Craftsman's Journey

Charles de Lisle's wild ride as an award-winning designer is fueled by a deep love for making.

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He graduated and moved west, to San Francisco, and worked in a studio in Oakland for two years. California College of the Arts was just down the street, and he soon met the head of the sculpture department there. He took welding lessons, and learned that as quickly and well as he had learned ceramics, because to him, they were cut from the same creative cloth. “I could make things that were creative but referencing function,” de Lisle says. He began making tables and different types of lamps. “The way that you work with metal, the way you have to keep it in process, understand how to engineer it,” he says. “How you have to build a jig to hold the pieces of metal, so that you can construct the right kind of piece. I always loved that complicated nature of those specific ways of making art.” Randomly, de Lisle met people in San Francisco who needed help welding stuff for their stores, like display racks, and then he did a little shoe store and “ended up falling in by accident with this guy who does events.” Suddenly he was welding objects for extravagant parties. And part of doing things for extravagant parties was being in really extravagant houses that, he realized, had been designed. “I’d never been in a kind of decorated house like that in my life,” de Lisle says of his first exposure to upscale Bay Area homes, “and then it started to register in my head, and
I remember asking the family that I worked with: What is this house?” It was more than just another cool discovery; it was an entire change of perspective.

Shorebreak Hotel (2006), Huntington Beach, CA

The Shorebreak Hotel was designed by de Lisle while he was a partner at De Lisle, Philpotts & Staub.

Photo: courtesy Charles de Lisle

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