Wood in the workplace: First Lamp Architecture Q&A

By John Nevadomski
First Lamp
Photo courtesy of First Lamp Architecture with Pioneer MillworksReclaimed Douglas fir Bleacher Boards flooring.


When it comes to designing a new office space there are many factors that play into the material choices that go into a project. Careful consideration of a materials durability, the project’s budget, and the atmosphere it creates for employees & clients are all important aspects.

We caught up with Taylor Callaway, AIA, LEED AP, CPHC from First Lamp Architecture and his wife Interior Designer Mandy Callaway of Mandy Callaway Interiors who recently used Pioneer Millworks Reclaimed Douglas fir Bleacher Boards as flooring for their new offices in Seattle Washington to discuss the philosophy behind the design of their new space.


First Lamp
Photo courtesy of First Lamp Architecture - Removal of the original flooring


Q: What is the background of both your companies and how did this shared office project get started?

Taylor: My business partner Kevin Witt and I started First Lamp Architects nearly twelve years ago as a design/build company. In the beginning we were doing both design and construction, much of it ourselves on site swinging hammers, focusing on single family home remodels and construction. In recent years we pivoted away from construction and focus primarily on design now as a purely architecture firm. We had been in our previous offices for the past eight years, and when we decided to move into a new space, we thought it would be good to share the office with my wife Mandy, who has her own interior design company, with which we have a long history of collaboration.

Mandy: I have a very similar background story from the interior design side of the industry. I have been in the business for eleven years, and I work on not only single-family residential design, but multifamily and commercial as well. I have always had an independent office space separate from First Lamp, but the idea to combine our offices was great because we collaborate so often and share a lot of the same resources, it just made sense. Being able to work together in the same office has been really productive, instead of doing so many things remotely like we have in the past, which was often a challenge.


First Lamp
Photo courtesy of First Lamp Architecture


Q: Why did you choose to use reclaimed flooring in your new office space?

Mandy: We wanted to create a space that was warm and inviting because we have so many residential clients come in as opposed to a sterile office feel. But also, in terms of the flooring, which was one of the biggest features we put in the space, we wanted a product that feels like it has always been there, we didn’t want something that felt new and polished, we wanted something with character and a unique feel, which is how we ended up working with Pioneer Millworks and choosing the reclaimed Douglas fir wide Bleacher Board flooring.

Taylor: Our new space was previously a yoga studio, so it had dim lighting and floors that weren’t really appropriate for a high traffic office. It did however have exposed trusses, brick, and a bit of an industrial feel to it in a hip urban area of the city. When we started to think about how we wanted our office design to look, the main idea was to combine that industrial feeling with high quality finishes that subtly reminded visitors of a residential space, but still had a cool modern office vibe.

The reclaimed nature of the flooring was a detailed choice as well, having come from bleacher boards originally, they tell a story about their past. It’s a gorgeous floor, but it’s not “perfect” because it has visible history to it, which is the best of both worlds in terms of the story we want to tell about ourselves, our values as a company, and also having the aesthetic clean look of modern high-end wide plank flooring. 


First Lamp
Photo courtesy of First Lamp Architecture


Q: Why is using reclaimed or sustainable materials important to you?

Taylor: We loved the idea of being able to use reclaimed wood that was also made locally in the Pacific Northwest. Using any reclaimed material in a project is something we always try to do when we can, it is part of our philosophy of doing “deep green” architecture and interiors. We put a lot of thought into both our companies being known as respected green firms in the Seattle area and choosing reclaimed materials for our passive and net zero projects is part of that. In our office reclaimed wood fits into that narrative and when we have a client come in we can point out that these are reclaimed floors and illustrate how great a design choice that can be.

Mandy: I think there is sometimes a stigma with clients when they think of reclaimed wood, where they think they are getting something that is inherently rustic in appearance when it reality it can be very modern and refined. Using the reclaimed Douglas fir bleacher board flooring in our office was a way for us to actively show what reclaimed options can look like to clients when they come in.


First Lamp
Photo courtesy of First Lamp Architecture with Pioneer MillworksReclaimed Douglas fir Bleacher Boards flooring.


Q: Why is the use of natural materials important when designing a space?

Mandy: Using a natural material in a design offers a connection with the earth and fosters a feeling of being warm and comfortable within a space. Wood in particular can give a space a sense of feeling softer and more inviting, which a lot of manufactured or synthetic products really lose.

Taylor: There are so many products out there that mimic wood and they look good at first, but when you walk on a synthetically manufactured floor you can immediately tell it’s not real and it changes the feeling you have it that space. Truth and honesty in materials is what we are all about, so if it looks like wood it has to actually BE wood so it will feel like wood and wear like wood, and in five years it can tell the story of the time that has passed in the way it looks and feels. That kind of authenticity is a truly important factor in the success of a design.


First Lamp
Photo courtesy of First Lamp Architecture with Pioneer Millworks  Reclaimed Douglas fir Bleacher Boards flooring.



In the fifth grade, Taylor Callaway wrote his first book report on what he aspired to be. His childhood friend at the time was the son of an Architect who allowed them to tag along on job sites, thus inspiring Taylor to choose that subject for his report. Since that report, Taylor has been hooked.

Throughout college and studying abroad, Taylor developed a passion for the craft of building. Understanding how things are made and the true nature of materials are what began to inform his design. Taylor is driven by those early fundamentals in conjunction with his passion for sustainable design and desire to make spaces that enrich the lives of the people who use them.Taylor's projects have been awarded the AIA Home of the Month, been published in Seattle Homes and Gardens, and have been featured in the Seattle Metropolitan magazine. He studied Architecture in Vicenza, Italy and earned a Master of Architecture Degree from Texas Tech University.


Mandy Callaway is a Seattle based Interior Designer with experience ranging from custom residential, multi family, corporate, and retail. Mandy's background began in the fashion industry and later transitioned to interior design.  Her design approach to a space provides solutions that balance the need of the client with a timeless aesthetic. Mandy is an alumnus of both Texas Tech University and the University of North Texas.  She holds NCIDQ certification and is a L.E.E.D Accredited Professional.


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