Kanawha Design Studio
We use design and technology as tools to help collaborative communities.

About Us


Kanawha Design Studio is named after the Kanawha River in Katie’s home state of West Virginia.  It is also the namesake of Kanawha Manufacturing Company, run by four generations of Katie’s family.   The origin and the pronunciation of “Kanawha” is hotly debated, but any true Appalachian will tell you that it is pronounced something close to “K’Naw.”  

The studio started in 2011 as an umbrella for Katie’s eclectic design projects, workshops and artistic endeavors.  In 2015, Jacob brought systems, IT, software and community leadership skills to the company.   As the company evolved, Katie and Jacob found that working with people on collaborative spaces was both in demand and very rewarding.   And this is where Kanawha is today – an avenue for us to make great spaces with smart, creative cultural leaders. 


Partner & Creative Director

Katie Davis-Sayles

With a masters degree in architecture and over 15 years of design experience, Katie can design anything from kitchens to coworking communities.  She both has experience with big picture business and operations planning and a problem solver’s ability to dig deeply into details .   Katie’s strength is in her ability to see complicated projects to completion – she has designed, managed and finished over 30 renovation and built projects as the Creative Director of Kanawha.   Once called a “Curator of Visual Culture,” Katie helps communities develop and build spaces in which members are comfortable and engaged.



Master of Architecture, 2011

Year 1 of the M.F.A Program in Theatre Production, Scenic & Lighting Design, 2005-2006

B.A. in Drama: Design and Technical Theatre, 2001

Associations & Affiliations

• SEGD, Seattle and Vancouver Chapters and Academic Task Force
• Vancouver Hack Space
• BC Collaborative Space Alliance

Certificates & Training

• Ventures (formerly Washington Cash) Business Basics Course and Financial Management Training 
• Rhino, 3D Modeling Training for Educators - Level 1 & Advanced 3D Modelling


Partner & TEchnical Director

Jacob Sayles

Jacob is a creative and entrepreneurial technologist with over 20 years of experience and a history of innovative ideas, well executed projects, and management of diverse teams. In 2007, he and Susan Dorsch recognized the growing trend and lack of support structures in place for independent and remote workers and opened Office Nomads, the first coworking space in Seattle.  To support this business and others like it, Jacob wrote Nadine, the first open source coworking platform and founded Open Coworking, a non-profit dedicated to supporting the Coworking Movement. In his role at Kanawha, he supports small and large collaborative spaces with business planning, operations, community development, IT infrastructure, and the many uses of technology to support memberships and communities.



B.S. Computer Science, 1997

Fairhaven College, 1994 - 1995

Activities & Affiliations

• Open Lunar Foundation
• Seattle Collaborative Space Alliance
• Vancouver Hack Society
• Cascadia Rail
• Embassy Network & Red Victorian Coliving Hotel

Certificates & Training

• JBoss for Java Developers, Learning Patterns
• PFSense Firewall Certification, Netgate