In 1985, John Zimmerman and Karen Gutowsky shared a curiosity about the Pacific Northwest. Soon they were riding a motorcycle cross country on a clear September day. The memory stuck with them; two years later, they left their corporate jobs in the bright lights of Chicago and headed west. In 1988, John and Karen founded zgroup. Their love for water led to their first office in a an old sail house, nestled amongst a series of houseboats. Time went on and needs changed, so the downtown lifestyle fit the bill. The studio resided in Belltown from 1990 through 2003.

In its fifteenth year, the team became a virtual office with its core group and a network of alliances incorporating a variety of skill sets. Fostering both collaboration and independence, zgroup has remained small with big ideas, including one that’s always been a guide — design should be rewarding. For those who create it, for those who commission it, and above all, for those who experience it.