The Mission is going to have a mall. Well, not really, but kind of, once Voyager opens.
Voyager is a one-of-a-kind concept: It’s a big space, divided up into smaller sections, with each section run by a different business. It’s almost like a permanent street fair, with the booths cooperating rather than competing in design, purpose and structure. The shops inside Voyager are all local successes in their own right: Revolver, Mollusk Surf Shop, and the Michael Rosenthal Art Gallery.
I was able to get a sneak peek at Voyager a week before its grand opening on June 25th. The store still had some work to be done (stuff was still in boxes), but even without the finishing touches, Voyager is impressive.
The store is divided into two sections. On the north side (the left when you enter) are the things to buy, which is about 2/3 of the store and on the south/right is the Michael Rosenthal Art Gallery, which had occupied the whole space for the last two and a half years.
“The idea is that the store is kind of like an island,” says Robert Patterson, the entrepreneur behind the store's concept, as well as hits like Revolver in the Lower Haight and the pop-up ramen shop Ken Ken Ramen. Robert had been dreaming of a collaborative store like this for a while, and approached Michael Rosenthal about the space. He then recruited the guys from Mollusk.
“You come through the doors, and there’s a video playing, welcoming you to Voyager. And then you get to experience the island.”
Dominating the north side is “Revolver at Voyager,” which is set against a striking wood backdrop. It’s supposed to be like the house on the island, where the inhabitants live and dress. The Revolver section was designed and built by Adam Lam, and is made from wood off an old farmhouse in Bolinas. The clothes are similar to those that you might find at the Revolver on Fillmore, but “more experimental,” says Patterson.
In the middle of the store is “Patchwork at Voyager,” a bookstore focused on unique art. This is Michael Rosenthal’s section, and serves to support the gallery beyond the southern wall. “Patchwork is an extension of my aesthetic as an artist and gallery owner. I’m planning for Patchwork to be exciting and unpredictable in what it sells,” says Rosenthal. In contrast to the Revolver farmhouse, Patchwork’s design is much more industrial. To continue with the island motif, Patchwork is intended to be like the island’s factory.
In the back right corner is “Mollusk at Voyager,” which is worth the visit alone because it’s a submarine. Yes, a submarine. The unique structure is the product of longtime collaborators John McCambridge and Jay Nelson, who run Mollusk in the Outer Sunset and have dominated the art scene out there for years. “I’ve opened other branches of Mollusk elsewhere, and I didn’t want to just repeat myself with this one. I wanted to do something fun,” says McCambridge. After “ten minutes of brainstorming” with Nelson, the idea of the sub was born. Most of the handiwork was done by Nelson himself. You enter through the tail of the sub, and really feel like you’re inside a submarine, looking out through windows into a blue void. The details are exceptional, and include a hatch, a bunk bed, and even a periscope. Look into the periscope and you’ll see…well, I don’t want to ruin the surprise.
The other section of the store, the Michael Rosenthal Art Gallery, will feature different artists on a revolving basis. The gallery is launching with a show by Justin Amrhein.
Taken all together, Voyager feels a bit other-worldy, which is no accident. The sub and island concept scream LOST, as does the octagonal logo. Robert says he wants the place to feel like something out Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, or “what the real Big Sur is like.”
When we were walking through the sub, I noticed that on the table, designed by Luke Bartels of the popular Woodshop, lay a velvet satchel full of crystals.
“What are those doing here?” I asked.
“I’m not really sure. But they’re perfect, right?” Robert smiled. “Magical.”
Voyager is located at 365 Valencia Street, between 14th St and 15th St in the Mission. The store launch starts at 6pm on Saturday June 25th, and will run “late.”