Her Funky Tiny House Doubles as Mobile Business


Hi guys. We’re here in Vancouver, British Columbia we’re at Kessler’s
tiny house, the tiny community center. We’re going to take a tour. Come on in. Wow. So this is Zee and this is her
tiny community center. Yeah. So why don’t you tell me a little bit
about why this is called a tiny community center and not a tiny house. Originally
when I first came up the idea, I thought it would be neat to build a
house for myself, but then I thought, well what if I put it in someone’s
backyard and the neighbors complained? So I thought, okay, well my practice
is, I’m a community based artist. So that basically means you
work with the community, you have a dialogue about
things. So I was like, maybe we should have a dialogue about
tiny houses. So I thought, well, the best way to do that is to put one
in a public space and see what people think. So I thought maybe what
we could do, start an artist, residencies slash workshop space where
people could come and check one out that had never seen one before and
we’d run some courses inside. And so we just got a park
board’s residency here in
Vancouver for the artists and communities program and we’re
doing a project called the magic trout Imaginarium. And so it’s like a curiosity cabinet
classroom where you explore your neighborhood and just learn how to see
everything around you as inspiration. Which design did you end
up going with at the time? It was called the fence now it’s
called the Cypress with tumbleweed. And then I uh, brought the plans home and show it all
my friends eagerly and they were like, Oh, we know how to do houses
too, if we can help you. And so my friend Gianna helped me
redesign certain aspects of it, like adding these awesome windows at
the back for more light and changing the pitch of the roof. And then we had a workshop where Josh
and Dave and John taught people how to build. Nathan helped with the trailer part and
people registered to take the workshop. And then so that helped
fund our project basically. So the interior is about
seven and a half feet by 19. And then the exterior is about 20 by
eight and a half by 13 and a half tall. So how many students do you think you
could have in this tiny classroom? So we could fit 12. Um, so two here, two here facing this way two facing this
way to one and one we still have to get chairs for these two spots.
And then another one there, depending on the classes we’re having, like these ones here are actually
in their kind of finished state, but basically they fold down. So
if you wanted to have like a movie, pull down a screen, you know, you could all sit on the floor on cushions
and everyone would be able to have a space and all of our, um,
benches or storage. Um, so, uh, when we actually start our
workshops, we’ll have, um, you know, art supplies and do like
paper and things like that. And so even with back
bench is, storage, as well I really like how
you’ve designed this. You have a door here
as well that you know, you can actually write your class
schedule on. Yeah, it’s a little smudge, but it’s, yeah, we wrote a classroom,
like a hypothetical classroom, a workshop schedule last night. We just thought it would be nice to have
one door a little bit bigger because in tiny houses you often have a much smaller
front door. And we thought, you know, for accessibility, if someone’s in a wheelchair we need a
little bit bigger outdoor on one side. So. Yeah, exactly. And what kind of classes do you think
you’re going to have here? Well, we have three artists. Um, my
friend friends was to go, who is, an artist who makes drawing devices
for people that think they can’t draw. And she basically takes
pieces of plexiglass and
puts acetate on them and then you can kind of look around
in your environment and
frame things and then trace. So it’s, it’s like a way for people to
learn how to draw that. They’re like, Oh, I can’t draw.
well it’s tracing, you can, you can look at what you see. Um, so we’re doing sort of like explorations
in that. And then, um, another artist, Emily Smith is um, she
does stuff with textiles. So she’s going to be teaching
spinning and natural dying with, um, different natural ephemera. which is where our residency is, and then I’ll be sort of doing
some classes on curiosity, cabinet building and collections and
how to find inspiration and found items, a lot of the artwork
and items found in here. I’ve been collecting for about two years
since we came up with the idea for this project. And, um, a lot of my friends
are artists. So over the years I, I’ve just been collecting some of their
work and I really want to display it cause I think they’re just amazingly
talented and deserve recognition. So I have some art from my friend Jen
who is an amazing painter here in Vancouver and this is a portrait of their
house that they renovated themselves. It’s the oldest house in Vancouver. I thought I would buy that just to
sort of document a moment in time. And it kind of reminds me of
the tiny house in a way. So, um, and then there’s some artwork by my
friend Aaron Pasternak who is a photographer. Along the top we have Sean Caremaker
who does these beautiful scrolls. He’s also a video game
designer and comic book maker. And then I have a couple artworks by
Brad Radway who makes art out of found pieces of wood, like drift, what he finds on the beach or just what
he finds in alleys and he finds the knots and finds characters hidden inside.
And he also did the pigeons up there. And then we have an artist, Ruth Monroe who worked at a cafe across
the street from where we were building. And she watched us build the house
over the whole summer and said, can I paint you a mural? We said, of
course. Then we checked out her website. Her art was amazing. So we were just
super impressed. So the puppet, um, it was a present from my mom actually.
It’s just such a cool, authentic, like real marionette, like it’s just
so neat. It’s kind of hard to maneuver. It’s pretty heavy though. But you know, it comes out and dances
sometimes at parties, Josh and Dave work in the
movies and they use a lot of um, really thin ply when they make movie
sets and they know how to work with it really well and they, you know,
the, you know, the limits of it. So they thought, well that’s just way
better for this particular purpose. And so they put in the
plywood and then we have, we put some wallpaper over top, which
I know is not common of tiny houses, but because we’re not really cooking
and showering in here for the artist residency, it’s not really going
to have any moisture problems. So think thought it
would be kind of funky. We got a lot of stuff donated for this
house. Like almost everything was free, like all the framing and all the
windows and all the um, insulation. And so we had all these windows and
um, John McFarlane of camera buildings, he’s the one that modified
the designs. He said, well we have these extra two windows,
maybe we could do something with them. And then he thought, well you know, I think the thing that would be really
neat is sort of creating some kind of design that distinguishes it from a shed. Cause you would never see this type
of design in the windows in a shed. And he’s like, it’ll just kind of create like an icon
for your project and let way more light in. And when I saw what he was doing
and I was like, how does that even work? There’s this box that’s a sort of sits
in the middle and it’s actually kind of put together in this like cabinetry
style where it’s like all notch together. And then there’s also like metal
rods coming up to support it. So it’s essentially one giant, huge
window, but it looks like it’s, it’s four windows. This is just a really inspiring
place to take art classes, I think. But that was the whole idea. Yeah. I think that when you make an inspiring
place, people become inspired. So it’s it’s natural idea for an artist
to try to create a really neat space. And I remember taking an art class in
high school in a science lab and it was just not inspiring. I remember being so affected by the space
and I guess that’s maybe what drove me to create spaces for people to create. What do you think the advantages are
of having a classroom on wheels? Well, I think that if you can move to different
communities, you’re not, you know, you’re not just stuck with one group of
people that might just walk by every day and check it out so you can move into a
community or to a park and then you can kind of get to know the people in that
neighborhood and create a hub and then you’re there. We’re going to stay at places for maybe
like six months to a year and a half, get to know people, create a community,
introduce people to each other, and then when we leave, those connections
are still there. So it’s great for us. It’s great for them. And I think it’ll just be neat
to explore different communities. And have different people hear about what
we’re up to and get to use our space. Now this is originally in the
tumbleweed design. It’s a bathroom area, but what are you using it for? So ours if it was a bathroom would
be a wet bath. Um, so it’s, you know, just imagine this is the toilet and
then there would be the shower up there. But actually we’re planning
on using it as a photo booth. So this is like the little tickle trunk
where you put all your costumes and then you would sit down and there’s going to
be like a tablet or an iPad there and you can control it and take
photos with your friends. So we thought that would be kind
of a neat use for the bathroom. Let’s just let people use the park board
bathroom and we’ll use this for a funky welcome to the kitchen kitchen nook. Our kitchen counters are made out of um, recycled hardwood flooring that we found
on a website called freecycle.org which is like Craigslist, but they only have,
you know, recycled stuff from people. And I find people who are a lot more
reliable and like excited to give out things and they actually
show up and you know, they’re excited to give it to
you. So I really like free cycle. And so our cabinets and our counter
and the loft floor is made out of this recycled hardwood. Josh made
them, he’s pretty talented. He does everything and uh, yeah, he like notch them and fought the metal
and he came and he just does funny things where like he won’t tell me and
you’ll just put something like that on there and he knows that
I like weird stuff. So he’s always surprising
me with fun stuff. So what is the plan for the kitchen
during the classroom session? I’m thinking it might be useful to use
this space right here and put like a um, a taller chair, like a Barstool and have it as an extra
spot in case there’s an extra person or maybe for the instructor to
like have a spot to prepare. I think we’ll just find out what what’s
happening at first is just going to be artsy things, but we might be able to
bring in a hot plate and for when we’re, um, when you make natural dyes, you
often warm it up with a hot plate and, and put like the, the leaves inside of
a pot to get all the colors out of them. So that might happen.
Any refrigerator plans? I think it’s a cost thing at this
point. We’re trying to keep it low cost. So if we come across a fridge that fits
in there, that’d be great. But if not, it’s, I don’t think we need, need it.
Like it’s, it’s definitely not, um, high on the priority list right
now. Well, if nothing else, it’s a great place to display
the art. Yeah, exactly. Like I think it would be really neat
to have like this area used in an artsy way. So if you eventually put in
an oven and now I’m just spit balling, you can do like clay
creations and stuff too. Yeah. And like there’s this things
called Shrinky dinks you
draw something and then it like really, really small,
which is good for curiosity, maybe we’ll
and the play on words, exactly tiny everything at this
place. So, um, the ladder, we plan on painting these runs, you don’t see all the foot marks and we
also plan on putting some kind of clear plastic behind here because um, you
know, your feet might scrape the wall, but we haven’t gotten to that
point. We finished it a day ago, so that’s the future. But anyways,
um, so yeah, it’s attached on here. All right, so this is the upstairs area. So what are you going to be using this
space for? For the community center? I think what we’ll do
is, is use it for coats, coats and shoes and things like that
because I’m, when you have 12 people, there’s no way they’re all going to fit
downstairs and we might have birthday parties at some point and that would
be a good place to put presents and storage. Yeah, it’s a good
storage. It’s an attic. Yeah. I suggest whoever is the teacher should
make a grand entrance every day to class by coming down. Just descend into the room. Okay. So why don’t you tell me a
little bit about your trailer? Yeah, so my partner’s a
welder, which is magical. That’s actually how we met
talking about this project. And he modified a trailer that we found
and it was buried in the back of a junk yard somewhere and it took
forever to get it out of the spot. And it was a dovetail. So he
actually modified it to be a flatbed. Lots of little things had to be done, had to be re painted brined
and all that sort of stuff. So for our siding we use Cedar and we
got it off of a guy who actually works at the railroad unpacking things. And when they have like an odd amount
of stuff that you can’t like sell the whole thing, he, he gets to keep
it and sell it I guess. So, um, he gave us a really good
deal on the siding and uh, so we decided to put some sealant on it
to make it kind of stay like a kind of golden color. We thought it
worked well with the trim color, but one thing that we didn’t
realize or I didn’t realize is, um, Josh and Dave and everyone sent me to
go get the siding and just like go get siding has to be this thick.
And, and I bought beveled siding, not realizing that our trim did
not account for bevel sightings. So what we actually have to do is either
take off the siding and redo the trim, or we could just put some foam and
then put some sealant in there, which is going to be, you
know, like for the longterm, you don’t want to get bugs in there. So that’s one of the kind of little
mistakes that people make some times. I don’t know if other
people make this mistake, but I know exactly how that happened. And that’s what happens when you work
in a big crew of people and everyone’s kind of in a rush because there’s
just forget one little detail. Things like that can happen.
And we were just like, well, we just have to get it done.
So right. Deal with it later. These are sort of attached gutter. So, um, because our trailer, it’s built, like
our house is built over the wheel Wells. We have to take off our
gutters every time we move. So when we bought our gutters, we
didn’t have a, a way to transport them. So we just got these kind of like. But it works. It keeps the, it keeps the water off of the side
because we noticed the sealant was rubbing away and one side was, I guess
it was a little bit tilted. We hadn’t leveled it yet, so we just had to get them in a rush and
we just never really had the chance to fix it and do it properly. But next time
we move, we’ll do it properly. Right. So
this is our vertical garden, and we got the, they’re
called chicks and hens. We got them donated by a place called
Figuero’s garden on Victoria drive in Vancouver. And they were nice enough to
give us a whole bunch of these. Yeah, I think it looks kind of neat. Cool. Well, thank you so much for taking through
the tiny community center. Yeah. I can’t wait to see what
happens next. Until next time.

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