At Work: Orbit Design’s mod aqua building in the Short North

Have you been past the bright aqua building in the Short North and wondered what it could be? The 1,200-square-foot cinder block building on Poplar Avenue used to be a car wash. When Gina Cronley and Kris Harrison decided they would look for studio space, they saw a “For Rent” sign in the window of the building and investigated.

Gina Cronley, left, and Kris Harrison, right, of Orbit Design

“It was fate,” says Cronley. The space was and is perfect. Harrison especially likes its big, open interior, garage doors and spill-proof concrete floors. They decided to paint the exterior a bright aqua.

“It’s a color that made us feel happy,” says Harrison. “It must make others feel happy, too, because we have a lot of photo shoots out front −senior portraits, family photos, wedding parties, car commercials− the aqua blue concrete is an irresistible backdrop.”

Cronley and Harrison are from the same hometown and have known each other since they were kids. They both graduated from the Columbus College of Art & Design. Cronley worked in visual display with Lazarus for a few years prior to Orbit and worked under the great Laurie Weber.

“She helped transform me from a design student to a design professional and perfectionist,” Cronley says.

Harrison did a myriad of things while working through CCAD.

“I was a house painter, house renovator, sign fabricator, picture framer…but not a candlestick maker,” she says.

The women decided to start Orbit Design together in 1994.

“We started freelancing on projects while working at another studio,” Harrison says. “Things started to fall into place so we decided to try it on our own. We said, ‘Let’s give it a try for five years and see how it goes.'”

They have a Knoll Saarinen conference set that they love. Cronley also loves her bottle cap men, shell boxes, and globes. Harrison particularly likes the giant Instamatic. They also have local art decorating the space, including pieces by Christopher Herren, Craig Carlisle, Jennifer Radcliffe, Rick Borg, and Levent Isik.

Eighteen years later, they continue to enjoy it.

“We’ve intentionally kept Orbit a two-person studio in order to maintain a hands-on approach and one-to-one with the client,” Harrison says. “It’s been a challenge at times and a godsend at others.”

Cronley enjoys the freedom and flexibility that working for herself provides.

“If I want to go walk Goodale Park, I can go do it without having to answer to anyone or explain myself,” she says. “I’ve had to take time off this past year to help manage my mother’s care and I probably would not have been able to do that if I wasn’t working for myself.”

Orbit Design offers full design services, including identity and brand development and web design (including WordPress content management), social media, emarketing, ecommerce, business and sales materials, signage, print, advertising, and media relations.

To learn more about Orbit Design, visit

Do you know of, have, or work in, a creative workspace and would like to be featured in this series? If so, please contact Anne Evans.