First thing you ever made? Chelsea: “For as long as I can remember I have been making assemblages of objects. I can recall occupying a lot of time collecting rocks, flowers, and shells to make little organized groupings. I did the same with my room and toys. There has always been something self-satisfying in that process for me.” James: “My dad (mostly) and I made a plywood castle to use with my Lego people. It was pretty great.”

Grain, furniture and product designers

To hear the story of James and Chelsea Minola — the married couple behind Seattle’s Grain design studio — you begin to wonder how it’s possible their paths didn’t cross even earlier in life. Both grew up in Southern California — James in San Diego, and Chelsea in Los Angeles, where her parents were the owners of a punk rock store at the Sherman Oaks Galleria. In the early ’90s, both families relocated to the Pacific Northwest, and James and Chelsea moved east to Providence, Rhode Island, around the same time to attend RISD — James as an undergrad in engineering and Chelsea as a graduate in industrial design. But the two didn’t meet until they both enrolled in a short course called “Bridging Cultures Through Design,” where they worked first in Providence, tinkering with ideas about weaving, and then for a few weeks in Guatemala, where they learned how to work with talented local artisans. The trip would eventually lead the two friends down the path to marriage but it also introduced them to the way in which their future studio would run.
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Another Country, Semley, England

When Paul de Zwart founded Another Country a little over a year ago, the name wasn’t meant to be quite so literal: A small furniture company that focuses on affordably priced, well designed, but not overly trendy wood pieces, Another Country initially wore its Made in the UK status like a badge of honor, crafting small runs by hand using FSC-certified timber from a tiny workshop in the Dorset village of Semley, two hours east of London. De Zwart, who co-founded Wallpaper with Tyler Brûlé in the mid-‘90s, had originally devised the idea for Another Country after searching in vain for an affordable three-legged stool that might fit as well in the country home he was refurbishing as it would in his London flat. The proportions and rounded peg details of the stool De Zwart ended up designing in collaboration with Dominic Parish — a furniture-maker in Semley and now De Zwart’s business partner — eventually informed a 10-piece collection that debuted to fanfare and high praise during 2010’s London Design Festival. Fast-forward to now, and the brand is thriving, having just released a second, more angular furniture series and recently expanded into small goods like pottery, candlesticks, clocks, and desktop accessories. But ask De Zwart where the hub of Another Country’s production now sits, and the answer might surprise you.
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