Team Spotlight

SEGD @ DSE - 2017 by Ryan Newman

SEGD Branded Environments at the Digital Signage Expo 2017

Las Vegas, Nevada


To fulfill our hunger for knowledge and seek out innovation, we attended the Digital Signage Expo again this year. Our team recognizes that the landscape of design (and really everything in our lives) is changing with the advancement of technology. The Digital Signage Expo (DSE) is an opportunity for us to remain on the forefront of innovation for our clients. Gaining knowledge in signage technology continues to strengthen our ability to create environments that communicate.

Our time at the DSE split between lectures, coordinated by the Society for Experiential Graphic Design’s (SEGD) Branded Environments event, and an exploration of the Las Vegas Convention Center showroom.  Within both segments of the expo, we were able to experience two different tones of voice on similar subjects. SEGD inspired through lectures from an experiential designer perspective.  This point of view was incredibly powerful when one such lecture enveloped project case studies into a larger social context of histories and current events to build best practice philosophies. Inversely, DSE exhibitors spoke from an informed technical proficiency which provided explicit detail.  

Beyond these different tones and incredibly advanced digital screens, we realized something amazing that we already do as a team; we engage in a deep dive with our clients to uncover their personal, unique needs and deliver beyond their expectations – always keeping the end user in mind.  

As soon as you enter the DSE showroom floor, it becomes clear that just about everyone has the capability to work with impactful digital signage, as it has become an industry standard.  It is easy to get wrapped up in the details of the technological bells and whistles and lose sight of the end user.  Harnessing big data and curating adaptable content allows a self-proclaimed digital expert to see beyond the plethora of digital screens flashing in the periphery. By integrating user research, consumer market knowledge and an overarching smart city approach, there are endless opportunities to not only create, connect and enhance but personalize and future-proof any user experience strategy by design.  

“Designers don’t make the future; they compete with it.  Design the behavior, not the brand.”

-Brian Collins, CCO and Co-Founder, COLLINS

WBENC: Leveraging the network by Ryan Newman

We first learned about WBENC Certification (Women's Business Enterprise National Council) when our largest clients, Procter & Gamble and Cincinnati Children’s, encouraged us to participate. That was nearly ten years ago, and since that time we have been actively engaged on the local, regional and national level of WBENC through our regional partner organization, Ohio River Valley-WBENC.

Kolar’s certification has helped us achieve greater heights with increased revenues, an expanded workforce, inspired growth and innovative partnerships. This active group of women entrepreneurs has translated into business growth on many levels, but most importantly, it’s turned into a network we can learn from which has helped us immensely. Whether it was coaching financial decisions around IT issues, or brand building with e-learning, we have benefited during each step of the innovation growth curve with this group.


The educational opportunities through our WBENC Certification and related conferences have helped us learn about managing our company, marketing & sales, and provided direct access to hundreds of potential corporate clients. If your organization qualifies, joining WBENC will help grow your business while helping others improve as well.


If you are new to the WBENC community, our advice is to dive in head first; be bold, bright and open. Although it’s hard to be at the top and can be lonely at times, with this network, you are supported because it is so rich in wisdom and knowledge. The people in this community provide great insights and opportunities. You always have to earn your own business independently, but the WBENC community can help you succeed in so many other ways. This organization is about creating relationships that will be your lifeline, especially when you’re in a challenging situation. For example, if you are seeking a particular supplier, please contact the WBENC network, and I am sure you will find an amazing woman entrepreneur to fill your need. The businesses here will always be your biggest fans - cheering you on to success.  


WBENC’s Summit engages participants in a two-day program focused on the future of various industries, business networking, and development opportunities. The Salute follows the Summit and is a festive evening that highlights our 2016 America’s Top Corporations for Women Business Enterprises. The Summit occurs on March 21-23, 2017 in New Orleans, LA.

We hope to see you there! 


Women in creative leadership roles are rare. Even though 47% of the U.S. workforce is comprised of women, in U.S. businesses, only 4% of CEOs, 8% of top earners and 14% of executive officers are female, according to research by nonprofit Catalyst titled, “Catalyst Quick Take: Women in U.S. Management and Labor

Force.” Statistically, women also dominate at design schools; however, along with the path

to creative leadership, that number of women diminishes to approximately 3%.


Innovation_image (2).jpg




noun: innovation

a new method, idea, product, etc.

Dear Friends, Colleagues, Clients and Team,

In 2017 we will be taking our company to the next level. Together we have reached new heights with our most innovative team ever. I’m immensely proud of the work that we are doing to make our firm a force for “insights and innovation”.  

We are 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. You can find our work in mixed-use development, where place-making is breathing life into urban areas; in city parks that have become the heart of communities; and in academic settings, where shifting populations and new technologies are redefining education. Our team is driven by the belief that great design is transformative, that environments can be an agent of change for people, brands, and business. We design to remind people why they do what they do every day, to change a culture and, sometimes, even to change lives.

The success of our company was built on innovation. We have embraced it in everything we do, from digital integration to enhance the user experience, to developing metrics and insights on the impact of space on people. We are pioneering new technologies in our projects, and also developing design research methodologies to enhance the lives of our communities at the intersection of people and place.    

I could not be more excited about what’s in store for this year, and for the opportunity to work with all of you to accelerate our year of insights + innovation!


Kelly Kolar - President & Founder

CDA Awards 2016 by Ryan Newman

Kolar Design proudly accepted three prestigious SEGD awards at the 20th annual Cincinnati Design Awards (CDAs) event held locally at the Woodward Theater on November 11.

Kolar’s team swept the SEGD Built Work category, receiving design awards for Cincinnati Children’s Liberty Expansion (Mention - Design firm), Cincinnati Children’s Proton Therapy Center (Merit Award – Design firm), and Procter & Gamble, Geneva Business Center (Honor – Design firm).

“Universe”, the theme for the 4th floor inpatient expansion project at Cincinnati Children’s Liberty campus, was selected for its appeal to pediatric patients as well as its ability to provide tangible positive motivation for patients to get well and then apply learnings/seek new discoveries in the outside world once discharged. Within the patient rooms, sky-like graphic ceiling tiles contain hidden objects providing a 'seek-n-find' game-like distraction for patients. Professional artwork throughout the unit also integrates in theme and color to support the overall concept of the space.

Cincinnati Children’s Proton Therapy Center, providing the most progressive treatments for children and young adults with cancers and leukemias, is one of only two pediatric proton facilities in the country, and the only one with a research program. Treatment visits are scheduled daily for multiple weeks at a time, resulting in unique bonding between and support needs for families. Within the facility, a series of “gardens” were created to support these needs and to transform this medical facility into a warm, welcoming environment. In the Celebration Garden, a grove of trees along a winding river path adorn the route as families leave the treatment area. Each tree cradles a set of chimes that are rung to commemorate a milestone in the patient’s treatment.

Building a brand, globally was the project narrative for the Procter & Gamble, Geneva Business Center. As the world’s largest consumer products company, it was important for its global workplaces and tiered signature sites to communicate P&G’s new corporate brand to employees, customers, and shareholders. Brand strategy included moving to an open, agile office concept to create new spaces based on work styles and the various changing needs of an employee throughout the day. Whether it's quiet time in the "Biblioteque-Library" or gathering in one of the 6 workplace cafes for a cappuccino with co-workers, the space evolves to meet the need. A team of architects, interior designers and brand experience designers collaborated to successfully create a physical extension of the brand for the new prototype of the future workplace.

“Kolar is honored to have won three SEGD awards at the CDA now in its 20th year. We appreciate the acknowledgement of our work with our clients and partners in the creative community locally and internationally."
Kelly Kolar - President

In addition to receiving the awards, Kolar re-designed the new brand for the CDA to include a new dimensional logo, fresh color palette and transparent layering. Brent Beck was the lead designer on the project and said, “The new brand represents our region’s seamless inter-disciplinary creative community.  They are shaping the future of our city for generations to come.”

The Cincinnati Design Awards (CDA) program recognizes the best built-environment design produced by Cincinnati area creative firms and promotes the social and economic value of good design in our community. Each year, a distinguished nationwide jury of design thought leaders and eminent practitioners presents the awards to submitted projects created by local architecture, interiors, landscape, and experiential graphic designers.

Across all categories, CDA award winners represent cutting-edge creative work that is sensitive to global contemporary design trends, social good, positive ecology and energy stewardship, resourceful client-centered solutions, and dynamic aesthetics.

Just prior to the CDA Awards banquet, Kolar Design hosted SEGD's first “Conversations with Clive” event with the Cincinnati Chapter ( On November 10, a collective of thirty designers, fabricators, educators, and digital media representatives engaged in conversation with SEGD CEO Clive Roux, and each other, about where the organization's focus has led the community thus far, in addition to what is happening in the design schools and the professional community. Clive presented the organization’s “what’s next?” goals and gave insights into the model for our future website. The SEGD Strategic Plan 2015-2018, outlined by Clive and the Board, states that SEGD should “Become a vital tool for the profession.” In order to educate and inspire, 50% of the focus should be on network/face-to-face events and 50% focus on informing, through the website. A lot of time and research has gone into understanding our membership base, how we currently use the website and tools, and the “specialties” that our member firms are marketing themselves as an offering. A good portion of the conversation was geared toward Experiential Design and cross-disciplinary education as well.



Goering Center - Semi-Finalist by Ryan Newman

Kolar Design is proud to announce the recognition as a Semi-Finalist for the 17th Annual, 2016 Goering Center Family & Private Business Awards.

Kolar Design, in business for over 25 years, 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.

 “I want to thank the Goering Center for this recognition and am honored to be among these prestigious Cincinnati companies. The Center has helped us grow and shape business to the next level and they continue to be one of our city’s best assets,” says Kelly Kolar, president and founder.

As a semi-finalist, Kolar Design will be further evaluated by an independent panel of judges who will be looking at their hiring and employment practices, specifically as to whether those practices have helped them unify a multigenerational workforce.

This annual recognition program, in its 17th year, honors Cincinnati regional businesses that exemplify the best in family and private business practices. Each year over 500 businesses are nominated for these awards and from those numbers 75 semi-finalists are selected.              

On September 13, 2016 one winner and two finalists will be announced in both family and private business divisions that are also categorized by their number of employees.  The 2016 Goering Center Hall of Fame winner will be celebrated, and one volunteer will be named the 2016 Baldwin Volunteer of the Year for their dedication and service to the Goering Center. 

About the Goering Center for Family & Private Established in 1989, the Goering Center for Family & Private Business serves more than 400 members, making it the country’s largest university based educational non-profit for family and private businesses. The Center’s mission is to nurture and educate family and private businesses to drive a vibrant economy. Affiliation with the University of Cincinnati and the University of Cincinnati’s Carl H. Lindner College of Business, provides access to a vast resource of business programing and expertise.  Through this affiliation, Goering Center members receive real-world insights that enlighten, strengthen and prolong family and private business success. For more information on the Center, participation and membership visit

The 2016 Goering Center Family & Private Business Awards winners will be announced at the awards gala this fall at the JACK Cincinnati Casino on September 13, 2016. 

About Kolar Design – KolarDesign Founded in 1990 by Kelly Kolar, Kolar Design is an award-winning global strategic design firm specializing in building branded experiences at the intersection of people and place.  Key clients include: Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati Children’s Hosptial, Mercy Health and Atricure. 

Our interdisciplinary team of curated brand strategists, marketers, designers and planners work from brand conception to construction in the creation of environments that connect brands with the people who matter most to them.

With insight, design thinking and imagination, we transform spaces into places where people and brands connect. To learn more, please visit or call 513.241.4884.

The 25th Year by Ryan Newman

2015 was a banner year for Kolar Design. On the surface it was our 25th year in business. 25 years that Kolar Design has focused on harnessing the power of design as a transformative expression in built environments. A legacy of work that combines design and understanding of the human element to find new and better ways to connect people, places and brands.


  • AtriCure New HQ | Mason, Ohio – Workplace Branded Environment

  • Bridge Park | Dublin, Ohio - Signage / Wayfinding / Brand / Placemaking

  • Cincinnati Children’s | Cincinnati, Ohio – Multiple Projects

  • Easton Town Centre | Columbus, Ohio – Identity – Visitor Experience

  • Graydon Head (Law Firm) | Cincinnati, Ohio – Brand Development and Workplace

  • Louisville International Airport (SDF) | Louisville, Kentucky – Brand Development and Interior Renovation

  • Village of Evendale | Evendale, Ohio – Civic Identity / Infrastructure Design


Women's Business Enterprise Star

Kelly Kolar, the President and Founder of Kolar Design – received the nation's premier award for excellence among women's business enterprises (WBEs). The Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) awarded Kolar at its Salute to Women's Business Enterprises. The gala took place on March 19, 2015 and was the concluding event to WBENC’s annual Summit & Salute. The event convened more than 1,500 corporate and government executives, WBEs and members of WBENC’s Regional Partner Organizations (RPOs) at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront.


Thank you to everyone who made our 25th Anniversary Open House such a success. We enjoyed seeing the many faces who have supported Kolar over the last 25 years. It is because of you—our clients, partners, staff and friends—that we can celebrate this milestone. Thank you for being a part of our journey thus far!


Kolar has added several new members to their curated team during its 25th year – Lindsay Selders, Matthew Grote, Christian Reichle, and Ryan Newman. A diverse group of new teammates that continues the design excellence that Kolar has been known for since it’s inception.


On May 20, ArtsWave hosted its Inaugural Women’s Leadership Symposium for members of its Women’s Leadership Roundtable.  Founded in 2014, the Women’s Leadership Roundtable brings together women who support and value the impact of the arts in our region. Mary Dietrich of Kolar Design shared a powerful story about her passion for creating environments and opportunities that inspire empathy in the healthcare system and beyond. Speakers, audience members, and organizers agreed that the evening was empowering and inspiring.  Nancy Stewart, Senior Sales Contract Analyst at GE Aviation, ArtsWave advocate, and a Women’s Leadership Roundtable Member wrote:  “I met, mingled and heard from some amazing women. It was ArtsWave with a ladies' touch and it was a higher level that I'm so glad I did not miss.”



In January of 1990, kolar was founded by an entrepreneur with a far-reaching dream that the “power of design could make a difference in the world.”

It is that original dream that continues our exploration into the transformative power of design. A tool that when used properly can excite, entice and even invigorate people to make a difference.

Over the last 25 years, we've held steadfast to this belief, listening carefully about client’s business challenges and anticipating the future on their behalf. They are the driving force behind kolar and our partners in innovation, always pushing us to be our best and to do what's right. Their support and continued trust in us is at the heart of our success.

Today, kolar is central to the creation of building branded experiences. Our services and products span from corporate workplace to healing environments in healthcare, to public parks and great civic spaces.

We believe passionately in our vision of building branded experiences at the intersection of people and place, creating meaningful, memorable and measurable results to the people that matter most to you. 

Ultimately, the value of design can only be measured by how it benefits people. That's why we believe putting people at the center of design is fundamental.

No matter what form the environments take, how much brand they become, or over what journey they travel, it starts and ends with people – connecting them to what matters most.  Our process for discovery, strategy, design and execution are our hallmark, and what sets us apart is our collaborative model.

Our former teacher, friend and mentor Dean Robert Probst challenged us to believe “Radical Design is possible in Ohio” and since our inception we believe that design is not simply a solution, but it is about a process of collaboration.  All our clients, partners and people know that through the process of design our co-creativity is what creates the sparks of innovation.    

Today we introduce a new initiative at kolarralok

ralok is conceived as a mirror image of kolar, operating as a think tank within to explore, discover and innovate with our partners and clients. 

Join us.  

The first 25 years have been an amazing journey, but it is in our DNA to always be looking forward to what's next. We hope you enjoy ralok as our dot-connecting truly serendipitous look forward.

So, on behalf of the entire kolar group, thank you for going on this journey with us and for sharing in our vision and our dreams.


Kelly Kolar - President & Founder