Studio Visit: Kinfolk Magazine

On our recent visit to the Kinfolk office, we were warmly greeted by co-founder Katie Searle-Williams and Community Manager Jessica Gray. We mosied through the office which was open and filled with communal work stations, plants and illuminated by skylights. Kinfolk is a magazine that promotes a simple life, showcasing recipes, essays, things to do and places to see. It was great to see where all the magic happens. There was an energy and buzz amongst the team looking at layouts, reviewing computer screens, and chatting with one another. From the floral arrangement that greeted us to the layout and design of the office, nothing disappointed or distracted from the aesthetic that Kinfolk has popularized. We also got to check out their new clothing line Ouur, which is a collaboration with partners in Japan that features crisp linen pieces with clean lines and classic silhouettes. Enjoy Katie Searle-Williams’ interview below and the pictures of their stunning office.

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1. A. What are your favorite things happening in Portland (design or otherwise)?

1. B. Why Portland?

A. Compared with other notable cities, Portland has a very easygoing vibe. The people here notice and appreciate simple things that may not be appreciated elsewhere. This is clear when you see the eclectic shops, clothing and food available in this town. Design in Portland can be summarized by the words playful and inventive. Artisans and designers are not afraid to take risks and try new techniques and mediums. In contrast to a more refined art scene in say, New York, where precision is key, Portland makers are constantly creating new pieces and work, testing and trying, not afraid to make mistakes or stand out. This adventurous spirit is prevalent amongst the creative community and fuels the numerous projects and concepts endlessly coming out of Portland, setting a high bar for innovation.

B. Local businesses make Portland stand out from other cites and make it a more unique place to live. Consumers are provided a wide range of products that represent the different cultures and trends that make up Portland. In an increasingly homogenized world, communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character are more likely to attract entrepreneurs, new investment, and visitors, all of which stimulate the economy. Portlanders place a high value on individuality and consider the homegrown enterprises a source of pride. One-of-a-kind, independent businesses are an integral part of what makes Portland a great place to live and work, and we are proud to be a part of this community.

2. How did your brand start?

In an everyday conversation with a few friends while we were attending college the idea for an entertaining/lifestyle collaborative concept began to percolate. We noticed a void in resources and inspiration for our age group that appealed to our interests, so, we created one ourselves. We are now just over three years into this, and couldn’t be more grateful for the way it’s developed and the friends we’ve made while working on what has become much more than a passion project.

3. What has been your biggest obstacle?

It’s been a very learn-as-you-go experience for us. I would say that forging our own path through an already very regimented and predictable industry (publishing) was really difficult in the beginning. The way we approached our distribution, business model, and even our content stood out, and we had to keep pushing our way through, making things work (even though it wasn’t the norm), constantly learning the ropes while on the job. We were and still are a very small team and we have to wear a lot of different hats to accomplish our goals and to produce great work. 

4. What or who inspires your design?

We both admire and are influenced aesthetically and by the values from several different cultures; most often incorporated are Scandinavian and Japanese influences. We also follow the work of pioneers in Design-thinking and Publishing, individuals like Stefan Sagmeister and Monocle’s Tyler Brûlé. Even though our tastes may differ, there’s no arguing that these innovators push against the grain and do the unexpected.

5. Your favorite thing about your workspace?

We paid particular attention to designing an environment conducive to creative thinking and productivity. We’ve incorporated a lot of natural light and plants, which provide a stimulating vibe, and the open office and group desks invite teamwork and collaboration.

6. 5 things you can’t live without.

-Nature: We are really grateful to live in a place where there is so much in close proximity- we love going on drives, hikes, and exploring the surrounding parks.

-Books/Magazines: We read. A lot. This is one realm where recreation and work collide, and it’s ok! We learn a ton by reading up on our industry and exploring other magazine trends and styles.

-Food: The obvious aside, we have some pretty serious food-appreciators in our office. We try to do office potlucks often, and it’s not uncommon to have multiple plates of baked treats on our counter that have been brought in for sharing. We are spoiled here in Portland with all of the delicious food options!

-Our readers: This may sound a little funny, but our readers keep us going! Both as financial backers and as cheerleaders. We ride off of the support and enthusiasm of our community and are constantly in awe of our readers and their kindness. We do what we do for them.

-Music: Though the preference in genre varies between our team, we all in some way use music to boost productivity, or mellow out (at work and outside of work).