I first moved to Portland in 1992 and I can honestly say it has come a long way. I moved back and forth over the last 21+ years and our green, natural beauty has spread its proverbial wings. It is a well-known fact, depending on the source, that Portland is tied for number 2 as the most creative city. We also are high on the list for most restaurants per capita, and it is rumored we have more breweries than any city in the world, but we are also lucky to have amazing shopping in all quadrants of Bridge city.
I am not here to start a war of words, but let’s just say there is a lot of creativity going on around here. And while our sensibilities are, well, sensible, we are fond of discovery. Poking around the converted warehouse district, The Pearl, you can spend a whole day discovering galleries, shops, cafes, restaurants and, of course, coffee shops of the American variety (until July of this year when marijuana becomes legal in Oregon). Keep moving south into downtown and shops pop up like bees in a hive.
Upon returning to the Pacific Northwest seven years ago, I started discovering the wonders of Portland again and loved what I found. First, I am a big fan of Woonwinkel, located in SW downtown area. Perhaps it was my fondness of the Dutch that led me there, I lived 13+ years in Amsterdam, but once inside I was delighted by great designer furniture, unique lighting, whimsical accessories and textiles. A couple steps further down the street and designer-types love Canoe, an inspiring selection of wonderful pottery, gadgets and kitchenware and I am huge fan of their felt coaster — what a great gift. After a quick gluten free cupcake at Petunias Pie and Pasteries, you are ready to spend some time exploring Alder & Co. I love pouring through their great textiles, bath accessories and unique Oregonian originals. They are so friendly and in the corner near the door is a fabulous small florist, Hilary Horvath, who makes amazing creations. She will even customize wreaths or special holiday bouquets.
The Pearl District — how it got its name — the actual story goes like this: a local gallery owner coined the phrase over 25 years ago to suggest that the buildings in the warehouse district were like crusty oysters, and that the galleries and artists’ lofts within were like pearls. As local business people were waffling between labeling the growing area the “warehouse district” or the “brewery district”, a travel writer borrowed the phrase and the name stuck.
Back in the Pearl area, I love the newly opened MadeHere PDX, a well-curated shop of textiles, food stuff and other amazing items all made by Portlanders. A true testament to all creative Portland has to offer. Can’t forget Cielo Home, my favorite spot for Diptyque candles and you can always spend time exploring there. Moule is also in this area and, while it’s mostly a clothing shop, I love to pop in there to check out Portland fashion designers and their unique collections of little objects, kitchenware and cool home goods. Always fun to stop in every week or so: a Portland icon, Powell’s City Books. Well known for its size, a full city block and three floors, it is magical. I could get lost in there for days, and the staff is genius. They have an amazing ability to lead you to just the right book no matter how specific or rare. I also am so happy Portland is home to Budd + Finn. Kevin, the owner, has such a great design eye — he was a designer, and has curated a fabulous collection of fantastic textiles, furniture, lighting, accessories. Go to browse, buy and enjoy his collection and stay for his kind hospitality.
The Pearl is known for its high concentration of art galleries and the best way to discover them is to hit a First Thursday, the first Thursday of the month. There are close to 40 galleries in the Pearl and I am a fan of many of them. Gallery owners are friendly, easy to work with and offer amazing local and traveling artists. Here is a list of all galleries in the Pearl.
Heading west back to the city’s alphabet district, I am in this area often, as it is home to two of our Portland designer showrooms. First, at Linde Limited, is Jim, Scott and Kate who are wonderful in providing our designer community access to great textiles and wallpapers (Anna French, Cowtan & Tout, F. Schumacher, Jane Churchill, Larsen, Manuel Canovas, Stroheim, Thibaut and York). Around the corner, is the beautiful Kravet showroom where Denise, Eric and team provide first class service and advice for all the lines they represent. Manor Fine Wares, in NW is a delightful shop and has a great collection of fine bedding, textiles, furniture, accessories and gifts. The team there is amazingly helpful and it is always inspiring to be there.
I am often in Sammy’s Flowers, on NW 23rd preparing for a photoshoot or styling a client’s house or just picking up incredible flowers, arrangements or vases for my house. In this neighborhood, I also really like Laura Russo Gallery, a great collection of NW Contemporary Art on NW 21st. Heading out to industrial NW is School House Electric, a wonderful Portland original offering incredible lighting, furniture, accessories, textiles and all in an inspiring large light-filled space. Don’t worry, you won’t get hungry as there is a fabulous little coffee cafe with snacks, and, oh yeah, coffee! Surprise, surprise. I also am a big fan of close-by Bedford Brown — they offer amazing furniture, accessories, books, lighting, and of course beautiful floral arrangements.
Beam and Anchor, a little off the beaten path but well worth the journey is a great shop tucked right off the river bank. It is home to all kinds of fun things. Recently I found a client a vintage US flag with 48 stars, it is also a great place to find incredible Navajo Rugs. Plan to stay and explore for a while, it is worth the trip.
Other mentions, a great, young furniture designer, Jason of Black Rabbit.
All of the great vintage shops are on Hawthorne and in the Sellwood area. So many to list and if in Portland, you should plan to spend an afternoon exploring both these areas, with lots of shopping and great restaurants and cafes. We also have all the great big brands — DWR, Jonathan Adler, Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, William Sonoma, Restoration Hardware, Rejuvanation etc.
As you can see, Portland has a lot to offer and I haven’t even listed the east side yet. Here is a peek at a few of my other favorites: