Where Are They Now? Chair leads designer on a new journey

Celina Dalrymple is hoping the chair she designed and built for Lady Gaga will finally find a home with the flamboyant singer this weekend when her Born This Way Ball tour kicks off in Vancouver. - MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER
Celina Dalrymple is hoping the chair she designed and built for Lady Gaga will finally find a home with the flamboyant singer this weekend when her Born This Way Ball tour kicks off in Vancouver.

Sometimes the journey is more important than the destination.

Two years ago Burnaby furniture designer Celina Dalrymple had the crazy notion of building a special bejewelled green and black velvet chair for her musical muse, Lady Gaga. She set out to connect with the right people who might be able to help her present the chair to the flamboyant performer as a gift.

Dalrymple still has the chair.

But her quest has taken her creativity in new directions, including a collaboration with a renowned fashion designer to rock stars.

From her drafting table in her south Burnaby studio, Fabulous Furnishings, Dalrymple designs and builds stylish and tasteful sofas, chairs, loungers for clients across Metro Vancouver.

"The Vancouver population is pretty safe," she says of their taste in furniture and fabric.

But Dalrymple says she's eager to explore new, funkier aspects of her work. That's what building the Gaga chair, with its bold, colourful fabrics, gleaming baubles and towering fingers, was all about.

But her two-year frustration at catching the attention of the right people who could help her get the chair to Lady Gaga filled her with self-doubt. Perhaps the chair was  too eccentric? Or just not any good?

Among the people Dalrymple contacted to aid her quest was London-based fashion designer Ray Brown, who's created costumes for Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi, Cher, Stevie Nicks. Brown loved her chair, invited her to visit his studio.

In June Dalrymple boarded a flight to London. She spent 10 days hanging out in his studio, visiting other design houses, researching fabrics, sewing techniques.

"He's quite a character, he's a legend himself," says Dalrymple. "We work in the same way, we think the same way."

The experience, says Dalrymple, boosted her confidence, filled her with creative ideas, opened her eyes to the possibility of taking her work to a more global market.

"It made me proud, it made me believe in myself," says Dalrymple, who's currently working with Brown on creating rock-inspired furniture pieces for a series of boutiques he's planning to open.

"Furniture and fashion do follow each other closely," says Dalrymple. "A lot of furniture design comes from fashion design, things like colour, stitch, details."

Dalrymple says she's trying to temper her newfound creative impulses. After all, Mid-Century loungers in tasteful grey still pay the bills.

"I'm a worker," she says. "I just bunker down and live in the moment."

But she's eager to build on what she's learned, and the contacts she's made from her Lady Gaga chair project.

As for making another attempt at delivering the chair when Lady Gaga's artRAVE tour hits Vancouver in May, Dalrymple is noncommittal.

"If something happens, it happens," she says. "I'll just leave it up to the gods."


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