Schoolhouse Electric’s evolution


Brian Faherty was working in real estate when he noticed that otherwise tastefully restored historic homes often fell short on lighting. That gave him a brilliant idea.

Schoolhouse Electric Co. launched in 2002 with a collection of vintage reproduction lights based on original cast-iron molds. Last week, Faherty opened doors on a great space in a 100-year-old warehouse in industrial Northwest Portland that includes not only lighting but also furniture and home accessories manufactured by like-minded small independent companies. There are silk screen slipcovers from Egg Press, better known for stationary, and recycled glass tumblers,  and exclusive Beckman sofas crafted in the U.S. and upholstered with soy-based foam and a selection of fabrics. At the front of the shop is a Ristretto Roasters coffee bar. Tucked into another area is a small florist shop.

The shop is similar to Rejuvenation which was bought by Williams-Sonoma last month. The local ownership may give Schoolhouse panache with certain Oregon consumers.

“I’m happy for him,” he says of Rejuvenation founder Jim Kelly. “He worked a long time.Will it be better for us? I don’t know. Maybe.”

Faherty knows how to build an interesting business. He does not know how to knot a tie.  

A looped and twisted bit of silk tucked beneath his applique reindeer vest, made especially for him by Portland designer Adam Arnold, appeared to be intentionally disheveled, an anti-fashion fashion statement.

“I don’t know how to tie a tie,” he said, then asked visitors: “Does anyone know how to tie a tie?”