Shop Name, Location, Type of Goods Sold: Forage Modern Workshop / Minneapolis, MN / Curated Goods for the Modern Lifestyle
Tell us a little bit about how Forage came to be. Owners Michael Smith and James Brown own a design + build contracting company called Brownsmith Restoration, specializing in period design and restoration. Through this work, they became interested in modern furniture design made by architects – which a lot came out of the Midwest. So they wanted to create a space where local designers and makers could showcase their work, because good modern design still continues to come out of the Midwest. They felt that people needed to pay more attention to these designers, but also introduce the Twin Cities and beyond to amazing designs from all over the US and the world. They convinced me to quit my job and help them start Forage. Which I think is now this idea workshop. Sure, we sell beautiful things, but we also work to get people to think twice about their stuff – who made it, where does it come from, how long will it last. We have this crazy idea that craftsmanship and beauty can make the world a better place.
Talk about your style. People are harping about the Midwest these days, but we love the Midwest! And, we are defining what we call Midwest Modern through the goods in our store. Scandinavian design, with Navajo design, with industrial design, with some fine art. Sounds like the Midwest to me!
Do you have a favorite part of your shop + why? Yes. The building that we bought where Forage now exists used to be an old Carpenter’s Union Hall built in 1951. It has amazing modern lines, but it was filled with cubicles and bad wood paneled walls. We kept the bathrooms exactly how they were – which means the men’s room is about three times the size of the women’s. And, we had our friends at Aesthetic Apparatus make a sign to hang in both bathrooms that reads “Carpenter’s Local Union 1644. Bathroom. Circa 1987. Meticulously Preserved by Forage Modern Workshop. It’s hilarious and some people get it and most people don’t. I love it.
Where does your inspiration come from? Honestly, I’m mostly inspired by stories. The designers themselves. What they do on a daily basis and what inspires them.
Tell us about some of your biggest achievements and challenges. Oh man, it’s hard to pick an achievement because I feel like every day there are new hurdles to jump over. When you’re doing anything creative and different, you’re constantly thinking about the next thing. Which I think is one of the biggest challenges. Keeping Forage true to what it is, while letting it morph into what it should become without just chasing trends. One of my goals is always to just be cool and not chase cool. Ok, but if I had to pick an achievement I’m really proud of, it’s probably hosting Martha Stewart’s Made American Made Minneapolis Meet-up event and getting a write up in Dwell in their “Shops we Love” feature.
Biggest splurge and biggest steal: Here’s the thing. I try really hard to carry pieces that I think are super attainable. So everything we bring in the store, we think is totally worth the investment. But if I had to choose – biggest splurge: Stephen Kenn Inheritance Collection sofa in Black wool and brass and biggest steal: Dylan Design’s Retronaut Lamp.
What are some of your go-to places when it comes to shopping for your space? If I told you, I’d have to kill you.
Any advice? Cheesy as it sounds, when it comes to small business, always stay true to who you are. Take a step back and look at every piece, every product and analyze it. And, you can never play too much ping pong or eat too many donuts.