Jenny and Jeff Guggenheim met in 2004 while in Furniture Studio at University of Oregon architecture school where Jenny was working on her bachelor’s and Jeff, his master’s. The two married in 2009 but it wasn’t until May of 2012 that Jeff, an architect, officially joined Jenny in her interior design studio, Fig. “One of the major perks of joining together was to bring my background of commercial design together with Jeff’s background in residential design, so we have an expertise in a variety of areas”, Jenny explains. “And because we’re in the same office and actually sit right next to each other, we’re able to coordinate much more effectively than say, an outside consultant who has a whole separate office.”
Since teaming up this past spring, Jenny and Jeff have worked on a number of projects together, though one they are most proud of being the first project they completed as a team, “a trial run,” as Jeff calls it: Sisters Coffee Company‘s first location in Portland. “We really enjoy working on projects that have a little bit of branding established and Sisters Coffee had a very strong brand already developed since they’ve been in business since 1989,” Jenny says. For the project, the duo worked to merge Sisters’ rustic mountain aesthetic with The Pearl’s modernity, creating a design that aimed to, in Jeff’s words, “faithfully portray the brand while also being observant to what’s happening in The Pearl.” To do this, Fig brought in elements of real stone and fir and worked to make sure that the shop’s mezzanine, an interpretation of a similar space at the original location, felt like an intimate and private retreat, even in The Pearl’s bustling neighborhood.
And while branded commercial design has been a focus for Fig in the past, Jenny and Jeff are also excited to be embarking on new territory as of late, designing spaces for medical and dental offices. “You really feel like you’re designing something that’s making a difference in someone else’s life,” Jeff says, adding that the pair is very conscious of the fact that “the design decisions we make can actually have an impact on a person and how they feel or how they are going to be health wise.”
Additionally, Fig is continuing to expand its repertoire through work on an upcoming exhibit for the Portland Historical Museum that will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Portland’s chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. As Jenny notes, the project is actually similar to past projects in that “IBEW has a long, established history, very strong membership, and very proud members so it’s important for us to very much stick to the brand and culture they’ve created for themselves.”
The couple is also finding themselves increasingly interested in designing custom craft furniture and currently have a table on display at ShowPDX, a regional furniture design exhibit. “We have such awesome craftspeople here in Portland” says Jenny. “Working through the custom process is actually more accessible than most people think and so we try to integrate that into our projects.” “I think both of our backgrounds lend to that” she adds, referencing to the couple’s work in Furniture Studio at U of O. “It’s all about designing and making a piece from nothing. That’s where we first met and now it’s what we’re going back too.”