Ballard Businesses Form Collaborative Home Design 'Hive'

A quartet of home design companies finds synergy across the courtyard.
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When John DeForest, founder of DeForest Architects (Ballard, 1148 NW Leary Way; 206.262.0820;, first saw that a building on Ballard’s Leary Way was for lease, he knew it was more than double the amount of space his business needed. Then he thought, “Our practice is built around collaboration—with clients, colleagues and contractors. What could be better than a building built around three courtyards and handpicked cotenants?”

Now, DeForest shares the sunny sustainable space with three other design businesses: landscape architects SCJ Studio (206.708.1862;, interior designers Ore Studios (206.789.1939; and project managers Lumberjill (206.486.2251; DeForest ultimately chose the tenants based on chemistry. While the respective businesses often meet with clients outside the building, visits to 1148 can offer the convenience of consulting with several residential design professionals in one stop.

This “hive” of businesses shares a micro lobby, conference rooms, small kitchen, shower, bathrooms and one main courtyard of three. And while quarters are close, the hive members see sharing space as a way to stay connected—to other design professionals and to the community. Plus, the courtyard provides a little refuge. “Year-round, the courtyards offer an abundance of natural light, greenery, visiting birds and a visual break from the computer screen,” says DeForest. “As a profession, and as a society in general, we spend a great deal of time in virtual worlds these days. Shared space and a connection to the outdoors help keep us whole and human.”

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