There are exciting developments afoot on the corner of 28th and E Burnside, and I'm not talking about condominiums. The sadness of seeing the Lady Luck vintage store––which long held court across from the Laurelhurst Theater at 2742 E Burnside––recently shuttered, has been greatly alleviated by news of the space's new tenants: Rad Summer, the vintage store-cum-local record outlet-cum-used bike store and sometimes event space. Rad is co-owned by a cadre of cool kids—most notably Honey Owens of Valet and Dunes fame—and its doors should be open by the time you read this. Originally slated to be open for business on Saturday, December 13, Winter Blast 2008™ has presented its share of setbacks.
Likewise, the space next door formerly occupied by Do or Dye hair salon (2730 E Burnside) is being reincarnated, and its new proprietor, May Juliette Barruel, estimates it will be ready for visitors by this Friday or Saturday. I'm on pins and needles waiting to get into Barruel's new venture, named Nationale after the metro stop by her first apartment in Paris. Originally from Grenoble, France, Barruel moved to Boston when she was 20, where she went to photography school before moving back to the Continent. There she lived in Paris for three years before returning to the States—this time to Eugene, for "its local organic food, proximity to the Pacific Ocean, and (embarrassing, but true), the Country Fair." For the past eight years, she has been living in Portland, almost four of which she's spent working for Stumptown Coffee, both behind the counter as a barista and as the art curator of the downtown location.
Barruel's transcontinental past and love of art and literature (she holds a masters in American literature from the Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris) will inform the contents of Nationale, which will also function as a small gallery and intimate performance space.
"What I plan to have in there is a sample of candies, toiletries, art, books, old trinkets, magazines, and accessories that I feel grateful for and inspire me in one way or another," she explains. "Items of quality that do not have to be so expensive you can't ever afford them, but that still feel very special, because of the way they were made, a feeling they provoke, or the traditions they respect. I'm also excited to introduce French products to the Portland market, stuff I grew up with that were never a big deal but that I really miss now that I'm here. The simplicity of every object will hopefully come through, and is an important part of my vision."
From Marseilles soaps to traditional French diaper rash cream, get ready for a Nationale revolution in Portland.
Another brave new local venture was unveiled over the weekend: Moonwoods handcrafted eye wear had a quiet launch at Frances May (1013 SW Washington) on Saturday, just before the snow began to fall. A collaboration between Justin Wayland, Danielle Higgins, and Matthew Hamilton, the Moonwoods line consists of beautiful, elegantly carved wooden eyeglass frames and jewelry, including softer (but still killer) wooden iterations on brass knuckles, which make use of the scrap material cut out for the eyewear frames.
The project began when Wayland, who is nearly blind, broke his glasses. Coupling his need for replacements with a desire to do so in an artful and environmentally sensitive way, he threw himself into researching woodworking, ethical harvesting practices, and running a green business. He teamed up with Higgins, who specializes in the shaping and finishing work, as well as designing some of the frames, and the two went into business together, tapping Hamilton—who has an arts background that includes constructing wooden surfboards in Southern California—for his artistic input and technical expertise. "Matthew developed our brass hinge system," says Higgins. "He is also the master of the scroll saw, one of our most important tools."
Each pair of Moonwoods eyeglasses is customized to the individual through measurements or photographs, and clients may also specify the type of wood and hinge they prefer. The company will also duplicate the shape of a favorite pair of specs (they'll do sunglasses too), and in two to four weeks, depending on the amount of detail involved, a pair of one-of-a-kind eyeglasses made conscientiously without harsh chemicals out of mill ends that would otherwise be discarded, is yours.
"We chose wood for its unmatched beauty and versatility," says Higgins. "Also, because of the nature of the material, no two pairs will ever be identical. There is a lot to say about something truly unique and individual in this time of outsourcing and mass production. Eyeglasses are your most prominent accessory, and really make a statement—we want that statement to have true value beyond fashionable trends and material conveniences." Contact Moonwoods via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or telephone (984-0183) for inquiries, and read more about what's in store for Nationale and Moonwoods at mod.portlandmercury.com.