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Insight: Brian Faherty

Insight: Brian Faherty

Past meets present in the lighting and lifestyle collection of Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co., where an Edison bulb gets electrified and an IBM clock gets refaced with hand-blown glass. Founder and visionary Brian Faherty takes his cues from midcentury, Great Depression and 1960s-period designs. “If I could, I’d put all eras in a mixer and hit ‘gently blend,’ ” he says. As the humble force behind this Portland-based company’s 4,500 products, Faherty is not about hitting people over the head with his concepts, but rather, tapping into the role nostalgia plays in people’s lives. Time-honored furnishings and fixtures piqued his interest during a stint as a realtor specializing in historic homes, and he ultimately purchased a warehoused collection of cast-iron molds for hand-blown-glass fixtures and put them back into production. “I wanted to create something authentic that would serve the homes and buildings that will be here long after we’re gone,” he says. Ten years and dozens of collaborations later, Faherty has broadened his lighting and furniture collection to include everyday items, like a shoeshine brush and a coat rack. “I’m all about domestic utility,” he says. No elaborate crystal chandeliers for this creative genius.

LX: Lighting 101...
BF: I’m a big believer in keeping it simple. What areas are task areas that need task lighting? Where’s the ambient light? Where’s the functional? How do these match up with natural lighting and how can the finishes complement the environment?

LX: Greatest influence...
BF: I root for the underdog and I love to watch good brands grow. I really admired Jack Spade even when they were small.

LX: Current projects...
BF: I’m just finishing the layout and design of a beach house on the Oregon Coast with Portland architect Paul McKean and I’m about to embark upon the expansion of our creative workspace in our Portland factory building.

LX: Favorite restaurant...
BF: I like what Duane Sorenson of Stumptown has done with his new restaurant ventures, especially Ava Gene’s in Portland. Each has a point of view and voice that carries through the entire experience.

LX: I’m inspired by...
BF: The way people present themselves as individuals through fashion. I’m not talking about high fashion or even current fashion, but an amalgamated approach. I’m interested in what holds up and what doesn’t—what is classic, fresh, sturdy, functional and, most of all, comfortable.

schoolhouseelectric.com;
503.230.7113

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