Some of Our Favorite Artisan Makers

We have some friends whose beautiful wares are an essentially integrated part of the experience at our restaurants, and we think you should know a little more about them. The same attention to detail that we put into cooking and serving is echoed in their craftsmanship. And they make really great holiday gifts too…so please check them out!

Portland Apron Company creates handmade aprons in a small studio in NE Portland, with a focus on simple, functional designs and organic fabrics. It was started by Erika Kelly in 2012 as a fun side project, and has grown into a busy and successful business. Erika made these amazingly handsome/functional aprons for Norankeo and we think they are just great.  

“Kina and I got together at Noraneko to talk about what they needed in an apron. I brought her some samples to look at, and she asked if the ties could be customized to match the norens in the space. She wanted the ties to be close in color, but slightly contrasting. I thought it was a great idea, and after some searching I was able to find the colors we ended up with. I love the end result! It's really fun when I get to collaborate with others and come up with something new like this.” —Erika

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HANK by Henry is a collaborative effort between Noraneko chef Ed Ross and his girlfriend, designer Allison Henry. HANK offers a revival on contemporary chopsticks with a passion for un-paralleled craftsmanship. Each pair is crafted out of durable wood and meticulously hand-painted with understated details. They really are small objects of art.

“Culinary culture plays a big part in our daily ritual, we cook and entertain at home a lot. For us it’s about getting people together and sharing a meal with them - being surrounded by good food and lots of laughs. The chopsticks became our way of bringing a little more joy into that experience. We hope they inspire people to get jazzed about what they’re eating…these are the chopsticks they reach for every time they order takeout or make their favorite noodle dish.” —Ed & Allison

Careen Stoll’s ceramics are inspired by sensory experiences of nature: the cool smooth of a river stone, the transformation of an egg, the endlessness of the sea… and she finds it is easy to capture these qualities with porcelain. She designed a lovely set of platters and plates for our new sashimi menu at Biwa, so please take note next time you’re in. Watch the video below to see Careen at work…her method is truly an art form!

“As the daughter of a sailor, the creatures of the sea are particularly special to me. Memories of delicate undulations and effortless gatherings, all suspended in watery space, return to me when I sit quietly before sushi. I hope that my dishes at Biwa can present these gifts from the sea with the respect that they deserve. To work with Gabe and Kina has been a real pleasure: not only do they have a similar regard for the beauty and sourcing of food as I, but they absolutely understand the ephemeral sculptural nature of the dining experience without getting all formal about it. Biwa has always felt like a place where my heart is warm and all my senses are pleased.” —Careen

Video by One Hundred Seconds