Wednesday 13 July 2005

Portland Typographic Style

Well, I’m in Portland, Oregon for WebVisions 2005 as well as a workshop at Portland State University tomorrow. Walking around the city with a friend last night, I became very fascinated by the many interesting uses of type in various signage – particularly for hotels and cafes.

I’ve collected a few favorites here, and I’m curious if this is something I’m finding especially obvious here in Portland or if I’ve just been asleep at the wheel in every city I’ve been in over the past years!

Here’s Intelligent Design, an interior design company:

photo of interior design shop

Saucebox, a restaurant – (which would also make a great name for a band):

photo of restaurant called saucebox

I love this one! Good Dog, Bad Dog: Sausages for All:

photo of restaurant called Good Dog Bad Dog

I ate there, a big juicy Polish dog with horseradish, swiss cheese and grilled onion. Oh lordy it was bad. For my arteries, that is. The sausage was excellent.

The signage at my hotel is wonderful. Actually, my hotel is quite wonderful – Hotel Lucia, a boutique hotel in downtown Portland. It boasts 600 of Pulitzer Prize winning photos from the fantastic photographer David Hume Kennerly. Every hallway and room is a gallery, it’s great!

The hotel sign outside:

photo of the hotel lucia in portland oregon

Room 411:

photo of the hotel lucia in portland oregon

And this is amusing – the hotel’s unique take on “do not disturb” . . .

not now

. . . and “please make up this room”:

okay, now

Of course, there are a lot more examples, but I think this shows a bit of what I’m getting at. Also, I realize these photos are quite small but I wanted to post on this. I’ll be Flickr’ing more photos (note that Flickr’ing is now a verb, too) as I get them organized in between work and what-not, and many of the ones in my soon-to-be Portland2005 set will offer larger views than those available in this entry.

So back to the question at hand: Is it just me, or is Portland really a designer’s town, and does that explain the interesting typography everywhere?

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 19:20 | Comments (15)

Comments (15)

  1. You’re just hanging around the nice part of town. I’ve lived here 15 years and while I love it to death, most of Portland is really ugly.

    We do have some nice design, though.

  2. Welcome to Portland. We’re very happy to have you here for Web Visions. Five of the designers at my company are attending your workshop tomorrow, and they’re very excited! 🙂

    Portland does have a lot of places with good typography. I drive past an upholstery store that I have a desire to frequent solely because of the typography in the sign.

  3. This has nothing to do with design, but while you’re there, check out the Red Star (if it’s still around). Delicious food, especially the chevre.

  4. Good turtle, bad turtle!

  5. Snow and I just moved to Portland in March, and I think the first commenter is dead wrong. Just about every area I’ve been to for eating, shopping, etc. has great examples of design-in-action, whether it’s the New Seasons market on NE 33rd, the shops on Alberta St. (where we live), downtown (NW), SE, or even in the outskirts of Troutdale. It’s happening!

  6. no molly, you haven’t been asleep. portland is particularly funky … i stopped over on my way to mt hood for a conference. wish i could have stayed longer.

  7. Robert — Okay, maybe I overstated it. Let’s say Portland has some nicely-designed parts of town. Still, take a stroll up Sandy Blvd. or down 82nd sometime. It’s depressing.

    Like I said, I love Portland, and we do have a lot of nice design to appreciate, but at least for me, it lacks the “city feel” I get visiting Toronto, or San Francisco, or even Seattle.

    Partly it has to do with the number of people actually out on the streets in those other cities. There, sidewalks are crowded with people shopping, or eating at outdoor cafes. Portland has small areas like that (NW 23rd, small strips of Hawthorne and Alberta, the Pearl District) but it’s just not as lively and cultured—the city as a whole—as those larger cities.

    Of course, maybe I only spend time in the lively, cultured areas of those other cities.

  8. “I ate there, a big juicy Polish dog with horseradish, swiss cheese and grilled onion.”

    I’m so hungry.

  9. How coincidental, I ate at Good Dog/Bad Dog yesterday too. The Magma Dog, done “Face Melter” style, is the thing to get if you like it hot.

    Looking forward to your talk tomorrow.

  10. Okay… this post doesn;t have anything to do with Portland either. I just wanted to let you know, Molly, that I’ve had it with the people getting away with using my name without paying me any $$$ for it. So, as revenge, I decided to sue them.

    You can read all about it starting on Tuesday the 26th over at 😉

    Oh, did I mention you were go to guest star again????


    Remember, Tuesday, July 26th!


    Chris Flick!

  11. Although I should mention that YOUR guest appearance won’t appear until August 23. Sorry.


  12. I’m happy that you had such an appropriate takeaway from your visit.

    Portland is very much a design town, driven partly by the proximity of Nike — a famous training ground for young designers on their way up.

    I think it also has something to do with the strong DIY music scene here, which generates an amazing tide of poster art.

    Another factor is no doubt the consciously pedestrian-friendly downtown, an ethos which has gradually leaked out to other neighborhoods (and other cities).

  13. Nice photos of some of PDX, I like it there… well, when it’s not raining. Oops, hang-on, I guess I don’t like it there…

    It’s a far cry from smalltown PA; good food, lots of stuff for a web geek to do. A far cry from smalltown PA…

  14. Very Very nice information here… Thanks

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