Intelligent Designers & Fabrication Evolved: HI Co-operative

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Good design shouldn’t draw attention to itself, even if the thing designed does. It should seem as though a space or object has just always existed. But there will always be someone behind the scenes obsessing over the details. Utah has many talented designers and fabricators—people who don’t merely wish something exists but make it through the power of will and specialized knowledge. The people at Creative Services Bureau, HI Co-operative, M3LD and Project Sunday are all talented in different ways. Though their mediums and tools may vary, they are unified through a love of beautiful form and perfect function.


HI Co-operative

hico-op.com

In 2013, Irving Olague was given a warehouse, workspace and tools. He had been working with an experienced woodworker who unexpectedly decided to retire, leaving the space vacant. His wife, Hannah Olague, an interior designer, encouraged him to embrace the opportunity, and HI Co-operative was born. Irving fabricates furniture and structures, and Hannah does interior design. “We kind of established it as a way to have both our disciplines interact with one another. We found that we could work really well together, coming at things from different perspectives,” says Hannah. The husband-and-wife team sometimes collaborates together on projects, but they also work on their own projects separately from time to time.

The Olagues recently returned to Salt Lake City from Washington D.C. after Irving, who Hannah says is “obsessed with metal,” had the opportunity to work on refurbishing the cast iron on the dome of the nation’s capitol building. “He’s a very creative person, and to see that come out in his metalwork is really beautiful,” says Hannah. His railings are welded with care, usually made to fit areas and spaces that wouldn’t accommodate an off-the-shelf solution. His work is on display all over town, including the outdoor patio at Taco Taco. He has also created many railing structures that reside in private residences.

Hannah does both commercial and residential design, usually focusing on the latter. She says she likes to get to know the person for whom she will be designing and do a full consultation. “I like to go and meet them and hear about their story,” says Hannah. “Usually, there are difficulties they’re having with the space, or they just want to refresh. But I like to listen and kind of get a vibe of who they are and what the project might look like.” She describes her design style as “modern, but with a softness—so more organic textures, clean lines.” Together, they offer a unique design approach: If they envision something for a space, they can create the perfect furniture or structures to match.