Design Directory

The Ultimate Guide to Portland Design Specialists

Got a passion project? These locals can help craft and construct it—beautifully.

By Kelly Clarke and Chad Walsh September 21, 2017 Published in the Design Annual: Fall 2017 issue of Portland Monthly

Da2017 design directory collage 1 n81qeu

Clockwise from top left: Clayhaus Modern Tile; Ear Trumpet Labs; Modern Macramé; Ecotone


Inspired by the sensibilities of Andy Warhol and Victor Vasarely, the midcentury modernists at Clayhaus Modern Tile handcraft rectangular, triangular, hexagonal, and three-dimensional tiles for corporate clients like Google and homeowners with impeccable taste. 

Audio Equipment

The adventurously designed handmade microphones crafted by Ear Trumpet Labs may look like old-time sculptures, but they’re engineered to make their clients—like Elvis Costello and the Violent Femmes—sound modern and effortlessly cool. 

Landscape Architects

At Ecotone, Bryan Bailey and Daniel Edwards draw on the nature that surrounds them to create environmentally minded green streets, parks, and wetlands for architecture firms, home owners, and affordable housing developers, which both stand out and blend into each area’s natural environs. 

Fiber Art

When knitters or quilters are ready to take things up a notch, Emily Katz’s Modern Macramé shows them the ropes via individual and group macramé workshops from her Eliot neighborhood studio. Katz’s classes are available online, too.


Design-build outfit Green Hammer is making Portland more sustainable, one residential remodel, housing complex, or eco-friendly winery tasting room at a time. The self-described cadre of “architecture and energy geeks” even indoctrinates many clients into the cult of passive housing along the way. 

Knife Sharpening

Run by former New York chef Eytan Zias, Portland Knife House raises the city’s cutlery IQ with a selection of 500-plus knives—from high-quality Japanese steel to Oregon makers like Murray Carter and Bridgetown Forge.

Typewriter Repair

As long as we keep making (and watching) movies set in the 1870s through the 1980s, we’ll need typewriters. And as long as we need typewriters, we’ll need typewriter whisperers and whiz-bangs like the folks at Pacific Typewriter to coax these almost steampunk machines back to health.


Revive Upholstery & Design’s Leland Duck combs estate sales for discarded furniture with potential, strips it down, and stitches in new life using distressed vintage fabrics, high-end threads from Denmark and New Zealand, and classic Pendleton wools. From hundred-year-old rocking chairs to contemporary inventions, Duck’s original and custom work is refined, precise, and practical. He’d probably be psyched to meet your grandma’s old davenport. 


Avid traveler Avery Thatcher’s influences—print- and pattern-rich traditions from Indonesia to South Africa—get a contemporary twist with Juju Papers, the line of luxe, often metallic-accented wallpapers she crafts with enviro-friendly water-based ink and sustainably harvested paper. This is real wall art. 

Motorcycle Jackets

Since 1947, Langlitz Leathers has crafted Portland’s coolest motorcycle jackets. Today, the 10-person, family-owned business still makes every pocket, seam, zipper, and snap just the way founder and rider Ross Langlitz did back in the 1940s, shipping them to riders from Japan to Germany from the longtime Langlitz HQ on SE Division Street.

Signage/Word Murals

Painters Jeffrey Sincich and Josh Stover, a.k.a. J&S Signs, have a knack for blasting viewers into the past with their cheery, vintage-style lettered signs, which the pair painstakingly hand-paint across walls, vehicles, and sidewalk A-frames. For an apt sample, see the excellent “Xurroland” mural inside Spanish café 180.

Da2017 design directory collage 2 aj4htv

Clockwise from top left: Minnie & George; Superfab; Orox Leather Co; Immortal Casket Company

Belts/Bags/Good Works

Minnie and George Caldwell provide a simple but profound inspiration: do better and be better. Their daughter, L.A., embodies that sentiment by taking bits of leather and personally hand-stitching them into her Minnie & George wallets, belts, and bags, and by always donating some proceeds to organizations fighting for the most marginalized among us.


Superfab is the one-stop wood design and fabrication shop for individuals and businesses seeking everything from name tags and tree trunk kiosks to standing desks, corporate meeting tables, and signs. Clients include Umpqua Bank and Airbnb.

The Final Project

Dearly departed isn’t the half of it when it comes to the lavish, “death-positive” caskets built by Immortal Casket Company, the Lovecraftian project of two local tattoo artists. Their Victorian-inspired boxes come complete with “viewing windows” and “abundant amount of fringes, tassels, and grosgrain ribbon whenever possible.”

Leather Footwear/Bags

For four generations and 84 years, the Martinez family of Orox Leather Co has handcrafted leather sandals, purses, pouches, belts, and bags, first in Oaxaca and then in Japan, before finally setting up a flagship workshop and showroom in Portland in 2012.

Car Upholstery

Need rose and hot pink brocade cloth for your 1954 Chrysler La Comtesse? Doug Pollock’s SMS Auto Fabrics has, literally, got you covered. Since the late-’70s, the car obsessive has been building the world’s largest stockpile of original and reproduction auto cloth and vinyl for American cars (1930s–2000s). And if they don’t have it? They’ll make it for you on their in-house looms. Vroom-vroom.

Custom Cabinets

Banish dated cupboards from your home with the help of Earthbound Industries. The tiny NoPo shop crafts sleek custom wood cabinetry, built-ins, and panels that turn storage into a major statement.


Most outdoor hearths are heavy, hulking backyard albatross. Modern flame aficionados aspire to Stahl Firepit’s sleek, origami-like steel designs, the results of co-owner Chad Hughes’s desire to own a fire pit he could actually move and use. Each pit is made in Portland, built to last, and easy to assemble, with five precisely cut pieces that fit together perfectly.

DIY Everything

Want to get real hands-on? The master carpenters, jewelry makers, and fabricators at ADX, Southeast Portland’s communal workshop and “gym for making stuff,” have a huge roster of classes to help you jump in—from low-commitment intros to welding and screen printing to memberships that score you access to ADX’s Tool Library and time on that CNC router. Or, you know, you can just pay them to do everything for you.


Bill Wessinger isn’t your average craftsman. At Wessinger Woodworks, the boatbuilder and sixth-generation Portlander takes midcentury-modern design principles to handcraft chairs, coffee tables, benches, and stools.

3-D Printing

3-D printing might be the way of the future, but we’ll always need people to understand what makes the process tick. The engineers at RapidMade create molds, fabricate replacement parts on the cheap, and once designed and printed out an army of faux crabs for an Alaskan tourist crabbing operation.

Filed under
Show Comments