Octave 9, the Seattle Symphony’s experimental music venue, gives fresh meaning to the term “multisensory.” With an intimate performance space, cutting edge audio technology, and a library of generative visual themes, Octave 9 engages with audiences on a whole new level. Learn more about what it took to realize Octave 9:

Belle & Wissell worked closely with the Seattle Symphony to craft the Immersive Canvas: a visual accompaniment to live performances. Built to respond to live instrumentation with over 30 visual effects, the Immersive Canvas transforms Octave 9 into an expressive palette of pattern and color.

Octave 9 is a space for experimentation, fusing traditional music performance with new technologies. To further explore the interdisciplinary possibilities, the generative visual effects engine may be customized by visiting artists and Octave 9 staff. Visual themes can be choreographed and switched with the tap of a foot pedal, or timed according to a piece of music.

Belle & Wissell collaborated with a suite of highly-capable project partners to bring Octave 9 to life. LMN Architects evolved the challenging space into one well-suited for experimental performances, while Meyer Sound technologies and Jaffe Holden acoustic engineers provided the equipment and expertise to deliver immersive, incredible sound quality.

Additional project details, photos, and video documentation are available here.


Belle & Wissell’s new interactive media experience—the Tribute Wall, located at UW’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering—invites the next generation of innovators to the new Bill & Melinda Gates Center. The video wall’s distinct ambient and story modes welcome visitors of all ages and interests.

The Tribute Wall’s abstract visualizations provide a tranquil, yet active, backdrop for the Center’s bustling foyer. When a visitor approaches, story cards (prompted by embedded motion sensors) automatically appear, offering engaging narratives with the tap of a finger.

Bill Gates views Tribute Wall content during the new Center's Dedication Event in February 2019.

Bill Gates views Tribute Wall content during the new Center’s Dedication Event in February 2019. Credit: Matt Hagen/Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering


Visitors can explore a vast selection of stories pertaining to Computer Science & Engineering (CSE), sorted into five themes: CSE at the University of Washington, Diversity in the field, Innovation in the Pacific Northwest, and the accomplishments of Bill & Melinda Gates and Paul G. Allen.

These final two topics trace a familiar Pacific Northwest history. Though it was founded in Albuquerque, Microsoft was born and built in Seattle. Bill and Paul first met at the Lakeside School Programmers Club, where the boys—then age 14 and 16—bonded over a love of computing. With help from the Lakeside Mothers’ Club, the students purchased a Teletype Model 33 and access to a GE timesharing computer. These early experiences laid the foundation for Bill and Paul’s decades-long collaboration. 

Bill Gates addresses attendees, retelling his and Paul Allen's early exploits at the UW Computer Science & Engineering Department.

Bill Gates addresses attendees, retelling his and Paul Allen’s early exploits at the UW Computer Science & Engineering Department. Credit: Mark Stone/University of Washington


Listen to an excerpt from Bill Gates’ remarks here.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Center was made possible by a group of local philanthropists and early Microsoft employees, affectionately dubbed the “Friends of Bill & Melinda.” Their investment will help the Allen School continue its work furthering diversity in the field. Already the Allen School is a leader among universities, with twice the national average of women graduates in CSE. Outreach to K–12 students, programs for disabled, Eyes-Free, and hard-of-hearing or Deaf communities, and women’s mentorship groups are some of the ways the Allen School is building a more representative field. 

Some smaller visitors learn about CSE at the  Tribute Wall.

Some smaller visitors—perhaps future Allen School students—explore the Tribute Wall. Credit: Hank Levy/Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering


Belle & Wissell built a CMS to allow for easy updating and additions to Tribute Wall content. Stories refresh every quarter, including news from the Allen School on the undergraduate community, award winners, and new research from graduate students and faculty.

Learn about what drives Belle & Wissell’s work, as the studio’s founder presents at the Society for Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD) Exhibition and Experience Design Conference.

In this 30-minute workshop titled “Expanding the Experience (Through Collaboration)”, Gabe describes what he learned from experiments in collaboration at Born Magazine—and details Born’s impact on Belle & Wissell’s work for SFMOMA and Understory (at Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle).

On Thursday, September 6, Belle & Wissell hosted a crowd of clients, collaborators, friends, and family to celebrate its fifteen year anniversary. The event’s primary theme was focused on the phases of The Moon, the passage of time, and the collaborative works that the studio has completed since its inception. Of course, the event included some further peppering of self-initiated projects from the studio’s history, focusing on experimentation with new technologies and narrative (many of which relate to time and space travel.)

A series of artful media installations celebrating these themes were presented throughout the studio’s new offices, prototyping space, and shared home at Oxbow—a lively arts compound dedicated to cross-disciplinary collaboration in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. Oxbow regularly presents site specific installations from its artist-in-residence program, but also contains offices and fabrication shop for design-build partner BEMA, as well as three restaurants (Ciudad Grill, Bar Ciudad, and Lorena’s Kitchen).

Media installations peppered the studio's new facility in Georgetown

Media installations interspersed the studio’s new facility in Georgetown


A highlight of the evening was an experimental multimedia performance, with concert pianist Cristina Valdés as the center piece with participation from the Belle & Wissell studio team. The performance was a redux of the rather peculiar, narrative vinyl record project made years earlier, entitled R.H. Wissell’s Lost Recordings. The “story record” included music composed by Wayne Horvitz (produced by Steve Fisk and William Ronan of DCC Experience), narrative voice-over from David Ossman (best known for his work with Fire Sign Theater), and writing by David Drury.

Live multimedia performance

Live multimedia performance incorporated pianist Cristina Valdés’, audio-triggered generative visual sequences, and voiceover monologues.


View from the mezzanine of the festivities

View of the festivities (from the mezzanine).


Guests captivated by a multimedia "performance"

Guests captivated by a multimedia performance.


Guest accessing content from the studio archives

By pressing a button labeled “ACCESS”, guests could retrieve printed data from the studio archives.


As renovations to Oxbow continue, Belle & Wissell crafted a bold, hand-painted mural for the main building’s exterior. Visitors approaching from the north end of the street, as well as from the Interstate 5 onramp, are greeted by the painting. The abstracted typographic mural is intended to generate curiosity for Oxbow’s cross-disciplinary offerings, while marking Oxbow as a place for artistic expression. Oxbow began its artist-in-residence program in Fall of 2016, with plans for continued site-specific visual art and diverse community events.

Izzi Vasquez preparing the outlines for transferring the mural design to large panels.


Painting the Oxbow mural panels (Art Director Eric Harvey pictured).


Oxbow Mural

Eric Harvey, Belle & Wissell’s Art Director, designed the graphic mural; Izzi Vasquez, a Belle & Wissell designer and past apprentice in hand-painted signage, led its execution. The composition was stenciled and hand-painted onto plywood panels. It is now installed on the north side of Oxbow, on the exterior of Belle & Wissell’s new studio mezzanine space.


Watch Gabe Kean (Belle & Wissell’s founder and Principal) as he provides a behind-the-scenes look into the studio’s process—presented at the Society for Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD) Conference in Seattle, titled “Approaching the Media-Centric Project.”

In this one-hour workshop and Q+A session, Gabe uses the Space Needle’s SkyPad™ as his primary case study. Further examples include The Frick Orientation Center in Pittsburgh, and the Digital Retail Experiences at Umpqua Bank’s flagship store in San Francisco.

Communication Arts

Communication Arts

Communication Arts magazine, a professional journal for those involved in creativity in visual communications, has announced the winners of its 23rd annual interactive competition. Thirty-eight projects were selected by a jury of creative professionals; 985 entries were submitted to the competition. The selected projects will be reproduced in the March/April 2017 issue of Communication Arts, both in print and digital editions, with more than 30,000 copies distributed worldwide, and on commarts.com, assuring important exposure to the creators and publishers of these award-winning projects.

Through its editorials, feature articles and the annual competitions it sponsors, CA provides new ideas and information, while promoting the highest professional standards for the field. Now in its 58th year, CA continues to showcase the current best—whether it’s from industry veterans or tomorrow’s stars—in advertising, design, photography, illustration, interactive and typography. Everything is reproduced with quality printing and attention to detail unmatched by any trade publication anywhere.

About RadioEight:

In partnership with Mark Bashore and Katrina Crawford, Belle & Wissell realized an experimental web experience called RadioEight. The project aims to measure the condition of our planet in an entirely new way: the subconscious dreams of the world’s children. Through the intersection of audio, documentary, interactivity, and social media, RadioEight unlocks subtle commonalities among the youngest global citizens, eliminating barriers both physical and intangible.

Dream recordings were collected from children around the world, ages 7 to 13—while recording in Nepal, Katrina captured several accounts just hours before the Gorkha earthquake. At the time of this writing, RadioEight.net holds nearly 200 dream recordings, with each categorized according to its location: Asia, the Americas, or Africa. This project will grow over time through online submissions and field recordings (Europe coming soon).

RadioEight is an ongoing effort, with both accessibility and innovation as its highest priorities. The desktop and mobile sites present the experience across a variety of devices, and the frequently-updated podcast channel (available via iTunes or the mobile site) and submission instructions facilitate global participation. 

In order to adequately present this effort, Belle & Wissell applied advanced web-building tools to achieve a simultaneously surreal and organic quality in the interface. 3D simulation and particle systems (implemented using WebGL), along with a layered, dynamic soundtrack (all original music and ambient compositions), contribute to the viewers’ sense of immersion.




Belle & Wissell partnered with photographer Todd Blubaugh in the co-creation of the photographic memoir, Too Far Gone. The travelogue and photography book is the latest from Belle & Wissell Editions (and published by Gingko Press). The project has already been getting attention from Juxtapoz Magazine and Iron & Air Magazine (a quote from its editor is included below).

“Todd, I just went through the book. I’m broken, humbled, inspired, and in awe. Your words alone are enough to stand on their own. They brought me to tears, made me want to hug my kids, kiss my wife, and not take a second for granted. Then, your images take things to a whole other level… I want to walk into each frame and live out each of those moments. Thank you for sharing this with me. I’m blown away.”

-Adam Fitzgerald

Photography from Too Far Gone.

Photography from Too Far Gone.


Some background on the project: Todd Blubaugh quit his job in pursuit of adventure on the open road. His long-planned trip criss-crossing the nation was meant to be an escape and an opportunity to forge a new existence while pursuing his twin passions for photography and motorcycle culture.

With the passing of Todd’s parents only days before his expected departure, his journey took on unanticipated gravity. All told, Todd spent six months on the road, touching down in various U.S. cities during his transcontinental trip. His time spent traveling marks a personal sea change, and a period of great self-discovery. Too Far Gone is the photographic and anecdotal account of his experiences, presented through short vignettes as well as personal letters and artifacts. Threads of human experience weave throughout the text, presented in Todd’s compassionate voice and providing the reader with deep access to every detail of his trip, from the fine points of motorcycle culture to the deeply personal stories he encountered along the road.

Too Far Gone breaks with the traditional motorcycle adventure narrative, joining mixed media pieces with a compelling story to create an engrossing visual experience.

Learn more about the project…

Jacket and book cover for Too Far Gone.

Jacket and book cover for Too Far Gone.


Belle & Wissell and Lockwood & Sons partnered to create Oxbow, a place for cross-disciplinary experiments located in Georgetown. SHAKE, a series by artist Alex Lockwood, was on exhibit in Oxbow’s new art installation space from June–September of this year.

SHAKE by Alex Lockwood

SHAKE by Alex Lockwood


The series highlights Lockwood’s meditation-through-repetition art making approach and allows for true interaction with the pieces. The artist’s use of commonplace materials—bottle caps, plastic lighters, discarded lottery tickets—revitalizes and transforms them into organic, often mobile, works of art.

The Shotgun Shell Tapestry is 30' tall, and took Lockwood over four months to assemble.

The Shotgun Shell Tapestry is approximately 30′ tall, and took Lockwood over four months to assemble.


SHAKE included functional masks for visitors to try on.

SHAKE included functional masks for visitors to try on.


Oxbow recently hosted a process presentation and closing celebration of SHAKE. With the ongoing renovation of the space, art installations will be presented at regular intervals. Check back for updates on upcoming events and exhibits.

Lockwood encourages gallery-goers to physically interact with his large-scale, mobile sculptures.

Lockwood encourages gallery-goers to physically interact with his large-scale, mobile sculptures.


Oxbow is a collaboration between Belle & Wissell and design-build company Lockwood & Sons. Click here for more information on the project.

In collaboration with the Friends of Georgetown History, Belle & Wissell designed signage that fittingly integrates with the buildings and history of the Georgetown neighborhood. The informative placards recognize noteworthy buildings and residences, bringing greater awareness to this first settlement of King County.

The Fred Marino Building now houses various local businesses and restaurants.

The Fred Marino Building now houses various local businesses and restaurants.


Belle & Wissell experimented with various stylistic approaches to the Georgetown Placards.

Belle & Wissell experimented with various stylistic approaches to the Georgetown Placards.


Current-day Georgetown features numerous structures from its early history: vestiges from the hops agriculture and brewing industries that greatly shaped the neighborhood, and the broader Seattle economy.

A vintage photograph of 12th Avenue South—Hamilton Hall.

A vintage photograph of 12th Avenue South—Hamilton Hall.


The placards—cast in bronze, and treated with a matte gloss—can be found throughout Georgetown, mounted or stanchioned on historical properties. Belle & Wissell applied varied designs for each building type: the residential placards are delicate and ornate, while those for businesses are clear and bold.

The Mission Theatre operated from 1924–1950. Now the Georgetown Ballroom, it is a popular venue for private events.

The Mission Theatre operated from 1924–1950. Now the Georgetown Ballroom, it is a popular venue for private events.


Belle & Wissell sketched how the placards would be mounted and viewable by passersby.

Belle & Wissell sketched how the placards would be mounted and viewable by passersby.


Local Georgetown community members and businesses came together to write the descriptions of each, with the help and resources of the Friends of Georgetown History.

Dora Horton and her husband Senator Will Carle's residence.

Dora Horton and her husband Senator Will Carle’s residence.


Click here to learn more about Georgetown history and its significance in the development of modern-day Seattle.