Capturing Portland's Eclectic Design Movement

Get inspired by our latest design annual, featuring chic houseboat living, the best local makers, and envy-inducing architecture.

By Rachel Ritchie October 1, 2014 Published in the Design Annual: Fall 2014 issue of Portland Monthly

All around Portland, design thrives in ways big and small. Our little postage stamp of Willamette riverbank is known worldwide for smart urban design—for Waterfront Park, Forest Park, the urban growth boundary, 200-foot blocks, arresting sight lines of Mount Hood, and more. In Hillsboro, Intel designers and engineers ponder the future of computing while developing some of the planet’s fastest microprocessors. In Beaverton, Nike designers are divining the next game-changers in footwear, while in the Pearl District, Ziba reimagines brand identities for the likes of Heinz and Best Buy. Meanwhile, makers of all kinds toil in untold nooks across the city, handcrafting gorgeous objects for our homes. (Meet a handful of the best here). 

This month, these worlds collide. Beginning October 4, Design Week Portland takes command of the city from its geodesic-domed headquarters at Pioneer Square for a weeklong series of workshops, talks, and open houses scattered about town. The American Institute of Architects’ annual homes tour will explore the creative urban infill projects adding lively texture to our historic neighborhoods. Iconic postmodern architect Michael Graves (of Portland Building fame/notoriety) will swing through town to reflect on the state of design. More than 60 designers will have their furniture on display at ShowPDX. Design Museum Portland continues to rove about the city, exposing the impacts of design with wide-ranging discussions, screenings, and exhibitions.

The moment feels ripe to delve deep into this rich and expanding world. Capturing Portland’s eclectic design scenes in the pages of a magazine isn’t easy. But it is fun—and pretty. Randy Gragg’s feature on our 10 most exciting new homes provides an envy-inducing snapshot of the bold residential architecture rising in the Rose City, from cedar rainscreens to crazy cantilevers to French façades. Our look at OMSI’s renowned exhibition-design laboratory captures our native design ambition, and how it often reverberates nationally. And I swear, if any story could make me rethink my life choices, it’s our dip into houseboat living, where exquisite taste can transform modest spaces into something incredible. 

How to best enjoy this season? Our recommendation: get inspired, clear your calendar, and join the design movement we call Portland.

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