Design by this duo: Erin Haskell Gourde, former GU basketball player Zach Gourde reflect on their downtown businesses
“Everyone wants a swivel chair.
That’s the unanimous response from Erin Haskell Gourde and Zach Gourde when asked what the design trend is in Spokane this year.
Interior designer Haskell Gourde and Gourde, a former basketball player from Gonzaga (1999-2003) who is 6 feet 8 inches tall, own their own design studio Design for the PPL, which was launched in 2015. The retail and furniture store for Design for the PPL at 125 S. Stevens St. opened a year ago, and the couple celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary on December 12.
Haskell Gourde, who was born and raised in Spokane (“I went to Sacajawea and Lewis and Clark”) and is trained in interior design and architecture, and Gourde, who grew up in a small town outside from Vancouver, Washington, spoke about Design for the PPL, Industry Trends, Spokane and more in their sprawling, gorgeous, and eclectic design studio and retail store on a recent Saturday morning.
Tell me about Design for the PPL – and what was the inspiration for opening the retail store a year ago?
Haskell Gourd: I’ve been in the business for 12 years and we started as a design studio six years ago. We were buying furniture for all of our projects, and I felt like this was a missed opportunity for Spokane to reach out to the masses, so we started our retail store here. We still have our design studio, so we just added this business to that.
When I was little in Spokane, I grew up next to the owners of Joel, the first furniture store where you could buy Danish items and items from around the world, and have always loved going there. It was a special experience and I wanted to take her back to Spokane. Spokane is changing, and for the better, and it’s ready for it – amazing furniture and carefully selected artwork from around the world.
Gourd : Furniture and art are an experience. You must be able to look, feel, and touch. It can be difficult to go online and shop. Something with texture and visual interest you can’t see on a screen. You must be able to see it in person. With our design clients, they must have trusted us in this pandemic because we couldn’t show it to them in person.
How was the retail store’s first year during the pandemic?
Haskell Gourd: It has been incredible. Most people don’t even know we’re here. I think I just installed the panels a few months ago. We really don’t advertise. We probably should.
Gourd : We opened very smoothly and by invitation only at first while we were building the place. Then it was by appointment, then we opened one day a week. We are now open to the public from Tuesday to Saturday.
Haskell Gourd: We did this to make people feel comfortable during the pandemic, to feel comfortable being here in person. That’s why we started with the appointment only. There was no vaccine yet.
What were the highlights of the first year?
Haskell Gourd: Honestly looking at people’s faces when they get off the elevator.
Gourd : One of the best parts is watching the elevator doors open and people come in and grab everything. It’s unexpected because you walk into an old brick warehouse, ride the elevator and, right now, step into a winter wonderland.
How would you describe the aesthetics of Design for PPL?
Haskell Gourd: It’s called Design for the PPL for a reason. It’s not designed for Erin or Zach. We are really proud to have a lot of different aesthetics. It’s more eccentric modern, as well as a lot of traditional, mid-century and transitional pieces. People are in transition with their lives and are fed up with the old oversized leathers and the huge sofas and lounge chairs that take up the whole room. People want to cool off and uplift, and there is something for everyone.
Gourd : It is very rare for someone to come in and walk around, and there is nothing that matches what they are looking for. Sometimes there are people who come from traditional homes and are looking for a room, and we don’t have it. But most of the time people come and realize, “I want this and I want this and I want this. We have a bit of everything; we are an eclectic mix of items.
How did you two meet?
Haskell Gourd: He called me cold!
Gourd : We have a lot of mutual friends who thought we should meet. I had been back to Spokane for two years and neither of us were single at the same time. But then the two of us didn’t see anyone, and no one could quite put us in the same place at the same time. So one morning I just asked a friend to give me her number, and I called her way too early on a Sunday morning.
Haskell Gourd: My mom was already in love with him because she is a huge fan of GU. When I told her who called me, she was beside herself, and she’s not that kind of person, so it was kind of funny.
Gourd : Our first date was this Sunday, our second was this Monday and our third was this Tuesday. She had just finished her graduate studies that Friday. Our first date was at Steelhead, then we went to Bennedito’s Pizza.
What do you think are the design trends in 2022?
Haskell Gourd: I would say fancy spaces – you really care about what you put in your home, other than ‘it’ll do’. You organize your space and think about accessories and what surrounds you rather than focusing on just one thing. There is certainly a huge European influence to come – Greek, French and Spanish. I think that’s the next big thing.
Gourd : Coming back to your first point, people are spending so much time at home now, more than ever before in their spaces. They are surrounded and stuck in their own environment. They don’t go out as much or travel as much, so they focus more on what is around them. People are investing more in their homes because they are home so much more than before.
What sets Design for the PPL apart?
Haskell Gourd: Our design studio can only take on a limited number of large projects per year, which is why our biggest concept is called Day With the Designer. When that space opened up I thought people would come in and say, “I love this chair, I’m going to buy it. But really, they want to be told what they should have, which was surprising. People love Day With the Designer because it’s a win-win for everyone.
We go to their house and assess the situation and do a consultation. It can be one part or all parts. We find out what they keep, what their style is, what their lifestyle is, what they hate. It’s understanding what people want.
Gourd : We thought people would just come and shop, and they come in and shop, but there are people who want our help and need advice. They aren’t comfortable making the decisions themselves, so Day With the Designer is a way for us to spend time with them. We can make a plan so they can move forward.
Were there any particular items that were popular or trending in Spokane in 2021?
Gourd : Everyone wants a swivel chair.
Haskell Gourd: Everyone wants a swivel chair! Good call.
Gourd : We have found that the market tends to cycle, and we have no idea what that cycle is going to be. For a month and a half people will come in just wanting dining tables, and then for months it’s dressers, and then everyone is looking for swivel chairs.
What do you like most about Spokane?
Haskell Gourd: Opportunity. I also call Spokane Toyland. You can walk outside and take a walk on the Centennial Trail. You can go to the lake or go skiing. We’re not a big city, but I always say you have an open mouth kiss with Spokane. That’s what you do with it. What do you think?
Gourd : I agree 100%. I bounced around a lot, and it’s by far the easiest place to get around, and I mean, do we have traffic? Yes, but it’s not that bad. Does it take me more than 15 minutes to get to where I want to go? Probably not. Are things happening downtown? Yes there is. Everything is simple and there are opportunities. There is the possibility here to try something new, to play and have fun.
What are you waiting for the most for the new year?
Haskell Gourd: People know where our store is (laughs). I would say more of what we are doing now. We love to transform people’s spaces. It really improves their life. I always say we can’t save your life, but we can change your life. I like to understand how people live and move in their space. It affects their life and people are happier. We love to surprise people. What about you, Zach?
Gourd : We are also in transition and expansion. I can’t wait to stretch out. Time will tell us.
Info: Design for PPL, 125 S. Stevens St., Second Floor, (509) 864-6638, designfortheppl.com