Celebrating the Statesregional roundup

Celebrating the States: The Pacific Northwest

by Sofia Tuovinen

Celebrating the States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

I visited the States for the first time when I was 21. At the time I lived in London and was doing a one-year paid internship as a part of my degree. Instead of traveling home on my holiday, which is what I usually did, I counted my pennies and decided I had enough saved up for a transatlantic flight. Choosing my first-ever U.S. destination was a no-brainer — I was set on exploring Portland, OR and wanted to get a taster of the Pacific Northwest.

This all happened before social media was a thing and before smartphones made exploring new places so easy — my preparation and inspiration for the trip was a copy of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon, a book that would guide me to some of the most strangely interesting places in Portland that I’ll never, ever, forget.

What initially drew me to visit Portland was the environmental consciousness in city planning and the focus on walkability and public transport that promote both wellness and equality in city living — these subjects, along with lack of racial diversity, and displacement in the region, still deserve much more attention and focus. What brought me back to explore the Pacific Northwest region from the Oregon coast up to northern Washington the following year were the people I met on my first trip, the vibrant art scene (the likes of which I had never experienced before), and the focus on locally-grown, farm-to-table food that I couldn’t get enough of. All this, set in breathtaking surroundings that range from sandy beaches and cliffs to glorious pine tree forests and mountains. Since my first trip to Oregon, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit and explore more than half of the states, each unique in their own right. The Pacific Northwest will remain one of the best chapters in my book of travels. —Sofia

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Celebrating the States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

Myra Callan is the designer and founder of Twigs & Honey, a design studio focusing on bridal adornments and accessories, with an emphasis on fine craftsmanship and attention to detail.
What endears me to Oregon is the way it keeps surprising me with new adventures while remaining consistently beautiful and livable. My husband and I enjoy the mild weather and gorgeous summers and with that, we’re able to maintain an active lifestyle that includes fishing, hiking, camping, foraging, skiing and road-tripping year-round. We often explore the state on our motorcycles and love finding new hole-in-the-walls serving up delicious, fresh cuisine grown or caught in the Pacific Northwest. With its lush greenspaces, rich creative community and welcome affordability, it truly is the best place to live and grow.”

Celebrating the States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

Boutique hotel vibes was the inspiration in this chic Portland, Oregon bungalow.



Celebrating the States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

Bradley Huson is an experienced Landscape Designer and Interior Decorator residing in Oysterville, Washington.

Celebrating the States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

Bradley Huson and his partner Dan renovated their late 19th century Oysterville, Washington home mindful of its history and original charm.

Celebrating the States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

The kitchen in Bradley and Dan’s Washington home features an antique Victorian sink, soapstone counters and a beautiful view of Willapa Bay.

Celebrating the States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

Louie Gong is a Nooksack artist, educator, public speaker and founder of Eighth Generation, a workspace and shop that fights cultural appropriation by selling Native-made art and goods. It is also the first Native-owned company to ever produce wool blankets. Louie shares, “Washington State is one of the most beautiful places on earth. At any given time I can look out one way and see the water, look another way and see the mountains, or the forest — and it’s also full of amazing people that care about making the world a better place. So as a cultural artist that draws inspiration from the natural environment, and is also doing social justice-oriented work, this place is ripe with opportunities both creatively and economically. I feel like the justice-oriented messaging embedded in my artwork might not have flourished in the same way that it has if I hadn’t started my artistic journey here in Seattle.”

Celebrating the States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

After 25 years in the global design industry, Oregon-based Angela Medlin moved on to establish the Functional Apparel & Accessories Studio (FAAS), mentoring and coaching the next generation of designers with the aim to diversify the industry. She is also the founder of House Dogge, a range of locally produced natural dog toys and accessories. Angela shares, “This is my third time living in Portland since the 90s. Each time I moved back to the City Of Bridges, it was for my apparel design career with Adidas and Nike. The city changed a lot in between each relocation. This time after deciding to start my own businesses, House Dogge and FAAS, I chose Portland as my home and work base. I’ve since had the opportunity to explore and discover an entirely new world of art, food, and creative culture… Speaking of culture — I’m often asked my perception as a person of color living in a city where I am represented by only 5% of the population. For that reason, I see Portland as a place for me to stand out in a bold, unique way. I’m happy to say I have found my tribe through creativity and I am really enjoying being supported as a PNW ‘creativepreneur.’ Third time’s a charm!”

Schoolhouse Electric Company image - Celebrating the States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

Angela Medlin and her Olde English Bulldogge, Wubbi, in the dining room of their 110-year-old Oregon home. Photo by Schoolhouse Electric Company, see the full story here.

Celebrating the States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

Mia Gerbino is a Senior Designer at Amazon. As a Seattle, Washington native, she’s the go-to person for recommendations about the best local pizza, pasta, coffee, plants and shopping. She’s also passionate about the local design community, participating in art benefits such as The Hello Poster Show. “I am lucky to call The Emerald City home — a place where you can ski and surf in the same day,” Mia says. “Seattle is an ever-changing landscape where art and technology meet. It’s a genuinely modern city with a diverse, thriving design community where people are grounded, yet driven by curiosity. Here, the elements don’t stop us, rather they inspire us.”

Celebrating the States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

This 115-year-old vintage-filled Washington home charms with color-blocked walls and rich hues.

Celebrating the States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

Ka’ila Farrell-Smith is a Klamath Modoc visual artist and art mentor based in Portland, Oregon.
“As an Indigenous Oregonian, I am deeply connected to my ancestral homelands,” she shares. “I work for Signal Fire and we share the beauty of Oregon by guiding diverse networks of artists on backcountry trips. I am inspired by Oregon’s unique geology that has been shaped through fire and water. I can be in lava caves in the high desert, swim in mountain lakes, hike to a waterfall, and camp on the coast all in one day. Most of the year I’m outdoors, guiding trips, going on artist residencies, and teaching decolonizing through an Indigenous lens workshops. I spend the rest of my time in the city, painting, enjoying organic garden foods, and mentoring up-and-coming creative professionals. Oregon offers it all if you are willing to challenge yourself and stay positive.”
Photograph by Jason S. Ordaz, Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA).

Celebrating the States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

This student’s dream home in Eugene, Oregon is rich in history, memorabilia and clever spatial solutions.

Celebrating the States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

Alison Wu is a stylist, recipe developer and wellness blogger residing in Portland, Oregon. Her delicious rainbow-layered smoothies make her nothing short of the smoothie queen!

Celebrating the States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

The unused attic in this Oregon home was transformed into a work studio for jewelry designer Kiersten Crowley.

States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

Salimatu Amabebe is a visual artist and chef based in Portland, Oregon. She is also the founder of vegan and gluten-free food and recipe blog Bliss House and the head chef and creator of Black Feast, “a monthly pop-up dinner celebrating black artists and writers through food.” Photo by Cheryl Juetten.

States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

A moody color palette and bohemian flair add personality and character to this Washington family home.

Celebrating the States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

Born and raised in India, Rina Patel now calls Washington home. She shares, “On my first visit to Seattle from the East Coast, I felt I was in a different country and I fell in love! It’s so gorgeous here. We are surrounded by two mountain ranges, and the lakes and bay — no matter where you look it’s beautiful. Yes it does rain, [but] all you have to do is look outside — it’s beautiful. And oh when the sun comes out! It makes up for all the rain. My inspiration for my paintings is from the natural beauty that surrounds me.”

Celebrating the States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

Whimsical art creates a beautiful juxtaposition in this historic home on the Longbeach Peninsula in Washington.  

Celebrating the States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

Washington artist Samantha Leung shares this about her home state: “Washington is a magical place to live. From the mountain ranges that seemingly envelop the city of Seattle, to the largest temperate rainforest in the US, and the Evergreens that make Washington perpetually green, this is a place that is so naturally beautiful. What truly makes Washington magical though, is the people that live here. People intensely passionate about what they do are encouraged by their community. Innovation and technology are as important as supporting your local businesses, and getting to know your Farmer, Chef, Distiller, or Craftsperson is something that is treasured.”

Celebrating the States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

Samantha Leung is the founder of Hemleva, a company and brand “focused around bringing greenery into the home and into our daily lives.” Her handmade brass mobiles and plant-inspired enamel pins are all locally produced in Washington. “Creativity and technology are fostered alongside ideas of sustainability, fair trade and supporting as local as possible,” Samantha adds. “This is a place where Starbucks, Amazon and Microsoft were born. This is a place where people will wait an hour in line for a bowl of local, organic, traditional pasta made in house from a shop open only four hours a day. It is because they value not only the incredibly delicious food, but also the technique and skill of the artisan making the dish. Like many other people who live in the Seattle area, it may not be where we were born or where we grew up, but it is where I choose to call my home.”

Celebrating the States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

Jocelyn Rahm is a painter, consultant and teacher who lives in Portland, Oregon. She also runs the local furniture and homeware destination Beam & Anchor with her husband Robert. “What called me to Portland from the Bay Area is still the same thing that keeps me here 14 years later. There is a counterculture spirit here mixed with liberal values, deep kindness, and a casual yet well referenced sensibility. Portland always feels like a small town regardless of how large the city grows. While the winters are bleak, they lend themselves to a robust creative life which is in direct contrast to the summers which are like a [lively] college party that never ends. In an ever more complicated world, Portland offers an ease and simplicity that feels like a panacea.”

Celebrating the States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

This Oregon mid-century pied-à-terre offers its owners a “no-frills” space to display vintage finds and a vast record collection.

Celebrating the States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

Lindy Dodge, founder of Thimble & Cloth, shares her takeaways from life in the Pacific Northwest: “It’s taken me some time to love the changing seasons of Washington without longing for more sun. I had twin babies which forces you to slow down, savor and enjoy, and this shift in attitude stretched to every aspect in my life. I don’t get caught up in wishing to be anywhere else, I enjoy what the seasons have to offer and what they’ve done for me creatively as well. Whether it be farmers’ markets in the spring, gardening in the summer, long days of sewing in the fall or early nights in the winter, the seasons force you to focus on the present. I’ve had many a creative breakthrough in my studio on a long, grey, rainy Washington day.”

Celebrating the States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

Lindy and Travis Dodge have filled their Tacoma, Washington home with a combination of rustic, vintage and modern pieces for a breezy and laid-back feel.

Celebrating the States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

Lindy and Travis updated the kitchen in their century-old Tacoma, Washington house by pouring concrete on the existing countertops, repainting, tiling and updating the hardware.

Celebrating the States: The Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge

Lokokitchen founder Lauren Ko is a writer, artist and self-taught baker who lives in Seattle, Washington. She shares her stunningly intricate pie designs on Instagram.

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  • This is such a great feature! I love learning about the regions, the creatives living there and getting glimpses of these AMAZING homes!

  • I just moved away from Seattle after living there for 8 years, back to the Midwest where I am originally from. We moved because we finished our doctorates, had a baby, got new jobs and wanted to be closer to family. This has made me acutely miss it! I don’t miss the cost and insane traffic of Seattle, but I do miss the lushness, the rain, the mild climate, the mountains, Portland (!) the coast, and so many other little things. Love this series as a whole