Creative Capital ~ Catherine Kwong

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THE STAR ASSET CLASS OF SAN FRANCISCO DESIGN

In SoMa, Adobe and Zynga face the San Francisco Design Center, with the brand-new One Henry Adams residences running like a backbone between these hubs of digital and physical design. It’s the embodiment of a thriving synergy: Bolstered by a robust Bay Area economy and an influx of capital from tech and venture capital, San Francisco’s leading design talents are creating world-class spaces. From mixed-use towers and corporate headquarters to restaurants and residences design minds like Catherine Kwong, David Oldroyd, and Beth Martin are attracting national attention to San Francisco with their superb work.
A-list interior designer and Bay Area native Catherine Kwong’s namesake practice has brought her superbly elegant but edgy touch to dwellings from Pacific Heights to the Peninsula, Hawaii to New York, inspiring Architectural Digest to name her a Designer to Watch. “The Bay Area has always had an exceptionally strong culture of innovation and creativity,” Kwong says. “Now Silicon Valley has caught the attention of the rest of the world. There is an incredible amount of construction and renovation going on right now, and there are architectural and design ideas in the works that have never been seen before. I think that over the next few years, people everywhere are going to be blown away by what we are building here.”
Clients who embrace pushing the envelope foster an atmosphere of creativity, says Kwong. “I love those partnerships and all the unexpected and gorgeous things that come out of conversations that begin with ‘What if we…’” She adds, “Clients typically enjoy that process—being part of creating something unique.” That mindset leads to custom pieces and collaborations with artists, says Kwong, and one of her favorite partners is Bay Area lighting company Phoenix Day (Sloan Miyasato). She most recently enlisted them to fashion a set of overscaled, Jean Royère–inspired sconces for a residence in Woodside. “When you’re creating something that’s never been made before, you’ve got to consider a hundred little details. We rely on our partners and craftspeople to add their depth of knowledge and experience to the process. They help us bring our custom designs to life.” In addition to collaborating on bespoke pieces, Phoenix Day has partnered with San Francisco talent like Charles De Lisle—a newly minted member of the Architectural Digest AD Top 100 list—to create fixtures that are available in its permanent collection.

From the impeccably appointed model unit in 181 Fremont, San Francisco’s latest entry in the world of luxury high-rise living, the view of the city and the bay is breathtaking. Through the expanse of glass, the growth and development transpiring all over town is palpable. Notes David Oldroyd, an owner and principal at San Francisco firm ODADA, which advised on the building’s interior design and created the elegant model suite (the building houses 67 condos on the top 15 floors; Facebook occupies the lower levels), “When we did the design work, there was no real budget discussed, because it was so abstract at that point. They said, ‘We want the best residential tower in the country. How do we get there?’” The gorgeous space is dressed with sumptuous finishes like Arabescato Corchia marble and ceruse-ebonized oak. ODADA wrapped the sofa in a Zimmer + Rohde fabric (De Sousa Hughes) and a Larsen chair and throw pillow in gray mohair (Cowtan & Tout). A hand-sculpted, high-polish River Rock table, a jewel of an accessory by Holly Hunt (Kneedler | Fauchère), was the finishing touch.

Another of San Francisco’s leading young designers, Beth Martin, principal of Martin Group, creates cosmopolitan interiors that have inspired Elle Decor to name her to its prestigious A List three years running. Martin has designed spectacular residences from San Francisco to New York to Jackson Hole, Wyoming; most recently, she conceived the urbane interiors for the new Silicon Valley restaurant Camper, helmed by chef Greg Kuzia-Carmel, formerly of Cotogna and Quince. “The Peninsula is home to a sophisticated group of people living and working in Silicon Valley, and design is simply part of their world,” says Martin. “I wanted Camper to feel cultivated—to have a sensibility that could match any New York restaurant—but also like a neighborhood gathering place.” To achieve the look, Martin brought together the refined and rustic, pairing a cool grayish-green, black, and neutral palette with natural wood finishes, and mixing custom pieces with Nico stools by Palecek (Palecek), pendant lights by Visual Comfort (Witford), and fabrics and leathers from Pindler (Pindler). And if Camper’s booked reservation calendar is any indication, Martin hit just the right note.
“Following your own path is an important part of the Silicon Valley ethos, and it also applies to how clients approach their homes. People here think of where they live as a reflection of who they are,” says Kwong. “It’s always a gift to have forward-thinking clients. They get excited about the creative process, and that fuels us to reach even higher.”

Another of San Francisco’s leading young designers, Beth Martin, principal of Martin Group, creates cosmopolitan interiors that have inspired Elle Decor to name her to its prestigious A List three years running. Martin has designed spectacular residences from San Francisco to New York to Jackson Hole, Wyoming; most recently, she conceived the urbane interiors for the new Silicon Valley restaurant Camper, helmed by chef Greg Kuzia-Carmel, formerly of Cotogna and Quince. “The Peninsula is home to a sophisticated group of people living and working in Silicon Valley, and design is simply part of their world,” says Martin. “I wanted Camper to feel cultivated—to have a sensibility that could match any New York restaurant—but also like a neighborhood gathering place.” To achieve the look, Martin brought together the refined and rustic, pairing a cool grayish-green, black, and neutral palette with natural wood finishes, and mixing custom pieces with Nico stools by Palecek (Palecek), pendant lights by Visual Comfort (Witford), and fabrics and leathers from Pindler (Pindler). And if Camper’s booked reservation calendar is any indication, Martin hit just the right note.
“Following your own path is an important part of the Silicon Valley ethos, and it also applies to how clients approach their homes. People here think of where they live as a reflection of who they are,” says Kwong. “It’s always a gift to have forward-thinking clients. They get excited about the creative process, and that fuels us to reach even higher.”

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