Case Studies

Japan Trip with Evolve Collab

Uplift + Evolve Collab

We had our first business trip to Japan with Evolve Collab, visiting several of our current clients in Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, and Fukuoka.

First stop was Kotobuki. Last year we had a creative workshop together, and since then we have been involved in working on a few unique projects.  The most recent of these projects is the Portland Bench Competition. We are creating a bench design to enter into this competition and it turned out to be the perfect time to check out the prototype. As we took a look we were also able to talk further about the project’s next steps.

Visiting Suntory Design Studio

Next we went to visit an old friend of ours at Suntory Design. I have known Mr. Minaguchi, the head of Suntory Design, for a few years. He fully renovated/transformed Suntory Design’s work space with all the inspiration he got when he visited Portland creative offices a few years back. The new Suntory Design studio was designed and 3D rendered by Mr. Minaguchi himself. It strongly resembles Portland creative studios, with high ceilings, adjustable tables, and open assigned space.

I have visited many Japanese companies with design studios, and I would say Suntory Design’s studio is definitely one of the best environments for designers.

After our presentation we shared lunch at the big middle table with all of the other Suntory designers.

Ransom LTD

We met with another creative team, Ransom LTD, and a few other clients we have worked with previously. The creative team from  Ransom LTD just happened to be in Japan for another project and we ended up having a great dinner together.

The next day we left early for Nagoya to meet with Brother at their world HQ. Evolve has worked with the team at Brother for a few years, and a sample piece from the production that they were working was just recieved.
We were invited to the Brother Museum  with all of the sewing machines from all over the world dating back to the 1800. There were hundreds of sewing machines, each with its own great history.

We were so excited to visit Kyoto on this trip. Through the support of Cos Kyoto and Human Forum we were able to meet with City Councils from both the prefecture of Kyoto and the City of Kyoto. We discussed how to create stronger bridges between the creative communities of Kyoto and Portland; brainstorming possible creative events, volunteer opportunities, and international internships between the cities.

COS Kyoto

Evolve Collab moved to their final meeting at Panasonic in Fukuoka while I went to meet with Mr. Taniguchi from Taniguchi Komuten, a company that has been renovating old farm houses (古民家) and townhouses(町家) in Otsu City. Otsu is one of my favorite cities in Japan, and is only two stations away from Kyoto. It is surrounded by beautiful mountains and Lake Biwa, with a long history of being a center of trade both by water and by land to other areas of Japan.

Mr. Taniguchi  is now starting a new project called Craft Collage. The project entails building a space where various makers and craftsmen from all over the world can work in a in a place to make connections and inspire each other.  We will be a part of this project once the building is completed.

What a trip in one week. Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Fukuoka; meeting with leading Japanese companies, and with City Councils to create dialogue for a better future.

Evolve Collab is one of the leading creative agencies in Portland. I truly believe that by connecting someone like Evolve with Japanese companies, something positive will come out in the future. We are happy to make the first steps toward a positive collaboration.

Stay Tune !

A Special Creative Tour 2017 For The Japan Management Consultant Association

Our 4th collaboration with the Japan Management Consultant Association

We produced a special creative tour for Japanese business owners in October 2017. This marks our 4th collaboration with the Japan Management Consultant Association led by Kota Sakagami. Japan Management Consultant Association is the largest business consultant organization in Japan with over 10,000 membership with small to mid- sized business owners throughout Japan.


Each year, Mr. Sakagami recruits 15 business owners from the vast member base who particularly show special interest in learning more about the market trend and business culture in Portland for this tour. Based on the participants’ business interests and needs, UPLIFT then tailored the tour to incorporate relevant topics and businesses to visit. The tour compromised of a series of lectures and discussion with curated Portland creatives and business leaders.

One of the unique features of our tour is incorporating Portland culture into the itinerary. We began our day with morning Yoga and Qi Gong lessons to ease participants’ mind and body. Then we headed to Portland’s famous coffee shop to enjoy a freshly brewed coffee before we began our busy day.

We believe that providing participants with the unique Portland experience is immensely important in order for them to fully immerse themselves into the Portland culture and understand what the city is built upon. We would like to give a special thanks to our UPLIFT members Brenda Russel and Mikaela Jones for the amazing body movement and sound bath lessons.

At the end of our busy day, we introduced our participants to our Portland’s extraordinary food culture and had dinner at some of the renown restaurants. Special Thanks to Jason French at Ned Ludd and Joshua Macedden at Tusk, who served them with some incredibly impressive selection of food for this special occasion.

A fruitful collaboration

We also visited various creative companies that are based in Portland, such as W+K, Nike, Ziba Design, Airbnb, Wework, Central Co-working space, Eggpress, OMFGco, Coava Coffee Roasters, The Good Mod, Big Giant and Evolve Collab to learn about their businesses. The participants had the opportunity to ask intriguing questions at the end of the visit and they all seemed very inspired by these companies and their business leaders.

Special thanks to our UPLIFT members Jeremy Pelley at OMFGco and Spenser Staley for taking their busy time to give inspirational and informative presentations to our participants.

The main objective of our creative tour is to provoke and inspire new perspectives for the participants, whether in their personal lifestyle or work style. Portland is a city that people can lead well-balanced life. It is our genuine desire that the participants took away some valuable perspectives to bring back home and apply to their personal life and their businesses.

On our last day of the week, we celebrated the success of our tour at KIRIKO Studio that was founded by UPLIFT Founder Katsu Tanaka. We celebrated over some delicious appetizers that were catered by our UPLIFT member, OBON PDX. All the participants were very engaging with one another and they all had a great conversation about their business ideas and their new perspectives and also enjoyed each other’s company into the night.

We look forward to continuing this fruitful collaboration with the Japan Management Consultant Association.

Visiting Design Week Kyoto 2017

Uplift was honored to be invited as guest speakers at Design Week Kyoto this year

Our relationship started with Mr. Isao Kitabayashi, the founder of Design Week Kyoto and the owner of COS KYOTO, who visited Portland for the first time in 2012.

Since then, we have done various creative workshops and inspirational tours with groups of Kyoto business owners and city council members.


Our team member Jason Sturgill has been in the design field in Portland for last 2 decades and teaches design and illustration at Portland State University. Jason-san is also one of the founding members of Design Week Portland which influenced Mr Kitabayashi to start Design Week Kyoto. For the opening reception, Mr. Sturgill gave a presentation on his experience and his collaborations with Portland craftspeople, Katsu Tanaka from Uplift assisted in translation.

We stayed for the entire festival, experiencing the city of Kyoto and visiting a variety of factories and craft studios, talking with designers and artists and exploring potential relationships between the city of Portland and Kyoto.

The most productive workshop that has ever been done by Evolve Collab

On the final day of the workshop, we rented the rooftop of the Society Hotel and had a celebration party. We all had an incredible and memorable time.

Although all the kotobuki participants were non-English speakers, we had our team members Midori Karasawa and Mina LaFountain help our workshop run smoothly. They are both professionally trained translators who have been in the design industry for a long time.

The end result of this workshop was amazing and Founder of Evolve Collab, Christian … told us that this workshop was the most productive workshop that has ever been done by Evolve Collab.

Kotobuki And Evolve Collab Summer Creative Workshop

A Japanese furniture maker turns 100 and looks to Portland for inspiration moving forward

We organized an amazing collaboration between Kotobuki, a Japanese furniture maker, and our Evolve Collab team members.

Kotobuki recently celebrated their 100th year anniversary. In light of this milestone, the new CEO Mr. Koyo Fukazawa has been pushing the boundary of their classic furniture making by actively collaborating with designers outside of Japan to encourage innovation.

Kotobuki + Evolve Collab

Prior to starting the workshop, we put together a tailored tour of Portland to serve as inspiration and research for the workshop participants. We highlighted upon the public spaces, parks and production spaces in the city. We also visited various innovative creative agencies such as W+K, Airbnb, Ziba Design, and Nike to see the current trends of these prestigious creative offices in the US.

Our workshop consisted of three phases. The first day was allotted for exploration. Any and all possibilities were open to brainstorming. We kickstarted with various projects and came up with hundreds of ideas.

Phase two on the following day was then focused on filtering through our ideas from the previous day. Our thought process was to view which ideas were the most realistic and how to make them a reality.

On the 3rd day, we came together to discuss our ideas further. More importantly, the third day enabled us to bring the workshop to a phase of conclusion. We reviewed what had been learned during our time together and then summarized the workshop.

The entire workshop was fully documented by both teams and Evolve Collab gave the final summary / document 2 weeks after this workshop to fully engaged with Kotobuki team.

In addition to the main event of the workshop, we also worked with our team members Brenda Russell and Michael Jones to create a special exercise program meant to help release stress and ease tension during the workshop. The exercise program proved to be very successful it also served as a bonding opportunity with the team members.

We tried to keep the workshop from just 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. More physical exercise was added to the schedule as well as dinner at popular Portland restaurants. These meals were intended to immerse the participants completely so they could really understand the culture.

The most productive workshop that has ever been done by Evolve Collab

On the final day of the workshop, we rented the rooftop of the Society Hotel and had a celebration party. We all had an incredible and memorable time.

Although all the kotobuki participants were non-English speakers, we had our team members Midori Karasawa and Mina LaFountain help our workshop run smoothly. They are both professionally trained translators who have been in the design industry for a long time.

The end result of this workshop was amazing and Founder of Evolve Collab, Christian … told us that this workshop was the most productive workshop that has ever been done by Evolve Collab.

Wired Hotel, By OMFGCO

The first of its kind

Japan is undergoing a huge development sprint in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. One of the biggest challenges in preparing for this momentous event is accommodation. As the occupancy rate in Tokyo is already very high, Tokyo will need a major hotel and hostel expansion to accommodate the influx of tourists during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Uplift + Cafe Company

We had an amazing opportunity to work on the WIRED hotel project in Asakusa, a historic entertainment district in Tokyo.

WIRED hotel is designed and operated by Cafe Company, a company with over 100 trending cafes and restaurants in Japan.

The hotel is the first of its kind, focusing on connecting members of the local Asakusa craft community with hotel guests, transforming the hotel into an international creative hub.

UPLIFT has worked closely with Cafe Company in the past, and for this project UPLIFT PDX member OMFGco provided strategic advice through a brand audit, refining design work originally done by the Cafe design team — creating English signage and graphic design marketed for an international audience.

OMFGco also provided PR support through their extensive media connections in the US.

Applying OMFGco’s strategy, signage, and design work, as well as their deep knowledge of the hotel industry, elevated the hotel to a higher standard.

As a result, WIRED hotel was chosen as one of the best new hotels in Tokyo, and was featured on multiple Japanese and international media sources.

Congratulations to Wired Hotel and Cafe Company!

Special thanks to OMFGco for their design work and strategy.

325 NW Couch Ave. Portland, Oregon 97209, United States (503) 222-0335 /