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Immaculate Space Founder Sara Bauer Makes Her Own Rules

Five Questions For is GRAY’s candid Q&A session with design industry luminaries that delves into all things personal, professional, and occasionally humorous.

The first round of this year’s HOT NEW NEXT competition takes place Monday, April 8, at the Design Within Reach showroom in Portland’s Pearl District. Leading up to the big night, we’re checking in with each of our judges to learn more about their work, background, and what makes them tick. This week, we focus on Sara Bauer, founder of Portland-based design studio Immaculate Space and design show and market, Open Haus Market.

RSVP to the Portland round of this year’s HOT NEW NEXT here, and join us at our Meet Me in the Bathroom after party at The Eleanor, sponsored by Chown Hardware, following the live event.

You’ve described your style as “modern elegance.” What does that mean?

I have an obsession with old-world elegance and, if it were up to me, I’d live in a dark and dusty Italian castle. However, in today’s world, modern elegance to me means investing in fundamental details that feel luxurious, such as interesting trim, or soft closing cabinets—putting weight and ornament on functionality and surfaces and keeping furniture sleek and contemporary. In other words, a little bit grandma, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll.

How do you choose which pieces to invest in?

I look for the uniqueness of the design, its craftsmanship, and the resale value. As a general rule, if it’s something I think will end up on Craigslist or put out on the curb with a “free” sign, I never buy it.

What prompted you to launch Open Haus Market in 2018?

The incredibly talented designers and artists I met here in Portland. Their work was the inspiration. I just had to create a platform for it to be seen.

You’ve also described yourself as a rebellious spirit. How do you think that relates to your success as an interior designer?

I was in the punk scene growing up, so that attitude has never really left me. I’ve always made up my own rules and challenged my superiors. Once I was able to match my integrity with confidence, I felt as if I could do anything I set my mind to.

Name one design trend that you’d like to see become more popular.

Hand-painted walls.

Name one design trend that you’d like to never see again.

The fiddle leaf fig tree.


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