Kanawha Design Studio is a multidisciplinary design firm that creates and builds experiential identities, inhabitable spaces and working systems for live and work communities.

While our projects are diverse in discipline and scope, we build all of our projects on creativity, invention, process and a holistic collaboration with human beings and their communities.  



KDS is a product the skills, interests and talents of Katie Davis-Sayles and Jacob Sayles.   Katie's background is in architecture, theater design and experiential graphic design.  Jacob brings a long career in software and coworking.  The work of the studio combines this design, software and community building expertise to help coworking and coliving spaces do what they do best: make good communities.


What we do

We do all kinds of things. The term “multidisciplinary,” to us, means that we believe that curiosity and resourcefulness are the key tools to build any project. While our projects are diverse in discipline and scope, we build all of our projects on creativity, invention and a holistic look at community.

To be specific are best at building things.   For example, when we worked on the Red Victorian, Bed and Breakfast, a coliving community in San Francisco, we researched food handling permits, created circulation diagrams, managed contractors and pulled up carpet from the 1970's.  Katie created working ground plans and elevations for the main community storefront.


Case Study: The Red Victorian, Bed and Breakfast

For example, Kanawha Design Studio was hired to help start the Red Victorian, Bed and Breakfast, a coliving community in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco.   Working with the indomitable Jessy Kate Schingler, we helped turn a Summer of Love era Bed and Breakfast into a modern coliving community and an important part of the Embassy Network, a series of coliving communities around the world.

The project involved demolition, software development, design, project management and systems development.   While Jacob worked on Modernomads, an open source coliving software to manage events, booking and all of the inner workings of a coliving community, Katie designed and drew floor plans and managed subcontractors.  Both of us both worked on the various immediate tasks needed to get the space open, from demolition of the outdated and unsafe guest rooms to helping Jessy Kate work on the systems for a self-governing community space. Each day, we would find ourselves applying for food service permits up at the health department, setting up the firewall, removing carpet or managing lead abatement crews.   

We work best when we are looking at the whole community - both the big picture systems to keep it running and the small details of that create an experience for its members.   The Red Victorian was a wonderful, collaborative experience in both the down and dirty work of a real brick and mortar with the holistic consultation of a new type of collective living model.


Photo by Marti Rhea Photos

Photo by Marti Rhea Photos

Jacob Sayles joined Kanawha Design Studio in 2015.  He started his career as a software programmer, working in software startups in the Pacific Northwest.  In 2007, he recognized the clear shift in how people work and, with the Susan Evans Dorsch, started the first coworking space in Seattle.  From there, he continued to found a series of nonprofits and organizations designed to support the growing coworking movement around the world.  With Kanawha Design Studio, Jacob is a designer and collaborator, working on spaces and integrating them with communities and technologies.

Jacob's next role is as the Director of Technology for the 312 Main project in Vancouver, Canada.   He is working on the Nadine Project, an open source software platform to manage spaces and coworking communities.


Katie Davis-Sayles began the studio in 2011 with a Master of Architecture, ten years of experience in scenic, lighting and production design for performing arts and a specialty for graphic design in built environments.  She has designed signage and wayfinding for international soccer events, branding for international artists, coworking spaces, coliving hotels and a couple of brilliant bathrooms. 

As an educator, she has four years of experience teaching at colleges to theater artists, interior architects and environmental graphics.  She has also taught 3D modeling and digital fabrication workshops to artists and maker spaces.   

Katie is an active member of of the Society for Experiential Graphic Design and contributes to the SEGD Academic Task Force.

For a PDF of Katie's work sample, please contact her at portfolio@kanawha.design

For Katie's Resume

Handsome Devil

Handsome Devil