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, their communities and environments.  


What We Do

We do all kinds of things. We are at our best when we are able to hack away at an entire project, using all of our skills.  To be specific, here are some of the things that we do:

  • Systems Design for Coworking and Coliving Spaces - Every intentional community needs systems to help its members access information, shared resources and all of the things that a space has to offer.   This can include the baseline tasks of operation, such as keycard access and on boarding processes or the bigger questions, such as how to open a space.
  • Environmental Graphic Design - EGD is the intersection of graphic design, architecture and experience design.  We design environments that convey information, support brand and enhance experience.
  • Signage and Wayfinding Design - A very important branch of EGD, signage and wayfinding is the visual system that allows people to navigate a space.  This can include anything from the sign on your business's front door to the complex wayfinding system of an airport.   

  • Consultation and Development of Request for Proposals - Sometimes, just the prospect of finding a design professional is daunting.   We can write a creative brief or a comprehensive RFP to help you communicate what you need and get comprehensive, comparable bids.   We act as a design liaison to facilitate the process of finding a designer of any discipline.   For example, we can help large spaces get competitive bids from Environmental Graphic Designers, Brand and Identity Design studios and Interior Designers.

  • Graphic Design for Builders and Makers - Because we operate in interactive spaces and built environments, we can also translate three-dimensional design into two-dimensional graphics for print or web.  This can include printed booklets that tell the story of artists' work, drafting, technical drawings, branding style guides, 3D models or even augmented and mixed reality to show products and designs.


KDS is a product of 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 systems design, IT, software development and leading intentional communities. 

 Photo and fireplace by Richard Rhodes

Photo and fireplace by Richard Rhodes

Katie Davis-Sayles began Kanawha Design Studio in 2011 with a Master of Architecture, ten years of experience in scenic, lighting and production design for performing arts and a specialty in 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 taught design, drafting and experiential design at the college level to theater artists, interior architects and graphic designers.  With an interest in digital fabrication and augmented reality, she has also taught 3D modeling and digital fabrication workshops to artists, film makers and members of maker spaces.   

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

For Katie's Resume

For Katie's Work Sample

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 and his business partner Susan Dorsch saw the shift in how people work and 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.  Using his software background and his philosophy of open community access, he developed the Nadine Project, the first open source coworking software.  With Kanawha Design Studio, Jacob is a Designer and the Technical Lead, working on community spaces and integrating them with applicable 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.