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Design Profile: Portland

The City of Roses has been described as “up and coming” for long enough. At this point, Portland’s style is well defined and the city is blossoming with bars, restaurants, office spaces and public buildings that embrace the past, present and future of life in the Pacific Northwest.


Quirky and Fresh


Portland has gone through a lot of changes over the past decade, but its design has retained a playful spirit. The “keep Portland weird” mentality is still very much alive and well in spite of the city’s rapid development. This unique, fun-loving city isn’t afraid of the unconventional. You’ll see subtle and overt nods to the things that make this city special special throughout the city’s architecture and design.


From bicycles to cartoon sasquatches and lumberjacks, some interior spaces in Portland find their ideal design look through charming details that show how irreverent the local culture is. Though there’s often a dash of whimsy, bright color pops are typically balanced by neutral palettes keeping Portland style refined and sophisticated in its own unique way.


Local Roots


Not all of Portland’s self-referential design trends are focused on the here and now. Design in the City of Roses often takes a look back at the city’s history, including nods to major local brands like Pendleton Woolen Mills, whose iconic wool blankets and sweaters provide frequent interior inspiration. You’ll often see Pendleton blanket fabrics repurposed to create stylish upholstery for chairs or sofas.


Outdoor Elements


Rain and clouds are a fact of life in this part of the world, but the extended rainy season provides nourishment for Oregon’s spectacular forests and flowers. The rain itself often provides design inspiration, particularly for interior artworks and murals, but Portland design also pulls heavily from the abundant evergreen forests that grow in the city and beyond.


You can immerse yourself in old-growth beauty in the city’s Forest Park and then head over for a local microbrew at bars like Spirit of ‘77 and Hamlet, both of which feature exposed wood interiors for a warm, distinctly Oregonian atmosphere. Many of Portland’s businesses integrate the wooded beauty of their local environment by emphasizing natural wood details for design elements such as bar counters, work surfaces, walls and ceilings.


Bright and Sunny


Frequent rainy weather makes Portlanders eager to enjoy the sunny season while it lasts. Designers often take this into account by creating open, airy spaces with a lot of windows. Walls are often replaced with large picture windows and moveable glass wall systems that allow fresh air and sunshine in whenever it’s nice out. It’s all part of the local spirit of love for the outdoors and pride in an enviable location that’s steeped in natural beauty.