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Photo: Eirik Johnson

Olson Kundig’s “ICE CUBE” at Seattle Design Festival 2016


Olson Kundig’s ICE CUBE, part of Seattle Design Festival 2016, marked one of the most popular and interactive installations the firm has launched in recent years. The temporary installation showcased the stages of the natural water cycle while the ice shifted from opaque to translucent. The 10-ton ice cube continued to evaporate and melt over its lifespan, all the while offering a cool respite to visitors and scattering ambient sunlight and colors throughout the park. The gradual erosion of the cube from its pure form in the summer sun marked the passage of time as the waters slowly returned to the sea.

The design team responsible for ICE CUBE was Clay Anderson, Noah Conlay, Jarri Hasnain, and Gregory Nakata of Olson Kundig. Their winning entry was selected from an internal ‘Idea Incubator’ design competition, addressing the theme of “design change.” Launched in May 2016, the Idea Incubator—part of the Olson Kundig Think Tank—creates an outlet for Olson Kundig employees to pursue design skills through in-house competitions. Think Tank is a staff-led initiative intended to advance the firm’s existing creative leadership opportunities and introduce new avenues of creative exchange, crossdisciplinary and collaborative problem-solving, design innovation, craft and making.

It has been incredible to witness the public’s reaction to the ICE CUBE. We had hoped it would serve as an interactive piece but never expected such an overwhelming response. Clay Anderson, of the ICE CUBE design team

ICE CUBE was installed as part of a Seattle Design Festival Block Party in Occidental Park from Saturday, September 10 to Sunday, September 11, 2016. The installation instigated physical interaction, verbal conversation, and visual documentation across a wide variety of media and social media platforms over the course of the event.