Nestled in the heart of Portland, Oregon, sits The Canyons, a luxury living community conceptualized and developed by Kaiser + Path, an architecture firm known for innovative designs and sustainable building. Inspired by his father, Ben Kaiser (founder of Kaiser + Path) aimed to create a lively and accessible apartment complex for aging adults. The result is a modern and light-filled dwelling designed with wellness and comfort in mind.
To bring the vision to life, Kaiser + Path’s Business Development Manager, Jennifer Dillan, and Schoolhouse's Interior Stylist, Jess Ford, teamed up to outfit the interior. We spent some time with the creative duo to hear more about the inspiration behind the design and how the partnership with Kaiser + Path and Schoolhouse unfolded.
Tell us about The Canyons! Is there a story behind the name?
Jen: The Canyons was the brainchild of Ben Kaiser, who has been designing and developing property in Portland for over 25 years. Many years ago, he was looking for a place for his aging father but couldn’t find a good fit for him. His father was a free-spirited, lifelong artist, so moving to independent care in suburbia just wasn’t going to cut it. The Canyons is the place he wished existed for his dad.
The name comes from the design of the building. The main building has a gorgeous open-air atrium through the middle of it. Skylights filter light through the five floors, and fresh air flows down the main hallway. It’s nothing like the usual double-loaded corridors of most apartment buildings. Additionally, there is another “canyon” between the main building and the neighboring shopping alley.
From full-time concierge services to being 100% barrier free, The Canyons is built with some unique amenities. What was the intent behind the concept?
Jen: Comfort and wellness are at the heart of our idea. We know from research that aging adults want to keep active, live in urban centers, stay engaged in their communities, and continue to enjoy the lifestyle that they have grown accustomed to. Moreover, they are often ready to part from their larger homes, downsize, and start enjoying more free time away from home maintenance and expenses. The Canyons provides large and beautiful apartments, curated events, personalized services from our concierge, incredible neighborhood amenities just steps from your door, and more – all designed to support those desires.
Could you share a bit more of the design process from initial inspiration to final execution?
Jess: Jen initially gave me a walk-through of the building. Having her explain what their goals were for the space while it was still in early stages, really helped set the scene for the interior styling components. She had many Schoolhouse pieces she loved and wanted to incorporate, and from there gave me the freedom to put together a few lookbook schemes to showcase different options.
We went through a pretty extensive collaborative stage — we chatted through all of the details and reworked the lookbook until we felt confident in the final choices. The installation was labor-intensive, but by this final stage, Jen and I had already developed such a fun dynamic that we were able to make the best of it and have a great time seeing it all come together.
Why did you choose Schoolhouse for this project? What shared values do you see between Schoolhouse and Kaiser + Path?
Jess: The Canyon’s focus on sustainability and using the renewable resource of wood is reminiscent of Schoolhouse’s heirloom-quality ethos. I think our aligned values on creating meaningful designs that will last went together well. We mixed in modern elements with some of our heritage staples, and I think that was the key to rounding out The Canyon’s focus on health, happiness, and creating a comfortable future.
Jen: I have been a huge fan of Schoolhouse for years. When I was tasked with furnishing The Canyons, I knew it would be a perfect fit. First and foremost, Schoolhouse is a Portland-born company, and nearly everything carried is made domestically. Whenever possible, we want to support that, especially when we are undertaking a big project. But it is Schoolhouse’s elegant and timeless style that sets them apart. I was so excited to partner because I knew Schoolhouse products would capture the clean, modern look I was after while still feeling warm and welcoming.
What were some of the highlights and/or challenges of working on this project?
Jess: Collaborating with Jen throughout the entire project was such a joy. We have a very similar energy, so it was easy to have honest conversations about what was working, what wasn’t, and how we could adjust accordingly. Because these projects are ever-changing — flexibility, trust, and improvisation are key to a successful outcome. The building was newly constructed, so the timing of installation presented challenges. The model unit needed to be installed before the elevators were complete, so Jen, myself, and our good-spirited team got everything up to the sixth floor. Lots of creative planning and muscle went into it, and I got very used to my hard hat and goggles!
Jen: Oof! Jess was such a trooper during the model unit setup. We had to trek heavy boxes up six flights of stairs many, many times. It was hot and sweaty and the pandemic was in full force. We all worked really hard and kept our humor, and it was so gratifying to see it come together in the end.
Finally, what are a few of your favorite Schoolhouse picks for this project and why did you select them?
Jess: I loved the way we layered in prints, textures, and color into an overall neutral palette. My favorite choices were the Soil Survey Print (it gives a nostalgic feeling of an old map while also pulling in beautiful colors and earth tones), the Herringbone Rug (to break up the solid elements and to add some fun), and the Great Jones Floor Lamp (this is such a classic and whenever I see it I think about how it will be around forever).
Jen: So many favorites! I admit the project spurred shopping for my own home, so I am lucky enough to have some “souvenirs.” I am crazy about the Ribbed Wool Rug — so soft underfoot. The Studio Desk Lamp is an absolute classic. The Flip Clock adds a fun, retro feel.
Photography by Marshall Steeves