Friday Feature: Celia

I think it's safe to say I've always had a girl crush on Celia - even before formal introductions were made. I would always see her working on her house (as in building it from the ground up) on my way to the studio. So actually hearing her story solidified my admiration - Celia is a badass. She has a keen eye for detail and her craftsmanship is just as meticulous. When Project Object was becoming a reality, we reached out to Celia to create the store fixtures. She gave us moodboards to gather an idea of what we were looking for and she definitely delivered. We love Celia, and we think you would too. So we asked Celia a few questions:

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am practically trained in building and construction and academically trained in Interior Architecture - I come from a family of builders and architects, and grew around my Dad's cabinet shop, where he shared his passion for the craft & art of woodworking and construction with me!

Can you give us a little info on your house?
I wanted to take my skills and the resources I had available and turn them into an affordable home for myself and my family. Not only is there a lack of affordable housing in Portland, but I had a hard time finding what I thought was important in a home. Building my own house allowed me to create the sort of home I think Portland needs — a minimal dwelling footprint, multi-family, and multi-generational, with reduced resource consumption and built with very little waste. It was also an opportunity to collaborate with my brother and dad — to combine our skills on a family project

What did you learn most about when building your house?
I learned that you have to make every little detail count, and that you can't cut corners. Every time you take a shortcut to save time or energy, it always ends up taking longer in the end. I also learned how to be confident in my success and failures, and to move on from mistakes - there's always going to be mistakes!

What obstacles did you face? How did you overcome them?

Not having a crew! We bit off more than we could chew, and just had to move forward, and accomplish the project with minimal resources. We overcame this with a lot of communication and many many months of long hours and labor. Describe your thought process behind the Project Object fixtures. My goal was to create a space that was intentional, thoughtful, and designed with a hierarchy of sizes and shapes. I thought about circulation through the space — heights, range, and visual interaction with the products. I wanted to create a cohesive, minimal aesthetic that would feature the objects and products first and foremost. The fixtures are intended to be secondary, and complimentary to the ideas and products in the space, while being artful as standalone objects.

What advice would you give to women who want to enter the construction/architecture industry?
Don't be intimidated. Be confident in your ideas and abilities. Join groups like Oregon Tradeswomen! Seek out the people in the industry that are receptive to and supportive of your work, because there are many inspiring people in the industry who are trying to change the status quo.

How has being a woman affected or not affected you in your line of work?
Oh, it has definitely impacted my experience designing and building. People assume I'm the assistant or receptionist. They skip over me and direct their questions to the men on site. I have to deal with derogatory jokes that "aren't a big deal" and people who underestimate my physical and emotional strength and endurance. There are a lot of obstacles with being the only woman on site that will take time to change as the industry becomes more inclusive.

Do you have any current or upcoming projects you’re working on you’d like to share?
I'm currently working as a project manager for an awesome design/build company in town - we're doing some neat stuff, but nothing I can talk about :/ I always have art frames and furniture pieces rotating through the shop.

Do you have a dream project or something you’d love to work on in the future?
Something that would feel like the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal for me is to buy a property collectively and develop it into a community and civic-minded non-profit. Something that's designed by, built by, and directly serves the community.


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