Heylen Thienes launched her company, Tricorn Black, in January and is currently completing the Master Certification Program at Heritage Portland. Continue reading to learn more about her journey and her recent design project for Lone Pine Coffee Roasters!
I was born in Colombia and lived there until I was 10, at that point my parents decided it was their ‘now or never’ opportunity to live abroad – so they moved to London, England. It was a drastic change visually and culturally. I remember being blown away by the architecture, history, colors, textures, and as I grew up, the fashion and art scene. I was particularly drawn to the edgy parts of the city, the undiscovered areas where you could feel movement and forward vision. Places where you could find the unexpected and buildings that were raw and quirky were turned into magical environments. Looking back, it was always spaces, their vignettes and how they made me feel that really made me light up.
It was likely during my university years, while pursuing a Magazine Publishing degree and scouting photoshoot locations, that I fell in love with interiors. I just didn’t know it yet.
Torn between photography and graphic design upon graduating in 2009, I decided that graphic design seemed a safer bet during the recession and easier to migrate with. After marrying an Oregonian and ready for a change of scenery, I moved to Bend, Oregon in March 2011 in the middle of a recession. Yes, I was the girl that moved from London to Bend – my friends and family barely knew where Oregon was let alone Bend. But there are always opportunities. All of a sudden Bend was flooded with houses that needed to be fixed or restored. We decided to buy one and flip it, and we liked it! We had a good team – a contractor, an architect, a graphic designer (me) and a realtor. This ensured that our flips weren’t just covered in make-up, but were actually well designed homes. We would imagine the potential buyers, their lifestyle and needs, and tailor the home for them. Our homes always sold quickly.
We also bought a small 1919 duplex, restored it to its glory with a modern edge and put it on Airbnb – the feedback was incredible! This was my first experience in sourcing furniture, accessories, styling for a specific audience, and I loved it! Right around this time I noticed that I was working with interiors far more than graphic design but I had also just had a baby and was a bit lost as to what my next step would be.
One of the things I missed the most when I moved from London were those quirky spaces on little side streets that you stumbled upon when you least expected it. And Lone Pine Coffee was the closest thing to that – a little coffee shop located off an alleyway, it had an edgy interior and was often my refuge when I felt homesick. I got to know the owner and bought coffee for our Airbnb from them.
By that point Scott, the owner, had an idea of my style and asked if I would be interested in helping him with the new location. I jumped at the opportunity and got to work! We had four weeks to design the look and feel of the new coffee shop. We wanted to recreate the emotional design language from the original shop at the new location which was much bigger in size. The owner wanted the space to feel welcoming and modern, and for people to be able to work there, but also have a spot for families to sit with their kids (an audience often forgotten about in hospitality). We worked together to create a warm color palette, soft shapes and zones with different purposes that still spoke to one another so it wouldn’t feel disjointed.
He was working with an architectural firm, so my job was to compile all of Scott’s ideas into a cohesive vision that he could convey to the architect and contractor.
While I was surprised by how much I knew and was able to accomplish throughout the Lone Pine Project, it also brought to light the skills I lacked – especially in commercial spaces. This is when I realized I needed to go back to school. I was having to google measurements, codes, materials I was unfamiliar with, and figure out how to draw perspectives and floorplans. I realized I needed to work faster and as I was looking for AutoCAD & SketchUp courses, I came across Heritage. Once I looked over the entire website I signed up for the Master Certification Program. I knew I had ‘the eye’ for design but there were a lot of technicalities I was missing.
Lone Pine opened its doors shortly after I graduated from the Fundamentals Program (a year from when we started working on it) and it seemed that my very own ‘now or never’ moment had come. I officially launched my business Tricorn Black in January with a goal to design homes and spaces that speak our clients’ language, supports their lifestyle and story, all while bringing a distinctive aesthetic that evokes comfort and elegance to their living and working environments. Places that make people light up when they walk in.
I’m currently focusing on residential projects but long term I would like to work with more commercial and hospitality clients, collaborating with architects and other professionals to create well designed spaces that stand the test of time while pushing boundaries.
Visit the links below to learn more about Heylen and her company Tricorn Black!