500 Coffees #53 – Kelly Deck


53 weeks ago I read a theory that going for 50 coffees with people you’ve never met is the entrepreneur’s equivalent to the theory that doing anything for 10,000 hours will make you an expert on it. While I got the idea, 50 coffees was far easier than practicing something for ten years, so after completing that challenge I decided to make a major commitment and publish 500 over the next few years. In this series I introduce you to interesting Vancouverites, many of whom I had never met before. It’s an exercise in networking for myself and for V.I.A. while also being a platform through which I to introduce you to some people who are doing really cool stuff in the city you live in.

Name: Kelly Deck
Occupation: Interior Designer
Beverage: Americano

Meet Kelly Deck. Founder and president of Kelly Deck Design, former HGTV series host, a columnist for the Globe and Mail, Kelly is currently one of the most influential figures in the world of West Coast design.

We sat down at Caffe Artigiano at Pender and Thurlow near the V.I.A. office where I started the conversation with a question I find myself asking often: what exactly is it that you do? I learned that as the head of her full-service interior design firm, Kelly works with a passionate and skilled team on designing homes for clients. For the most part they work on high end, single family homes and when I asked if they do high end condos, the answer was no. It’s not that they wouldn’t but something to do with the amount of square footage is why they find themselves working pretty much exclusively on standalone houses. The projects that she’s really gung-ho about are the ones where they can get in early, even before a home is built, and are able to collaborate on it from the ground up as opposed to coming in and adding to something that already exists.

In my former life I worked as a creative director and designer of shoes, skateboards and too many t-shirt designs and I still sometimes daydream about what it might be like to work on a project where a project ends up being a bit more permanent than a consumer product that gets thrown away a few years after it’s bought. I’m fascinated by the work of architects, interior designers, and anyone involved in the design of our buildings and our cities, so I found it hard not to ask a lot of really dumb questions. But we’re both the president of our own companies, and so we had a lot of common ground there to talk about. We exchanged stories and Kelly had some great wisdom to share with me about leadership and the idea that even when you name is on the front door, in order to be successful you need to be able to let go, delegate and trust your team.

Before we went for coffee – in fact before we had ever met – Kelly invited me to be a part of a fantastic and creative charity project she’s launching that doesn’t have anything to do with her work. A passion project, as it were. It’s called The Love Umbrella Project and I’m one of 13 community-minded folks who will be collaborating with photographers to produce an image that will illustrate how love illuminates Vancouver and its communities. The photos will be auctioned off at an event on Valentine’s Day and all of the proceeds will be given to Leave Out Violence. Read below for the full scoop…


The Love Umbrella Project is an art-based media campaign and photo exhibition, sponsored by The Vancouver Foundation to share stories about how love illuminates Vancouver and its communities.

We partnered each of 13 dynamic community leaders with a talented professional photographer, giving them one request: Show us how love illuminates your community.

In each photograph is at least one umbrella. As a common thread representing hope, joy, and love; we hope it gives coherence and strength to disparate individual images.

Starting February 1st, each day we’ll release a new photo series here, and on Twitter, and the website. Please show your support by helping us spread the word.

We’ll hold a public exhibition and silent auction of the work on Valentine’s Day downtown Vancouver. For sale are 14 original images and several love umbrellas.

All proceeds will go to Leave Out Violence (LOVE), a Vancouver community organization devoted to youth anti-violence programs.

Learn more at theloveumbrellaproject.com and stay tuned for 447 more Coffees!

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Bob is our founder and Editor-in-Chief. A family man and outdoors enthusiast in his 3rd decade of publishing, he steers the V.I.A. ship, hosts our 'BC Was Awesome' history TV show and co-hosts our weekly podcast. bobk@vancouverisawesome.com