Realtors sell houses, and that’s what Trent Rodney does.
“I am obviously a realtor,” Trent says matter-of-factly.
But he also says he’s not, really.
“Basically, I don’t see myself as a realtor,” Rodney tells the Straight in a phone interview. “I see myself more as an art dealer.”
Rodney is one in a triumvirate with Jason Choi and Karim Bhatia at West Coast Modern, a West Vancouver-based realty company.
The boutique firm takes its name from a style grounded in the philosophy of organic architecture or the union of design and nature.
The Vancouver Heritage Foundation states online that the West Coast Modern style “developed from a modernist approach to suburban living and a rainforest climate”.
“The style first appeared in Vancouver, Seattle and Portland in the 1930s,” the foundation recalls.
Proponents of West Coast Modern “drew inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture, the International Style, and Japanese residential design”.
“They incorporated these elements into designs that responded to the climate, terrain and rainforest setting in which they worked,” the foundation notes. “The result was a style of building, primarily domestic, with a close relationship to their individual sites.”
In the Vancouver area, West Coast Modern architecture was pioneered by the late Fred Thornton Hollingsworth of North Vancouver.
In the interview, Rodney’s admiration for Hollingsworth comes across clearly.
According to Rodney, Hollingsworth wasn’t a typical architect who would build four walls and a roof.
Hollingsworth would go to a site, and watch how it responds to natural light.
“Basically, you would orient the living space where you could maybe have an evening cocktail to where the sunset is most beautiful, and then you would orient your bedroom to where the sun rises,” Rodney says.
Hollingsworth was inspired by renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who believed that an organic architecture was in total harmony with its environment.
For Rodney, this is what makes for real luxury.
“Luxury is having, you know, connection to nature,” Rodney says.
According to him, it’s not the faux luxury associated with “big-box houses” built to the maximum square footage, eight-car garages, and chandeliers in the foyer.
Luxury is about houses whose “construction is done by like a true artist who value their craft like a work of art”.
It seems only fitting that Rodney’s West Coast Modern realty was the company that sold the North Vancouver home built by Hollingsworth for his family.
Set amid a lush greenery, the 1946 home launched Hollingsworth career.
The Hollingsworth Residence was listed for $1,798,000.
According to B.C. Assessment records, a buyer scooped up the 1205 Ridgewood Drive home on November 9, 2018 over the asking price for $1.9 million.
Rodney relates that his background is in marketing and promotion. In his previous career, he promoted stocks and financial instruments.
“I was doing a lot in the financial world and I hated it, hated it, hated it, hated it,” he swears.
What he liked was going to design stores, checking out “cool” houses, and reading about architecture.
That led him to volunteer with the Vancouver Heritage Foundation, touring people around historic homes.
“I love, I love doing that,” he recalls.
In the process, Rodney met many architects, and this encouraged him to go to architecture school.
When he was going into his apprenticeship, he did a considerable amount of introspection about what he really wants.
“It sounds like you enjoy the finished product, so instead of designing it, why don’t you sell the work,” Rodney relates.
As a creative person by nature, it made sense.
“I get to be like the art dealer who gets to represent a body of work,” Rodney said.
According to Rodney, many clients of West Coast Modern realty are local Metro Vancouver buyers.
He says that a lot of buyers prefer mid-century homes inspired by the West Coast Modern style over brand new “big-box mansions”.
“That appeals to local buyers because they don’t have to spend so much money, and they get to be in their dream area and in a dream house,” Rodney says.
Also, a “standard renovated house can be pretty boring”.More