Jonathan Olivares was born in Boston in 1981 and graduated from Pratt Institute. In 2006 he established Jonathan Olivares Design Research (JODR), an office based in Los Angeles that works in the fields of industrial, spatial and communication design. The office employs a team of two designers and one writer, and collaborates with graphic designers, digital media developers, researchers, architects and filmmakers on a project-by-project basis.
Clients of the office include Knoll, Nike and Vitra. Recent projects include the exhibition Source Material, curated with Jasper Morrison and Marco Velardi (2014); the website A View on Natural Motion, for Nike (2014); the Olivares Aluminum Chair, for Knoll (2012); and the book A Taxonomy of Office Chairs, published by Phaidon Press (2011). The office's work has been published internationally, granted several design awards—including Italy’s Compasso d'Oro—and supported by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts through two grants.
In tandem with his work at JODR, Olivares has contributed to the magazines 032C, Apartamento and Domus, and to the books Design Real (Serpentine Gallery / Koenig Books, 2009) and Instigations (Harvard GSD / Lars Müller, 2012). Since 2008, he has been a visiting professor at ECAL in Lausanne, Switzerland, and in 2012 he helped shape the Harvard GSD Conference on Design, titled Liminal Objects.
Olivares's work engages a legacy of form and technology, and asks to be used rather than observed. The quarterly art and culture magazine Kaleidoscope wrote of him: “Aesthetically, his works seldom resort to fanfare, privileging use-value and tenderness over showmanship. His slow-and-steady style, combined with his personal resolve, produces humble results worth looking out for.” In her review of A Taxonomy of Office Chairs, published in the International Herald Tribune, the design critic Alice Rawsthorn wrote: "You'll never look at an office chair in quite the same way again."