Americana Portland-style, Circa 2013

Carlino aims to embody all things Portland in its new furniture line.

By Kristin Belz August 9, 2013 Published in the August 2013 issue of Portland Monthly

Portland continues to attract newcomers at a great pace – especially young, creative people, it seems. They come here willingly, deliberately, with or without jobs. Do they all come intending to make furniture? It might seem that way, looking at Carlino, the new company started by dynamic young duo Duncan O’Bryan and Daniel Kim. But there’s more to the story.

Many a newcomer to Portland has the spirit and enthusiasm akin of an 18-year-old starting freshman year at his or her top choice college. Everything is new and exciting; they’re proud to have gotten into this elite place and can hardly believe they’re here. They buy a school-logo t-shirt at the U-Store and put a pennant on the wall.

Once the Portland newcomers are here, though, it’s not quite like in college, where they must take (and pass) required courses. The curriculum of living in Portland is a little looser. Being creative in some way seems to be a prerequisite, however – thank goodness.

Duncan and Daniel are passing the course quite well thus far. Their Carlino furniture – a handful of tables, benches and shelves ­­– is featured this month at ADX, the Central Eastside communal design-and-making place. 

The exhibit makes clear that Carlino is getting “inspiration from absorbing everything that embodies Portland.”

  • They’re “doing it themselves,” 21st century style (a far cry from 1980s punk-DIY-anti-capitalism). Duncan moved here a year ago, from LA, with his wife; Daniel five years ago, from Chicago, with his wife. Daniel and Duncan met through mutual friends and bonded because they both "geek out over tools." Now they have a start-up company.
  • They’re not intimidated by not having done something before. Duncan and wife had sold most of their belongings in the move to Portland, so he (otherwise unemployed) decided to make their new furniture in his backyard. He learned a lot from You Tube videos.
  • They’re serious about making something that’s high quality and built to last. They started collaborating at ADX and using (and learning) its fabrication tools. Daniel was already a member, using the facilities for 3D printing of models he needed in his freelance toy design business. Duncan was one of the quickest learners ADX operations manager Mike Alfoni has seen.
  • They’re collaborating and learning from others who are helpfully, generously sharing knowledge and experience. An ADX motto is "leave your ego at the door."  Designers with decades of woodworking experience (including Andrew Moe of StudioMoe) freely gave pointers.
  • They’re energetic about putting in the time and hard work to make something that other people will like and that will be a viable business. Marketing, a savvy website, and good branding all are part of the package.
  • They’re using (and loving) the local materials (old and new, salvaged or sustainably harvested) we have here in such abundance. Portland has a lot to inspire people, if they just look around, and a lot of resources.

The Carlino furniture speaks for itself, but we’re adding captions because there's so much to tell.

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