blog

A Case For Stewardship

9/29/2020

Like many on the West Coast, we spent ten days inside our home this month hiding out from wildfire smoke. Though the most threatening fires were at a safe distance from our home and studio, we did have a small brush fire on the island one evening that pushed us to make a go-bag list as we waited for updates from our local fire department. 

When the smoke finally cleared, we were drawn to the mountains. To put our feet on the earth in an intentional way. To take in the mountain air - thinned by altitude - but full of the scent of spruce and juniper. We ate ice from a snow patch with our kids - embodying as much of that mountain as we could. They knew what to do - stretching their bodies all the way out on a great rock under the sun.

We weren’t alone in this work as the trail entrance was more crowded than we'd ever seen. We saw marmots and deer, an anthill and hawks, and crickets and bees. The humans we spotted were responsibly distanced and masked up. They were drawn out to the top of this ridge just like us. If we were looking for hope over the last month, it was here.

In Slow and Steady Service

7/30/2020

As a small independent studio nearing 12 years of partnership, we are committed to and respectful of the continuous process required to develop and refine a design practice. Whether working with technology or historical craft techniques, we approach everything in the slow and steady service of curiosity and growth.

Our furniture, lighting and textiles are formed from a selection of considered natural materials. Our intention is to honor these resources and build work that will be cared for and passed down for generations. 

We bring this care into our relationships with ourselves, employees, collaborators, vendors and clients. It is our hope to cultivate a community around this practice that is reciprocal and beneficial. 

Showing Up Imperfectly

6/25/2020

Earlier this month we cautiously reopened our studio on Bainbridge Island. Our production assistant, Hannah, returned to work from Seattle via ferry and bike commute. James joined her and they are masked up with safety protocols in place as they work on building furniture and shipping out orders. 

As grateful as we are to be back to work in this new and strange setup, like many, our heads and hearts are elsewhere. We are deeply disturbed by the systemic racism at work in America. From police violence and mass incarceration to how the pandemic hits certain communities harder to the long-standing racist policies built into housing and lending practices, Black people in America experience traumatic injustice every day. This includes living in the neighborhoods most affected by the climate crisis, pollution, contaminated drinking water and lack of food security.

We have been part of the frenetic protesting, donating, workshop taking, petition signing and information gathering and sharing over the past several weeks. We have felt an urgency to educate ourselves further and speak up. Black Lives Matter. Human rights are not optional. 

We also know that we cannot act meaningfully from a place of emotion alone. Antiracist work is intensely personal. It requires time, reflection and commitment.

Grain has always made social and environmental responsibility the metric for measuring success, from materials and finishes, sourcing, production and artisan partnerships, to our carbon footprint and investment in environmental non-profits. As designers, we approach everything through a process of continuous improvement. We are actively at work to transition our business into a B Corporation making these commitments to progress more transparent and ourselves more accountable. 

These are some of the questions we are asking ourselves as we do this work: 

Anti-Racist Resources

6/7/2020

The pandemic and the murder of too many Black Americans by police officers underlines the systemic racism in our country. As white citizens, business owners and parents, we will not be silent in the Black Lives Matter civil rights movement.

We recognize that we have a lot of work to do personally and within our small business. The following are some of the anti-racist resources that we have been learning from as we widen our social justice lens.

Support:
Black Lives Matter
ACLU
NAACP
The Bail Project

Support educators and activists. Many have Venmo or Paypal so that you can support their work directly.

Support Black-owned businesses and media. And, stop supporting businesses and media that promote and fund hate.

Follow:
@rachel.cargle
@laylafsaad
@ijeomaoluo
@mspackyetti
@greengirlleah
@theconsciouskid

Please remember to support educators and activists. Many have Venmo or Paypal so that you can support their work directly.

Read:
How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi
Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum
My Grandmother's Hands by Resmaa Menakem
Here and here and here are some suggestions for children.

Please support Black-owned bookstores with your purchases.

Podcasts:
1619 from The New York Times 
Race & Healing series from OnBeing
Ibram X. Kendi on How to Be an Antiracist with Brené Brown
Layla Saad Stepping Out of Privilege on The Goop Podcast
The Systems that Protect the Police on The Daily

The Certainty of Spring

3/19/2020

Come with me into the woods where spring is
    advancing, as it does, no matter what,
not being singular or particular, but one
    of the forever gifts, and certainly visible.
- Mary Oliver

Product Focus: Quilt Rug

2/13/2020


Our Quilt Rugs take direct inspiration from the patchwork quilt making process. Blocks of braided wool lines are ordered but not exacting as we try to evoke the looser style of scrap quilts which allow irregular shapes to make up the whole. During their conception, we looked at everything from Alabama's Gee's Bend to the work of Oregon artist Shiela Laufer

The historic braid technique that we use to fabricate our rugs was made popular by the women of colonial America as it could be executed by hand without a loom using any available textile scraps.

Today, we fabricate our new wool designs through a partnership with a family-owned mill in New England well known for perfecting this traditional craft.

In the Spirit of Optimism

1/24/2020

Maybe it’s the start of the new decade or just twelve years of unbroken practice leading us in this direction, but our vision for Grain as we enter 2020 is one of complete and total optimism. We started this business with the personal goal of working creatively in partnership along with the deeper intention of social and environmental responsibility.

As our business has grown and shifted over the years from practical solutions such as recyclable non-toxic shower curtains, to human-centered projects such as developing sustainable income opportunities for weaving cooperatives in Guatemala, to designing furniture and objects from natural materials and finishes that you can trust to be clean and safe for your home and family, we are always exploring what is possible within this artisan economy.
 

Product Focus: Utility Card

12/6/2019

Originally launched in 2013, our Utility Card is a word search puzzle that includes over 100 salutations. It is our attempt at a minimalist greeting card - the last one you'll ever need.

We wanted to create something practical - that would really get used - that was also fun to give and receive. As of our last count, we've sold over 30,000 of these babies and couldn't be prouder of the feedback we've received from enthusiastic snail mailers.

Grain Collection 2019/20

5/23/2019



Above and below are images of our new collection made in conversation with artist Shiela Laufer in response to Pas de Deux, a duet between art and design, at Colony as part of NYCxDESIGN.

Shiela created two new paintings for this show and in response we made our Quilt Rug and Clover Rug as well as our walnut Offset Coffee Table. The collection plays with standard expectations of shape and edge while embracing Shiela's graphic sculptural forms and warm palette.

Pas de Deux is open at Colony, through May 31, but you can find our work represented in the showroom year round. As our work is made to order, custom dimensions, colors and materials are always possible. 

Photography thanks to Charlie Schuck

Doing and Being: Ten Years of Creative Collaboration at Grain

10/25/2018



This month marks our tenth year in business and we celebrated with our first solo show, Doing and Being: Ten Years of Creative Collaboration at Grain. The show welcomed visitors into the understated Grain aesthetic with select works from our current collection as well as a few pieces made specifically to shape the Colony space.

The title was a nod to the main motivation behind our business: finding a way to spend as much time together in creative pursuit as possible. Visitors had the chance to immerse themselves in the natural materials and smart sculptural forms that we have quietly championed from the start through tabletop objects to custom rugs.

To commemorate the ten year studio anniversary, we presented a ten piece limited edition run of our well known Dish Side Table made from twice reclaimed Northwest old growth fir.

Huge thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate with us and to our long time collaborator and friend, Charlie Schuck, for the installation photos above and below.

Save the Date: Doing and Being

9/28/2018



New York friends, please save the date for our upcoming solo show celebrating ten years of practice at Colony, 324 Canal Street, opening on October 11.

Thursday October 11, 6:00 - 9:00 pm opening night
Friday October 12, 12:00 - 6:00 pm
Saturday October 13, 11:00 - 12:00 pm yoga class
Saturday October 13, 12:00 - 6:00 pm
Monday October 15, 12:00 - 6:00 pm

In addition to the above, we will have a press preview Thursday October 11, 10:00 - 12:00 pm. We are also happy to make client appointments for anyone interested in a walkthrough with Chelsea or James Minola from Grain. Please contact [email protected] to make an appointment.

RSVP for the opening here. RSVP for the yoga class here.

Balance / Unblanced

5/21/2018



Our new Walling Rug made its debut in the Balance / Unblanced show at Colony last week. Colony is a community of independent furniture, lighting, textile and objects designers coming together on a New York City stage to celebrate American design with an international audience. The show is up May 17 - 24 at 324 Canal Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10013. All photos taken at Colony by Alan Tansey.

Grain x NYCxDESIGN

5/14/2018



As part of New York design week, Grain will present a new piece in Balance / Unbalanced at Colony along with 16 other American design studios. This show represents our first official design week as members of the Colony cooperative showroom where you can now find Grain represented year round. 

Colony
324 Canal Street, 2nd Floor, NYC
May 17 - 24, 2018
Opening: May 17, 7:00 - 10:00 pm
[email protected]

In addition to our work at Colony, Grain will again participate in Sight Unseen OFFSITE with a new rug on view at Lauren Synder's stunning Manhattan store, The Primary Essentials. 

The Primary Essentials
3 Centre Market Place, NYC
May 16 - June 30, 2018

For more info on these events or any of our work, please email [email protected] Hope to see you in New York!

Grain Collection 2017/18

6/21/2017



Our 2017/18 collection of furniture and lighting was inspired by a recent residency experience in Northeastern Oregon — think alpine mountains meet prairie. We were so energized by this new, but also familiar landscape. We endeavored to capture some of the quiet drama of that wilderness in our new work.

Above and below is photography by Charlie Schuck styled by Natasha Felker with artist Signe Quitslund wearing Maiden Noir. See our presentation of this work at Sight Unseen OFFSITE as part of NYCxDESIGN.

Tour of Sight Unseen OFFSITE 2017

5/31/2017



We had a great time switching it up this year by showing at Sight Unseen OFFSITE instead of our annual International Contemporary Furniture Fair booth. OFFSITE 2017, curated by Jill Singer and Monica Khemsurov - the tireless editors of Sight Unseen, featured 25 up-and-coming designers in a 13,000 square foot space in Soho, May 19 - 22, as part of NYCxDESIGN.

Above is our booth with all new work inspired by a recent residency in The Wallowa Mountains of Oregon. It included our Lands Rug, Vale Sconce, Snake Screen, Duo Rug, Saddle Stools, Drift Side Table, and an updated custom composition of our Strung Chandelier.

Below are a few of our favorite booths from the show. All photos are thanks to Charlie Schuck. Check out the full tour on Sight Unseen.

The Jennings Hotel Residency

11/16/2016



Last month we had the incredible experience of traveling to Joseph, Oregon to attend an artist residency at The Jennings Hotel. We hiked through mountains, along rivers, and through prairies and later used the inspiration from our outings on a series of watercolors. Check out our photos above and below. Huge thanks to Greg Hennes for the invitation!  

Totem Candles for Areaware

8/15/2016



We are thrilled to announce our partnership with Areaware, the Brooklyn-based producer of everyday objects, who will be producing our Totem Candles from here on out.

When Lisa Smith of Areaware first approached us about working together, we were excited about the partnership. Areaware represents many small independent designers like us as well as a few of our design heroes. They create work that is playful and inventive. We live with several of their products in our own home - such as Jonas Damon’s Torch Flashlight (we lose power a lot at our house in the woods) and Pat Kim’s Alphabet Blocks (our daughter Ada’s favorite) - and want to see our candles take on a new life by reaching a larger audience than we have the capability to serve through our in-house production.

Above and below are photos of the new candles, now available in three colors (Forest, Terracotta and Sand), taken by Carson Fisk-Vittori at The Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems, an experimental green architecture lab located just outside of Austin, TX. The new Areaware Totem Candles are available for purchase on their website here now

Summer Intern: Soren Ferguson

8/4/2016



Summer is almost over, but we've had some great help in the studio with Bainbridge Island-native and Rhode Island School of Design student, Soren Ferguson, as our intern. He is back to Providence at the end of the month, but before he goes, below is a quick interview to get to know him better. 

3 Rooms at King Street Station

8/2/2016



Come check out 3 Rooms at King Street Station in Seattle this weekend, August 4 -7, 2016. We'll be one of the 20 featured local designers in the JOIN market sponsored by Civilization. Designers include: Apartment on Belmont, Blk Pine Workshop, Bremelo Press, Brian Beck, Delgado House, Faris, Five Ply Design, Fruitsuper Design, Gabriel Stromberg, Grain, Jennifer Ament, Mavro/Tawny, Meg Callahan, Piano Nobile, Pine & Boon, Rachel Illingworth, Rachel Ravitch, Small Craft, Turnco Wood Goods and Urbancase. More info here

Grain Studio Bainbridge Island

7/28/2016



It's been almost a year since we moved out of our home-based shop into our new studio space off Day Road on Bainbridge Island. We're so happy to have made the move to an industrial space better suited to our needs: design studio, fabrication shop and packing and shipping.

Our neighbors include businesses such as Fstopcafe, Iggy's, Bainbridge Yoga House and we are meeting more each month. Above and below are a few photos taken in early May. If you are local and curious to see more, email us to set up a visit!

Hot Shop With John Hogan

7/7/2016



Above and below is a look into the glass fabrication process of our new Drift lighting and furniture series recently launched at ICFF. For this series, we worked with Seattle glass artist John Hogan (who also makes the diffusers for our Circlet lighting series). 

John helped us develop a series of graphite molds to cast our solid glass shapes. As the shapes cool, you are left with these amazing chill marks, making each piece completely unique. All of our new work can be found on our site now. See more from a previous hot shop visit with John here.

Spring 2016 Launch

6/1/2016



Drift Bump Sconce 

Efficient LED lighting components are neatly hidden behind a thick cast glass diffuser to illuminate without a visible bulb. Precision cut aluminum frame can be custom plated or powder coated, and custom colored glass is also possible.

REFLECT

5/27/2016



During NYCxDESIGN we also had the chance to show at Sight Unseen's OFFSITE with 15 other studios from across the United States in REFLECT curated by JOIN Design. The designs centered around the common theme of reflection and were restricted by size and a single material.

Our contribution was our new Reflect bottle opener cast in solid bronze. Its overall shape is reflected on two planes. Its materiality shimmers warmly with reflected light. And its use as a bar tool aids in the often art of reflective drinking.

The amazing photos above and below were taken by Amanda Ringstad. Read more about the show at Fast Company, Design Milk and Core77 or by checking out the hashtag #reflect_SUO. Huge thanks to JOIN curators fruitsuper and Melanie Abrantes as well as Civilization who created all the graphic design.

International Contemporary Furniture Fair 2016

5/10/2016



We are proud to debut our latest collection of furniture, lighting and rugs at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, Booth 803, May 14 - 17, at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York as part of NYCxDESIGN.

Our new collection includes a series of furniture and lighting utilizing large graphite cast glass elements (seen above) made with Seattle artist John Hogan and biomorphic braided wool rugs made in partnership with a mill in New England. In addition, we will be showing new lighting that explores layered texture, as well as new shapes and finishes of our popular Dish table series.

Along with ICFF, Grain is also showing a new piece in the REFLECT show curated by JOIN at Sight Unseen's OFFSITE at The Grace Building, May 13 - 16.

For more info on any of our work, please email Chelsea Minola at chelsea (at) graindesign.com. Hope to see you in New York!

Island Headquarters

12/9/2015



We're up and running in our new space! Above and below is a little tour around. We are so happy to be settling in here and have been having so much fun getting to know our new neighbors. Huge thanks to everyone who came out last weekend to celebrate with us! Follow us on Instagram for more scenes from the studio.
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