Studio Visit: Pigeon Toe

Pigeon Toe Ceramics is located in The Makery, a collective of creatives and makers located in North Portland. Pigeon Toe Pottery started in 2009 by the amazingly skilled (and astonishingly self taught) Lisa Jones. Consistently minimal, strong clean lines and bright white with pops of color have become synonymous with the brand. In 5 years, Pigeon Toe has grown to 5 employees, done some very exciting collaborations, created a dream studio space and is carried in over 180 stores worldwide and it’s easy to see why. Some of our favorite pieces from the collection were the Bronze Handle Butter Dish and the Rope Canisters, we can’t stop thinking about them! During our visit Lisa also showed us some exciting new things that she has been working on, a ceramic bowl that has reed woven into it - we are in love! She also explained that Pigeon Toe’s jewelry line came about by experimenting with making ornaments and the result is to die for! We loved chatting with Lisa and seeing first hand how truly talented she is which attests to the growth and success of Pigeon Toe. Check out the impressive studio and showroom as well as the interview with Lisa Jones!

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1. Why Portland? What was it that drew you to Portland or has kept you here? 

I came for school from Washington state (I’m a PNCA alum) and never left. Portland is this perfect combination of small town with larger city amenities. The food! The independent business that abound! And so many artists! I was able to start my business here because of the relative affordability. Plus you can’t beat the nature all around us.

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

TBA & Design Week Portland are two of my favorite creative events here.

3. How did your brand start?

 I was working as a graphic designer (for a coffee roaster of course, so very Portland) and decided to rent a shelf at a community pottery studio here in town to get away from the computer and get my hands dirty. I hadn’t touched clay since I was about 8, when I learned to throw. The rest is basically history. I was able to quit my job 6 months later and hire my first employees (who are still with me today, 5 years on!).

4. What has been your biggest obstacle?

To be completely honest, our biggest problem has always been graceful growth. Business exploded very early on, and it can be difficult to scale up thoughtfully to meet that demand when you’re inexperienced. Now, in our sixth year, we’re like a well-oiled machine and run very smoothly, but growing while staying true to our core principles will always be an issue.

5. Who are your design icon(s)?

 Hans Wegner

Eva Zeisel

Yoko Ono

Richard Serra

6. What is your favorite part of your studio?

 We have these huge wooden barn doors all along the Eastern wall of the space that we can roll open when the weather permits and it feels like you’re working outside. When I saw those, I knew I’d found my new studio.

7. Your favorite thing about your workspace?

 When I leased this building two years ago, it was an empty cavernous old 7,000 sq foot warehouse. Since then, I’ve filled it with inspiring friends and designers to work alongside. I wouldn’t trade the sense of community for anything. We dubbed it the Makery, and it’s now evolving into not just studio spaced for ten brands and artists, but a center for learning and collaboration

8. 5 things you can’t live without.

Coffee

The Internet

My son

My Sketchbook

Sunshine