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Portland: From Hipster to High Style

by Matthew Wexler
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Mar 13, 2017

Head shops and man buns give way to a new crew of tastemakers who are redefining the Northwest aesthetic.

To immerse yourself in Portland's design scene, book a stay at Sentinel, a luxury hotel situated at the heart of the city center. Combining two historic properties -- the former Seward Hotel and Elks Lodge -- the hotel's rooftop sentinels adorn the beautifully restored hotel, which features a grand lobby, ornately carved wood and original tile floors.

Guest rooms and suites are furnished in a soothing palette of neutral tones that give way for accent colors and pop art-inspired prints referencing icons such as Coco Chanel, Rosa Parks and Steve Jobs, or roam the halls to discover oversized black-and-white historical photographs of Vivienne Westwood, Sid Vicious and John Coltrane.

Portland-centric amenities include a pillow menu, a hand-delivered pint of Salt & Straw ice cream and a pet welcome kit (including an eco-friendly pet bed made from recycled materials by West Paw Design), if you're traveling with your four-legged friend.

Request a book on the top floor of the West Wing, which grants exclusive access to "The Room at the End of the Hall," a comfy nook to relax with friends, read a book or plan your Portland escapades amid locally designed goods.

Be sure to visit the Driftwood Room at Sentinel's sister property, Hotel deLuxe. The swanky lounge has been meticulously restored to its original design, featuring warm camel tones and deep leather seats.

Driftwood's signature Champagne cocktails, kissed with such ingredients as crème de violette and Clear Creek pear brandy, will set the tone for your designed-inspired Portland getaway.

Made Here PDX
More than 240 local brands are featured at Made Here PDX, a 3,000-square-foot retail space that was once home to Powell's Technical Books. The high ceilings give way to an array of goods, from apothecary to leather goods, bikes, surfboards, fine art, apparel, furniture, jewelry and more.

Conceived by Portlanders John Connor, Bob Davis, Chris Elkins and Paul Herring, the store embraces the strong values Portland holds in regard to supporting and buying local. In addition to serving the local market with their unique retail space, the group is bringing nationwide awareness to Portland's maker culture through their website, which features the same Portland-made products carried in the store.

Wessinger Woodworks
Sixth-generation Portlander William Wessinger seamlessly merges his love for Danish modern with his Northwestern roots. Working with primarily Oregon white oak sourced from the family-owned, sustainable forestry project Zena Forest Products, Wessinger produces stunning pieces that are the showstopper of any room.

"Traditional types have always been an important source of inspiration for modern furniture, and I see learning more about these styles as being important as I continue developing my own style," says Wessinger. "I also love natural light and wanted to design pieces that were both lightweight in appearance as well as allow the natural light available in any space to really flow around and under these pieces. In many ways my furniture designs are influenced by my love of the natural environment and the outdoors."

Self-described as "a tribe of strong, empowered females who are breaking the mold and challenging the expectations of what a woman should be," Wildfang founders Emma Mcilroy and Julia Parsley have burst onto the scene to offer menswear-inspired styling for badass women everywhere.

In addition to its two Portland retail stores (with plans to open in Los Angeles and New York City), launched in March 2013 as an online portal to its curated collection. The women of Wildfang have their teeth in 2017, with the launch of their exclusive Wild Feminist collection and new collaborations with Publish, Red Bull and Urban Outfitters.

Heirloom-quality cast iron gets a makeover thanks to FINEX Cast Iron Cookware Co. Raised in his father's metal fabrication and welding shop, Mike Whitehead founded FINEX in 2012 as a modern interpretation of classic cookware.

The recognizable geometric designs aren't just a flash in the pan though. FINEX is the only company in the world to stone polish its products for easy release of seared or grilled foods. Organic flaxseed is used to prepare each item for first use and protect from rust. The ergonomic spring handle is another indicator of FINEX's attention to detail and the company's ongoing commitment to American craftsmanship.

Maak Lab
Anoria and Taylor Ahlmark have a nose for small business. The couple headed north from Arizona and initially began making soap as a hobby, which has now grown into a fully operational apothecary business with a workshop, retail location in downtown Portland and online presence. The couple says, "Plants direct the innards of Maak Lab's line. Ingredients are limited to natural origins from local farms and sustainable sources."

Their line of wet soaps offer whimsical descriptions such as "citrus, ozone and narcotic moss." But the branding (by multidisciplinary creative studio Band) would easily fit into sophisticated ateliers throughout Scandinavia. Maak has caught the eye of the Marriott Autograph Collection, which has commissioned the couple to create handcrafted bathroom amenities, including a custom scent designed exclusively for its new Portland property, Hi-Lo, opening early 2017.

Matthew Wexler is EDGE's National Style and Travel Editor. More of his writing can be found at Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wexlerwrites.


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