America’s Best Independent Design Shops: Stranger & Co.

For her store in Edina, Minnesota, founder Maura Doyle seeks out brands led by women and people of color, immigrants, and LGBTQIA+ folks.

Maura Doyle has Marcel Breuer to thank for her obsession with form and function. The owner of Stranger & Co. grew up near the hulking concrete church Breuer designed for Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota. Doyle’s curatorial tastes were further shaped at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, where she studied sculpture. After living in Spain and Australia for a time, she returned to Minnesota to work in local galleries and retail.

"I try to find brands and underrepresented folks who may not have been handed a lot of opportunities," Doyle says.

"The idea of opening an art- and design-focused shop had been bouncing around in my mind for a number of years, but it always seemed like a pipe dream," Doyle says. In December of 2019, she took the leap and launched Stranger & Co. online. The following summer, Doyle was invited to open a brick-and-mortar shop in the swanky Nolan Mains development in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina.

The store’s eclectic selection includes a mix of sculptural ceramics, avant-garde coffee table books, imported textiles, and small-batch apothecary goods. Doyle purposely scouts brands helmed by women and people of color, immigrants, and LGBTQIA+ people—ideally ones that can’t be bought elsewhere in the Twin Cities. "I try to find things that are sculptural and functional at the same time," Doyle says. "I’m interested in the line between what is a useful object and what is art."

Stranger & Co.’s Regional Recommendations

Black History Throw Quilt by Louise Gray

Each of this women-owned quilting brand’s pieces is handcrafted by Minneapolis artisans using domestically sourced materials—batting from Virginia, thread from Utah. The collection includes limited-edition nods to Black History Month, Earth Day, Women’s Equality Day, and Pride. 

Sinew Series 04 by Zoë Powell Ceramics

Ceramicist Zoë Powell cofounded the Studio Alluvium showroom and work space in St. Paul with Mitch Iburg. She gathers and processes the local clays and minerals that form each sculptural vessel.

Aligned Tapestry by Kristen Kaas

Layers of loops and knots distinguish this Duluth fiber artist’s experimental approach. In addition to wall hangings, Kaas weaves small pouches, tufted rugs, and colorful uppers for Hemlocks Leatherworks clogs.

Cream and Sugar Vessels by Eshelman Pottery 

In Elizabeth, Illinois, Paul and Laurel Eshelman run a pottery studio known for high-contrast red stoneware dunked in bold, simple glazes.

4x4 Chair by Brendan Barrett 

This Minneapolis College of Art and Design graduate crafts custom furnishings using natural materials like wood and stone. "Barrett helped me design and build all of the furniture for Stranger & Co.’s brick-and-mortar shop," Doyle says. 

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