Portland's Design Scene: More Than Salvaged Wood & Beards

Jasmine’s go-to inspiration:

Sous Style: “It has a little bit of everything.”

Of A Kind: “It always talks about some place or gadget or thing you can’t ever imagine how you lived without. Plus, it’s usually funny.”

Domaine: “For a little glam.”


You’ve dedicated the last year to cultivating a strong interior design community. Could you tell me about what’s been missing in the interior design community? What’s prevented people from connecting and collaborating on creative levels?

Portland is a very creative city, mostly for foodies, beverages, small makers and those who fall into the DIY category. I think a more visible presence of talented interior designers is missing, for example we need a strong local magazine that supports them (Gray is changing that to some degree). We don’t have a design center that would act as a hub for creativity and resources, nor do we have a strong local ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) chapter that attracts the younger, more progressive design community in Portland. As a result, we as designers really don’t know each other. As I approached people to participate in Domestic, I heard over and over they were excited about the opportunity to interact with other designers.

What kinds of projects or efforts have you made over the last year (culminating in Domestic) to get more designers working together? What’s the key to creating a stronger creative family of designers?

My hunch is that Made & State really gave me credibility when I approached designers to work on Domestic. Designers were able to see the type of American makers that I love personally, and the general aesthetic of Made & State, to feel comfortable aligning themselves with me. I also shared hundreds of the American-makers that I have been sourcing over the last few years, and I think that gesture of collaboration perhaps made them feel like participating on Domestic would be a collaborative effort. Designers have a reputation for hoarding their resources.

Portland tends to act MUCH more collaboratively which is a huge bonus for working in this city.

Part of that effort, I know, is your blog Made & State, which combines all kinds of design, from shop makers to culinary artists. How did you find this niche in blogging and find the right talent to blog for you? And how do you balance that work with your day job?

I sold my newly renovated house, and put all of my possessions in storage and moved to Milan to complete my master’s in business design with my husband, which was the dreamiest year a girl could ever ask for. While I was in school I was totally brainwashed/inundated with the “Made in Italy” model. What I found really compelling about Italians is not so much their ability to design cool things, but also their sense of pride as a country in what they produce, both in the design and the craftsmen who execute the design. It left me wondering why we as Americans didn’t toot our own proverbial horn a bit more. From an entrepreneurial perspective, I think we are far more ambitious as a whole than Italians, we just need to get back to the place of valuing what we make. So when I returned from Italy I launched Made & State. I’m pretty good at being a blabbermouth, and I really am driven by snooping around for new exciting design discoveries.

Right now I do about 90 percent of the blogging on Made & State. My sister who has an exhaustive knowledge of music curates a weekly playlist based on each state; my husband writes the occasional food story. I would love to find a few contributors to take on fashion so I can focus on interiors.

Balance is a highly coveted, highly elusive word in my life these days… Whoever can tell designers/bloggers how to balance their life is sure to be a zillionaire…

I think those of us who choose to work and blog have overzealous/type A tendencies, so it might be a self-inflicted imbalance right?! But that is also what drives us to want to produce good work.

How did Domestic go? What were some of the highlights? Was there anything unexpected or delightfully surprising that you discovered from Domestic?

Domestic had nearly 500 people attend! Which totally knocks my socks off. I had a hunch that Portland was hungry for a new way to showcase talent, and I guess I really hit a design nerve…

The highlights were a really packed rooftop party… The view is stunning, it was packed, and we served very local food and featured many local food/bevie makers, like New Deal Distillery, Union Wine Co., Quin Candy and Pinkleton’s Popcorn… I love that we stayed true to our mantra of sourcing the newest and coolest in American makers right down to the sweets served.


I was really excited to see some new designers I wasn’t familiar with in some of the other spaces, like Fig Studio, which used a light from The Good Flock to create a really cool wall art installation. I also was lucky enough to feature some of my favorite lighting designers in the space I co-designed with JHL Design, including Michelle James NYC and Apparatus Studio (also based in New York). I wanted to introduce Portland to some new talent, and I feel pretty good about my efforts.

Hmmm, unexpected… Oh yes! I was also excited to have Sunset Magazine and Remodelista tweeting to all Portlanders to attend the event. That put an extra spring in my step for sure!

What’s the future of interior design in Portland? What’s your vision for your role in helping the community move forward and gain a larger presence?

I am really excited about Gray magazine; they recently hired an editor from Dwell and I am expecting really great things to come as far as them elevating the Northwest design scene. I am totally on board with dispelling the myth that we are all head to toe salvaged wood and beards (that would be especially awkward on me).  I have seen some national stores arrive in Portland over this last year, and all of the designers I know are totally swamped with work — my hope is that we get more sophisticated in our design here and a little more daring. There are some really talented makers like Jason Rens (who I discovered in the New York Times Magazine of all places) that are making some sexy stuff. I hope interior designers continue to source people like Jason.

As far as my role, Domestic needs to be bigger and better next year. I have had a number of designers approach me about participating next year, I hope to double the number of designers for Domestic 2014… I embrace the challenge to top the turnout this year. I can tell designers are feeling a little healthy competition to really elevate the design they bring to the table. I also have heard they are excited about sourcing a bit more outside of Portland, which I think will bring a fresh perspective to Portland. It’s time to shake off the aesthetic. I think that competition and pride in design will hopefully have an impact on Portland. I also hope that by introducing designers to each other that we can have a stronger sense of community.

Any other thoughts you want to share?

Keep reading Made & State, I have lots of goodies planned, like City Guides that point you to all the best makers in their respective cities, and more studio visits with my favorite makers…

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