He started at eight years old, making multi-story tree houses, taking apart typewriters, and building guitars. Now, Richard Koehler is unveiling his sustainable manufacturing company Folk in Portland with a Nov 10 pop-up store. After a year of blood, sweat, and tears, Folk will showcase its product line of furniture, lighting, and take-home goods.
So who is Folk? As Koehler explains, “Folk is no frills—it’s very simple, but durable and authentic and just really really well made.” Folk's four-member team prides itself on classic design, locally sourced materials, and products built to last for 75 years. “I see so many things just thrown away after a year,” Koehler says. “We make things people really need and will use for a long time and will be around for a long time, to me that’s the best way to be sustainable.”
With a vision for a locally collaborative company, Koehler aims to make his products Portland through and through. Take his furniture for instance: his benches, coffee tables, and stools are all made from sustainable Northwest lumber from local mills. Or take his ceramic planters and mugs all made from the Portland ceramic company Wolf Ceramic. He sources wool from Pendleton.
“Everything is as local as it gets,” Koehler says.
Sourcing local is just one way Folk perpetuates sustainability. It isn't just about the products, its about the people too. Koehler pays his employees at least $15 an hour as a way to create a lasting environment. “In the design/build world, I constantly saw people with more money always trying to squeeze the bottom line, and it’s only the people on the bottom who get squeezed, and I am tired of that,” Koehler says.
This weekend brings a Folk launch pop-up to 0425 SW Iowa St. On Nov 10th, another pop-up takes over 438 NW Broadway, where display products (made to order) and take home goods to buy will be showcased. The pop-up store, open until Christmas, will also feature pop-ups from Portland design companies Stubborn Stiles and Draplin Design Co. The event is free to the public.