about grain

Grain is a practice dedicated to social and environmental responsibility. Our work unites current manufacturing technologies and age-old craft techniques. Goods are produced in small batch runs at our island studio or through special collaborations with expert artisans in the US and abroad.

As a full service design consultancy and studio, we offer expertise in research, strategy and design for companies interested in uniting sustainability and business through design. Our clients include companies such as Design Within Reach, Blu Homes, Trina Turk, and Anthropologie.

In 2008, we began to design and produce a line of in-house products for wholesale and retail markets that are created as sustainably as possible in the Pacific Northwest or in collaboration with artisan communities in Guatemala. Our first product, Ty, a recyclable shower curtain that does not off-gas, remains our best selling design to date and is available from retailers throughout North America, Europe and Australia.

As committed members of 1% For The Planet, one percent of our annual revenue goes back to environmental non-profits such as the Surfrider Foundation, Organic Seed Alliance, PCC Farmland Trust, The Nature Conservancy and National Park Foundation. 

We are co-organizers of JOIN: Design Seattle and associate members of the American Design Club. Please see our ethical policy for more details.

Our designs are sold in over 100 shops across the US and abroad and have been published in a wide variety of magazines and blogs. Please see our store locator and press page for more information.


We’ve been lucky to have a lot of support along the way. Huge thanks go to the following people:

Mimi Robinson, who designed and led the “Bridging Cultures Through Design” course at RISD and introduced us to the Guatemalan artisan communities that we continue to work with today.

Brit Kleinman and Sami Nerenberg for being instrumental collaborators in the very beginning and for continuing to be inspiring friends.

Mika Braakman of Model Citizens NYC for cheering us along and giving us our first New York show.

Jamie Iacoli, Brian McAllister, Jean Lee and Dylan Davis for welcoming us back to the Northwest and inviting us to be co-organizers of JOIN: Design Seattle.

Kiel Mead and the American Design Club for championing emerging designers here in the USA.

Claire Beaumont and Willis Hoke for all their hard work and for reminding us that we have great jobs.

Our first sales rep, Marianne Taylor, for taking a chance on Grain.

Ben Blood and Charlie Schuck for their amazing photography, and Jesse Scott for helping us build this site.  

And finally, to our families for encouraging us to take a risk.

about the partners

James and Chelsea Minola met during a Wintersession course in Guatemala while studying at the Rhode Island School of Design and quickly learned that they had quite a bit of personal history in common: Both grew up in Southern California and had family living on an island in the Puget Sound. The pair also shared an ambition to make a positive impact with their design educations by dedicating their practice to social and environmental responsibility.

James and Chelsea now live and work in a 1901 farmhouse with their five chickens and a small wine making operation 35 minutes by ferry from Seattle on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

James found design after studying boat building at The Landing School in Maine and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Washington. Before graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in Industrial Design, James had internships with Samsung in both San Francisco and Seoul and worked on a pilot collaboration with INTEL. James also participated in a studio with M.I.T. and Design that Matters in Boston, which led to the development of NeoNurture: An incubator powered by car-parts. In 2010, NeoNurture was named among Time magazine’s “50 Best Inventions” and was nominated for the “People’s Design Award” category for the 2010 National Design Awards.

Chelsea has a Master of Industrial Design from the Rhode Island School of Design as well as a BFA in Interior Design from Pratt Institute, where she spent a semester at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. Hired for her first design job at D’Aquino Monaco before she graduated from Pratt, Chelsea’s design work for the luxury architecture firm includes several New York residences and a spa in Grand Cayman, which have since been published in Domino, Interior Design, Elle Decor and Architectural Digest. While a graduate student, Chelsea developed and managed a design curriculum for Sweat Equity Enterprises and Nissan for at risk teens and has since designed educational programs for the Seattle Art Museum, the Frye Art Museum and Open Satellite. Chelsea’s favorite design memories come from the several summers she spent working as staff and attending workshops at Domaine de Boisbuchet in France.