Jul 29, 2015

Making a Move: Portland's xobruno relocates

Kline describes handbags as “mysterious containers that hold private, often precious and important things.” Keep an eye out for several upcoming projects from xobruno, including a belt created in partnership with Tucson blacksmith Carson Terry. 


By Laura Aguilera-Flemming

After moving from Olympia, Washington, to Portland in 2003, Michelle Kline wanted to make some quick cash. To bring in the green, the designer created several leather handbags to sell at a local holiday bazaar. One of Kline’s bags ended up in Seattle, on the shoulder of a woman who wore it through the doors of a now-defunct Capitol Hill boutique. The shop owner, looking to stock more trend-forward products, contacted Kline in the hopes of carrying her collection. Without so much as a production sewing setup or website, Kline took on her first wholesale account and jumped headfirst into the world of product design and manufacturing..


Kline’s brand, xobruno, is a tribute to her maternal grandmother, whose maiden name was Bruno. Her grandmother taught her how to crochet, embroider, and sew as child, and Kline credits her as a large influencer of her current pursuits.

In March, Kline moved again—this time from Northeast Portland to a larger studio in the Burnside neighborhood. Her new ground-level space features a small showroom with a work studio in the back, along with big windows that let in plenty of natural light. “I’ve always wanted a little shop,” Kline says, “so the change was for the best. I couldn’t be happier.”

Each xobruno bag is made with hand-cut whole leather hides. They are designed to be classic yet rugged and practical. xobruno’s current collection is composed of 10 handbags, as well as several styles of wallets, pouches, and cases for both men and women.


“Cutting into leather hide is like a game of Tetris,” Kline says of her creation process. “Each hide is different in size and shape so I have to consider the entire piece before cutting into it. I lay out the varying pattern pieces in a way to get the most use out of the material and to avoid large amounts of waste.”

 “Leather, in my opinion, is one of the best materials for the Pacific Northwest climate,” Portland-based designer Michelle Kline says. “It's versatile, waterproof, and can withstand rain, sun, and cold. Our canvas is wax-infused, making the product water-repellent. It’s perfect for the rainy season.” 

Images courtesy of xobruno. 


Jul 23, 2015

Room of the Week: Desia Graybill, Atomic * Design



Category: Bedroom
Design: Desia Graybill, Atomic * Design
Location: Portland

Goal: To transform the empty, unfinished attic of an 1893 Victorian house in Portland into a serene master suite for a busy twenty-something first-time homebuyer. Desia Graybill of Atomic * Design helped convert the room, making necessary structural changes and cleaning up neglected finishes. One important aspect of the project was leaving enough room for yoga sessions—the homeowner is a frequent practitioner. 


Inspiration: The theme of the space is "Yoga-Zen," and the post-and-beam arch (a necessary structural addition) in front of the bed alcove was inspired by the Duogong wooden bracket architecture of the Chinese Song Dynasty. Elsewhere, existing rafters were replaced and stained dark to match the new flooring.

Breakdown: When they started the project, the formerly neglected attic  was divided by walls and had old oil lamp pipes that indicated it was originally used as upstairs bedrooms. Graybill reimagined the space as an open master suite with a new bathroom and walk-in closet. “In order to open up the space, we had to engineer the post-and-beam system,” the designer says. “Part of that was ensuring that the posts landed on top of load-bearing walls and footings all the way down to the basement. The recessed cabinets in the knee walls were also engineered with new headers to support the weight of the roof.” Sean Fields of SageFields Construction added insulation and hardwoods for heat and sound absorption, and all windows were replaced with new, historically appropriate energy-efficient ones. Dark-stained wood throughout is a rich contrast to the light surroundings, creating a sophisticated look and steering the room away from “nursery pink” territory. 

The client’s mother took the lead with the d├ęcor, using a dusty pink paint to create a serene backdrop for furniture. A Malm bed from Ikea is tucked into a shallow cove with windows; its PRI Luxe headboard in Sterling Oyster is from Wayfair. A ladylike Nathan Modern bench from One Kings Lane and airy Ava block print bedding from Ballard Designs are elegant additions. Across the room, a small corner holds a streamlined desk from Paul Schatz Furniture, while a nailhead-studded chair from Homegoods adds a bit of edge to an otherwise feminine space.

Get the Look: If you have an older home, Graybill suggests hiring professionals who have worked with historic structures before. “Be sure they are familiar with old homes or your home construction style,” she says. “You want them to honor the era of your house, be familiar with city building codes, and have good-standing work relationships with quality contractors who share the same values.”

Images courtesy of Mhari Scott Photography.