Attendees of our Studio Tour session for May 2018 experienced the energetic atmosphere and creative culture that inspires the creative minds inside The Original Manufacturing Company (OMFGCo) studios. This design agency specializes in branding and environmental design with a focus on strategy, visual identity, and engagement. A tiny dog, warm smiles, and a nostalgic sign welcome all who enter, “You’ve come to the right place.”
After enjoying wine, sodas, and mingling–catching up with friends old and new–attendees of this sold-out event split into two large groups. This allowed ample time to explore the elevator conference room, the industrial workspace in the basement, and, of course, what lies beyond the secret bookshelf passageway….
An Optimistic Approach to Problem-Solving
OMFGCo is known for their optimistic approach to problem-solving. Equal parts teamwork and outside-the-box-thinking bring this team together to tell wonderfully unique, artistic, and conceptual stories. Emblazoned at their faux entrance facing the Burnside Bridge, a hand-lettered mural reads, “EVERYTHING IS AN OPPORTUNITY.” This rings true of the mural itself, which uses a wall that was otherwise useless.
Keeping true to their playful brand and positive nature, revolving displays span across their expansive wall of floor-to-ceiling north-facing windows. Once, several hundred yellow and black Post-it Notes formed a larger-than-life smiley face. OMFGCo reserves this space as a canvas to project creative messages that ebb and flow with inspiration. This same energy is reflected in brands they’ve worked on, such as Sizzle Pie, Olympic Provisions, Stumptown Coffee, Poler, Ace Hotel, ADX, and more. Their ability to recognize opportunities in the cannabis industry has allowed them to set the bar for quality design in this field by breaking away from typical green pot leaves and medical crosses for brands such as Electric Lettuce, Quill, and Paradiso.
“In a sea of sameness, we need meaningfulness,” explains Jeremy Pelley, co-owner of OMFGCo. “We build brands for visionaries.”
Using Spaces in Unconventional Ways
The 1900s elevator-turned-conference-room is like stepping into a quaint little dining room from the 1970s. A round table in the center boasts an Arthurian knights-of-the-round-table sense of equity for chatting with clients or brainstorming with coworkers. The elevator room can also be stopped between floors and used as a private space for one-on-one meetings.
This elevator took the group down into the industrial workspace, a large brutalist modern basement furnished with all the tools and toys needed to fuel creative production. Lining the hallway wall were shelves full of plastic tote boxes, each loaded with production props and equipment used in curating environments for product photography. A large table boasts space to sprawl out with an X-Acto knife and T-square to create product and packaging mockups. One area’s dedicated to creating studio-style product shots and video equipped with an array of seamless backdrops, softbox lighting, and a tripod.
Upstairs, the private library is an unassuming room, small but mighty, and filled with books of all kinds, often sourced during research phases of project development. Nostalgic decor lining the walls thematically matches the vintage charm of the building.
If you know the trick, you can open a secret passageway built into one of the bookshelves. This leads to a steep and narrow spiral staircase. At the top of the staircase is a meditation room. Covered in floor pillows and grazed by skylight, this room is a quiet retreat for creatives in need of some private time with their thoughts.
When working within certain restraints across various brand identities, creativity can sometimes get stunted, so OMFGCo’s relaxed environment nurtures creative critical thinking. It’s this fun yet accommodating environment that fosters a healthy state of mind and allows the people at OMFGCo to continue cranking out successful content for successful visionaries. Self-proclaimed brand personal trainers, they practice radical transparency and encourage their clients to ask root questions: namely, why do you exist, and why should anyone care? This allows them to focus their energy working with businesses they believe in and achieve results.
Photography by Tatiana Mac. You can view the entire album here: AIGA Portland Flickr.