Global architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill traces its roots to 1936. Brothers-in-law Louis Skidmore and Nathaniel Owings joined forces to work on the Century of Progress exposition in Chicago in 1933, and went on to establish a firm three years later. Not long after they added the partner John O. Merrill, and the name SOM was born.
“There was a freedom and a confidence in their work that is undeniable,” explains Stephen Apking, the firm’s interior design partner and an Interior Design Hall of Fame member. “Skidmore and Owings wanted to express the vernacular of their time and to look forward. The Depression was behind them and the possibilities seemed endless."
That optimism has come to fuel eight decades of architectural output. Among the company's notable works are One World Trade Center, the Burj Khalifa, and Willis Tower. But as the firm’s broad archive informs its aesthetic and approach, there is a constant drive toward innovation, research, and exploration that propels SOM forward. We sat down with Lois Wellwood, who joined the New York office last year as associate director and interiors practice leader, to ask about what’s next for the interiors division and how the firm’s legacy defines the way designers work.