Announcing the Calibre Design Awards Circle of Excellence, Chris Coldoff

Christopher Coldoff, IIDA, CID, LEED AP

Chris is driven by a passion for translating his clients’ vision into beautifully designed spaces that unify their brand, culture and business objectives. Over the course of his 30-year career, Chris has led award-winning projects and built enduring client relationships across multiple practice areas, including tech/media, entertainment, biopharma, financial and professional services. He is a frequent contributor to discussions on design and its powerful ability to affect organizational change. 

A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris drew early inspiration from his father, an architect, and his mother, a grade-school teacher turned textile artist. He grew up in a home where creativity was not only discussed daily, but truly celebrated. As a teenager he channeled this creativity through a love of music and performing arts. After high school he moved to Chicago where he completed his undergraduate education in theater at Northwestern University. 

Following a brief stint as an unemployed actor, Chris refocused his ambitions on design, discovering a new career path when, on a whim, he signed up for evening classes at the Harrington Institute of Interior Design in downtown Chicago. Just a few weeks into his first semester, Chris was hooked and knew he had found his true professional calling. 

Upon graduation from Harrington, Chris began his newfound career at Chicago-based architecture firm OWP/P (now part of CannonDesign). During his 13 years with the firm, he grew from junior draftsman to design director and senior associate. In 2005, he left to join colleague and mentor Angie Lee in building a new corporate interiors firm, where he was responsible for charting its creative direction and leading design on all projects. A few years later, their successful practice merged with SmithGroup, and Chris took the opportunity to return to his native California, joining Gensler’s Los Angeles office.

It was in LA that IIDA became a significant part of Chris’ professional life. Arriving into an unfamiliar market, IIDA offered him a broad-reaching platform on which to build an ever-expanding network of professional relationships. After co-chairing Haunt Couture in 2008, Chris was asked to join the IIDA Southern California Chapter Board of Directors as President-Elect. His tenure on the Board, culminating as Chapter President, proved to be a tremendous growth experience. He credits his time on the Board with preparing him for future leadership opportunities in the industry, as well as fostering many new, life-long friendships. 

At Gensler, Chris’ passion for people-centric design flourished, working with his clients to create connections between workplace strategy and physical design to enrich the experience of their employees and customers. During his 14+ year career with the firm, Chris held leadership roles as principal, design director and global practice area leader. A dedicated mentor, he is particularly proud of his decade-long role as co-studio director. His empathetic and steady leadership style helped his studio of 60+ architects and designers navigate the unprecedented challenges brought on by the pandemic and its ongoing impact on workstyles, client expectations, and shifting project opportunities.

In addition to his long-term support of and commitment to IIDA, Chris has sat on multiple industry-related boards, including Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA/Chicago) and the California Council for Interior Design Certification (CCIDC). He believes firmly in the value that continuing education, accreditation and certification bring to the ongoing advancement of the interior design profession. He is an NCIDQ certificate holder, a LEED Accredited Professional, and a Certified Interior Designer in the State of California. 

In the fall of 2021, Chris embarked on a new chapter both personally and professionally. After 30 years of city life in Chicago and LA, he relocated to the big sky country of Northern Nevada along with partner Greg and rescue pup Kona, where he continues to pursue his love of all things design. He is currently renovating a small ranch and Airbnb in the Tahoe area while consulting for select interior design projects. On weekends he and Greg can be found enjoying their latest passion, hot air ballooning.

We will be honoring Chris at the Calibre Design Awards gala event on May 20, 2022. Check the event page for more information. Ticket sales will be opening soon!

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