In 2011, Shannon Lester was floating down the Rogue River when she hit upon the idea for her first outdoor planter. Lester had been working as a landscape designer in Bend, at the design/build firm that she started with her husband, Andrew. That summer, they had a client with two loves—Mid-century modern design and succulents. “I couldn’t find any planters that fit their needs,” Lester said. She wanted something with a clean design, yet shallow enough to accommodate the succulents’root system. It was while she was rafting on the Rogue River that she found her inspiration—gold miners. “I saw people panning for gold on the side of the river and just knew that a gold pan would work perfectly as a planter,” she said. Once home, Lester created a prototype for the Mod Dish and the following year, started producing her line of outdoor planters—Steel Life.

Today, Lester taps local craftsman to fabricate her planter designs, using hardwood and spun metal coated in bright, bright colors. For Lester, the inspiration for each new design can come from anywhere, but the end result always mixes modern lines with playful hints of nostalgia. “I like to create a twist on what was,” she said.

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