Television editor-turned-lighting designer Shannon Guirl admits she’s been “all over the place.” Traveling as far north as Iceland and as distant as Dubai, she’s dabbled in a number of passions along the way. But it wasn’t until she laid eyes on a broken midcentury modern beauty that everything changed. “I was collecting lamps from the 1950s and ’60s and developed an obsessive love affair with the lighting from that period,” she recalls, “when one of the lamps I ordered arrived in pieces.” True to her half-glass-full perspective, she saw an opportunity to learn how to reassemble it from the inside out. Fast forward five years, add a wood-turning and ceramics class, and a serendipitous move from Brooklyn to Portland, and the rest is Caravan Pacific history. Named after her love of gypsy travel and the West Coast, Caravan Pacific uses sustainably sourced woods and boldly painted ceramics to craft simply wrought lamps with a modern-vintage swagger. “I wanted my designs to become a treasured part of someone’s daily life,” she says. Indeed, Guirl’s lamps light up the room in more ways than one.
LX: Describe your approach:
SG: I work with a team of local artisans and have a very hands-on method to designing. I’m usually covered with sawdust or clay for the majority of the week, creating and prototyping our products, and feel a direct connection to every lamp we make.
LX: Design icon:
SG: Gordon Martz. He ran Marshall Studios—a midcentury lighting manufacturing company—with his wife Jane. I’ve been in contact with Gordon for the last two years; he’s been wonderfully supportive as I move forward with my business.
LX: Favorite decorating source:
SG: Beam & Anchor is one of my go-to shops in town; I love how they’ve combined vintage finds with handcrafted goods from across the country.
LX: Greatest influences:
SG: Strong, creative women who nurtured their inner voices and shared them with us: Ruth Asawa, Alice Walker, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Jane Jacobs. They all had such patience, wisdom and innate passion.
LX: Favorite museum:
SG: I absolutely love The Field Museum in Chicago; it had such an impact on my childhood. I remember wandering through this gigantic model of a human heart and hearing it beat. The whole place was filled with treasure after treasure and made you want to dream big.