There is a truism widely known amongst creatives that more often than not, poor design is what gets noticed. Typographer Erik Spiekermann may have explained the phenomenon best: “[It’s] like air, you only talk about it when it’s bad”. And while some may enter interiors designed by Falken Reynolds and give nary a thought to the men behind the mastery, the pair are outliers in this familiar scenario because the work is good, and that is why people are talking.
The chatter could also have something to do with the fact that Chad Falkenberg and Kelly Reynolds seek to design spaces that truly fulfill the needs of their clients—not the needs of their egos. This is exceptionally evident on a crisp autumn afternoon spent touring a recent residential project by MacDonald Park. Dressed in the hallmark uniform of the Gastown resident (collared shirt; lace up boots; cuffed trousers), the soft spoken and stylish pair unassumingly divulge their winning design formula: clean lines plus extreme functionality and an unwavering willingness to create the right space equals a growing list of eager and satisfied clientele.
“I love the idea of having a little bit of black in the cooking zone as a nod to fire and how we used to cook,” says Falkenberg of the kitchen’s cast iron stove-inspired black cupboards, backsplash, and countertop. As the space is predominantly white, the contrast is refreshing, and the design choice is continued in a recessed lighting feature in the ceiling. It leads the eye from the kitchen to the hall bathroom with a beveled mirror and glowing industrial light fixtures. Also on the main floor, wooden slats encase a flight of stairs headed skyward, creating the illusion of a wall without detracting from the open concept floor plan. “When you walk in it’s almost opaque, so you don’t see the front door. There is still a sense of entry,” explains Falkenberg as he moves in tandem with Reynolds through the durable home designed for a growing family.
Falken Reynolds was born just two and a half years ago and a couple of career-flips away. Reynolds served in the Royal Canadian Navy and Vancouver Police Department before finding his niche in design. Falkenberg arrived at the profession with a background in finance and marketing. “We met through a mutual friend,” recalls Reynolds. “I was going to design school at the British Columbia Institute of Technology and Chad was moving to Barcelona to attend Instituto Europeo di Design.” They are now partners in life as well as work. “We thought it wasn’t going to turn into anything, but six months into my program I came back,” finishes Falkenberg, who was apprentice to designer Robert Bailey upon his return. “At this stage in life, certain things are more important than going to Spain.”
This knack for knowing when to act has helped Falkenberg and Reynolds acquire a growing list of clients in search of their ideal home in addition to some notable commercial jobs. Eyewear company Bailey Nelson has made them even more popular with their neighbours; the pair count Rob Lo of Roden Gray, Niels and Nancy Bendtsen of Inform Interiors, and Josh Dunford of Burnkit amongst their most ardent supporters.
“Canadians like to be sensible. We aren’t as fancy or as picky about minimal details as a culture. We want things to be a bit more practical so we can get out and do things.”
Strada Cycles allowed them to indulge their love of cycling. “When they asked us, I just said yes,” says Reynolds, who has been biking his whole life and completed his first triathlon at age 17. “It meant getting to design for people I’ve known for years. Bike shops are usually chaotic, but they wanted a really clean palate where the bikes were the showcase. I get goose bumps when I think about cycling.”
The pair is currently wrapping a restaurant design that features the materials and furniture previously seen in their artful backyard installation at Interior Design Show West. “When Caesarstone’s name came up, we said yes immediately, and when we pitched the idea we mixed it with the restaurant. Our conscience is clear,” says Falkenberg. “Things are under wraps and moving very fast, but it’s a fantastic space.”
That space is to be Sai Woo, named for West Lake, a region in China that Falkenberg likens to a resort town: “It’s beautiful and calm and tranquil.” The restaurant will feature ingredients from the neighbourhood, using Chinatown as its pantry. “We’ve designed the space so that people who go there will feel connected to where the food came from and how it’s prepared.”
It is context that continually leads the way in the Falken Reynolds approach. The MacDonald Park house features tall ceilings, cupboards, and rain shower fixtures for their 5″11 and 6″7 clients (who also own a Great Dane). A complete renovation of another residential property—where the only item the couple kept was a Venetian chandelier—indulged the clients’ pure love of colour and desire to change their lives. “They were fighting with their space and wanted something very energetic, but very modern. They wanted to come home and feel playful. There is canary-coloured shower tile,” reveals Reynolds. “We saw her a few months later and she was a changed person.”
Whether in black and white or living colour, Falken Reynolds’ designs are quietly patriotic, polite, and unimposing. “Canadians like to be sensible,” says Falkenberg. “We aren’t as fancy or as picky about minimal details as a culture. We want things to be a bit more practical so we can get out and do things.”
“There’s a lot of awareness in how people want to live here,” adds Reynolds. “They know what they want and what they don’t want. It’s easy to design for people here.” Thus far, the gentle men (and gentlemen) have been able to produce standalone interiors that let the contents and context of their circumstance spark conversation and still gain some well-deserved brand name notoriety. This is the delicate denouement of Falken Reynolds.