Best Of San Francisco 2010: Home+Design

Best Of San Francisco 2010: Home+Design


Must-have ceramics, hand-me-downs of the rich and famous, Tokyo-tastic shopping, and more craft classes than you can shake a needle at. This year, SF design is all over the map. For more California design news, trends and resources, check out our newly-launched sister site,

Best Cut and Paste

Using carefully carved pieces of 1920s book ephemera—from such vintage titles as 1928's The Art of Forgetting the Unpleasant—SF artist Denise Fiedler assembles paper collages that conjur real-life faces and places and pets. Recently, Fiedler's studio, Paste, created a series of these inherently eco-friendly pastiches inspired by San Francisco icons—the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, cable cars—for local home-decor emporium Gump's this month. We're fascinated by the words that were predestined, through a little creative slicing and dicing, to form the visages and structures we hold dear. 2254 Union St., 415-760-8278,

Sweetest Dreams

Contrary to popular belief, your kids don't need a crucifix or a chain of garlic to keep the boogeymen at bay, or the vampires from flying in. Safety can be found, quite simply, in the soothing illumination emitted from the table lamps designed by Mill Valley-based cofounder, Jennifer Sitko. The linen shades diffuse light into warm hues, and the graphics—from animal silhouettes to cheery prints—take their cue from Sitko's own exotic travels and love of vintage fabrics.

Best-Intentioned Design

San Francisco's nonprofit design firm Architecture for Humanity jumped into action immediately after the earthquake in Haiti to create the five-year Haiti Rebuild project. Taking cues from George Clooney's celebrity telethon, AFH is also harnessing star power to fuel its reconstruction endeavors. In partnership with actor Ben Stiller's Stillerstrong Project, AFH will build a series of temporary schools, while clean-water and sanitation solutions will be created alongside singer Shakira's Barefoot Foundation. Of course, the most important VIP in this cause remains Benjamin Franklin—please donate a few of yours at

Best Turning-Japanese Trend

If you've been intrigued by the goings-on behind the sparkling all-glass facade of Japantown's bustling New People Mall, designed by SF's Kwan Henmi architecture firm, here's what to expect: anime movies in the underground cinema, Lolita-style attire for purchase on the second floor, and J-pop-inspired art on the third-floor gallery. Think of New People as a mini Harajuku. Don't know what that is? Get acclimated in SF first, before attempting an in-person visit to the famous Tokyo district, or risk severe culture shock. 1746 Post St., 415-525-8600,

Most Tasteful Sale

Home-decor e-tailer One Kings Lane, co-founded by SF resident Ali Pincus, stocks high-end housewares at significantly discounted prices. But now, thanks to OKL's new Saturday Tastemaker Tag Sales, you'll view other covetable price-slashed wares—one-off samples and vintage finds—sourced from the personal inventories of California's most celebrated style icons, including SF designers Ann Getty, Ken Fulk and Kendall Wilkinson. Now go forth and decorate. 877-601-5464,

Best Initial Public Offering

Cole Valley's Urban Mercantile has opened a second location in the San Francisco Design Center. In good news for us regular folk, it's also the design center's first open-to-the-public retail shop. While owner Bradley Burch maintains a sleek inventory of high-end home decor by Lulu DK, Designer's Guild and Missoni, the boutique's claim to fame is its exhaustive “newsstand” of design-related reading material, from inspirational shelter magazines to lavishly illustrated coffee-table tomes. New editions at the new addition? Indeed. 2 Henry Adams St., 415-643-6372,

Best One-Stop Shop

New Outer Sunset art and design shop General Store seems adequately named,
not just because its desirables span a wide range—from Botany Factory terrariums to Tellason selvage-denim jeans to old Navajo pottery—but also because the shop's owners, betrothed surfers and artists Serena Mitnik-Miller and Mason St. Peter, also host art exhibits and local-band jam sessions complete with gourmet refreshments (think banh mi and lemonade). Did we mention the Jesse Schlesinger-designed greenhouse out back, filled with the summer's finest produce? Shop, bop, harvest, eat, drink, repeat. That's an order. 4035 Judah St., 415-682-0600,

Best Design Parody

Even though the snarky wizards at the wildly popular blog Unhappy Hipsters won't disclose their identity or location, it's their deadpan, satirical captions—assigned to the images of forlorn homeowners published in a certain SF-based modern shelter mag—that qualifies them for a special distinction in this “Best of San Francisco” issue. On behalf of self-deprecating design fans everywhere, thank you, Unhappy Hipsters creators, whomever you are, for breathing life and humor back into modern design.

Best New Gallery

Upper Market art and design store Rare Device has shed its clothing section to showcase more, er, rare devices. The space where frocks once frolicked has become a second gallery that highlights design and crafts to complement the existing gallery, where co-owners Rena Tom and Lisa Congdon curate art shows. “Breaking the Spine,” a whimsical tableau of creative book forms—including sculptures, photographs and collages—opens June 4. Given Rare Device's innovative inventory of housewares and decor, this celebration of text is guaranteed to be anything but textbook. 1845 Market St., 415-863-3969,

Best Kitchen Accessory

San Francisco-based Studiopatró, the brainchild of designer Christina Weber, claims the humble, dish- and hand-drying tea towel as the sole canvas on which to unleash its sweet graphics. The 2010 collection features Weber's nature-inspired mainstays, a delightful rethinking of the popular nautical-stripe trend (here, bands are freshly infused with summery aqua and orange) and a cloth emblazoned with “Live Love Eat”—a twist on the decade's most popular book title. “I love how the simple kitchen towel can become such a special token,” says Weber. It takes the pain out of dish drying for sure. 2832 Lyon St., 415-775-3432,

Best Invention Ever (or Until Apple's Next One)

Not too long ago, in this very space, we bestowed the now-ubiquitous iPhone a distinction on this list. Now it's time to pass the torch onto the iPad. Needless to say, the nearly 10-inch high-resolution, multi-touch glass screen amplifies the eye-candy quotient; the 7.2-Mbps connectivity ensures that your idea of porn—fashion, books, food, design—downloads in a blink; and the increased memory capability lets you go app sh*t. Hooray. But let's talk about this in terms most of us can appreciate, shall we? It's a Jetsons version of the Flintstones rock tablet. 'Nuff said. 1 Stockton St., 415-392-0202,

Best Art-Collector's Resource

The best thing to happen to a box since Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg, the Art in a Box project by Matt and Lena Reynoso of the Compound Gallery pairs art collectors with works by such Bay Area artists as Lisa Solomon, Tallulah Terryll and Ben Belknap. For a mere $50 a month, subscribers receive a surprise piece by a participating artist. 6604 San Pablo Ave., Oakland, 510-655-9019,

Best Vintage Finds

Michelle Homme fancies herself “a rolling stone that's gathered some moss.” Her small eponymous shop in Russian Hill, restored with reclaimed Douglas fir, is layered with an eclectic collection of arts and antiques, sourced exclusively from collectors whom she's befriended. Homme's covetable reserve includes works by Milanese fashion photographer Julia Krahn; hats by Homme's millinery mentor, Yvette Jelfs of Edinburgh; and vintage table linens, candleholders and WWI crampons, repurposed by Cynthia Rising in Vincenza, Italy. 2354 Polk St., 415-400-4299,

Best Letterpress

Party planner and fan of antiquated arts Jordan Ferney does things the old-fashioned way, including embossing her own stationery with the help of two vintage Vandercook presses (one of which she acquired from the San Francisco Chronicle). “I love getting my hands dirty with these clunky machines,” says Ferney, who teaches regular letterpress classes in her Ferney Art Studios in the Mission. During the four-hour workshops, students imprint 250 of their own business cards on high-quality white-cotton paper by Crane. Given the rising popularity of this historic craft, nabbing a spot in an upcoming $125 class (June 19, July 17 or August 21) is kind of, you know, a pressing matter.

Best Craft Shop

Under the influence of caffeine (via countless espresso drinks consumed over scores of cafe business meetings), Alethea Harampolis and Jill Pilotte of Studio Choo, alongside their two favorite makers, Lia Thomas and Annabelle Miller, recently formed a modern-day crafts co-op called Prairie Collective. Besides Studio Choo's beautiful botanical arrangements, the rustic shop also carries needlepoint pieces by Thomas and Miller's line of jewelry, inspired by Native American petroglyphs and arrowheads. 262 Divisadero St., 415-624-5981,

Best Bouquets

“Love, honor and obey,” “In sickness and in health,” “Till death do us part”—yeah, yeah, yeah. Make a matrimonial vow that everyone at your wedding can partake in: a commitment to gorgeous, vibrant, unusual flower arrangements from the Cutting Garden at Flora Grubb. Florist Susie Nadler begins the wedding program this month, just in time to give June celebrations the petal power they need to go down in history as bloom-tastic events. Trust us—in this case, you can't get any better than garden variety. 1634 Jerrold Ave., 415-626-7256,

Best Virtual Yard Sale

Leave it to expert flea-market scavenger Victoria Smith (you may know her popular art and design blog, to open an e-rummage sale on Etsy. Her M.O. for creating Le Petite Flea? A recent cross-town relocation from Pac Heights to Noe Valley. “I get to pass my treasures on to my readers and friends, knowing they're going to good homes.” says Smith. Le Petite Flea is stocked with Smith's covetable vintage decor, including an old-school globe, a set of mismatched Bakelite flatware and a minty-green Depression glass sugar bowl.

Check out our other 2010 Best of the City Picks >

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