The World of OZ Comes to Life

OZ 11

“OZ is bursting at the seams with quality and finely chosen details.” – The Nashville Scene

In 2013, Nashville’s Ozgener family established OZ, a non-profit cultural institution, as a gift back to the city and country that have been so hospitable to them as first-generation Turkish-Armenian immigrants. Having sold CAO, their premium cigar business, they converted the 10,000-square-foot warehouse into OZ.

With the advent of OZ, Nashville’s reputation as one of the nation’s finest cities just gets better. On February 13, 2014, the inaugural season for Nashville’s first contemporary arts center begins with Far, a performance by Wayne McGregor’s Random Dance. Other performances coming this year include Peter Brook’s The Suite, a production of the Paris-based Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord; The Intergalactic Nemesis, a live-action graphic novel; and a concert by the legendary Phillip Glass.

This is obviously great news for Nashville and we’re proud to have helped bring it to life. Collaborative Studio has been working with Cano Ozgener and his son Tim for many years. We designed the unique headquarters for CAO, which included office and entertainment space, as well as the warehouse. Then last year we worked with the Ozgeners, artists, and patrons to convert the warehouse into the energetic space for contemporary art performances and visual art installations. Click here

The high design of the headquarters needed little adjustment to convert those spaces to accommodate art exhibits. The warehouse, though, required a redesign to provide functional areas for performances,  additions of lighting trusses and theatrical lighting, and mechanical & electrical system upgrades.  Additionally, aesthetically-pleasing wood walls that flank the space have created the Grand Salon.  The end result is a venue that surprises visitors when they walk through the humble warehouse exterior into OZ.

Many people worked together to make this a reality. We hope you take advantage of this unique venue and give your full support to the Arts in Nashville. For tickets and other information, see


Forget the designer-client relationship you’re used to. And don’t sit around waiting for the solution to come down from the mountain. When you enter into a relationship with Collaborative Studio, you’re going to be part of the process. You’re going to be in the mix.

Our core values–there are only four–aren’t your typical dry stuff: 1) Excellence in work and life. 2) Creativity and innovation in all we do. 3) Idea exchange through collaboration. And 4) honesty and integrity. A simple but powerful list.

When we say “idea exchange,” we don’t mean just among ourselves. We really want the client to be a contributor. We have no interest in showing off how smart we are. We want to know how you tick, how you work and live, and what makes you laugh. Tell us when you are at your best or your worst.

How do we work? It depends on you. Because your needs are what we revolve around.

We won’t show up with a list of services. We show up with open eyes, ears, and hearts.

We want to know your ideas. You may think you have none or don’t feel like opening up. That’s okay. We have ways to make you talk. It will be fun. We guarantee that.

Journal Communications, Inc. Tackling Web Design


For Journal Communications, Inc., a progressive custom magazine publisher, design is discovering the hidden culture of the company and conveying this image throughout the facility, while changing the atmosphere for every employee and making a difference in their business.  To quote the client:  “The space is absolutely perfect — I know of no other offices as bright and welcoming.  They perfectly communicate what JCI is, and how the company operates.  As such, it’s a great, great sales tool.  Visiting Chamber of Commerce execs are blown away, and usually buy.”

How is design best illustrated through the project?

The design solution incorporates displays depicting the JCI brand and culture throughout all areas.  Examples of their product: magazines, photography, and website design are illustrated in the lobby area and on monitors in the walking gallery leading to the presentation conference room.  Personalized photographs of award-winning employees hang in the sales area; portrait and text from founding owner Alex Haley is prominently displayed at the end of the gallery; employee photography work is displayed like a filmstrip on the walls of the production area.  The employees and clients of Journal Communications, Inc. are always aware of the company’s mission and values.

What was the biggest design challenge and how was it solved?

During the initial design phase of the project, it became evident that there were definitely two distinct groups in the organization with different personalities.  The sales group was very professional and needed a more structured environment, while the production staff was more creative and wanted collaborative space.  The design addresses these distinctions while creating a cohesive aesthetic.  The sales team is located on one side of the gallery with a more conventional office arrangement, while the production team is on the other side in an open office teaming layout.  Community space is located between the groups to join them together.

What was innovative or unique about the design process?

Since Journal Communications, Inc. was moving from a disjointed, run-down, old office space to a new office environment, it was critical to determine the true needs and not dwell on the extremes of what they did not have in the old space.  By interacting early in the progress with a cross section of the organization, we were able to encourage them to think about the new space in an abstract context, which allowed for new ideas to surface.   The result was a space designed to truly meet their functional needs.

How did the design make a difference and what are the measurable impacts of your work?

The new offices for Journal Communications, Inc, in Franklin, Tennessee have changed the way that the employees interact with each other to improve their productivity and enjoy work.  Additionally, the space has become a sales tool, helping them win new business.

Then there is of course, the website. We teamed up with and they have helped us build a monster we didn’t think possible at first. It is going to be another platform through which we can offer and fully online support our business. That was what we were hoping for yes, but our expectations have still been exceeded.

Do you do Churches?


That question came from the contractor. A nondenominational church in Franklin, Tenn., known as The Gate, wanted a space that suited their music-centered, heartfelt worship services, as well as room to gather, fellowship, and relax. Collaborative Studio had never done a church before, but in 2009, with no end in sight to the sagging economy, the answer was yes.

We paid a visit to the pastor, Steve Fry, and had our first look at the space. We found a former bridal store at grade, with a wedding chapel below, 9-foot ceilings throughout. Not promising.

Fry said they needed someone to help them choose carpet, paint, and tile. We asked him questions about how he was intending to use the space, and what he described was not a traditional church service.

He wanted to foster social interaction. He envisioned places for laughter and conversation. And a main assembly area where heartfelt worship and song would take center stage. These ideas sounded familiar to us.

“We had experience creating vibrant gathering spaces. Our corporate clients typically want spaces where employees enjoy gathering and talking, such as the HCA Cafe,” says Jenny Campbell, founder and lead architect at Collaborative Studio.

We showed the staff at the Gate photos of the HCA Cafe and other corporate spaces. They resonated. We dug deeper, and soon the project had evolved from a paint job to a full-fledged interior architecture project.

Now the problem was how to create the kind of place they wanted in a low-slung, hollowed-out retail store.

Just as we would do with a corporate floor plan, we divided the space up into areas and began to experiment with the space available. Curved forms divided common areas from the worship center, also to manage the stucco as the new wall material we were working on, If you need quality stucco repair then contact professional local stucco contractors, we work with them in every project and definitely recommend them.

In the worship center, the stage was placed along a wall, shattering expectations about how this rectangular space should be utilized. The result was a semicircle seating arrangement that focused the attention of the worshippers on the program as well as on each other. Out of an old bridal store, several hundred worshippers would find a sanctuary.

The ceiling was another challenge. The bottom of the roof joists were right at 9 feet, so there was no leeway there. The solution in the worship center was to actually lower the ceiling by hanging acoustic baffles, or “clouds,” and paint the ceiling black, thereby tricking the eye into thinking the ceiling rose high. The illusion worked.

“Divine intervention,” is how Jenny describes the solution.

By listening well, and by refusing to be limited by a challenging space, Collaborative Studio achieved something way beyond the client’s expectations.