Studio Visit: Space Design

Martie Kilmer of Space Design has been making cool things with nature for over 8 years. She was one of the first to make terrariums in Portland, which Portland has become known for. Attached to her studio is a greenhouse where Fez the chameleon lives with lots of airplants, succulents, orchids, and a kumquat tree. Her love of gardening shines through in her work, and her thumb is so green she grows a lot of it herself in the cutting garden in her backyard! Her accounts include The Ace Hotel, Weiden + Kennedy, and Nostrana.

+shop space design!


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

I pretty much grew up here, my family is here, my work is here, my life is here. I've traveled all over the world and am always so grateful to come home to such a beautiful green city. Portland is perfectly curated city!

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

The crafting movement thats happening in Portland and around the US is super exciting. From Doug Johnson vessels to Emily Katz's hand embroidered panels, I think we're all tired of the big box, made in China look and are yearning for items that are hand made and lovingly crafted.

3. How did your brand start?

I was between jobs, just out of the restaurant business and focusing on my design business that had been on the back burner for years. My sister was catering an event and asked me to do the flowers for a 200 person sit down dinner. I had no idea what I was doing but apparently I pulled it off, I had a hand full of clients the following week.

4. What has been your biggest obstacle?

Coming up with new designs and setting trends. When I started making terrariums for the Ace, the terrarium trend hadn't yet begun, now you can buy a terrarium at the grocery store! I'm constantly trying to set myself apart by making my own vessels, repurposing found objects and sourcing unique and obscure plants.

5. Who is your style icon?

Sir Terrance Conran

6. What are your favorite things about Portland?

I have too many favorite things to list! I love all of the different neighborhoods in Portland and how each area has a different vibe.I also love that we have a river that runs through our city and that we have clear views of Mt. Hood and Mt. Saint Helens. I've been in so many cities that lacked green-spaces, where you could go for years without ever touching the earth. That probably sounds super hippy of me but I truly love that Portland has so many amazing parks and tree lined streets.

7. What neighborhood describes your style the best? 

The west end, my favorite shops are Alder & Co, Canoe, Woonwinkle and Flora.

8. Your favorite thing about your workspace? 

I built a greenhouse onto my studio this year, I have a huge orchid collection and have just started growing cactus from seed. 

9. Tell us two truths and a lie! 

I grew up on the Alaskan tundra and subsitance fished during my teenage years. I've had 5 cats named Bruce. My grandsons full name is El Valentino Maximilian Garcia Accuardi.

10. 5 things you can’t live without.

1. Limited edition leather handled Felcos

2. Airplants, orchids, cactus and succulents

3. Weekly foraging trips to the forest

4. Cappuccinos from Stumptown

5. My family