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  • Hope Reynolds

The flurry of CONTENT 2012 madness culminated on Nov 11 at the Ace Hotel as the majority of Portland's design scene crammed through the slender, second-floor hallway to experience 28 rooms worth of installations.

Each room expressed a creative vision from on one of Portland's finest designers. Portland style institutions like Tanner Goods, Shwood and Bridge & Burn were represented along with a crop of newcomers like Made on the Moon and LiFT. However, among the manifold presentations, the most magical deliveries expanded beyond retail display and focused on conceptual presentations that appealed to sensory experience.

Let's begin with this power couple:

A pioneer of Portland's design scene, Emily Baker launched jewelry line Sword + Fern years ago from a modest studio on E. Burnside St. While the studio space remains, Baker's following and influence within the city has exponentially grown and her talents now span multiple creative realms from musical performance to herbalism. Baker's creative wizardry is emphasized by sweetheart Kerby Ferris' involvement. The pair collaborated on room 220 wherein Ferris debuted PAWPRINCE, a new solo project that created a sound installation to accompany Baker's YOUJOY collection.

What resulted was magic: a collection of glass plates printed with palm images that, when touched, produced a layer of sound. This created an interactive, auditory experience wherein attendees could layer sounds over one another and create collaborative music.

Apart from the stellar sound installation, giant graphic posters, plant-dyed ombre textiles and plants rustled throughout the room. Ultimately, the couple created a sensory haven that allowed all who entered to physically experience their design. This is what I was hoping for in Content's anticipation; expressive mediums that tapped into the pulse of designers inspirations and passions and the Baker/Ferris duo delivered the evening's standout presentation. Check out more info about their Content involvement in this interview with the Ace.

Another prosperous collaboration came from Bwana Spoons' Smartcar presentation. Spoons designed a cosmic Smartcar available for test drives alongside a small fleet of other Smartcars parked outside the hotel. Spoons' actual room mimicked a rainforest atmosphere and featured a "rainbow machine" activated when attendees turned a steering wheel-not your standard vehicular experience.

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  • Justin Kent

The Good Flock also created an interactive, sensory experience with an enchanting music and light performance that featured the company's new lamp design. Designer Marc Murillo manned a control panel for the bulk of the evening that tempered a dome ceiling completely embellished with said light fixtures alongside ambient music. The presentation struck its elegance through focus on one, well-executed element. I was impressed with the lamp and appreciated the Good Flock's invitation to experience design in an innovative manner.

Similarly, Kate Towers' room showcased one element, specifically one pea-green, brocade textile; and while the room did not elicit interaction, the visuals were fantastic and conjured creepy-chic images of Kubrick's twins via The Shining.

While Pendleton wool was inevitably abundant, CONTENT 2012's most innovative presentations reflected what is truly distinct about Portland design: its interactive, creative community. We aren't talking mere lamps and shirts here people (although the products selection at the neighboring Cleaners pop-up shop were amazing). Instead, Portland design has the potential to expand in to an interconnected, sustainable, network that aims for a designed life and CONTENT 2012 served as an excellent host for the establishment and manifestation of these connections.