Contract - October 2013 - (Page 96)
Jessica Helgerson founded her
practice in 2000, and designs a
variety of interiors, including the
pediatric dental clinic in Seattle
featured on page 54.
photography: ty milford
In the Spotlight: Jessica Helgerson
founder of the portland, oregon-based eponymous practice
Jessica helgerson interior design—the seven-person firm behind
the pediatric dental clinic in seattle featured on page 54—Jessica
helgerson has more than fifteen years experience designing
residential and commercial interiors. While she does not specialize
in healthcare projects, her approach to the typology addresses
the goals and needs of her clients. With a strong interest in
sustainability, helgerson and her family of four live in a 540square-foot cottage with a green roof on five acres of farmland.
When and how did your firm get started?
I opened an office in Santa Barbara, California, in 2000 and moved it
up to Portland when my husband and I relocated in 2005.
how does your location in the pacific Northwest inform your
We take on many remodeling projects, and our designs respond
thoughtfully to existing structures. We are currently remodeling
several midcentury houses designed by well-known Pacific Northwest
architects in styles specific to the area: lots of natural wood, open
volumes, straightforward detailing, and a strong connection
between inside and outside. On the other hand, we have worked on
Mediterranean structures, farm cottages, a Mexican restaurant, and
even a video arcade. In each of those projects, we responded more
specifically to the building and the client than the geographic locations.
does your approach to the design process differ when working
in a locale outside your own?
Yes, we love learning about other regions, and when applicable, we
weave in some of our findings into the design of the project. While it
is exciting to work on projects that are farther away, it is also more
complicated. When a project is local, we can pop over weekly to check
on progress, but when it is not, we rely deeply on contractors to execute
our vision. We also design a large percentage of the furnishings that go
into our projects, so on out-of-town projects, we either work with new
craftspeople or have elements built locally and ship them to the sites.
how did you approach the design of the pediatric dental clinic
in seattle, given your firm does not focus on healthcare design?
We worked with a dental consultant, who helped us with the practical
aspects of designing a clinic, but our design came from the building—
which is built from exposed, board-formed concrete. The geography
of the Puget Sound inspired the abstracted barnacles, which are
playfully used throughout the space, and natural wood, plentiful in the
region, is incorporated throughout. A pediatric dental clinic requires
a fun, happy, and child-friendly aesthetic. We were eager to create a
space that didn’t look like a typical dental office while fulfilling the
client’s programmatic requirements.
you previously designed a dental clinic in alaska for the same
client. how did your approach to the two offices vary?
Our client, who is a very competent dentist and understands how best
to organize her space, wanted similar layouts for both offices. The first
project was in a beautiful location on the Tongass Narrows of Ketchikan,
Alaska, and our design was inspired by the trees and mountains that
surround the new building in which it is located. In both cases, we
implemented an open plan with just a few private treatment rooms.
from where do you typically draw design inspiration?
When we start a new project, we always begin with image research.
We put together boards of photographs that inspire us, including
other spaces, colors, materials, natural elements, and art. We are, at
the same time, inspired by our clients and their narratives, as well as
by the spaces in which we are designing. We respond directly to the
architecture of the buildings, and then we layer furnishings and
lighting that are “of the moment” and fitting for our clients.
What interior space, anywhere in the world, inspires you? Why?
My office. It isn’t particularly fancy, but it has lovely big windows,
gets beautiful morning light, and is always humming with activity
and thought. It’s a place that is full of creativity, kindness, happiness,
and excitement. I’m really inspired by my team of designers here.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Contract - October 2013
Contract - October 2013
Columnist: Winning Work at the Interview: It’s All About Chemistry—Part II
Product Focus: New Classics
Product Briefs: Health and Wellness
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Advanced Health Sciences Pavilion
Banaji Pediatric Dental Specialists
Seattle Kids Dentistry
Healthcare Environment Awards
Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital
Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre at Austin Hospital
Seattle Children’s Building Hope: Cancer, Critical and Emergency Care Expansion
Dale & Frances Hughes Cancer Center
Kent Campus Expansion, Phase 2 Pavilion
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey
Camp Southern Ground
FOUND: An Adolescent and Young Adult Cultural and Wellness Center
The Impact of the Affordable Care Act on Healthcare Design
Book Review: Sustainable Healthcare Architecture, Second Edition
Designers Select: Healthcare
Contract - October 2013