AMERICAN ARCHITECT FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT was born 150 years ago, and in the course of his seven-decade career became an engine of design innovation by breaking from Western canons and borrowing ideas from around the world. His mosque-like Marin County Civic Center, completed after he died in 1959, is one futurist example. Architects and designers who followed in his wake learned what he taught from experience: that new ideas lie beyond the edge of prescribed good taste.
That also became the maxim of innovators like Michael Taylor, who led a midcentury California design movement that mixed the sacred — precious neoclassical antiques, expensive marbles and exquisite fabrics — with the profane, such as driftwood, boulders and burlap, and made decorative design history.
This issue is dedicated to the latest crop of eclectic Bay Area designers — nearly all of whom came to the profession by chance, without design school rules — who eschew whitewalled modernism to celebrate the raw beauty of concrete, weathered textures and surprising color palettes.
In San Francisco, trompe l’oeil artist Willem Racké teams up with Princeton-trained architect Luke Ogrydziak to transform a former factory turned live-work space in SoMa; designer Jeff Schlarb, a business major who wandered, via a home staging business, into full-time decoration, collaborates with his wife, Tray, on the design of their oddly shaped Sea Cliff home; Francis Mill, a prominent art gallerist who is at heart also an interior designer, teams up with Los Angeles designer Stephan Jones in the remaking of his loft apartment within a 1930s warehouse in SoMa; in St. Helena, retired lawyer David McMullen makes his design debut with the transformation of a modern cottage that has a garden by San Francisco landscape architect Katherine Webster; in Marin, self-taught Israeli designer Yaél Putterman showcases black walls within a classic turn-of-the-century interior in wooded Ross; interior designer Holly Kopman juxtaposed a jazzy palette of ethnic patterns and bold colors against a wood-lined Arts and Crafts interior in San Rafael; and Green Gulch– influenced landscape designer Tim O’Shea of Green 17 brought the tropics to a hillside garden in Kentfield.
Also in this issue, in Design Spot, Gallery and other sections, look for global strains: the Japanese-American designer Isamu Noguchi is the focus of a show at SFMOMA that highlights his groundbreaking playgrounds that were built mainly in Japan; in India we landed at Maitreyi, an Ayurveda and meditation retreat that revives the magnetic lure of ancient vastu shastra design, India’s feng shui; in Nicasio, architect Julie Dowling echoes a South African riding club at the horse ranch she co-founded; Deborah Osburn’s Sausalito-based Clé Tile company woos international designers who make new kinds of tile; Waterworks founder Barbara Sallick extols the virtues of the European bath; San Francisco purveyor Sue Fisher King and Zeterre Landscape Architecture bring us Parisian tableware and exotic flowering plants for the garden; and at the Roche Bobois showroom in San Francisco, avant-garde French designs, including uncommonly roomy leather sofas like the one shown on this page, abound. We hope you enjoy the mélange.
Photo by Aubrie Pick