, Verda’s new focus is expanding the dialogue between design and art.

Her concept booth at the 2017 Salone del Mobile in Milan speculated on the future of workplace in a world of dwindling resources. Her guest editorship at Metropolis Magazine in April 2018 examined the intersection of technology and interiors. Her Food for Thought Truck, a mobile design lab collaborating with local communities on design interventions and experimental projects, just completed its first road trip. It was published as a book last September.

Contract Magazine named Verda and Primo Orpilla Designer of the Year in 2012, and they were inducted into Interior Design Magazine’s Hall of Fame a few years later. O+A received the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in 2016.


Find out about additional education programs in California:

Read more about previous National Design Award winners.

The National Design Awards is the museum’s largest and most prominent education program, broadening access nationwide to the vision and work of the country’s design leaders and inspiring people of all ages to engage with design and design thinking. As part of the National Design Awards, Cooper Hewitt travels to various cities each year, connecting winners, past and present, to local communities.

Find out about Cooper Hewitt’s accessibility services.

The DISEÑO program is made possible by federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.