Midwestern Design

midwest 4

I’ve covered a slew of international design over the past nine years,  but it hasn’t been for lack of talent here in my own neck of the woods. It’s high time I gave a shout to my roots, yes? Introducing, my favorite Midwestern designers and makers who live in lands of corn and cities of cars – in no special order:



1. Collective Quarterly Magazine // A lifestyle print magazine that journeys to one city per issue, Collective Quarterly’s mission is to reveal crafts, goods and artisan materials created in various necks of the woods. Launched by Chicago blogger Seth Putnam, Jesse Lenz and Jay Gullion, the trio’s first issue highlights the bold and talented characters of Marfa, Texas.
2. Baldwin Denim // My managing editor tipped me off to Baldwin Denim, a clothing brand founded in Kansas City with a stark focus on modern design, quality textiles and American manufacturing.
3. A Sunny Afternoon // L.A.-based Sarah of Smitten Studio collaborates with her father in a Michigan workshop to create handmade, reclaimed serving boards (among other things) for her made in America-curated shop.
4. Lindsay Lewis // Lindsay took her first metalsmithing class in 2004 and has since designed a successful career selling her sculptural, unique jewelry creations in art shows throughout the Chicago area. This one’s a gal to watch!
5. Fringe & Fettle // Joanna Buyert quit her day job to move to a cabin in the north woods of Wisconsin and pursue pottery. Fast forward two years and she’s launched a beautiful, inspired shop filled to the brim with beautiful, everyday items.
6. Stu’s Kitchen // Culinary expert and master pickler teamed up with his business-minded college pal to create an elevated line of local, artisan Bloody Marys in Chicago and are now shipping their famous creations throughout the country. (Best Bloody Mary you’ll ever have.)
7. Hackwith Design House // Minneapolis artist Lisa Hackworth taught herself how to sew shortly after art school and began selling her limited edition creations online in 2010.
8. Faribault Woolen Mill Co. // Originating in 1865, five generations of skilled craftsman have worked to keep their high quality woolen mills within their Minnesota roots. (If you’re nearby, tour the mill – it’s fascinating!)midwest-design-2

9. J.W. Hulme Co. // Each J.W. Hulme Co. bag is individually handmade by skilled artisans using tanned American leathers selected from small craft tanneries in their home state of Minnesota.
10. G&C Pantry // Chicago chef Mark Steuer and right-hand man Sean Spradlin created G&C Pantry to make their famous kitchen provisions accessible far and wide. Kitchen Brine is their first product; the rest are set to launch this winter!
11. Maemae Paperie // Founded in a college art studio in 2008 by Megan Gonzalez, her graphic design business has grown and evolved over time to the recent launch of her Minneapolis studio and staff.
12. Pierrepont Hicks // Pierrepont Hicks was founded when a girl from Brooklyn met a guy from Minnesota. Now married, Mac and Katherine McMillan launched Pierrepont Hicks out of a desire to make the perfect tie. (Mission accomplished.) They now offer loafers, blankets and outerwear with their same quality craftsmanship at heart.
13. Up In The Air Somewhere // Susan Dwyer credits her stunning ceramic and papier-mâché vessels to inspiration found in the clean, minimal lines found in the industrial architecture of Chicago.
14. Polka Dot Club // Taking heritage toys seriously, Minneapolis-based Jennifer Murphy creates stuffed animals inspired by the quality, natural fibers of mohair, wool felts and wood stuffing of the 20th century.
15. Illume Candles // Illume candles may be inspired by international travels, but they’re made locally in the U.S. and created with their roots top of mind. Case in point: their sketchbook ceramics collection (pictured) was interpreted by a team of in-house artisans and designers local to Minneapolis.
16. ManCans // Created by a 13-year-old in Ohio, each man-friendly scent arrives in a clean and emptied soup can that was purchased and donated to a local soup kitchen. Best gift ever (try the campfire!).
17. Christine Wisnieski // You might remember Christine from the rad DIY series she created for us while I was on maternity leave. She’s since launched a bustling design studio in Cleveland and has a zillion rad projects in the works. (Congrats, Christine!)

midwest designers

Honorable mention goes to my e-friend Martha (above) who creates the most stunning scarves on the planet. I own three (get the Giant size) and have never not received a compliment when I wear them.

Tell me, what are your favorite Midwestern goods? I’d love to hear a list in the comment section!

p.s. Other greats: Winsome Goods, KC Co, Hammerpress, Munie, Oh Dier, Raygun, Bannor Toys, Port Leather, Pattern, City Flea!

Comments are closed.