IF MODERN ART is not merely an aesthetic but also a frame of mind, then the exhibition The Brothers Le Nain: Painters of 17th-Century France, at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor museum through January 29, is an indication of modernity well before its generally accepted time. Not unlike Andy Warhol’s studio the Factory, where works mass-produced by many assistants all bore just Warhol’s signature, the three Le Nain brothers jointly produced a vast repertoire of religious and portrait paintings at one studio and signed every piece with just the name Le Nain. The luminous oils broke new ground with graphic compositions and depictions of peasants versus nobles. famsf.org
ALESSI: GET SET FOR ENTERTAINMENT
1. Milanese designer Miriam Mirri’s polished stainless-steel or powder-coated steel book stands for Alessi in the form of a puppy named Montparnasse, a kitten called Vigo and a monkey dubbed Lola will seduce adults and children alike. $65–$85.
2. Sicilian designer Mario Trimarchi’s Ossidiana, a stovetop espresso coffeemaker of cast aluminum and thermoplastic resin, for Alessi, echoes many traditional moka coffeepots, its faceted easy-to-hold form emulating shaped volcanic obsidian. Available in various sizes and black anodized and clear finishes for about $80–$120.
3. The Circus Collection, a joyful range of bowls, lidded containers, serving vessels and limited-edition accessories like nutcrackers and corkscrews, draws inspiration from the big top. Festooned with stripes, polka dots and triangular patterns, it’s the work of Dutch designer Marcel Wanders, whose 2002 gold-plated clown nose necklace for chi ha paura is a collectible. $25–$1,500. All in San Francisco. alessi.com
BROOKLYN-BASED UHURU, a design firm founded by college friends Bill Hilgendorf and Jason Horvath that has created interiors for Facebook, Google, Dropbox and Tumblr, now has a foothold at the New Black in San Francisco. “At school I worked with metal and Bill with wood,” Horvath says. So, wood-and-steel furniture largely comprises their bespoke repertoire. Tack, a relatively new series inspired by the minimalist forms of Donald Judd and Tadao Ando featuring welded planes of blackened quarter-inch-thick steel, includes an ovoid stool that doubles as an end table. $2,000. thenwblk.com
THE INTRIGUINGLY SIMPLE paper-and-magnet folding Dymaxion Globe by Brendan Ravenhill shows geodesic dome inventor Buckminster Fuller’s 1946 map of Earth as eventually redrawn by cartographer-architect Shoji Sadao in 1954. Fuller and Sadao’s version depicts the continents without visibly distorting their relative sizes and shapes, but Ravenhill’s unfolding model echoes a centuries-old fallacy: that the earth is flat. $15 each, or $40 for all three colors, black, orange and blue. areaware.com
AN 1886 NAPA VALLEY winery called Lombarda Cellars by Antonio Forni, who built a stone cellar and barrel room there in 1898, now houses the Freemark Abbey winery, launched in 1939 and lauded since the 1970s for its cabernet sauvignon. Last summer, a seamless renovation and modern steel-stone-woodand- glass expansion by San Francisco’s SB architects brought the 130-year-old enterprise into the 21st century, with a vast courtyard and interiors by BraytonHughes Design Studios for chefs Sang Yoon and Douglas Keane’s California-style yakitori restaurant Two Birds/ One Stone. freemarkabbey.com
PORTLAND, OREGON, known for bicycles, beer and wine, also wants to be an oasis for gathering to discuss the business, practice and state of the visual arts. The city’s first such congress, spearheaded by gallerist Elizabeth Leach, recently assembled several illuminating art exhibitions, parties and days of symposia under the banner “Converge 45” (named for the city’s location along the 45th parallel), led by Kristy Edmunds, noted artistic director at Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA. Artists and observers from around the country will again converge August 9–12 for “critical conversations about contemporary art,” Edmunds says. For the event’s second half, called “You in Mind,” she’ll choose many other venues in Oregon. A book about the 2016 Converge 45 is due out soon. converge45.org
SAN FRANCISCO’S NOPA neighborhood is filled with “it” bars and restaurants, none as affordable or as chic as Horsefeather, the brainchild of bartenders Ian Scalzo and Justin Lew of Bourbon & Branch fame. The name comes from the Marx Brothers film comedy Horse Feathers, but the design has serious American craftsman overtones. “We incorporated geometric paneling that looks good during the day and also at night and won’t look dated in five years,” Scalzo says. In the quarter-sawn oak and linoleum interior, achieved with designer James Lagoc, patrons enjoy killer throwback cocktails from another era; a skylit foyer off the street is a popular garden room for brunch. horsefeatherbar.com
AT THE PRESIDIO in San Francisco, look for cool new lounge chairs on the main parade ground. Dubbed Social Furniture because they encourage communal interaction, the lightweight, low-density polyethylene red lounge and beach chairs are easy to move around. When flipped, they serve as picnic tables. Since they are slightly wedge-shaped, they can also be arranged as curved banquettes. The concept was refined using 3-D printed maquettes by Blaine Merker, Ghigo DiTommaso and Celsa Dockstader of the Danish urban design firm Gehl. gehlpeople.com; presidio.gov
ONE & CO’s award-winning 2008 Drake chair, a powder- coated welded-steel-wire indoor-outdoor design, has been recently reissued with construction improvements and in six colors. A narrower base uses less floor space; it is lighter in weight; and it comes in stackable and upholstered versions. All from Council Inc., a San Francisco company that commissions designs from around the globe. Prices vary by color; about $675. councildesign.com; thenwblk.com
IF YOU WANT to get lost in Sonoma County, find the 25-room family-run Farmhouse Inn near Forestville, originally a 19th-century farm-house plus eight turn-of-the-century cottages that sibling owners Joe and Catherine Bartolomei converted into a boutique hotel more than a decade ago. It’s an unexpected design gem in the Russian River valley: surrounded by wineries, its several barnlike peak-roofed additions evoke authentic country living yet contain modern amenities in an out-of-the-way place. The rooms, recently revamped by late Healdsburg interior designer Myra Hoefer, sport her signature white-and-gold palette and a few woodsy, rustic counterpoints; a new spa building designed by San Francisco’s SB Architects resembles stables, with horse murals in the treatment rooms. A new fire pit near the pool invites congregating in the evening over gourmet s’mores; the inn’s Michelin-starred restaurant, with a menu incorporating organic ingredients grown on property, allows grand dining too. And in your room, find the Bartolomeis’ own wine: it’s called Lost & Found. farmhouseinn.com
BOUNTY BRASSWARE’s Pop Down drain for sinks with and without overflow valves sits flush with the surface even when it is draining. Its spring-action cartridge can be easily replaced without dismantling the entire drain: just push in to close or spring open to lift it out for cleaning. Made of brass, the smart Australian design is now available in the Bay Area. Prices, per finish, $99–$200. bountybrassware.us
FORMER GALLERIST turned developer/entrepreneur Amir Mortazavi, industrial designer Yves Behar and entrepreneur Steve Mohebi have made a new kind of shelter. Canopy, a members-only skylit Pacific Heights space for independent workers craving community in a shared space, has a range of meeting places amid its thicket of black marble columns: a lounge; round-the-clock casual or dedicated spaces at Herman Miller tables; and individual glass cabins for high-decibel meetings. The cool chandeliers, designed by Mortazavi and Behar, have sound-absorbent high-density foam to further mitigate enthused co-worker noise. Monthly rates range from $650 to $5,500. canopy.space
GLOBE-TROTTING CHEF Brandon Jew of Bar Agricole and Quince fame has come home to the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown at his new Chinese restaurant and bar, Mr Jiu’s. Designed by Boor Bridges Architecture in conjunction with Jew’s wife Anna Chet Jew-Lee, the modern, low-budget interior achieves high-end notes with black lacquered steel columns, startling jade green ceilings, and three vintage gilded lotus chandeliers and other light fixtures from a former banquet hall. Custom Fireclay tiles, a scroll drawing on paper by Ashton Love, and a blackened steel back bar with inset aquariums — a staple in traditional Chinese eateries — also make a dramatic appearance. mrjius.com
ALTHOUGH MADE OF hand-spun Afghan wool, these knotted Pakistani kilims called Lattice, designed by Paris-based brothers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for Barcelona’s Nanimarquina rug company, veer from their traditional rectangular cousins made in the Indian subcontinent. Here the pattern of rhythmic stripes determines the jagged form of the rug. The rug is offered in two standard color palettes or can be customized. For standard sizes and colors, prices range from about $700 to $7,000, at Desgnare in San Francisco. desgnare.com
SWITZERLAND AT PIER 17 in San Francisco, beside the Exploratorium, is the new home for the Consulate General of Switzerland, the Swiss Business Hub, Switzerland Tourism and the Swissnex culture center, where science, education, art and innovation all have a forum. At the entrance is the classic Swiss Railways clock; in back a view of the Bay Bridge. Inside, the warehouse atmosphere brings academics, entrepreneurs, innovators, artists and designers together. Exhibitions, curated by Swissnex, currently feature furniture maker Vitra. swisspier.org. And timely large or small versions of the Swiss Railways wall clock are by Mondaine. $235–$455. mondaine-usa.com
THE LATE-CAREER monograph and catalogue raisonné has given way to a new kind of book that veers between artistic portfolio and tidy self-promotion with the imprimatur of a publisher. Among the best of the latter genre are three Bay Area books about art and interiors.
1. ART HOUSE, by Alisa Carroll, Assouline, $85, with photographs by Matthew Millman, features views of three homes in the Bay Area and two in Los Angeles that were built between the 1940s and 2015. Together, the homes contain artworks by artists like Frank Stella, Andy Warhol and Marcel Duchamp that roughly correspond to the time each house was built. The interiors are by San Francisco designer Gary Hutton and the midcentury and contemporary art, collected by SFMOMA trustee Chara Schreyer, is conceptually tethered to each house. For example, midcentury art is housed in her Eichler in Belvedere from the same period.
2. MR. KEN FULK’S MAGICAL WORLD, by Ken Fulk, Abrams, $75, with principal photography by Douglas Friedman, has a a keyhole image on the cover that invites peering in. Once you do, it’s a visual feast, with more than 200 provocative pictures of Fulk’s over-the-top interiors — inside a jet; with bare-chested revelers at his leather shop turned interior design studio; at a costume party he worked on for tech entrepreneur Sean Parker and singer Alexandra Lenas’s wedding in Big Sur. Shots of San Francisco watering holes like the Cavalier or the Battery are other treats. Yes, the book serves as advertising but Fulk’s irreverent exuberance is entertaining.
3. OLIVER RANCH, by Jean Simon, Gregory R. Miller & Co, $60, describes the fascinating ways artworks were fabricated or constructed on a private ranch-turned-arts-nonprofit in Sonoma County. There, collectors Steve and Nancy Oliver have invited the likes of sculptor Richard Serra to install breathtaking immovable works. oliverranchfoundation.com
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.