Store Visit: Hand-Eye Supply

The idea behind Hand-Eye Supply was to create a storefront where designers and creative could find all of their dream tools, instruments, utility garments. They also have a wide variety of books and journals that are sure to inspire. Hand-Eye Supply feels as though it has a purpose, from the interior fixtures and utilitarian design to the store’s overall atmosphere intended serve as the catalyst for you to create and fulfill projects. Hand-Eye Supply also currently hosts Curiosity Club speaker series every Tuesday evening, in which designers speak in order to invoke creativity as well as personal experience for like-minded and future creatives in Portland. Enjoy the interview with Tobias Berblinger, store manager and photos of the shop!

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1. Tell us about Hand-Eye Supply! 

We stock things that are nice to use, hard to find, lovely to touch, and inspiring in origin. From research materials to tool storage, from pocket knives to attractive workwear with pockets to hold those knives, we’ve got something for everyone. We serve creative folks' needs from conception, through execution and into life. As the retail operation of Core77 (the “11th most Influential Website in the World”) Hand-Eye Supply merges design-mindedness with the culture of craftsmanship present in our hometown of Portland, OR.

2. What made you decide to open a store front?

Core77 and its affiliates have acted as resources for designers since Core77’s founding in 1995. The original intention of the storefront was to be a resource for designers and architects specifically, supplying tools for drafting, shop work and prototyping. In a wonderful turn of events, we discovered that the products we had a much broader appeal, especially in Portland’s dense creative environment.

3. What is the concept behind the store?

The idea of the store is to supply useful and functional supplies for life. Primarily our focus is on utility products to be used in the process of making things. Every item in the shop needs to meet our standards for Utility, Story, and Design. While each product may have stronger attributes towards one standard than the others, we ensure that they have at least some component of all three.

4. How did you come up with the name Hand-Eye Supply?

Hand-Eye Supply is a play on hand eye coordination, which is often, but not always, an essential component of creative work.

5. What are your 3 favorite things in the store?

I am personally particular to the pocket knives, and  the Mercator “Kat” Knives specifically. Having been involved in the design, I'm partial to the Hand-Eye Supply shop aprons and I am really excited about a new apparel product that we can’t speak too much about yet .

6. What’s a funny shop story you have?

J.J. Abrams, (creator of LOST, producer of the new Star Trek series and director, writer and producer of the upcoming Star Wars film) came in to the store and wanted to buy a size medium t-shirt. It was early in our history and at the time we only had Core77 shirts, left over from the original Core77 online store and we had an abundant selection of larges but very little else. I scoured the shop for a medium and couldn’t turn any thing up. He bought a notebook or something and then left proclaiming an appreciation for the store. Moments after he left I realized that we had a medium t-shirt on a Mannequin in plain view. What a bummer!

7. Who inspires your style?

We’re heavily influenced by our customers. They’ve helped us immensely in defining who we are. Our staff is made up of a collection of design nerds, music lovers, history buffs, and otherwise information and ephemera obsessed human beings, so we draw on a broad swath of influences from our various personal sources. 

8. Where are your favorite places to shop?

ADX, Shop People and Public Lab are some of our favorite community centers and some of our favorite stores include Mississippi Records, Exiled Records, The Good Mod, Una, Communion, W.C. Wink’s Hardware, Lowell, Portland Outdoor Store, Oregon Leather, Eden, Canoe, Floating World Comics, Table of Contents, Schoolhouse Electric Co, Rebuilding Center and Community Cycling Center. Obviously many more, but that’s a quick list.