This month, Zahid Sardar finds design in unlikely places.
A NEW San Francisco Indian restaurant near South Park, where chef Sujan Sarkar blends the best strains of east and west, has fresh saffron-infused cocktails and a modernist interior designed by Debashish Sarkar, in concert with Eaton Hall Architecture and San Francisco artist Michael Brennan. Mondrian-esque glass and metal screens form the foyer that opens to a bar and open-plan dining spaces. An indigo blue, royal pink and turmeric yellow palette reflects the spirit and fusion of cultures that come together in the Indian subcontinent. Dark wood panels, colored cement tiles and concrete floors are foils for rich fabric textures and wall finishes as well as an India-inspired mural.
THE VENERABLE HOTEL DRISCO, temporarily closed, is back with modern touches, Bulgari amenities and a remarkable renovation that makes it look like a grande dame amid other Pacific Heights 1903 Edwardians. Close to the quiet Presidio and chic Sacramento Street shopping, the boutique hotel’s 48 up- dated guest rooms are paired with an elegant dining room — and a gourmet breakfast — none of which reflect the hotel’s sometimes risqué, yet entertaining past. But the unchanging nostalgic views of the southern hills of San Francisco and a glimpse of the North Bay from a few rooms are reassuring. To form new traditions, the hotel now offers complimentary bikes for riding around the city and unfurls the flags of its international guests who stay as long as four days. Tempting.
BRITISH ARCHITECT Sir David Adjaye, who is creating a masterplan for new waterfront living environments in San Francisco, may be amused by a set of architectural building blocks the designer James Paulius has branded as Blockitecture; in the eco-conscious spirit of the times, Paulius’s latest edition of blocks, Parkland, provides an environment of rivers, parks and green space in which to situate Blockitecture cityscapes. Each painted MDF and wood set includes 21 parkland pieces, one pond and two river pieces — but no bay. Still, Adjaye, who says “yes I have a signature: research” for every project, may be open to configurations from Bay Area locals who know the terrain. Budding architects and city planners, gather your pieces. $25 and up.
AT THE ASIAN ART MUSEUM, get a new view of Korea through fashion. Couture Korea is an exhibition, through February 4, that presents the past, present and future of Korean fashion, reflecting the country’s deepest social and cultural values. Among the 120 exhibits, modern Seoul-based designers are reinterpreting their history and the most recent designs are evidence of a social shift. High waistlines, flared sleeves, brightly colored patchwork, and embroidery are brought into the 21st century.
FROM ALESSI, an archival design and something new: Centerpiece ES14, a turned lime-wood bowl with a monumental base, designed by Italian Memphis-style luminary Ettore Sottsass, has been revived in a limited edition of 999 numbered copies to honor the late designer’s 100th anniversary. $320. And, to spice up the daily grind, English architect Will Alsop and Italian designer Federico Grazzini have a stylish new set of silver and black grinders for salt, pepper or spices, made by Alessi of cast aluminum. The ridged, tapered design of the Grind spice grinder allows it to be placed right-side up when not in use. $125–$150.
ALLAN WARBURG’S DONUM ESTATE, a winery in Napa Valley just off the Carneros Highway, has been quietly building a reputation for magnificent Burgundy-style pinot noirs made by company president and winemaker Anne Moller-Racke. Within the estate — which the recent fires left unscathed — Donum is also cultivating a magnificent sculpture park filled with works by international artists such as Subodh Gupta, Lynda Benglis, Ai Weiwei and Danh Vo. A recently unveiled visitors’ center is also a modern gallery designed by San Francisco’s Matt Hollis of MH Architects; a special glass structure within the vines will soon house Louise Bourgeois’ spider sculpture.
IN SAN FRANCISCO’S RUSSIAN HILL, a new home design retail store called Batch presents local and global brands in curated vignettes and room settings. For instance, Marin’s Robert Long Lighting is among those featured alongside Maison Deux. Discover furniture, tableware and beautiful vessels from makers around the world.
DEEPA’S SECRETS: SLOW CARB NEW INDIAN CUISINE, a new cookbook of healing recipes by San Francisco author Deepa Thomas, former CEO of Deepa Textiles, is already in its third printing per- haps because of its sumptuous photography, well-researched material, and Thomas’ memoirs interleaved through the book of a childhood in India; they link the ingredients to time and place. More important, the simple recipes are intended to be truly healthful. After eating her food, Thomas’ husband, cured of diabetes, no longer needs insulin shots. All royalties go to FoodCorps, a nonprofit that connects children with healthy food in American schools. Skyhorse Publishing; $25
IN FULL FLOWER: INSPIRED DESIGNS BY FLORAL’S NEW CREATIVES, by Gemma and Andrew Ingalls, is filled with beautiful images of floral arrangements that nudge the genre into the realm of art. A handbook of brilliant ideas, it is also a directory of new American talent. Rizzoli; $45
PRIVATE GARDENS OF THE BAY AREA, by Susan Lowry and Nancy Berner, with photographs by Marion Brenner, is a stroll through more than 35 gardens in the San Francisco Bay Area. Moving from grand estates in the San Francisco Peninsula, into urban settings in San Francisco, and crossing the Bay into Berkeley, Oakland, Napa, Sonoma and Marin, the authors discuss garden traditions dictated by microclimates that support a range of plants. The Monacelli Press; $60
THE DUTCH COMPANY Vij5’s new terracotta carafe purifies and cools tap water naturally. This ancient practice of storing water in such vessels, commonplace in India, is brought into the modern age by designer Lotte Raadt’s new shapes that vary to suggest water sources: tall bottles for water from wells; squat bottles for surface water; a middle size for water from dunes. The stopper tops resemble faucet handles. The so-called Tap Water Carafe, shown recently during Dutch Design Week, is produced at Raadt’s Eindhoven studio and aims to reduce the use of plastic water bottles. About $110 each.
PHILIP MCGAHAN, former winemaker at Williams Selyem in the Russian River Valley, Sonoma, has gone to Checkmate, an artisanal winery owned by Anthony Von Mandl, specializing in chardonnay and merlot in Canada’s little-known Okanagan Valley. There, Seattle architect Tom Kundig has created a cool pop-up tasting room of wood, concrete and Corten that resembles a chic shipping container and contrasts with the winery’s current buildings that will all undoubtedly be redesigned. Meanwhile, seldom open to the public, the winery can offer select vintages from Kundig’s pavilion during summers.
THE BAY AREA, already linked in a sense to France through wine production now has another bond: a chair design derived from a milking stool, originally produced by the Artisans of Marolles, a midcentury French cooperative founded and led by Jean Touret until 1964. Ariel and Ed Clay, a father-daughter team at Carneros Studios in Napa Valley, have revived the three-legged chair and also created a four-legged version and counter and barstools, all made of American white oak and forged steel, newly branded as Furniture Marolles, with permission from the Touret family. Prices start at $875 for the three-legged chair.
HOME TO Diebenkorn and other Bay Area painters and sculptors who formed its illustrious faculty, has a brand new 67,000-square-foot adjunct home at a Fort Mason pier with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Designed by Leddy Maytum Stacey architects who also designed the CCA campus in a former Greyhound bus repair station, the SFAI campus sports 160 art studios and 4,300 square feet of new public exhibition space that will be open free to the public. Its galleries join SFMOMA’s Artists Gallery, bookshops, Greens restaurant, which has a J.B. Blunk sculpture, cafes, and an art supply store, all within blocks of the SFAI Chestnut Street campus, making this a thrilling arts destination.
PARIS-BASED DESIGNER Eugeni Quitllet, a protégé of Philippe Starck, recently unveiled a concept boat called Dun’e that has an elegant silhouette with gold accents and a hollowed dune-like center within its wood form. The six-cabin 196-foot craft is an efficient hybrid between a sailboat and a motorboat, engineered for the high seas.
STUDIO BECKER, a cabinetry and architectural millwork source in San Francisco, recently gathered 16 teams of Bay Area designers to create artful bicycles to be auctioned off to raise money for New Door Ventures, a nonprofit headed by Tess Reynolds, that hopes to break the cycle of poverty for disadvantaged youth in the Bay Area. Among the entries that garnered more than $50,000 in its first auction was a work (shown) by San Francisco-based artist Ana Maria Delgado.
DUBAI, WHICH BOASTS the world’s tallest structure, the extraordinarily elegant Khalifa tower, also hosts an annual design festival called Dubai Design Week. Its glittering third itera- tion last November was held again within the Dubai Design District popularly known as D3. Brimming with global designers, art and design galleries and retailers specializing in design, DDW included a massive Global Grad Show curated by Brendan McGetrick, showcasing innovative life-changing designs by graduates from around the world including a wearable robotic (third) arm called Project Shiva, by Stanford’s Peter Lowe and Kenneth Salisbury. Among other DDW standouts were art installations by Svarovski and Lasvit and a curated presentation by Svenm of a new jewelry-like pendant lamp by Michael Ansatassiades for Flos called Arrangements: each minimal tubular light in the collec- tion — circular, linear, squared, triangular and drop-shaped — can be relinked to form custom chandeliers. Arrangements will be available at Dzine in San Francisco.
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.