Many a Bay Area design lover has coveted the whimsical resin pieces of Tina Frey, a one-time denizen of the corporate finance world who left all that behind back in 2007 when, after discovering some books about resin, she made a couple of bowls and showed them at the San Francisco Gift Fair.
Today, Frey's modernist-with-humor dinnerware and decorative objets have collectors and buyers around the world and grace the shelves at such stores as Barney's New York and Restoration Hardware. But for the globetrotting creative, the magic happens in San Francisco's Bayview, where her new studio-warehouse-shop is designed to inspire.
A longtime tenant of the Dogpatch's burgeoning creative community, Frey recently made the move further south into a Bayview warehouse that served as a blank canvas for her signature style. And since late 2017, she's been hard at work alongside SF architect George Bradley (best known for his contemporary residential work in the Bay Area) to transform the 7,500-square-foot building into a gallery-esque space that encapsulates the personality of her work, which is defined by clean but hand-finished lines and total nonchalance (think teardrop paperweights reminiscent of a dollop of whipped cream; letter openers shaped like slithering slugs; cake domes with rabbit ear handles; and bon bon boxes in the shape of Igloo coolers).
The place has energy from first approach, where you can't help but be stopped by the corrugated metal façade done in a super-chic midnight hue; a horizontal band of lights warms the building's entrance. Inside you'll be met with the sleek, airy palette such a first impression suggests: white walls and neutral wood furnishings contrasted by pops of color; artful florals and subtle greenery; skylights to flood the space with natural light, and translucent polycarbonate panels designed to capture and refract those luminous rays (while also separating the retail space at front from the shipping area at back). Just a few well edited geometric shapes and playful elements—a fuzzy sheep and a skateboard—keep things from going stark. Marie Kondo would be proud.
Unlike her Dogpatch studio—which, if you ever saw it, you'd know it was defined more by eclecticism and color—Frey's Bayview spot has plenty of legroom. She's got 3,500 more square feet than before, allowing her to comfortably manage all aspects of her business from here, HQ. There's a dedicated area for vessels to be sanded by hand and completed, as well as a new showroom and shop that does justice to her stylish household candies rendered in organic shapes and pretty hues. (In addition to her signature resin, Frey is now also working in brushed brass and stainless steel.)
In addition to shopping Frey's line while you're here, you can also peruse a curated selection of the vintage items and art that she's gathered from her many travels and which adorn the walls, floor, and German-designed Vitsoe shelves. There are lighthearted things in the form of cutesy animals; more structured furnishings and German designs; and spirited artworks including a limited-edition signed lithograph by Italian artist Vincenzo Agnetti; a vintage Bianco e Nero poster by Alberto Burri; and an encaustic and oil piece, by San Francisco artist Jenny Phillips, entitled Encircle 10. The thoughtful vignettes, lit by Serge Mouille lighting, include an elongated table surrounded by Eames chairs and topped with Frey's own statement pieces.
But the real business goes down in what Frey calls the mezzanine creative space, which is divided into a private office, a communal meeting area, and a workshop dotted with long tables. Lots of negative space here leaves room for ideas to flourish, and flourish they do, springing from mind to clay mold to resin vessel here. It's also in this space that Frey debuts her newest collection of resin and metal china, desk accessories, case goods, furniture, and even adorable dog bowls—all of it just waiting to shipped out to one notable client or another—Paris' Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse is an enthusiast.
// 9am to 5pm daily, 1485 Bancroft Ave. (Bayview), tinafreydesigns.com