Editor's Welcome

AMERICAN ARCHITECT FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT was born 150 years ago, and in the course of his seven-decade career became an engine of design innovation by breaking from Western canons and borrowing ideas from around the world. His mosque-like Marin County Civic Center, completed after he died in 1959, is one futurist example. Architects and designers who followed in his wake learned what he taught from experience: that new ideas lie beyond the edge of prescribed good taste.

That also became the maxim of innovators like Michael Taylor, who led a midcentury California design movement that mixed the sacred — precious neoclassical antiques, expensive
marbles and exquisite fabrics — with the profane, such as driftwood, boulders and burlap, and made decorative design history.

This issue is dedicated to the latest crop of eclectic Bay Area designers — nearly all of whom came to the profession by chance, without design school rules — who eschew whitewalled modernism to celebrate the raw beauty of concrete, weathered textures and surprising color palettes.

In San Francisco, trompe l’oeil artist Willem Racké teams up with Princeton-trained architect Luke Ogrydziak to transform a former factory turned live-work space in SoMa; designer Jeff Schlarb, a business major who wandered, via a home staging business, into full-time decoration, collaborates with his wife, Tray, on the design of their oddly shaped Sea Cliff home; Francis Mill, a prominent art gallerist who is at heart also an interior designer, teams up with Los Angeles designer Stephan Jones in the remaking of his loft apartment within a 1930s warehouse in SoMa; in St. Helena, retired lawyer David McMullen makes his design debut with the transformation of a modern cottage that has a garden by San Francisco landscape architect Katherine Webster; in Marin, self-taught Israeli designer Yaél Putterman showcases black walls within a classic turn-of-the-century interior in wooded Ross; interior designer Holly Kopman juxtaposed a jazzy palette of ethnic patterns and bold colors against a wood-lined Arts and Crafts interior in San Rafael; and Green Gulch– influenced landscape designer Tim O’Shea of Green 17 brought the tropics to a hillside garden in Kentfield.

Also in this issue, in Design Spot, Gallery and other sections, look for global strains: the Japanese-American designer Isamu Noguchi is the focus of a show at SFMOMA that highlights his groundbreaking playgrounds that were built mainly in Japan; in India we landed at Maitreyi, an Ayurveda and meditation retreat that revives the magnetic lure of ancient vastu shastra design, India’s feng shui; in Nicasio, architect Julie Dowling echoes a South African riding club at the horse ranch she co-founded; Deborah Osburn’s Sausalito-based Clé Tile company woos international designers who make new kinds of tile; Waterworks founder Barbara Sallick extols the virtues of the European bath; San Francisco purveyor Sue Fisher King and Zeterre Landscape Architecture bring us Parisian tableware and exotic flowering plants for the garden; and at the Roche Bobois showroom in San Francisco, avant-garde French designs, including uncommonly roomy leather sofas like the one shown on this page, abound. We hope you enjoy the mélange.

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Photo by Aubrie Pick

Zahid Sardar

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.