Inside the Nutsumaat Education Centre on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island,  you never know what you’re going to find: one day, it might serve as a productive meeting space for work colleagues, the next, a productive play space for children. You might even stumble upon an art exhibit. Located within the traditional territory of the Stz’uminus First Nation, the centre supports 1,300 community members—and, for Courtney Hundseth, senior designer at Vancouver-based Studio Roslyn, it was important that every single one of those members feels welcomed.

That meant creating space for everything on the community’s wish list, from hot desks to comfortable lounges to event areas. “A lot of the furniture is modular and easily workable. We can move things around depending on their usage,” says Hundseth. The cardboard Molo Softseating and Benchwall, for example, can be repositioned (or completely folded up and stowed away) if needed.

The education centre’s materials are deeply rooted in the community itself. “Most of the wood, from the tongue-and-groove ceiling to the plywood siding, is from a local mill,” shares the designer. In fact, that tongue-and-groove ceiling (created by the Studio Rosyln team and Local One Construction) is repurposed from cedar trees that were cleared for the building. Stone was sourced from Vancouver Island Marble Quarries, and furniture was brought in from Victoria-based manufacturer Part and Whole.

The colour palette—made up of earthy reds and pinks, muddy yellows, vibrant greens and watery blues—reflects the Stz’uminus First Nation’s connection to the land. Meanwhile, the crescent and circle shapes throughout the education centre were inspired by traditional Coast Salish art. “We learned a lot about positive and negative space in relief carving, and that became a driving factor in the design,” says Hundseth. “The space itself is kind of angular, so we wanted to add some curvature in there and soften it up.”

In the Hul’q’umi’num language, “nutsumaat” means “together as one”: the perfect name for this multidisciplinary, connective and inspiring space.

Great Geometry
The shape of this wall and seating area was inspired by the circles, trigons and crescents used in Coast Salish relief carvings.
In the Zone
Hundseth used rugs and colour blocking to create distinct areas in the education centre—some for working and learning, others for relaxing and gathering.

Shelf Life
Hundseth was originally planning to use wallpaper in the reception area, but ended up going for blue-stained plywood instead—and achieved the exact watery effect she was hoping for. “It turned out so nice and feels really inviting,” she says.

This story was originally published in the July/August 2024 print issue of Western Living magazine.