August 01, 2019
Cultivated Space ~ De Sousa Hughes
(Above image)Co-founders Geoffrey De Sousa and Erik Hughes
Marking 20 years of the superb sensibility of De Sousa Hughes
The handworked Japanese finish of a Tod Von Mertens table. The embedded bronze of an Erden rug. The reach of a tree across a hand-printed Timorous Beasties wall covering: all elements that create an atmosphere of refinement and soul in a showroom that honors makers. Since 1999, cofounders Erik Hughes and Geoffrey De Sousa have passionately cultivated a space where craft is revered and artisans can thrive. Their showroom, De Sousa Hughes, is a destination for designers seeking local and international collections characterized by an urbane sensibility and meticulous craftsmanship. “We’re fortunate to have a clientele—the interior designers we’re privileged to work with—who have an eye for beautiful detail and enduring materials,” says Hughes.
Hughes and De Sousa met while working for iconic designer Agnes Bourne at her showroom in the San Francisco Design Center, and when she retired, they took over her lease and subsequently launched De Sousa Hughes. Theirs was one of the first showrooms to offer contemporary furniture in a highly edited environment. “Curated retailers like Joseph and Comme des Garçons have always inspired us,” Hughes explains. “We strive to create an environment that showcases the iconic forms and materials—and the creative potential—of each collection.”
Two decades in, they continue to evolve: De Sousa Hughes has grown from 5,000 square feet to 27,000, the expansive space enabling it to represent more than 60 companies, including Liaigre, John Pomp, and Jonathan Browning. The stunning, airy textile space stocks 27 fabric, wall covering, and leather collections—as well as scrumptious pillows and cashmere throws—and the dedicated rug and floor covering salon is a handsome retreat where designers can peruse silk, wool and weaves by Christopher Farr, Shiir, Erden, Rosemary Hallgarten, and Elizabeth Eakins.
The pair’s greatest passion is discovering and mentoring emerging designers. From the very beginning, they’ve helped artists make the transition from producing studio creations to full-fledged collections, working with talents like Berkeley-based Michael McEwen, whose one-off metal light fixtures became a fully customizable collection with Hughes and De Sousa’s support. Eighteen years later, McEwen’s “modern luminous artifacts” are still in demand, sought out by leading interiors designers and featured in residences, restaurants, and commercial spaces, including Pixar’s headquarters.
In 2019, De Sousa Hughes celebrates 20 years and will introduce London-based Atelier Purcell (making its U.S. showroom debut), wall coverings and fabrics from French house Élitis, and textiles by iconic mid-century designer Tibor Reich. It will also unveil fabulous new custom panels by beloved Glasgow-based wall covering studio Timorous Beasties, an expanded wall covering collection from the Romo Group, and exciting new pieces from many long-standing furniture and lighting makers. “We make sure that when we select a line, we have the ability to customize and tweak things to make them absolutely right,” says De Sousa. “It’s all about working with interior designers to make their most elevated and artful visions possible.”