America’s Best Independent Design Shops: Spartan Shop

The showroom and gallery in Portland, Oregon, has emerged from the pandemic with a new vision.

Currie Person likes Spartan Shop to constantly evolve. Take the pandemic: Person closed the brick-and-mortar location in Portland, Oregon, for 16 months and emerged with a new vision, moving away from her original concept for "an elevated general store" to become a hybrid showroom and gallery. 

Currie Person established Spartan Shop’s Portland outpost in 2016 after launching the brick and mortar in Texas in 2008. 

Located in a 1923 bottling facility–turned–airy shop in the city’s Central Eastside Industrial District, the minimalist space features concrete floors covered with glossy white paint to match the window-lined walls. 

Porcelain vessels dripping with textural glaze and wildly colorful glass vases sit atop sculptural tables placed in careful arrangements near contemporary chairs and couches to show how each piece—some designed locally, others by international brands like Lambert & Fils and De Sede—might appear in a living space. 

"We’re reimagining the shape of the space all the time, depending on what comes in and what goes out," says Person. "We wanted to have a lot of flexibility to respond to how pieces should be shown."

Person extends that sense of flexibility to many of the designers she works with, among them Portland-based makers such as Campagna, Matthew Philip Williams, Lilith Rockett, Fieldwork Design, and Dina No. Instead of taking things on consignment, Person will commit to buying whole collections, giving the makers the financial freedom to grow or even "get a little weirder," she says, adding: "We’re really focused on showing different artists in their own right, and then sort of tracking their evolutions."

Spartan Shop’s Regional Recommendations

Small Galatea Pendant by Iacoli & McAllister 

Seattle designers Jamie Iacoli and Brian McAllister create furniture and lighting pieces that frequently marry metal and handblown glass in geometric silhouettes.

Extra Large Epiphany Vase #30 by BaleFire Glass 

Portland designer Robbie Frankel crafts one-of-a-kind, blown-glass vessels and cups with swirling, marbled hues. "The colors and forms keep getting more expressive," says Person.

Mezo Stool by Vince Skelly 

This local sculptor starts with a single block of wood, carves a rudimentary shape, and then uses chisels to pare it into a one-of-a-kind piece.

Labyrinth Table by Erich Ginder 

In the hands of Seattle designer Erich Ginder, sheets of linen, carpet padding, and metal components become the surprising basis for lighting installations, stools, and side tables.

Porthole Shelving System 2X5 by Phloem Studio 

In Stevenson, Washington, designer Benjamin Klebba creates furniture alongside his father, a woodworker and boatbuilder.

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