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video: Portland Made: Leather Craftsman Geoff Franklin

Monday, March 30, 2015


Leather and bike accessory craftsman Geoff Franklin

Portland is full of doers. We build, craft and create. We cut, weld and sew. We design. We manufacture. We work.

Portland Made is a collective of local makers across all industry sectors. From food, bikes, fashion and home goods, Portland Made represents over 500 makers who collectively create thousands of jobs and over a billion dollars in economic activity. Portland Made is an online hub that tells the stories of these local makers and their products, with the goal of connecting consumers to all of the incredible things being made right here in our city. Every week we feature a different maker and provide information about where you can buy their products.

This Week: Geoff and Valerie Franklin of Walnut Studiolo

Craftsman, like chefs, are quickly becoming rock stars of the growing Maker Movement, and consumers wear their local purchases with pride. Everyone can be part of the Maker Movement by supporting these artisanal companies with their dollars. It is a way for each of us, as consumers, to express what we value, and buying something handmade says a lot more about a person than something from Pottery Barn. It means we care, that we have an aesthetic sensibility, and a belief in originality and quality. We want to own something that is one of a kind, and handcrafted goods, even those made at scale, are all unique. We want the objects in our daily lives to be more designed and handcrafted, so they fit in with our lifestyle.

Portland Made member, Walnut Studiolo, makes products that reflect these handcrafted values, which can be seen in their recent release of Whiskey Case and No Logo Coasters. And they are continuing to garner national attention for their  high quality goods with a featuredin the April/May issue of American Craft Magazine. You can buy their products on their website, at retailers around the country or in Portland at Made Here.

A little bit more about Geoff and Valerie Franklin of Walnut Studiolo, as written by Portland Made contributing writer, Eric Gold:

In 2008, architect Geoff Franklin started cycling to work in downtown Portland. Each day, he’d hoist his bike onto his shoulder to carry it up three flights of stairs to his office. “I just kind of had a bruise on my shoulder that never went away,” he said. He thought of the leather horse tack he’d once used on his family’s eastern Oregon ranch. Leather, he realized, was the ideal material for the points of contact between body and bike.

“Wood is often used in architecture the same way” as leather on a bike, Franklin said “On a handrail, or a steel column that gets wrapped in wood because you don’t want to lean up against the cold metal. It has a warm, tactile feeling that humanizes the structure.”

Franklin created his portage strap, and Walnut Studiolo (Italian for “little study”) was born.

With attention from the popular blog BikePortland, Walnut Studiolo now supports Franklin and his wife Valerie full-time. The company’s twenty-seven products, from blueprint tubes to six-pack holders, are made mostly from vegetable-tanned leather, with some cedar pieces. About a half dozen of his current offerings, Franklin says, came from custom items he made for a particular client and then adapted for the catalog.

“I strip it down to the minimum pieces,” Franklin said, “so there are fewer things to get broken, fewer things to put together, but performing exactly the way I want it to. I don’t add stitching where it doesn’t need to be. You’re not paying for all that extra work that doesn’t need to be there.”

In his designs, he said, he reaches back to his architecture education at the University of Oregon. “For architecture,” he said, “one of the highest praises is to say that it’s expressive, that you can look at a building and understand how it’s held up and held together. There’s a deep comfort in looking at it and instantly understanding it, and I think that is probably near the top of my mind.”


ADX is a 14,000 square foot Makerspace where artists and designers work along side each other to prototype and launch new product lines. ADX is also open to the general public and teaches people of all ages how to make. And if you don't want to do it yourself, you can hire them to do it for you. For more information check out adxportland.com and watch this video.

Portland Made is a collective of makers, artisans, manufacturers and retailers that advocate and support members by providing education and marketing, a shared resource hug and a brand that promotes their products locally and globally.  For more information see www.portlandmade.com or watch the video below:


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