Local manufacturing and local design are not mutually exclusive; both are at their best when collaboration occurs.
Elk Collective, a local design/creative firm here in Portland caught our eye not only because the installation of Krownlab sliding barn door hardware in their own studio, but also for their excellent work regionally and abroad.
Recently, we had a chance to have a conversation with Elk Collective's Sam Koerger. Having such wide range of projects to inform the discussion, it was an opportunity to gain some insight into the current design climate.
KL: With the increased demand for urban real estate, designers are required to creatively squeeze more functionality into smaller and smaller spaces. What trends are you seeing here in the Portland area?
SK: On a macro level, one trend that is right in our face, yet makes Portlanders squirm, is purely just new development. There is a tremendous increase in the number of properties under construction, specifically mixed-use development. While we have done an outstanding job of re-using buildings and re-purposing different urban nooks, a wave of development has washed our shores. From our roof top, we count 11 cranes on our skyline; an exciting symbol of growth and change. Our hope for this trend, as we must embrace the urban infill, is for developers and designers to add not only square footage to the city, but notable charm and function.
KL: If there was one local non-profit you could design for, who would it be, and why?
SK: We would love to work with Right 2 Dream Too. There is a noticeable home- less/houseless epidemic in our country that is very apparent locally. From its grassroots effort, Right 2 Dream Too has had an incredible effect creating not only positive space, but constructive space to a population that is struggling to find purpose and community, let alone basic shelter. Creating for an organization such as this would be a noble challenge we would welcome.
Kl: Elk Collective tackles a broad range of projects across the country. What is a good example of a current design trend in another part of the country that would seem completely foreign in the Pacific Northwest?
SK: An example of this came up recently with an event we collaborated on that took place in Miami. The client was very intent on the styling of the event resembling Portland in Miami. There’s a national fascination with our city (which we love) that is fostering a Portland style of it’s own. As our style and popularity evolve, other markets are taking note. Conversely, pulling design elements from Miami would not translate as well in our town. Our demo- graphic wouldn’t support a Miami-esque event on Hawthorne.
We look forward to seeing Elk Collective continue to help define our local design community, whether the projects are regional or global.
photos, clockwise from left:1-3 courtesy Elk Collective