Vinfolio's SF HQ blends Wine Country chic with startup cool

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In 1927, 22-year-old Philo Farnsworth invented the television at 202 Green Street in San Francisco. Today that industrial building, at the corner of Sansome in the shadow of Telegraph Hill, continues the tradition as a hub of good-time invention.

Home to the offices of both the wine collection service Vinfolio and to the design team that kitted out its space, this is a spot for enjoying a great glass of wine—that is, if you happen to have business here.


If you aren't an avid wine enthusiast, you may not be familiar with Vinfolio, the online fine wine retailer that also offers storage and management for serious collectors. But if you are a wine purveyor or client of the service, then meetings at this 4,200-square-foot Embarcadero space will be a treat.

Given the many facets of Vinfolio's business, the company needed a headquarters that could serve a number of functions—a place to get work done, as well as a spot for tasting wine and entertaining guests. They hired Assembly Design Studio, which was recently joined with CannonDesign (named one of 2017's most innovative architecture firms by Fast Company) to get the job done. Cofounder Monica St. Pierre recalls having reviewed the group's portfolio—including the offices of Uber's Advanced Technologies Group (aka the autonomous cars division)—and says "we were very impressed."

The concept? Think of a reverse mullet: Party in the front, business in the back.

Whether you're a staffer coming to work at Vinfolio or headed in for a meeting with CEO Don St. Pierre, Jr., you'll make a grand entrance through an oversized, ebony-stained door that opens to a bar and tasting room with high ceilings and large factory-framed steel windows. Just what we'd want to see as we arrive at the office in the morning, the wraparound bar is clad in paper-packed oak tambour (more commonly seen on roll-top bread boxes) with marble countertops and leather-topped stools. The backdrop? A mosaic-style image of our beloved Napa Valley, composed of squares that have been printed, cut, and wheat-pasted to the wall.

Simple and cozy, the office is organized into dedicated areas and blends the vibe of the urban location—with modern pieces by Restoration Hardware and Space Copenhagen—with "some elements of Wine Country—a soothing neutral palette, plenty of natural light, comfortable furnishings, rich leather, and wood tones," says Liz Guerrero, principal at Assembly/Cannon.

Adjacent to the bar is a formal dining area fitted with an extra-long wood table, mid-century-style chairs, and warm pendant lights—a scene well suited to celebrations and tastings. Extra seating, in the form of plush red leather banquettes, provides a comfy spot for casual conversations and lounging, while a set of three nesting tables offers a spot to set your drink as you peruse the wine cases, from brands around the world, that make up the wall.

"Vinfolio is known for impeccable service and client interaction; it was important that the space feel warm, personal, and intimate," Guerrero says, noting that each wine partner was asked to sign their crate when they visited the tasting room—"Monica really wanted to celebrate them."

Behind the scenes are the rooms where the magic happens—day-to-day operations in private offices, conference and break rooms; but special occasions take place in front by the bar, with presumably endless glasses of vino. // vinfolio.com

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