Editor in Chief Zahid Sardar uncovers design in unlikely places.
THE “NICE” FAUCET line designed by Matteo Thun and Antonio Rodriguez for the Italian manufacturer Fantini Rubinetti is another example of this historic company’s mold-breaking approach. To spark up mono-material chrome or darkened bronze bath fittings, Fantini’s Nice faucets have a pop of color — a thin sliver of red, crimson, black, blue, turquoise, green or white film — embedded within clear methacrylate plastic handles. The film creates an interesting optical illusion: because of the handles’ molecular structure, the grips seem fully infused with color when seen from some angles and not from others. Prices vary. dzine.com
Seeing Spheres Sculpture
BEFORE the Golden State Warriors’ first game there last October, the Chase Center in San Francisco’s Mission Bay, designed by Kansas City–based Manica Architecture, was unveiled a month prior with an inaugural concert by Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony — establishing the stadium as both a cultural and a sports destination. To underscore the 18,000-seat arena’s cultural claim, its lobbies and interiors, designed by Gensler, and outdoor areas, by SWA Group landscape architecture firm, showcase art, including a large mobile, Untitled by Alexander Calder, loaned by SFMOMA. For its east plaza facing the bay, Chase commissioned Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson’s interactive Seeing spheres sculpture, composed of five 15-foot-high stainless steel globes arranged in a circle, each with a circular inset mirror. These giant “eyes” ricochet reflections in a disorienting way, providing viewers with unexpected perspectives.
Gay Outlaw’s 3X3, 2019
SAN FRANCISCO SCULPTOR, photographer and printmaker Gay Outlaw’s 3X3, 2019 is part of a new series of recently unveiled soft ground fine art etchings, with aquatint, drypoint and spit-bite and soap-ground aquatints, done in limited editions of 20 for the venerable Crown Point Press. Outlaw’s partly ink-jet printed works were in a recent show she curated at the press called King Phillip Came Over From Germany Stoned. Her 3×3 depicts objects she previously photographed, then composed on a 33-by-303⁄4-inch orange gampi-paper chine-collé background. $2,800 each.
Script LED Lighting Series
FROM THE 19TH-CENTURY Viennese crystal and glass purveyor LOBMEYR, a new remote-controlled LED lighting series called Script, inspired by typographical forms, includes chandeliers as well as floor, wall and table lamps designed by London-based Bodo Sperlein. Made of gold- or silver-plated hand-bent brass, all Script lamps have several frosted glass hemispherical dome lights attached to flat brass plates. Can be found on Bright on Presidio. Prices vary with finish.
ELEMENTI — ALESSIO DE FRANCESCA’S new San Francisco gallery of Italian stone, crafted metal and wood components, and other building accessories — shown also at his Cooritalia showroom — displays a functioning kitchen; mock Vaselli /Le Cave/CEA bathrooms include a Bianco Rapolano travertine bathtub; a living area has Rossato furniture. The cooking island — crafted by hand and CNC cutters from a single block of Breccia Capraia marble — has a dining surface, concealed all-wood cabinetry and overhead, Juniper chandeliers. This by-appointment-only SoMa venue designed by Nicole Hollis also displays hand-troweled Italian plaster finishes by TBC Plaster Artisans, which shares the gallery. A large worktable made from wood salvaged from Venetian piers allows clients to mix and match samples in the atelier.
ic! Berlin Unisex Aviator Style Eyeglasses
SEEING IS BELIEVING: German industrial designer Sebastian Herkner has created four lightweight unisex aviator-style eyeglass designs in stainless steel and transparent acetate for the ic! berlin brand. Available in prescription, reader and sun-blocking versions in three colors, the styles are named for Berlin neighborhoods and landmarks: Avus, Bellevue, Hansa and Dahlem. All have the company’s patented screwless hinge system and are handmade in Berlin. Prices hover around $400 to $475.
MICHELIN-STARRED chef Claude Le Tohic’s San Francisco patisserie/ bistro/bar/restaurant, in a narrow six-story Beaux Arts Edwardian near Union Square, is called ONE65 for its address: 165 O’Farrell Street. Four eateries stacked one on top of the other include the bright street-level French-style patisserie and boutique (with pastries and chocolates made upstairs), and above it the bistro and grill, the dark-walled Elements bar/lounge and O’ restaurant (think “water” in French), the latter with two private dining spaces and a sixth-floor kitchen. Designed by San Francisco’s Marc Dimilanta of D-Scheme Studio, the four casual-to-fine French culinary spaces — linked by a system of dumbwaiters — have integrated design features by Christian Andrade. Art alludes to the elements of water, fire, air and earth.
THE NEW ARCHITECTURE OF WINE: 25 SPECTACULAR CALIFORNIA WINERIES, by Marin author Heather Sandy Hebert, is an insightful overview of the state’s increasingly modern wineries built during the last decade. The book is also a kind of compendium of the work of established Northern California firms as well as that of rising stars, including Backen & Gillam Architects, Bar Architects, Arcanum Architecture, Signum Architecture, Nielsen-Schuh Architects, Walker Warner Architects and Matt Hollis Architects, to name a few. Gibbs Smith, $60
SITE: MARMOL RADZINER IN THE LANDSCAPE, by architects Leo Marmol and Ron Radziner, is a monograph about this famed Southern California design-build duo’s work. Their firm Marmol Radziner has made its reputation restoring some of midcentury modernism’s most famous land- marks as well as creating indoor/ outdoor homes of remarkable grace. The book illustrates their process in words and images. Novelist Mona Simpson introduces readers to what it was like to be in one of their houses that she knew intimately and thus, by extension, to all 19 projects from around the United States as well as one in the Netherlands. Princeton Architectural Press, $65
VINCENZO DE COTIIS: WORKS, introduced by Anne Bony with text by Joseph Grima and Tom Delavan, is a compilation of the poetic furniture and interiors of Milanese designer/artist Vincenzo De Cotiis (represented by Carpenters Workshop Gallery in San Francisco), whose salvaged materials combined with Italian minimalism speak oddly in the conservationist voice of our time, yet exude a kind of visual extravagance. It is as if his sculptural, textured furniture, including tables, chairs and lighting fixtures made of wood, metal and blown glass — designed for worn, stripped-down historic interiors — celebrate timelessness. His interiors echo the work of the late Bay Area artist David Ireland, who also revealed bare timeworn plaster in former 1907 army barracks converted during the 1980s into Marin’s Headlands Center for the Arts. Rizzoli Electa, $75
SURFACEDESIGN: MATERIAL LANDSCAPES The San Francisco landscape architecture firm Surfacedesign has a vast gamut of work around the globe, and you’ve probably seen their residential work in SPACES magazine. Now, in their first monograph firm partners James A. Lord, Roderick Wyllie and Geoff di Girolamo pull the curtain back on the ways their practice works, and especially how they approach each public or private garden and its site; in some instances they demonstrate relevant ways of living with and on the water in a time of rising sea levels. Awareness, resilient materials and vernacular plantings are only some of the best defenses they outline. The Monacelli Press, $50
Virgin Hotel SoMA
AT VIRGIN HOTEL’S new SoMa outpost in San Francisco, expect great views toward Yerba Buena Gardens and an airline vibe: rooms can be pocketed off into work/sleep zones with curtains or sliding doors. Best of all, if your work keeps you inside, hunkered down in your ergonomic adjustable bed, the smart, red and retro Italian Smeg refrigerator and racks surrounding it are all so well stocked they’re as good as the corner store. But there’s press-button room service too.
Little Table Lamp
BERKELEY DESIGNER Michael McEwen, famous for giant chandeliers of cast metal and vintage parts for prominent Bay Area winery tasting rooms and homes, has created the more accessible modern Little Table Lamp. With a cast-iron base (available in deep brown oxide or other finishes), it has a mold-blown glass shade (six color options) and an etched Pyrex diffuser, evoking hurricane oil lamps. Found at De Sousa Hughes lighting. About $1,480 depending on finish.
CALIFORNIA DESIGNER Kelly Wearstler’s “Frequency” vase, lantern, footed bowl and centerpiece bowl for Danish silversmith Georg Jensen incorporate a wavelike element that is industrially produced and then hand-finished. Wearstler’s pieces — comprising an undulating stainless steel ribbon, folded to form crests and dips (inspired by the Pacific Ocean) and attached to polished stainless-steel or glass vessels — come in several sizes and are affordably priced from $95 to $250.
Hokanson Rugs Empire Collection
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN–BASED Scott Group Studio, a national bespoke rug firm with a Sausalito showroom, has just launched the art deco–inspired Empire collection under its Hokanson brand. Empire’s five styles — Karri, Laiton, Bloc, Bricka and Latta — incorporate one or all of these elements from early 20th-century rug designs: geometrics, stepped forms, sweeping curves and bold colors. Each rug in the Hokanson for Scott Group Studio collection is hand-knotted and hand-tufted in Asia and can be produced in custom colors and sizes. Prices vary depending on materials and size.
THE 1898 GERMAN LUGGAGE company Rimowa, whose distinctive designs include 1937 ribbed aluminum luggage inspired by aircraft construction and similar cases made of polycarbonate since 2000, is now a part of the French LVMH luxury brand, which has opened a tiny new Rimowa store in San Francisco’s Union Square area. Housed in a historic build- ing, the new 1,400-square-foot space features a luggage carousel design that has aluminum and polycarbonate details. Polycarbonate luggage can be personalized with in-store heat embossing. Alongside new sage, saffron, coral and slate cases, look for vintage limited-edition pieces from the brand’s archive on display.
TECHNOLOGY IS SHRINKING TIME and space. Google tech has streamlined mapping, and now a San Francisco company called Wescover can, with Google Lens, help people find creators of art or furnishings easily. The artist or maker has to be registered with Wescover to enable users in a public space like a hotel or restaurant to aim their phone cameras at something they like, and link to metadata accessible through Wescover and its “virtual gallery.” Co-founded by Israeli engineer-turned-entrepreneur Rachely Esman, Wescover has cataloged over 35,000 artworks and has “7,500 creator brands and individuals registered,” Esman says. As many as 1,000 design objects are being cataloged daily.
NEW SOFTWARE called AR Instantly, by the firm Geopogo, could be game-changing for architects and consumers, as “augmented reality for the built environment” or “3D made simple,” CEO/co-founder architect Dave Alpert says. Currently operating out of UC Berkeley’s startup accelerator SkyDeck, Alpert and his team can construct virtual buildings on a site. “With AR Instantly, you can bring a BIM (building information model) into a flexibly scaled AR model with only two button clicks on the desktop and no custom effort,” Alpert says. For example, with AR Instantly and a headset, designers, proponents or opponents of a project can assess its potential physical impact on a site in advance; they can also “walk” untethered through the “structure.” Colors and other construction details on this kind of architectural model can be changed in an instant, and economically, because a Geopogo headset and AR Instantly software license starts for the relatively low price of about $9,500.
Type 80 Anglepois Lamps
AT AGE 90, Sir Kenneth Grange, a founder of the design collective Pentagram and design director of the British Anglepoise company, has created Type 80, a new line of Anglepoise lamps that have timeless profiles and innovative “halo” features that allow light to “spill” over their conical shades. The table lamp has sprung joint mechanisms, cables routed through the arms and an on-shade on/off switch. The wall sconce and ceiling rose options are easy to install. Ultra-matte colors include rose pink, pistachio, gray mist and matte black. Prices range from $160 to $295.
This article originally appeared in SPACES’s print edition under the headline: “Retro Looks, Modern Innovations”.
Editor-in-chief Zahid Sardar brings an extensive range of design interests and keen knowledge of Bay Area design culture to SPACES magazine. He is a San Francisco editor, curator and author specializing in global architecture, interiors, landscape and industrial design. His work has appeared in numerous design publications as well as the San Francisco Chronicle for which he served as an influential design editor for 22 years. Sardar serves on the San Francisco Decorator Showcase design advisory board.