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Kolar Design led a holistic team designing a new Evendale Bridge/Gateway bridge that integrates into the Department of Transportation's "Through the Valley" redevelopment of the I-75 corridor.

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The Village of Evendale ( located just north of Cincinnati, Ohio ) approached IBI, Human Nature and Kolar Design to develop a master plan for the aesthetics of the I-75 and Neumann Way corridors through Evendale. In October 2015, the Design Team presented the final Master Plan for the corridor to the Village Council. Council approved the plan presenting to ODOT. Following a meeting with ODOT in January 2016, Evendale notified our team they are ready to move forward with Design Development for implementation. Construction on the project started earlier this year. 

Cincinnati, Ohio - Architectural Heritage + Inspiration

Cincinnati, Ohio - Architectural Heritage + Inspiration

Inspiration / Mood Board

Inspiration / Mood Board


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Kolar is working with the City of Dublin to make it easier to find your way around Dublin, Ohio. You will soon be noticing new signs throughout the City. It is part of our Comprehensive Wayfinding System that is being implemented in various locations. 

Crews are currently installing the foundations for the signs. There will be short-term lane closures during this work, but no significant delays are expected. Law enforcement officers will be present when needed to maintain traffic. 

All of this work is being performed in the public right-of-way, but some locations are near private properties. You can see a map of locations in the links below. 

From City of Dublin

"You may have noticed the new wayfinding signs that have been going up around town. In this week's Dublin News in :90, Civil Engineer Tina Wawszkiewicz tells us more about the project and when installation will be complete."

You can learn more about the signs by heading here:

From Kolar's Design Team

"It has been a pleasure to help the City of Dublin learn about wayfinding and to help them implement their city-wide program. I love the challenge of assembling a large complex project like this City of Dublin’s Wayfinding project--to orchestrate the design, address the engineering and fabrication concerns and needs of the client, maintaining their schedule and keeping everything within their budget.  Our use of engineering and other consultant companies, with input from the City’s engineers, has helped secure a successful project and happy client." 

- John Kennedy, CA Lead

"Our Kolar team has been fortunate to engage with the City of Dublin’s talented staff, community stakeholders, and private developers to co-create a best-in-class visitor experience aimed at elevating the Dublin civic brand and connecting visitors and locals to unique destinations throughout the city. The wayfinding signage seamlessly guides visitors from the highway to public parking and then on foot to intimately experience the renaissance unfolding. Signage becomes the physical connector, but it its that unique connection between people and place that leaves the memorable impression.”

- Joell Angel-Chumbley, Creative Lead

BLINK - RECAP by Ryan Newman

Aerial View of our Installation - Alongside Charlie Harper, Amanda Parer and We Have Become Vikings

Aerial View of our Installation - Alongside Charlie Harper, Amanda Parer and We Have Become Vikings

Kolar Design showcased a complementary "Enchanted Forest" environment to the, "Our Homecoming" Charlie Harper mural light projection by We Have Become Vikings, as well as large-scale inflatable rabbits by Parer Studio at the corner of E. Court and Walnut Streets during BLINK Cincinnati, October 12-15, 2017 downtown. Special thanks to the Haile Foundation and Cincinnati Parks Foundation for partnering on the effort, as well as Sediment Design and the Motz Group for making the installation possible.

The Enchanted Forest theme celebrates not only Charley Harper as a signature artist of the parks, but how our parks are one of our city's biggest assets. We have more green space than any other city our size, and have created a new concept, a "Pop Up Park," overnight in a parking lot. The Park Board is donating lumber, the nest, and even labor to help us construct it. In addition, The Motz Group is donating the turf, labor, and installation (5000 feet of grass). It promises to be a great family venue.

"Kolar is proud to be co-creating with our artistic partners and practicing at the intersection of art, business and the community," says Kelly Kolar, president.



Working with Professional Designers  by Ryan Newman


From the 2017 Annual Superintendent's Report of CATS ( Cincinnati Arts and Technology Studios)

"Thirteen students took part in a Design Thinking Workshop at Kolar Design. Students were taken through a brand development exercise with the Kolar team of designers. They were asked to think about what the CATS brand was and was not. They were asked for input on current imagery used on the CATS website and then used shoes as a metaphor to describe four categories of stakeholders. 

The professional designers helped students understand that this is the kind of exercise used by designers to establish the important parts of organizations from the stakeholders in order to represent those values in visual forms. 

Thanks Kolar Design!"

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Goering Center Awards - 2018 by Ryan Newman


Kolar Design is the recipient of the 2017 Goering Center Family & Private Business Finalist Award for Private Businesses with fewer than 25 employees. This annual honor is bestowed upon only two companies and exemplifies what family and private business is and can be.

Kolar Design, founded by Kelly Kolar in 1990, is passionate about finding new and better ways to connect people, places, and brands – from healing environments focused on the patient and family experience to global workplaces that blend corporate and cultural identity. The firm of 17 has always used current employees as the best recruiting tool for the company and has proven that Kolar University is their “secret sauce” for attracting and retaining top-notch talent and emerging leaders.

"We want to thank the Center for this award and the business community that has supported our growth.”

- Kelly Kolar, President, and Founder

This annual recognition program, in its 17th year, honors Cincinnati regional businesses that exemplify the best in family and private business practices. This year, 570 businesses were nominated for these awards. Kolar Design was evaluated by an independent panel of judges who evaluated hiring and employment practices, specifically as to whether those practices have helped Kolar Design unify a multigenerational workforce.

After being named one of only 75 semi-finalists, Kolar Design was then selected as a Finalist for Private Businesses with fewer than 25 employees. Kolar Design is one of an estimated 4,500 family and private businesses in the Cincinnati region; the Goering Center has 330 of these businesses as active members with a goal of 400 members by the end of 2018.  Membership is not a prerequisite for the awards or for a nomination, as nearly half of the semi-finalists are not current Goering Center members.

Goering Center Awards Press Release





When the Student is Ready, the Teacher Will Appear by Ryan Newman

by Nicole R. Roberts

This summer I returned back to my alma mater to team teach Design Systems, a junior-level experiential graphic design (EGD) course. We guide students to research social issues within local communities to co-create wayfinding systems and strategic placemaking design. For most, this is their first encounter designing complex three-dimensional systems, working in scale, and within the built environment. It’s an energizing place where design professionals bring insightful industry expertise to bridge the gap from the workplace to the classroom. This successful model is one that propelled my design career forward as a student many years ago, so it’s an honor to give back.

We are now well into the semester and I can’t help but notice how much the climate within the classroom has shifted since I was last in school. They all have pre-existing ideas about what wayfinding or environmental graphic design is. They are up against the greatest challenge of today’s design student; they are required to learn copious amounts of information within the expansive, global definition of visual communication. The classroom is a true microcosm of today’s larger social context. For that reason, I continue to craft my own teaching techniques by understanding the realities of today's society that drive student behavior, coupled with the expectations professional designers place on new grads. Most importantly to set students up for success, we provide them the freedom to discover their unique superpower and amplify their voice through their own design work.

Day one, we focus on two creative mindsets that are pivotal to the success of today’s professional EGD practice – collaborative teaming and active adaptive behavior. While not new concepts, admittedly they were not top-of mind societal emergence twenty years ago when I sat in the same classroom as a student. More importantly, societal norms back then did not seem to necessitate in-depth design lectures on emotional intelligence and soft skills like empathy. Students are encouraged to remain open to learning from each other’s perspectives, as it adds value when designing for human-experiences. Returning to the classroom, I’ve found that teaching techniques are much like design strategy – today, there is little tolerance for one-size-fits all methodologies. Students must be engaged as unique contributors within the classroom environment.

With digital disruption at the forefront of design systems, we forego the grueling study of hundreds of iterations as I was once taught in design school. Instead, we seek to integrate new opportunities to future-proof students as subject matter experts with heightened skillsets in user research, community engagement and rapid field prototyping. Collaborative critiques with industry professionals and their peers challenge their critical thinking to aim for both growth and refinement consistently over the duration of the project.

It’s known that societal change drives innovative business strategies in the workplace over time. But I’ve found it truly compelling to witness the immediate influence within the educational environment. Students, teachers and design professionals alike – those who do not learn to collaborate well or fail to actively adapt and manage change, become institutions of an old, disrupted story. I believe that it is the duty of those who prevail to rise to the occasion together, as strategic creatives to develop new thinking around meaningful, adaptive systems for purposeful societal advancement. Empowered by the ever-changing design industry, the teacher becomes the student. I like to think of myself as one in the same on any given day, continually learning new capabilities and sharing the knowledge, not only to keep pace and advance, but to make a positive impact on society, uplifting future generations to come.

Originally Published on SEGD.ORG

SEGD's Distinguished Member Award by Ryan Newman

Kolar Design's FOUNDER Receives SEGD's Distinguished Member Award

Kelly Kolar, president and founder of Kolar Design, proudly accepted the prestigious SEGD (Society for Experiential Graphic Design) Distinguished Member award during the Experience Miami Conference held June 8-10 at Lowes Miami Beach Hotel.

The SEGD Distinguished Member Award recognizes an individual for demonstrating outstanding volunteer efforts while significantly contributing to the direction, growth and excellence of SEGD programs. Recipients of the award have been instrumental in cultivating university programs, advancing accessible and green design and promoting cultural agendas through design. Past winners include Alexandra Wood and Lucy Holmes, Cybelle Jones, David Middleton, Wayne Hunt, the SEGD Green Committee and Ken Ethridge.

Kelly Kolar said, "We are honored to be selected by our peers at SEGD for this national distinguished member award. It has been an amazing 25 years building our field and the practice at the intersection of people + place. We thank our clients and community partners that have made this possible for us."

Since she joined SEGD in the 1990s, Kelly Kolar has served the association as an involved supporter, Board Member and ambassador, helping build awareness globally and locally. In addition to her award-winning design work, Kolar has been introducing a new generation to experiential graphic design as an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati. As noted by Robert Probst, Dean, College of Design, Architecture, Art & Planning at the University of Cincinnati, "Radical design is possible in Ohio and Kelly seems to have built an entire career on this model, far exceeding Ohio. Today her professional work has global reach and she has evolved into a strong support faculty for experiential design here at the College of Design, Architecture, Art & Planning."

About SEGD - The Society for Experiential Graphic Design, a nonprofit professional association founded in 1973, is a global, multidisciplinary community of professionals who plan, design, and build experiences that connect people to place. They are graphic and information designers, fabricators, architects, exhibition designers, technology integrators, interaction designers, brand strategists, students, wayfinding specialists, teachers, and others who have a hand in shaping content-rich, experiential spaces. A community of over 1,800 members in 35 countries who gather in 27 local chapters around the world, Experiential Graphic Design involves the orchestration of typography, color, imagery, form, technology and, especially, content to create environments that communicate.

2017 SEGD Conference Wrap-up - Hannah Anderson - Focus by Ryan Newman

It was an exhilarating experience to speak at the 2017 SEGD Conference in Miami. Being tasked with the topic of “Learning from Failure” could have been daunting, but the content was wide open and allowed for three designers with three completely separate experiences to share a common ground. With this presentation, “Focus,” I wanted to deliver a message that was real and that reflected where I am at this point in my career. I think that there is something in it for everyone to relate with. We are human, we are dynamic, and we are always seeking to learn more and do better. Remove the roadblocks, focus, and excel!
— Hannah Anderson