Story and photography by Lia Crowe
Officially, Camille is the Director of Entrepreneurship for the University of British Columbia, Okanagan and sits on the board of Opera Kelowna, while David has his hands in many pies — he’s on the Building Expansion Committee for the Kelowna Art Gallery, he’s a mentor for the entrepreneurship program at UBC’s Okanagan campus, an advocate of clean-tech innovation and a pioneer in sustainable business development. Unofficially, they are retired.
“But we really suck at retirement,” David jokes when I meet them at their stunning Art Deco home in Kelowna.
Part of the early wave of “Trump Refugees,” Camille and David moved to Kelowna from San Diego, California with a desire to have better access to nature and a community where they could continue their work in innovation, community building and sustainable business.
“I’m the total beneficiary of southern California,” David explains. “I grew up surfing from the age of four. We had a rich experience in southern California, but moving into the last third of our lives we thought a lot about eventually retiring somewhere in the Pacific North West.”
He adds, “One of the attractions we had to the Okanagan Valley is that it’s quite unique as an ecosystem. Not only the watershed and the lake — water, food, ample power — but also as a young and growing community based on innovation. Also, it’s what we think of as a dynamic, high-IQ and high-human resource community that right now needs to decide what it wants to be when it grows up.”
Originally from Canada, Camille met David while founding a trade organization to stimulate green tech in San Diego. They worked together for a year before becoming romantically involved. Now having just celebrated their ninth wedding anniversary, Camille laughed, saying, “We were the last people in San Diego to know that we would end up together.”
Asked what innate quality has contributed most to her success, Camille says, “I bring people together who can add value for each other. I have an ability to see connections and put people together who then create deals and initiatives, or build community.” Camille calls it ‘“friend-raising.”
“When we looked at where we would want to live in Canada, I saw a lot of ingredients that would allow me to continue to do [my work] here. The university has all the pieces, all the firepower and it touches everyone. I’m working with the researchers, students and graduates to help them commercialize their innovations and discoveries.”
David pipes up to say, “I would add she’s also the most disciplined worker I’ve ever seen, so it’s not a laissez faire position. Camille’s half time is better than most people’s full time.”
Looking around their beautifully decorated and art-filled home, which is alive with two energetic Weimaraner rescue dogs, it is clear that there is a shared love of a mid-century modern aesthetic.
“It’s a very southern California aesthetic,” David says. “It’s an open, more relaxed style which suits the Okanagan Valley perfectly.”
Asked what good style means to her, Camille answers, “For me style is design, and I love modern design — products, architecture, interiors, fashion, graphics, industrial, artistic expression. [I like] looking at the world in new ways; provoking thought and merging art and greater functionality.”
With his many accomplishments, does David have a career highlight?
“The most fun I ever had was heading up a non-profit called Surfrider Foundation. A number of years ago we won the largest clean water act lawsuit in American history. It was a $100 million judgment against two pulp mills in California. We were a rag-tag group of surfers who took on the largest law firms and wound up winning. Surf Rider is still up and running with chapters all over the world — that is so fulfilling.”
Asked where their passions lie outside of work, David answers, “Skiing, surfing. We love the north shore of Kauai with its world-class surfing. That kind of experience is really why we moved. San Diego is at the stage now where if you wanted that experience you have to travel. Where we are now, we have nature minutes away. What BC needs to do right now is preserve the last of its old-growth forests. If I had a church, it would be the big trees.”
Favourite Artist: Jean Dubuffet and Wassily Kandinsky.
Piece of art: Peggy Guggenheim’s Silver Bed Head by Alexander Calder in The Peggy Guggenheim Collection on the Grand Canal in Venice.
Favourite Fashion Designer: Missoni.
Favourite Musician: David Bowie.
Era of Time that inspires your style: Mid-century modern.
Film or Movie that inspired your style: All the original James Bond films.
Fashion & Beauty
Uniform: Wax Coated Skinny Jeans by Ted Baker London.
Favourite pair of shoes: Short boots by Christian Dior.
Favourite Daybag: Dinky with Tea Rose die-cut hand-painted blooms decorated with rivets by Coach.
Necessary indulgence: Anything from LBV Lifestyle in Kelowna.
Moisturizer: Shiseido Benefiance.
Beauty secret: Colin David Ford at Loyal Hair Therapy in Kelowna.
What do you read Online for style: WWD and Vogue.com
Fave Print magazine: Wallpaper Magazine.
Fave style Blog: “I follow favourite boutique buyers on Instagram like Laura Gambucci Boutique in La Jolla and LBV Lifestyle on Pandosy in Kelowna.”
Coffee table Book: Keith Haring.
Last great read: All the Light I Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
Book currently reading: The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Favourite book of all time: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami.
Favourite Cocktail/Wine: BRBN Aphrodisiac at RauDZ.
Album on current rotation: Alice Merton, No Roots.
Favourite Flower: Camellia.
Favourite city to visit: London.
Favourite App: “Bitmoji — it’s the real me.”
Favourite place in the whole world: North Shore Kauai.
Favourite Denim, brand and cut: “I still love my Levi’s made-to-measure; they fit me like a glove.”
Best new purchase: “I scored a Cavalli Firenze coat at London Fashion Week.”
Accessory you spend the most money on: “A beautiful watch or two.”
Necessary indulgence: Surf safaris and cat skiing adventures.
Who cuts your hair?: Colin David Ford at Loyal Hair Therapy in Kelowna.
Favourite skincare products: Aveda.
Iconic Celebrity: “Hands down John Travolta in Pulp Fiction.”
Favourite artist: “There are so many. Mostly mid-century modern, starting with Calder’s mobiles to Rothko’s iconic canvases, up through Murakami, Banksy and Basquiat, with a basket of superheroes in between. Here in BC, Landon MacKenzie, Gary Pearson and Julie Oaks have become friends and I have tremendous respect for their work.”
Favourite Film you love for its style: “I studied film at UCLA so it is next to impossible to choose just one, but if my life depended on it, I would have to go with the original Blade Runner and Seven Samurai by Kurosawa, which was made the year I was born but remains unrivaled.”
Book currently reading: Barkskins by Annie Proulx — “A beautifully constructed historical fiction of early Canada.”
Favourite book of all time: “It is tough to beat Ulysses by James Joyce. A modern-day equivalent for me would be Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon.
Favourite Coffee Table Book: Murakami. “If you ever have a chance to see his full size pieces, do not miss the opportunity.”
Album on current rotation: I’ve been reliving the greats of jazz fusion, particularly Return to Forever by Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Al Di Meola and John McLaughlin. Insane!”
Favourite Musician: “Impossible question, but we do have to honour Tom Petty. He was my hero.”
Favourite City to Visit: London.
Favourite App: “Seriously, Map Quest. I’d be lost without it.”
Hotel: Hotel Jerome in Aspen — “Amazing who you meet at that bar.”
Favourite place in the whole world: “I’m not willing to reveal that secret other than this — it’s a small island off the tip of East Timor with the most perfect left point in the world.”