Jess Ornelas&Greg Smith-Design Student News

When meeting second year designers Jess Ornelas and Greg Smith it is difficult to not notice both the lighthearted rapport and the solid collaborative relationship they have. They clearly take their design work seriously, and are taking on a special project close to their hearts called #lovethehill. An installation/interactive project on Broadway between Pike and Pine, they plan to document the evolution of Capitol Hill over the last 30 years. And the public is thirsty for this outlet–one week after sending out their grant proposal they are fully funded.

Ornelas and Smith in front of the installation's slated space.

Ornelas and Smith in front of the installation’s slated space. Photo credit Heather Reese.

We asked what inspired them to do this project.

Ornelas:  “We wanted to make a project that people could engage with and provided an experience for them or was about a particular experience.  We wanted to use space at the portfolio show or something of the like to do this. And then, Marc challenged us to think outside of school and helped us procure the site on Broadway.  We were influenced by the work of Studio Matthews here in Seattle, and the Happy Project by New York based designer Stefan Sagmeister.”

Smith: “We were inspired by the MOHAI mostly. Seeing their Innovation exhibit and their Seattle Great Fire exhibit this summer really got us thinking differently about our second year. ”

The build-out would take place in Seattle Central's unused storefront on Broadway between

The build-out would take place in Seattle Central’s unused storefront on Broadway between Pike and Pine.

How do you see this fitting into your goals as a designer or into how you are a designer?

Smith: “My goals as a designer is to do everything. I don’t want to pigeon-hole myself into just doing print work, or just branding, or just UX. I want to utilize my skills in as many facets as possible. This is a chance for to work as designers in so many different ways and not limit ourselves. We have graphic design, logo branding, infographics, 3D installation work, outdoor signage, UX/UI and more. “

Ornelas: “This project is a way to use our design skills in a space, to invite the user to engage both visually and tactile wise.  It is a way to show all the things we learn at school in one piece, and will be viewed by many, not just in the classroom. I’d like to do a little bit of everything as a designer, so this project is a way to do that.”

The project branding process complete, Smith and Ornelas have bright and engaging iconography for the website and the installation.

The project branding process complete, Smith and Ornelas have bright and engaging iconography for the website and the installation.

With participants responding to questions about Capitol Hill in the interactive piece, the project promises a dynamic quality.

Smith: “So far, we’ve only got our research side of the project done, so we won’t see any real results until it is functioning as an interactive space. But with some of the research, there is always someone giving an asinine answer. My favorite so far has been “SAVE THE DINOSAURS!”

Ornelas: “I think the most exciting part of the project so far, though it is in progress, is the power of social media.  We were able to get more results to our survey for research, and the community blog interested in what we were doing through a single tweet. After the blog, it was awesome to see people start using #lovethehill to post their own photos from capitol hill.”

#lovethehill promotional buttons.

Outreach with #LOVETHEHILL promotional buttons.

What has been the biggest area of growth for you in #LOVETHEHILL:

Ornelas: “The biggest learning experience, is learning our limitations as far as production goes for certain ideas.  While we would love to do the ideas still for some raspberry pi, kinect intereactive pieces we don’t have the time to learn linux or other software to execute the ideas we have.”

Smith: “Learning about interaction between a physical space and a person. Whether it be something tangible or digital, I am very intrigued about what a designed three dimensional space can do for a person that interacts with it. “

Ornelas and Smith began collaborating last year when they had to design a GIF, which they made into a representation of being a student. They found a complementary working relationship and similar aesthetic and design style.

After working on the proposal for three weeks Ornelas and Smith reached out to community members that we they would be interested. They funded #lovethehill with the generous support of some great people not only believe in their vision but were willing to back it financially. They hope to grow the brand even more with these partnerships. We asked how has the community come together for this project.

Ornelas: “We’ve gotten support for not only the faculty and student body, but from members of the community who believe in our project and want to help us by funding some of what it takes to build it out.”

Smith: “We’ve gotten great support from not only the school and classmates but the community around us outside of school. Everyone is excited that we are doing something bigger with our time and cannot wait to see the outcome.”

Be sure to stay posted for updates on this project!

Check out more of their work at and

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