The design vision quest

My fellow design conspirator mentioned the need for inspiration and trendspotting and quickly followed that up with an invite to pursue a modern-day design vision quest, without the psychedelic assistance. The stars aligned with the kids out of town, a date was set.  A list of stores, most with interior design services, was created and a game plan to visit several neighborhoods was set in motion. The day began on NE Alberta Street, a luscious java from Barista was a fine way to wake up. We initiate the vision quest with a spontaneous peek into Red Sail, a boutique devoted to accessories, gifts and small home goods mostly locally sourced. Their selection of tote bags and woven clutches was enviable. This would be a great place for birthday gifts or new baby gear. It was here that the first trend came to light, that of high gloss color seen in vivid contrast in a backdrop of organic texture. Think dark woods, fairy garden terrariums against a peacock blue wall.  The fact that we were already off our list was not a good start, so we carried on to DIGS. A store devoted to decor both inside and out, DIGS was a riot of oranges, reds and greens. We were fortunate enough to meet JJ, the enigmatic owner of this cute store and get the scoop on her business tenure. It seemed after a 15 year career in corporate HR, JJ was inspired to go back to school for a degree in interior design through PCC. An opportunity to design people's landscapes soon emerged and a store quickly followed, showcasing home goods equally appropriate inside or out. JJ is an inspirational woman with a large presence. She spoke about diversifying into event and home staging, blogging, magazine writing, lectures. Not to mention what seemed to be a steady stream of travel dates to furniture shows domestic and abroad. Her passion was evident and it was hard to imagine her ever having time to devote to her own hobbies. That being said, though, she was generous with her advice and time. We ended our NE trip with some lunch from Random Order Coffee House, their pies looked amazing!!

Moving over to NW, we made our way to the industrial edge on Vaughn to check out Bedford Brown. Again this store had a good amount of decor suitable for inside or outside, but their palette was in stark contrast to the playfulness we had experienced earlier in the day. Tone on tone neutrals shared space with over scaled furniture and accessories, all done in a much more traditional and classic approach. Moving on to our next destination, we found ourselves at Relish. The store also serves as an interior design studio serving both commercial and residential clients. The selection of home goods and finishes are well curated and higher end. The highlights included bolts of vivid Marimmeko fabric and modern log cabin quilts, perfect for this wet cold June day.  Our investigation led us to NW 23rd Street were we popped into Portland Furniture's new location and Manor. Manor's strength lies in it's well stylized vignettes that are chock full of the owners global accessories. The neutral palette still dominates, but it's inventive and playful. 

A recap of the evening began over a cocktail at Clyde Common, yummy bourbon cut with lemon and bitters. Followed by some Mexican fare at Corazon, the new entry to the Indigo Building's street level. When formulating our evening the idea was to end here to take in the Jessica Helgerson interior that had been recently lauded on Design Sponge. While the natural materials and the tile did not disappoint, the concrete shell of the space could have benefited from acoustic treatments and softer materials.

In the end, what did the vision quest afford us?  Several places offered items deemed as good craft projects for an industrious weekend. These included succulent wreaths and planters, chalkboard globes, fabric covered doorstops, ink blots on vintage paper.... Check back to see if any of those gets tackled any time soon! No surprises in the trending department: organics, wood, salvaged items, succulents, high-gloss lacquer and accent poufs. What was enlightening were the subtle shifts that made each store indicative of the neighborhood they resided in. Also the longevity of these establishments being in strong correlation to the diversity of services being offered. The owners creating synergies by leveraging social media, print media and local opportunities. The idea of constantly being open for inspiration, opportunities and not allowing oneself to be pigeon holed was what I took as my "design vision".