Studio Visit: Clayhaus

When we started Portland Supply Co. we didn’t know what to expect or how far reaching in the maker community we would be able to access. When we found out about Clayhaus it was a no brainer to do a visit, handmade tile made right here in Portland, OR. Clayhaus is a husband and wife run business, Jason Coleman a second generation ceramicist and his wife Megan Coleman. The name is a nod to the Bauhaus movement that inspires Jason to make his tile designs modern, clean and, practical. Enjoy the colorful visit with the talented team behind Clayhaus ceramics and the interview with Jason and Megan.

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1. Why Portland? What was it that drew you to Portland or has kept you here?
 Jason Coleman, Co-Founder and Creative Director, is a native Oregonian having grown up on a farm outside of Portland in Canby, Oregon. He relocated with his parents to Las Vegas, where he spent 15 years in the desert. I met Jason in Las Vegas, where I was working at local TV news channel and we discovered we shared a mutual connection and love for the Great Northwest. We moved here together in 2001 and got married a year later. We both wanted to live in a more creative environment and be a part of the artisan culture and lifestyle Portland offers.
2.  What are your favorite things happening in Portland (design or otherwise)?

We are really excited to observe and be participating in what we call a "Second Wave" craft movement, particularly with ceramics. There seems to be a renaissance in small batch and ceramic production that we haven't seen since the 70's and 80's We also can't get enough of the awesome food and beer here. 

3.  How did your brand start?

Jason's passion for tile-making and creating art by hand led him to found the Stardust Glass tile line in 2006, which was our first venture together into entrepreneurship.   Post-recession, we transitioned from glass to ceramic tile to ultimately form Clayhaus Ceramics in 2010. Our company name is derived from the Bauhaus movement and its impact on modernist architecture and modern design. The Bauhaus philosophy is in alignment with the Clayhaus principle that production methods can evolve without the loss of the craft ethic. We are both attracted to simple combinations of bold color and minimal geometric shapes and the emotional responses they evoke in us and in others.

4. What has been your biggest obstacle? 

In the beginning, it was more of a lack of capital challenge that most small businesses can relate to, etc.  But now it is running and managing a business with a spouse/partner that you have to work with every day, while trying to maintain a marriage outside the business.  All we do is talk about work, which can lead to imbalance.  For example, instead of exchanging sweet nothings when we first wake up or before going to sleep, our exchange is more like asking each other if we remembered to start the kilns or if we have a deadline on a purchase order. Real romantic huh?

5. What or who inspires your design?
Jason is particularly fascinated with the pop art movement that emerged in the mid-1950's; and influenced by artists such as Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns.   A source of inspiration that we refer to as our "Bible" is a book by Lesley Jackson called, "The Sixties-Decade of Design Revolution".  It is a fabulous reference with a broad overview with everything from clothing, textiles, lighting to furniture, ceramics and home decor, all with an emphasis on simple geometric form and bold colors.

6. What are your favorite things about Portland?

The record stores and coffee shops. Also, the overall quirky vibe.

7. What is your favorite part of your studio?

Jason's favorite part of the studio is the glaze-making department. He creates and formulas from scratch and the process is very similar to a baker who has to follow a specific recipe. Megan's favorite part is the sample color chip area. I like to keep an in-house sample inventory of all the colors in mixed sizes to send to clients and showrooms. It is kind of fun to see what blends and designs other people create with our color palette.

8. Your favorite thing about your workspace?

Our tile studio is located in Oak Grove, OR, which is just south of Milwaukie. We are located in the historic downtown portion we like to call the "OG". It is so quiet and peaceful and everyone is so nice. 

9. Tell us two truths and a lie!

Jason totally wishes he was a lovechild of the 1960's

Megan was in a sorority at the University of Oklahoma (Alpha Chi Omega)

That we're fully in control at all times.

10. 5 things you can’t live without.
-coffee
-potato chips
-chocolate
-music
-color