Porter Flea’s Katie Vance finds niche among Nashville’s creative scene

The original article, “Creative Class: Porter Flea co-founder talks design,” was featured in the June/July edition of Murfreesboro Magazine. All photos by Angel Pardue Photography

Katie Vance is putting her touch on Nashville one design project at a time. The Murfreesboro-raised interior designer continues to find her niche among Nashville’s vibrant restaurant scene and has also made great strides within the maker’s circle as one of the main organizers in Nashville’s premier modern, handmade market, Porter Flea.

Vance’s roots run deep in Rutherford County as she grew up in Murfreesboro and attended Riverdale High School and later MTSU, where she studied interior design. She is now a licensed commercial Interior Designer with Powell Architecture + Building Studio and her daily duties consist of coordinating finishes, lighting, fixtures, millwork, furniture and equipment for businesses in the area.

When it comes to her work, Vance always has a unique vision and insight on the project at hand. At the same time, she has a flair for incorporating local elements into each project, which not only breath life into the visual experience but also give it a sense of place and identity.

“I love using local artists and makers in my spaces. The commercial design world has just recently taken note of the local maker movement and its been so cool to see the results,” Vance noted about current trends.

In the commercial interior design world, a perfect example may include a collaboration that intertwines a local illustrator’s concept for a custom wallpaper design or a furniture designer creating a unique restaurant dining table.

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Katie Vance is one of the founders of Nashville’s premier handmade market, Porter Flea. (Photo Angel Pardue Photography)

As for the local makers, this is an area that she knows all too well as an organizer of Porter Flea and also within her marriage to a maker himself, Matt Alexander, owner of Lascassas-based Holler Design.

“Married life to a furniture designer and maker is great,” she said.

“Although most people think our home is full of Holler Design pieces, Matt is so busy that furniture for our house is last on the list.  We really enjoy working together and I like getting his input on all my design projects.  He’s got an incredible eye for design and critical thinking and it is great to bounce ideas back and forth.  And truth be told he’s more organized than me,” Vance added.

Together, they are an ideal creative team and this is exemplified in one of their latest projects, Bar Luca, where Katie is an owner and also plays the role of client and designer and Matt custom designed and built the booths, barstools, leather seat chairs and more within the East Nashville drink spot and eatery.

“Bar Luca came about because a group of friends of varying backgrounds really wanted to see a bar like this in the East Nashville community.  So we all combined our backgrounds and expertise (architecture, design, furniture, marketing, hospitality, etc) and opened Bar Luca this past November,” Vance noted about the origin of the establishment.

Vance’s past projects projects have included The Slice Shop at Five Points Pizza, The Cordelle, Razor & Tie, Butchertown Hall, Two Ten Jack Chattanooga, Butcher & Bee, Bar Luca and 506 Lofts as of late. 

Currently, she is working on Caviar & Bananas, a new cafe and market from Charleston along with the new Fat Bottom Brewery and the Grilled Cheeserie Melt Shop.

Outside of her day job, one of Vance’s passion projects is Porter Flea. This year, the modern, handmade market will take place on July 30 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Skyway Studios in East Nashville with the preview market taking place the day prior from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Vance was one of the founders of Porter Flea, along with other visionaries Jessica Maloan and Brent Elrod.

The event started with the notion to showcase the creative talent that was in Nashville and surrounding areas, and it has grown into a marquee event which is in high demand among the Porter Flea faithful and also new attendees. Many people from the midstate and beyond flock to the festival twice a year for the summer market and holiday market as Nashville has become a creative hub for artisans, makers and other sectors of the creative class.

While Porter Flea has changed venues over the years, the first show was located on Porter Rd. in East Nashville and this is where the name originated. This summer, expect makers that run the gamut from furniture, print making and clothing to home ware and food products, all comprised of a distinct and local twist. For more information and vendor updates, visit porterflea.com.

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