For Dan Legree and his business partner Susanne Grauten moving their art glass studio from Eureka, California to Portland proved a savvy business move. Dan and Susanne founded Savoy Studios in Eureka in 1972, working on small projects like sun catchers and windows for business and residences. By 1980, the pair felt they had done all they could in California, so they decided to pick up and move everything to Portland. Since then, Savoy Studios has become an international leader in glass design and fabrication, creating pieces for residences, hotels, and businesses in cities across the world. A part of that success are Dan’s sons Dana and Keir who grew up in the shop.
Portland proved to be the perfect spot for the growing company for a few different reasons.
Dan said the glass community in the Northwest is strong, probably the strongest place in the United States. Portland has many glass artists and that’s mainly because of the two glass factories in town that produce both stained glass and fusible glass: Uroboros Glass Company and Bullseye Glass Company.
“Having those two factories in town attracts a lot of international people coming to visit the factories to purchase their glass,” Dan says. “When they’re in town, they usually look us up and come over to visit. It’s great to exchange ideas.”
But it’s not just the focus on glass that Dan says has made Portland such an ideal place for Savoy, it’s the myriad of other artists living here.
“Just the whole atmosphere of Portland, not only the glass artists but all the other creative arts in the Northwest, it’s really fun to see what people do,” Dan says. “We use a lot of other trades in what we do, whether it be really superior metal working or very good cabinet makers or woodworkers. A lot of our fixtures require both. There are just a few people that we can rely on to really do that quality work- and they’re local.”
After more than 42 years in business, Dan says it’s hard to choose one or two favorite projects, but he will say that one of his most memorable tasks was a residential project that focused on his specialty: stained glass.
“The job took about a year and a half and it was a series of 29 windows,” he explains. “They wrapped around a front room and were very intricate stained glass, Tiffany kind of stuff, of this woman’s favorite flowers, insects, and birds. It looked out to Mount Hood and turned out very beautiful.”
While some of the residential projects Savoy has worked on are confidential, Dan also notes that the studio has completed a number of pieces for celebrity homes, including Quincy Jones’ home in Bel Air and Camp David.
Savoy has designed pieces for several prominent domestic and international commercial properties including Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge in Orlando; Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut; The Palazzo, Aria Hotel, Caesar’s Palace and MGM Grand in Las Vegas, a new castle-inspired Starwood Hotel in northern China, and a Raffles Hotel in Istanbul. The studio is also a favorite of celebrity chefs. Savoy has completed installations for restaurants by Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay and Todd English.
But some of the work Dan is most proud of is the studio’s public monuments. Currently Savoy is working on two different monuments: a civil rights monument for downtown Atlanta and the American Veterans Disabled Survivors Memorial in Washington DC. Dan says both projects will be completed by the end of 2014.