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Best of the Bay 2013: Style
As credited | Photo: Leslie Williamson, Justin Kerr, Jeffery Cross, John Ater, Tolleson Design | June 25, 2013
High-design furniture, heels made for the hills, a hotel for non-tourists, and more.
Investment Furniture: In a city overrun by reclaimed wood and tastefully rusted flea market finds, the Future Perfect is a welcome change of pace. The New York–based newcomer is the antidote to shabby chic, starkly arranged and moodily lit by Lindsey Adelman’s futuristic chandeliers. The wares are unabashedly luxurious—Piet Hein Eek’s high-gloss scrap-wood cabinets, Matthew Hilton’s calf-hair and wool sofas, painterly dyed-and-desaturated mohair rugs by Golran, Private 0204’s impossibly soft cashmere throws—but never ostentatious or overtly trendy. It’s statement furniture that elevates a room rather than overwhelming it. 3085 Sacramento St. (near Baker St.), 415-932-6508 --Lauren Murrow
Art Tomes: Bridging the gap between musty, library-evoking stacks and white-glove rare-book dealers, Book/Shop is not your typical used-book store. The storefront of Erik Heywood’s vintage-book blog opened this May in a former horse stable at the end of Temescal Alley, which lends a hidden-gem feel despite the coolly coiffed, Doughnut Dolly–munching browsers. Heywood showcases 100 art and lit volumes at a time, from rare editions by well-known scribes (Graham Greene, Kay Boyle) to offbeat finds with beautiful cover art ($12 to $50). Titles are rotated weekly, displayed among arty bookends, wooden book cribs, and framed prints (“Read instead,” instructs one). The niche-magazine selection, meanwhile, includes the inaugural issues of such obscurities as Day Job from New York, Adventice from Switzerland, and Pig from Italy. 482D 49th St. (near Telegraph ave.), Oakland, 510-907-9649 L.M.
Hotel Hangout: “Hotel for locals” is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot these days, mostly by marketers chasing the cool-kid quotient of the Ace Hotel chain. But Hotel Zetta’s striking design—subtle, it’s not—makes it a worthy hangout even for natives. The lobby forgoes vintage posturing in favor of zany modern art: Brian Mock’s three-foot dog sculpture built from reclaimed tools and kitchen utensils; a backlit collage of Alcatraz mug shots; a glittering chandelier strung with sunglasses. The mezzanine is outfitted with a pool table, a shuffleboard, a larger-than-life Plinko wall, and an antique British phone booth from which one can call down to the bar. The rooms, though less flashy, are equally design-minded. Each bed is backed by a cocoonlike wood headboard, and a bedside dock lets you stream from your iPad onto the flat screen. Even the in-room bathroom—elsewhere typically bleak at worst, sterile at best—is noteworthy, circled by a colorful strip of San Francisco–themed book-printed wallpaper. 55 5th St. (near Market St.), 415-543-8555 --L.M.
Snail-Mail Comeback: When Justin Kerr quit a corporate job at Levi’s to make postcards in his SoMa basement, his family members questioned his sanity—all, that is, except for his 90-year-old grandmother, who has every postcard that he ever sent her tacked up on her wall. With Black Sheep Postal, Kerr aims to make sending a handwritten, snail-mail card to loved ones as simple as possible—minus the Hallmark clichés. The process is simple: You type the recipient’s name and address, plus a personalized message, into the site’s fields. (There are four options for the front of the card, including “Happy Birthday” and “Thank You.”) Kerr screen-prints and cuts each postcard by hand, scrawls your message on the back with a Sharpie, and mails it directly to the recipient, all for $5. Since launching in January, the service has been embraced by an audience far beyond wayward sons and grandchildren. “People have started sending love notes and apologies anonymously,” Kerr says. Blacksheeppostal.com --L.M.
Backyard Enticement: Like most transplants, 33-year-old designer Aaron Jones cursed San Francisco’s chilly summers and year-round fog after he moved here from Tucson. Huddling under a propane heater to sit outdoors seemed ridiculous, and those little flickering fireplaces had such a limited range. So he designed the Helios, the first energy-efficient heated outdoor lounge. Each eight-foot cast-stone and steel bench is built by hand with interior coils (like those in radiant floor heating) that warm your core, not just the top of your head. “It feels like hot-tubbing without get- ting wet,” Jones explains. Best of all, the bench draws only as much power as a hair dryer. Local landscape maven Flora Grubb was Jones’s first customer, followed by Bar Agricole. “It’s the most welcome innovation in garden furniture we’ve seen in, oh, forever,” says Grubb. $4,900 at galanterandjones.com --Rachel Levin
Trend-Snubbing: Womenswear While Unionmade has been credited with creating the uniform of the stylish San Francisco man (one and the same, some quibble, as that adopted by our Brooklyn brethren), Mill Mercantile, its seven-month-old sister store, is more inherently of-the-Bay than its now-famous predecessor. The womenswear largely adheres to a storewide color palette—navy, indigo, beige, cream, gray, and washed-out red—and the classic, cleanly designed aesthetic is Steven Alan meets Muji: nautical-stripe knits, grown-up polka dots, cotton and linen button-downs, wood-sole shoes, silk tunics, and chambray for days. The looser fits aren’t always easy for the non- waifs among us to pull off (that midi-dress can skew more frumpy than Sofia Coppola–chic), but the cashmere and wool layering pieces from Japan and Scotland make investment-worthy summer staples. 3751 24th St. (near Church St.), 415-401-8920 --L.M.
Unfussy Menswear: Two Jacks Denim owner Tommy Mierzwinski doesn’t buy clothes for runway watchers or label flaunters. Though he describes his four-month-old, pretense-free menswear store as “urban industrial,” he’s essentially catering to guys who appreciate a well-made, properly fitting pair of jeans and a button-down. Everything in the store, from jeans to leather belts to organic-cotton socks, is manufactured in America. Mierzwinski carries six brands of denim ($145 to $248)—Tellason, Rogue Territory, 3sixteen, and Railcar among them—opting for straight-leg and slim-straight cuts over thigh-hugging “stretch jeans,” as he puts it. Button-downs from Taylor Stitch and Rockmount, the Denver company that claims to have originated the snap-button Western shirt, hang beside heavy-duty workwear jackets. Tack on an extra $15 for onsite tailoring by Levi’s alum Anthony Ferrario. 2355 Broadway St. (near 24th St.), Oakland, 510-788-5832 --L.M.
Closet Clean-Out: That DVF dress you wore precisely once? Thanks to local startup Twice, you can sell it without schlepping to Buffalo Exchange. Founded by ex-Googlers Noah Ready-Campbell and Calvin Young, the service gives the tiresome buy-sell-trade process a digital upgrade. Sellers request prepaid shipping bags online to send off their castaways, receive offers via email, and are paid electronically. Expect $7 to $14 for J. Crew jeans, $30 for a Kate Spade dress, and up to $150 for a luxury brand. (The site’s handy calculator lets you estimate your payoff.) The merchandise is then resold for up to 90 percent off retail prices online, where filters for brand, size, and style trump the usual elbows-deep thrift store hunt. Any unsold clothing—around 1,500 pounds per week—is donated to Goodwill. Liketwice.com --Lorraine Sanders
Wear-Everywhere Shoe: For years, footwear designers Megan Papay and Cristina Palomo-Nelson were on the hunt for an “infinitely walkable but fashionable” San Francisco shoe—a sweet spot between hill- challenged heels and phone-it-in Toms. So the pair combined their design sensibilities—Papay, boho and feminine; Palomo-Nelson, tailored and tonal—to launch the Freda Salvador label two years ago, followed by a rock ’n’ roll meets Frida Kahlo–styled boutique in February. The perennial star of the line is the Dream Boot, with a leg-lengthening but sturdy, one-and-a-half- inch stacked leather heel. Though the boot’s also available in chestnut and black, the split-personality Bone & Blush, with lizard-printed nubuck at the heel and a white leather toe, is the hue for summer. At $525, the kicks aren’t cheap, but they’re built to last in factories in Spain and El Salvador, where Palomo-Nelson’s family has been in the shoe industry for 60 years. 1782 Union St. (near Octavia St.), 415-654-5128 --L.M.
Custom Jewelry: Traditional brides seeking rows of velvet- lined opulence are already well served by the city’s mainstay jewelers—Tiffany & Co., Wilkes Bashford, Shreve & Co.—in Union Square. But alt-brides can hoof it up Russian Hill to No. 3, the jewelry-only outpost from Acrimony owner Jenny Chung. The diminutive shop offers custom rings by New York designers Bliss Lau (from $7,000) and Anna Sheffield (from $1,000), with Chung acting as a hands-on consigliere. The baubles go beyond typical platinum-and-solitaire diamond settings, incorporating black and champagne diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and yellow and rose gold, and placing more emphasis on one-of-a-kind design than on blind-me bling. Among the offerings, a quarter-carat white diamond set in a bezel of black pavé diamonds on a rose-gold band. “If a woman were proposed to with that ring, she’d fall off her chair,” says Chung. She should know: Her fiancé proposed with a custom Bliss Lau creation last month. 1987 Hyde St. (near Union St.), 415-525-4683 --L.M.
Pick-Me-Up Public Art: The image of Dorothy stepping from black- and-white Kansas into Technicolor Oz wasn’t just an iconic movie moment for a young Laura Guido-Clark—it was an epiphany. She’s now a renowned color consultant in Berkeley, and her nonprofit, Project Color Corps, is rooted in the transformative power of color. Last summer, PCC raised $47,000 to paint a graphic mural across the dingy, gray exterior of E.C. Reems Academy, a West Oakland charter school (pictured). This summer, it’s taking on Fruitvale grade schools World Academy and Achieve Academy. Guido-Clark lets the kids choose the mood-boosting color palette, after which their conceit is executed by Tolleson Design and a small army of volunteer painters. Projectcolorcorps.org --Joanne Furio
Read more Best of the Bay
Best of the Bay 2013: Bayview Fix-ups
Best of the Bay 2013: Brunch Without Borders
Best of the Bay 2013: Game-Changer Bars
Best of the Bay 2013: New Subspecies
Best of the Bay 2013: Upgraded Napa Agenda
Best of the Bay 2013: Culture
Best of the Bay 2013: Food
Best of the Bay 2013: Recreation
Best of the Bay 2013: Socializing
Best of the Bay 2013: Style
Originally published in the July 2013 issue of San Francisco.