Shoptalk - Charlie Hellstern

When you founded your own firm, what were your goals? How have those evolved over time?

My steadfast goal to help people to discover a three-dimensional expression of their personalities incorporating beauty in a way they may have never anticipated. Because my passion stems from helping people it has evolved to include healthy materials for our clients and the craftspeople who make our furnishings and build homes.

When you enter a room, what’s the first thing you pay attention to?

Though I work in a creative field, I feel most like an analyst when I see a space for the first time. My mind is mapping what works, what doesn’t work and how I would go about making it better.

What qualities create the atmosphere that a space is “designed for you?”

I measure success by my clients finding their personal spaces comfortable, and each project looks and feels different. The wish for comfort is universal but the answer to get there is unique to each person.

What does it mean to you to be innovative in design?

Staying up on the latest research is a requirement for designers, however I feel like my most innovative work is the problem solving required to achieve the needs for each client in each space I work in.

Through years of relationship-building, you have worked with an extensive community of artisans and craftspeople both locally and abroad; can you tell us about a recent collaboration that was integral to one your designs?

We are designing a line of furniture inspired by the non-toxic design work we did on the Loom House that met the Living Building Challenge which is the highest sustainable design award for built environments. We are working with Durante Furniture in Vancouver, BC who shares the same level of excitement for both furniture design and sustainable practices as we do.

Does the ambition of designing unique spaces mean that the bar is continually raised for you personally?

My work is unique because it reflects the values and desires of my clients. So, the bar is always raised for each project which is the juice that drives me.

What kind of exciting and innovative ideas are you most looking forward to achieving with the advance of sustainable materials?

One of the exciting things about this evolution is learning more and more about the human and environmental health impacts from building materials and our clients are also learning to value these sustainability components more. I am encouraged by the transparency within the materials market which is why we are launching our own furniture line. I believe furniture labels should provide the same information that nutrition labels do.

Do you have a dream project or dream location you’d like to work in?

A boutique hotel in Chilean Patagonia.

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