Chapter 10: The Fate of the HemLoft
New York seems to have a way of making big things happen. Little did I know, when Heidi and I set off for the Empire State, we’d meet the woman who would give me an essential insight into the story behind the treehouse, and spur me to submit the HemLoft to a major design magazine.
Benita, a childhood friend of Heidi’s mom, moved to New York straight out of high school. When she heard we were coming to visit New York on our way back from Nova Scotia, she welcomed us into her tiny home in downtown Manhattan. We had many interesting conversations around design, but it wasn’t until the end of our stay that I showed her the photos of the treehouse. Most people who saw the photos seemed interested in varying degrees, but Benita seemed particularly captivated.
Benita had spent most of her life as an art director, conducting fashion shoots for Ralph Lauren and other big players in the fashion industry. Her profession clearly required a critical eye for beauty and intrigue, so when she told me that our photos needed to be in a magazine, I actually believed her.
With a steady gaze and a curious voice, she began asking questions, in journalistic fashion. It wasn’t long until she cut to the the big lingering question that I dreaded so much: why did you build it? I found myself grasping for some sort of rationalization that would make me seem less crazy. She said “no, why did you really build it?” For the first time in my life, I was forced to face the truth about it. I said “I guess… I just wanted to build something cool”.
It seemed too simple, but it was true. The driving force behind the whole thing was a simple, yet inexorable desire to build something cool. There were no practical motives or profound meanings. The fact that it was hiding below some of the richest properties in Western Canada wasn’t a political statement, it just happened to be where I found the perfect tree. And building with free materials wasn’t out of some principled ideal, it was just the only avenue I could afford. In the end, I was mysteriously compelled to build something cool, something beautiful… and apparently, I was willing to go to maniacal lengths to make it happen.
When I asked Benita what kind of magazine to put it in, she threw a question back: “what would you want out of it?”. I told her I want to be able to continue building cool things. She told me to shoot for the top, and get exposure. I took her advice and submitted the project to Dwell Magazine. To my astonishment and delight, I was contacted by the Senior Editor, who informed me that Dwell would be featuring my treehouse in a special outdoor edition, that would be on the shelves all summer long. This was thrilling news but I felt uneasy about the implications. For the past few years, the HemLoft had been a personal secret that only my closest friends knew about. Now it would be thrown into the public realm, and put under the scrutiny of the design world, at large…
Now that my well kept secret was in a big glossy magazine, and about to hit the news stands, I started to wonder about the fate of the HemLoft. Would people find it? What would happen if they found it? I had two options: I could rent a pit bull and a shotgun and neurotically circle the premises for the next ten years of my life, OR … I could just not care, and welcome whatever curious prospectors wander in my direction.
I went with plan B, however, the extent and capacity with which visitors will be welcomed is hinging on your input. If you haven’t already, please head over to the ‘What Now?’ section of the website and tell me what you think I should do!