The Best of the Twin Cities: Shops, Makers, Trends, and More


Above: Wilson and Willy’s, photo by TJ Turner


Best New Shop
Wilson & Willy’s is the brainchild of two of the most influential Minnesotans in the world of made-in-America manufacturing: John Mooty, the former marketing and creative director of Faribault Woolen Mill Co., and Rita Mehta, founder of The American Edit, an online catalog of U.S. makers and manufacturers. Modeled after the classic general store, Wilson & Willy’s sells products from time-honored brands—such as Minnesota’s own Red Wing Stoneware and Duluth Pack—as well as newer makers, including New York’s Best Made Co. Mooty’s Faribault Woolen Mill connections have led to an in-house line of menswear crafted from wool and cotton woven at the mill and a line of women’s coats by Hackwith Design House made from the mill’s signature blanket fabrics. It’s a marriage that could only have been made in Minnesota. 211 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis, 612-315-2280,—JP

Bambino-DecorLeft: Kids’ decor, photo courtesy Bambino Décor

Best Décor for Kids of All Ages
After years spent working for a design showroom at International Market Square, Trina Eibon realized the Twin Cities lacked a chic shop for children’s furnishings. No more. Last year, she opened Bambino Décor in a cozy, sunlight-filled storefront in Edina’s 50th and France shopping district. The studio offers design services as well as lines specializing in baby nurseries and children’s rooms. But apart from the sleek cribs and alphabet-decorated floor pillows, many of the shop’s products are sophisticated enough to appeal to the kid in all of us—particularly Amiee Wilder wallpapers, Surya rugs, and a whimsical wicker elephant bust. 3812 W. 51st St., Edina, 612-767-0207,—JP

Best Reinvention
Thirteen years after first opening in Minneapolis, FinnStyle’s retail storefront has been transformed at a new, expanded location. Rebranded as AlwaysMod, the new shop expands on FinnStyle’s original assortment of Finnish home goods to include a broader range of products from the world of modern design: furniture, lighting, bedding, and tabletop. New brands include Italian housewares and kitchen utensil company Alessi, Danish sterling silver home goods designer Georg Jensen, Swedish textile maker Viskaform, and famed Danish furniture designer Fritz Hansen (best known for its Arne Jacobsen Swan and Egg chairs). But fans of FinnStyle needn’t fret: AlwaysMod has retained the shop’s two most popular brands, Marimekko and Iittala, beloved for their bold patterns and sleek lines. 905 Decatur Ave. N., Golden Valley, 763-746-5600,—JP

Forage-Modern-WorkshopLeft: Mike Smith, Rebekah Cook, and James Brown of Forage Modern Workshop, photo by Sara Rubinstein

Best for Local Makers
Forage Modern Workshop has become a perennial favorite for those whose personal mantra is “shop local.” Nearly half of its lofty Lake Street storefront is stocked with hand-made products from local makers, including Concrete Pig, Solid Manufacturing Co., Eastvold Furniture, Tandem Made, and Faribault Woolen Mill. With goods spanning screen-printed wallpapers, midcentury-inspired furniture, and laser-cut aluminum lights, Forage offers a modern, design-savvy twist on Midwestern décor. 4023 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, 612-886-3603,—JP

Best Lifestyle Store
Michelle LeBlanc had been delivering her signature “luxe hippie” style long before her south Minneapolis shop Mille opened in 2012. The store, originally named Pretty Mommy, began online as an e-commerce shop, where it gained a national following thanks to its unique blend of apparel, jewelry, fragrance, screen prints, and home goods from under-the-radar luxury brands. From Abanjá’s handmade, pom pom–edged throws inspired by traditional handicrafts to Alyson Fox’s geometric-patterned rugs, the selection has a hand-crafted vibe—designed with a decidedly modern eye. 316 W. 48th St., Minneapolis, 612-209-7364,—JP

Best Shopping Shortcut
Furniture shoppers in the east metro welcomed the ultimate mix-and-match location in March when Hom Furniture opened its three-in-one megastore in Little Canada. The 185,000 square-foot complex offers furnishings at high, middle and low price points. Gabberts Design Studio’s second Twin Cities-area store showcases luxury furnishings, Hom offers mid-priced selections, and Dock 86 sells discounted and discontinued items. Lots of walking, but it certainly cuts down on the driving. 3201 Country Dr., Little Canada, —CL


Above: Solid Mfg Co., photo by Sara Rubinstein BEST MAKERSimg_2015-06_Best-Of_Makers_Furniture_Solid-Manufacturing_X

Best Modern Classics
In 2012, Dan Cordell and Alex Worre founded Solid Manufacturing Co. as a home-and leather-goods company inspired by the woodworking and leatherworking heritage of America’s Dust Bowl era. Its unifying theme: handcrafted products that are made to last. The line includes a range of small leather goods, carved wood furnishings—geometric candle holders, circular cutting board, and pour-over coffee stand—and its signature stools with paint-dipped legs, all designed and manufactured in the couple’s Minneapolis workshop. Available at and Forage Modern Workshop, —JP

Best Minnesota Original
Back when it formed in 1997, Minneapolis-based home furnishings company Blu Dot was ahead of its time. Founding designers John Christakos, Maurice Blanks, and Charlie Lazor (who has since left the business) created sleek, modern furniture designs at a mid-level price point years before it became the norm. Today, the pioneering brand is as innovative as ever, continually producing new designs alongside Blu Dot classics—which make their debut each season in its ever-imaginative catalog. This summer, the company will reinvent itself yet again with the mid-July opening of its first outlet store, a 10,000-square-foot storefront in Northeast that will replace their popular annual warehouse sale. Minnesota modern-design fans, count your blessings. Blu Dot products will be available at its outlet store, 1323 Tyler St. NE Minneapolis; Roam Interiors, 2914 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; and —JP   Concrete-PigRight: Concrete Pig, photo by Kirsten Mortensen 

Best Furniture Concept
Established in 2013 by Minneapolis maker Keith Wyman, Concrete Pig has a unique approach to furniture design—combining the clean lines of molded concrete with steel and wood to form modern, functional, and one-of-a-kind furniture designs. Case in point: Its Harlan modular side tables can be flipped on their sides or pushed together to form a coffee table. Industrial and rugged in material yet stoic and elegant in form, these statement-making pieces are right at home in either a North Loop loft or a Minnetonka bungalow. Available at, Forage Modern Workshop,, and Wilson & Willy’s, —JP

Tandem-MadeLeft: The Tandem Made makers, photo by Sara Rubinstein

Best Illuminators
Beautiful, functional design is at the heart of Tandem Made, a Minneapolis design studio operated by the husband-and-wife team of Erin and Nate Moren. Though the couple designs and creates everything from modern furniture to home accessories to built-ins in their Northeast workshop, they’re best-known for their distinctive, laser-cut aluminum pendant lamps and bowls that incorporate both technology and a maker’s touch—each piece is hand-molded and finished. While Erin says the pieces are “an exploration of form, shadow, material, and process,” the sculptural pieces also evoke the postmodern architecture of Frank Gehry. Available at Forage Modern Workshop,, and —JP

Best Splurge
We love how Marian Quanbeck Dahlberg embodies a Scandinavian aesthetic in väva! veve! fine linen textiles: spare but comfortable, refined but with veins of whimsical color, functional yet beautiful, restrained yet wonderfully complex in design. Dahlberg and her artisans work on vintage wooden floor looms with linen yarns from around the globe to create a variety of table linens. These heirloom textiles complement any interior, casual or chic, with a tactile elegance. Available at, The Foundry Home Goods,, and Grand Hand Gallery, —CLFimg_2015-06_Best-Of_Makers_Furniture_Loll-Designs_X

Best Recycled Furniture
Loll Designs, the Duluth manufacturer of sleek outdoor furniture made from recycled materials, is nothing to LOL about.  Originally a skate-park design company, Loll’s founders started repurposing their leftover skate-ramp materials into modern, no-maintenance tables, chairs, lounges, and planters. That was then. Today, most of their much expanded furniture line is made from reclaimed single-use milk jugs. Eye-popping colors, simple designs, and sustainable practices make these knockout furnishings must haves for al fresco living. —CLF


Above: Iris Apfel illustration by James Kloiber


Best Style Advice
No less authority than The New York Times Style Magazine recently declared trends to be … over. We’ve officially entered the age of the post-trend trend. Rather than chasing after the latest look, color, or motif, we should hone our personal styles by filtering all the noise out there and discovering what we truly love. Our suggestion: Simply take your inspiration from Iris Apfel, 93-year-old textile and interior designer and idiosyncratic style icon, whose notable bon mots include: “Style is attitude, attitude, attitude. It ain’t what you do, it’s the way you do it.”— CL

Best Bling
OK, we just told you to follow your heart instead of what’s hot, but this is a fun one to consider for a kitchen or bath or elsewhere: metallic accents. Reviewers of the 2015 Kitchen & Bath Industry show and the Paris design fair Maison & Objet in January gave enthusiastic thumbs up to the new metallics on display. Much applauded: Ann Sacks’s tile collections that blend gold, silver, and platinum with travertine, stone, and glass—glam touches for a backsplash, fireplace surround, or feature wall. Trés elegant! See them at the Kohler Signature Store, 7101 France Ave. S., Edina,— CL

Best New Direction
After Minnesota Monthly asked a provocative question—Should we divorce the Midwest?—the cri de coeur reverberated throughout the state and beyond: The Twin Cities no longer deserved to be lumped in with the amorphous region, and should be designated as the capital of The North. Eric Dayton—co-owner of Askov Finlayson (which made a North stocking hat that immediately sold out) and The Bachelor Farmer—put forth the idea on MPR, and it was later taken up by a panel of creative thinkers at the Walker Art Center. Being The North, they asserted, means owning our cold climate and the innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurialism it engenders. It means writing a new narrative celebrating the authenticity of place, sharing economy, and cultural diversity that differentiate us. “Snow hard feelings, Minnesota,” quipped the Chicago Tribune on Twitter about our proposed secession. “The Midwest will always welcome you.” —CLF

Kick-Stand-PressLeft: Kickstand Press, photo courtesy of Kickstand Press

Best Wow for Walls
Once oh-so-passé, wallpaper is back with a vengeance. This time around, digital printing allows for mural-like treatments in varied patterns and colors. If you’d like statement-making walls in your home, you’re in luck. Twin Cities artisans are stepping up to fill the demand with an array of creative solutions. A few we know and love: Kick.Stand.Press, the Northeast Minneapolis creator of screen-printed wallpaper will design the pattern of your dreams or memories (using sustainable water-based, solvent-free ink); Area Environments curates original work from contemporary artists and produces unique, scalable wallpaper designs, available through Holly Hunt; and the incomparable Darril Otto of Otto Painting Design, the painter/magician who transforms walls with decorative paint and plaster to create surfaces that are works of art. Find them at,,, and —CL

Best Side Effect
To what do we owe our continuing obsession with midcentury modern? Consider “Mad Men’s” conquest of cool; Apple’s sleek, minimalist product designs; baby boomers recapturing their youth; and Millennials grooving on the savvy of the retro-chic. Whatever the explanation, we can’t get enough of midcentury design’s simple lines, gentle curves, clean construction, and playful insouciance. And so the boom in retro and vintage home décor stores continues. The Minnehaha Mile in Minneapolis has emerged as a reuse district home to eight (and counting) vintage and secondhand shops. So has the Creative Enterprise Zone in St. Paul along University Avenue, where sundry vinyl, vintage, and thrift shops co-exist. In between is Spinario Design, always worth a splurge. 3338 University Ave. SE, Minneapolis,—CLF


Above: Forage Modern Workshop, photo by Sara Rubinstein


Online shopping isn’t just the province of big-box retailers and Nor must makers default to Etsy, at least not in Minnesota. Here are a few of our favorite local, online-only retailers specializing in home goods.

Minneapolis jewelry designer Annika Kaplan founded local e-commerce site Ship & Shape in 2011 with fellow creatives Ginny Sims and Erin Smith to sell their wares and those of other independent makers. About half of the products sold on the site come from Minnesota makers, including ceramics by Erin Smith and Maddy Nyler, asymmetrical wood cutting boards by Jess Hirsch, and hand-woven textiles by Nona Invie. Local shoppers have a chance to shop in person via pop-up sales a couple times a year.

img_2015-06_Best-Of_Online-Shopping_A-Mano_XLeft: Motar and pestle, by Elizabeth Pechacek

Founded by ceramicist Louisa Podlich in 2013, A Mano is another Minneapolis-based e-retailer selling home decor. The shop launches seasonal collections of goods from a roster of up to 20 U.S. makers every few months. Its Minnesota-made goods include Ben Fiess’s colorful ceramic planters, Elizabeth Pechacek’s unique stoneware, Podlich’s charming ring dishes, and Samantha Longley’s minimalist, glazed ceramics.

Powderhorn Kitchen is a collaboration between Minneapolis ceramic artists Jess Hirsch and Ginny Sims, with products spanning ceramic kitchenware and hand-carved wood hair combs, spoons, and chopsticks.


Left: Hygge & West wallpaper, photo by Wing Ta

Boutique wallpaper company Hygge & West was launched by childhood friends Aimee Lagos and Christiana Coop in 2008. Inspired by the Danish concept of hygge, the Minneapolis brand features collaborations with paper goods and design company Rifle Paper Co., illustrator Julia Rothman, style blog Oh Joy!, and Minneapolis fine artist Terrence Payne. —JP


By Chris Lee, Camille LeFevre, and Jahna Peloquin
Portraits by Sara Rubinstein



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