One-stop shop for mid-century style
Spencer Staley, 34, bounced around to different schools studying music production and film, but eventually realized he wanted to keep that a hobby, rather than a career. After a handful of odd jobs, including working at a used furniture store, Spencer developed an interest for interior design. He is now the founder of The Good Mod, Portland’s largest source for mid-century modern furniture and décor.
The massive 20,000-square-foot space is home to an office, workshop and retail showroom where Spencer and his team design and restore vintage furniture. About 90 percent of the pieces sold in the store are refurbished. The Good Mod offers a variety of services including digital fabrication, appraisals, custom design, furniture rentals and re-upholstery.
After buying and selling furniture for his store since it opened in 2006, it only made sense for Spencer to start dabbling in his own designs. The dabbling soon turned serious – and productive. He has been designing furniture for two years now and enjoys using all kinds of materials – from new and old, to synthetic and organic.
With no experience in the design world, Spencer decided to run with that newfound interest and make a career out of it. Today, his impressive client list includes Nike, Airbnb and Wieden & Kennedy, to name a few.
How did you start out in the business?
I worked at a used furniture store called Fairly Honest Bill’s on 28th and Burnside. Portlanders that lived there long ago may remember it because he was this guy who would throw people out of his store “on the daily.” He had a big cigarette stained beard and wore full military fatigues. He had a running list on a chalkboard of the number of folks he tossed out and it was in the 300s. He had all these military looking signs lining the building saying slightly offensive slogans. That’s where I learned the furniture game. I didn’t implement the offensive selling style, however, I did have to throw someone out once for being rude to one of my teammates.
What drew you specifically to mid-century and Danish styles?
The simple and sometimes flowing sculptural geometries were very attractive to me for some reason. Who can say why you are attracted to something or someone?
Can you explain the refurbishing process?
We have a very high standard for quality. Almost every piece is gone over by our refinishing and re-upholstery team. We also offer these services to the public. We can turn very worn and even broken pieces into new condition ones. I am amazed on the daily at the skill of our team.
What makes Portland the ideal location for your studio?
Portland is awesome because it allowed me to grow into what I have become. The people here are very supportive and inspiring. I was lucky to have been on Earth in this place and time. I feel thankful for that.
Who are some of your favorite designers?
Some of my favorites are Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Jeff Koons, Donald Judd and Andy Warhol.
What do you do in your spare time?
I like to travel, play tennis and soccer and spend time with my girlfriend and my dog.
Do you ever bring back the furniture to refurbish from the places you’ve traveled? I usually pick things up in my travels, especially Japan and the Midwest and East Coast of the US. I will be doing another big trip this winter.
What’s next for The Good Mod?
We are just finishing up a big project for Airbnb’s new Portland office. We built a lot of the furniture for 250+ employees. We will be working on some new designs and showing internationally in some design shows. We just got back from Tokyo at a design auction there called Sputnik auction. We will be investing in more tools that will enable us to do more dynamic design.
So what do you enjoy most about the business?
I enjoy designing new furniture and art pieces. Experimenting with new processes and materials, working with the team and with clients on new projects. It’s a really exciting time right now for us.