As his light-filled home in North Portland’s Overlook neighborhood reveals in abundance, Bryan Deaner is a self-described “cultural insomniac” who lives for traveling and collecting beautiful objects from Eastern Europe to southern South America, Asia to Africa. And for a man who once visited Japan just to see the architecture of Tadao Ando, the design of Deaner’s house couldn’t be all function without beautiful form.
Deaner has dubbed his modern house the Interchange residence, denoting its crossing of borders both personal and geographical. After a divorce, Deaner worked with William Kaven Architecture to create the home, where he has lived since 2010, the year of the tiger. It was an architectural new beginning. Sitting beside a tree-lined bluff overlooking industrial North Portland’s shipyards and the Willamette River, it utilizes industrial materials like steel and concrete to poetic effect, even among a neighborhood of modest old wood-framed cottages. And though the house is oriented around an interior courtyard, emphasizing private space rather than a front porch and yard, Deaner seems happiest inviting curious neighbors inside the house for a cocktail, or groups of friends over for a dinner party. If they happen to ask about the corner piece from a 17th-century Tibetan Buddhist temple sitting on his shelf, he’s happy to oblige — not as the braggart owner, but to share his childlike enthusiasm for the excursions that brought these treasures to his home.
“I was just in Marrakech last fall, and not only did I fall in love with Morocco, but the duality of the ancient world meeting this glitzy modernity was just fascinating,” he says. “Part of the brief I wrote to the architects was I wanted a clean container but something with a soul. I travel; I collect things from around the world. But I didn’t want it to be like a museum: You can touch things and pick them up.”
Down the hall from a rustic French farmhouse table and petrified-wood stools from Java near the entry, for example, is a statue of the Chinese goddess of compassion, Quan-Yin, anchoring the bedroom. “The line of sight to the Quan-Yin was deliberate,” the homeowner explains. “She draws you in to the procession in the house.”
Upstairs are artworks not only by the likes of Matisse and Picasso but acclaimed local artists such as Michael Hensley and Dorothy Goode. A steel-etched photograph by another local, Garrett Price, titled “Interchange” and portraying a Fremont Bridge overpass, inspired the house’s theme of artful juxtapositions. There is also, hanging in the middle room, a photograph by one of the home’s architects, Daniel Kaven of William Kaven Architecture. Deaner and Kaven met at a gallery, and though Kaven’s firm had only one built project at the time, Deaner says he knew the job was Kaven’s to lose because of the fusion of interests in art and design.
The front door gives way to a generous great room with a dining table featuring Philippe Starck chairs, a kitchen with striking sharkskin-toned glass tile and a collection of vintage glass decanters (“My counter bling,” Deaner jokes). Bhe center of the house truly is its outdoor courtyard, which includes a fireplace and is overlooked by every room in the house.
Deaner enjoys hosting get-togethers that soon spill out into its confines, a truer living room than the actual one. And for all the artwork and antiquities and the carefully curated furniture of Eames chairs and European sofas, the lushness of the plants bracketing the courtyard seem like the most eye-catching artwork of all, a theater of nature and natural light coming though the floor-to-ceiling glass.
“Having grown up in New Mexico, we’re really into courtyards,” says Kaven. “That’s a fairly common element in that desert condition. We really tried to make that work here, and it’s amazing how well it works here and on such a small site.”
Before long, Deaner’s job as global brand manager for Intel — or, more likely, his own happy wanderlust — will have him on the road again, be it to Prague or Ibiza. And while this bachelor makes no bones about his love of collecting objects and even travels themselves, his passion remains rooted in people: the chance to experience their creations and to share those with others.
“Some places you go, like Russia, you really feel like a tourist, like an outsider,” Deaner says of his travels. “Other places, like Brazil, you feel like you fit in right away. That’s what I wanted this house to be.”