SFDC Designwire

Behind the Design: Staprans Design


In a 1970 interview with Life magazine, furniture maker George Nakashima talks about working with trees from an island near Kyushu, Japan, that are between 6,000 and 7,000 years old. “In their presence you feel humility instead of that arrogance that wants to conquer nature,” Nakashima said. Interior designer Lisa Staprans counts Nakashima as one of her influences for her spaces that respect the natural history of each object and inspire love and joy in the people who inhabit them. Principal at Staprans Design in the Bay Area, Staprans pursues a practice called “soulful design,” in which she seeks sustainably-constructed objects and materials that support local communities, and she ultimately designs spaces that support the emotional and physical health of her clients. Read on for our interview with Staprans.

R. Brad Knipstein Photography

Q. How does ethical/sustainable consumption affect the way you design a home?

A. It drives all of my decisions. I always strive to select products that are well-made. They always come from manufacturers or representatives that share my passion and care for how things are made, and the effect they have on us as humans and on our planet. Our environment needs to be healthy, so the companies should share the values of not polluting our environment and paying living wages to artisans around the world. I work with craftspeople, architects, manufacturers, and artisans that all care about how things are made and the impact they have all around us. I also often select reclaimed wood to use in cabinets and zero-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints for a healthy home environment, and I don’t use off gassing or dyes that can make you sick. I also create interiors with good air flow and natural light that contribute to a sense of wellbeing.


James Carriere Photography

Q. You’re known for focusing on the story behind each product you use in your designs. Who are some of the craftspeople that you’ve met personally?

A. There are so many, here are a few: Jonathan BrowningJohn PompTed Boerner, Mira Nakashima, Jefferson Mack, Alison Berger, Lori Weitzner, Soren from Garde Hvalsøe, and Lawrence and Christa at Metro Lighting in Berkeley. I was also blessed to work with Hank Gilpin and James Schriber at the beginning of my design career while getting started in New York, and they shaped how I look at design and furniture. They taught me about the soul inside of wood. I was fortunate, too, to meet Albert Paley and Dale Chihuly, both masters at their extraordinary artisan work in metal and glass. They are truly visionaries, and I was blessed to meet them early in my design career, which set the tone for how I view art, design, and master  craftmanship of materials.


Q. How has meeting them and understanding how they create products affected your design process?

A. It has a large influence on my design and work. When you meet a passionate artist who loves to create and loves the process, and they explain to you what inspires them, it has an amazing ripple effect on your work. That joy of creating and the explanation of the materials, process, and story on how they create brings so much depth and more joy to my interiors.


Brad Knipstein Photography

Q. You’ve talked about how neuroscience affects our perception of beauty in an article for the Huffington Post, among other places. How do you design using neuroscience?

A. Daylight alignments, natural materials, views of gardens or trees, natural lights, natural dyed materials, no TVs in bedrooms, and cozy places to sit, relax and ponder.

I use the architecture of a space and work closely with how the place and space is aligned with the architecture, and I provide access to the garden and view lines. If the space is in a city I use plants, art light, and windows to give the sense of more space and light. These principals create endorphins in our brains and feel-good feelings because of the neurotransmitters that get energized by the positive experience of a space and from comfortable things and objects of beauty. Having things around you that bring you joy are also very important. I always tell clients, only have the things that give you joy; get rid of the things that trigger bad memories or sad thoughts. Let them go and recycle them.


Q. What’s an example of a simple home element that can alter how our brains interpret our surroundings?

A. A color that brings you joy. A chair that fits you well and makes you feel relaxed. A light that sets a mood. A bath that helps you relax. A bedroom in colors that soothe you.


R. Brad Knipstein Photography

Q. Could you provide an example of what you call “soulful design”?

A. I did a project that had a central island made out of a single slab of walnut wood approximately eleven feet long and six feet wide. This wood came from an old tree. It became the main island in the center of the kitchen, and it would be where the family would share meals, stories, and life with their young children for many, many years. We all felt that that island would be the center of the home, and that felt very soulful to me and to my clients. When we selected this amazing piece of solid walnut wood, the whole family came to select it at the woodyard. There were many, many buildings filled with pieces of amazing wood, and this one piece of wood stood out and spoke to them. Yes, it felt like it had a soul. The famous furniture maker George Nakashima talks about the connection between humankind and nature. Here everyone was involved — the grandparents, the clients’ children, the dogs. It was a beautiful circle of life.


Q. What are some of the biggest challenges when working with a philosophy of “soulful design”? What are the biggest rewards?

A. Being patient is the biggest challenge. The biggest rewards are that the space feels right and gives such a sense of peace, inspiration, and happiness.


Q. While the majority of your projects are residential, you’ve also designed businesses, university spaces, and offices. Do you approach these projects differently than you would a home?

A. I actually approach them very much the same. I always find out from the clients (the CEO, facilities team, and users) about the ethos they want, how they want it to feel, what the brand is, the story they want the space to tell, the programming needs, and end goals. These are some of my favorite parts of the process — finding out how will use the space and how they will use it, and figuring out how my design will tell the story of their place and space. I love meeting their needs and giving them spaces  that so many people will use, enjoy, and do inspired work in.


Q. In a perfect world, what would be the future of design? In an imperfect world?

A. In a perfect future world, I hope we’re creating spaces that make us more thoughtful and happy people. I hope we prioritize healthy and healing spaces that are sustainable and use renewable energies.

In an imperfect world, we will get sick more often and have more anxiety in life. We will contribute to the destruction of our precious planet even more if we do not practice sustainable design and living. I worry that if we do not pay attention to sustainability we will not be healthy, and we will get sick more often. We need to create spaces that make us happier and healthier, and help our planet be healthier too. Without a planet, we won’t be very happy. Our living and working environments greatly affect our health and wellbeing.


Spotlight on Seema Krish


Known for her appreciation of color and pattern, Seema Krish’s textiles bring a modern, yet timeless, touch to any interior. The Bombay native, who is represented by De Sousa Hughes at the San Francisco Design Center, sat down with Dering Hall to share the inspiration behind her work, her design process, and details about her upcoming Napa Valley-inspired collection, Silverado Trail.

Q: How does your Bombay upbringing inform your work as a fabric designer?

A: Growing up in Bombay, a bustling, urban metropolis against the backdrop of India, exposed me to sensory stimulation early on—vibrant colors and pattern, sounds of traffic and the general chaos of day-to-day life. I learned to find my calm and stillness within the constant movement. My textiles capture this emotional quality.

Q: You’re known for your modern, traditional aesthetic. Why are you drawn to this particular style?

A: My textiles are rooted in textile craft and tradition. This forms the basis for when I’m researching a new collection. Having traveled and lived in different cities and environments, I’ve been influenced by a contemporary outlook and this guides my artwork and patterns. The resulting textiles are a mix of tradition with a modern aesthetic.


Q: Can you explain your fabric design process?

A: Each of our collections is inspired by a different city or locale, so our starting point is capturing the feeling of the location. Patterns and drawings originate from there, but could begin by the form of a leaf, a sketch inspired by architecture or a piece of art we may have seen at a museum.  Everything starts with hand-work, drawing, painting or lino-cut. It is then translated to wooden hand-block and embroidery. Our textiles are dimensional. I like the interplay of the flatness of print on the surface of the textile to the dimension created by the embroidery.


Q: Do you have a favorite pattern or collection? 

A: It’s like asking about my favorite child. I love them all! My debut collection, Bombay Bliss, is still my favorite and feels fresh, current and timeless, although it was introduced at inception, five years ago.


Q: Color is very important to your work. Why are you so drawn to color? 

A: Color makes me happy. I live with color and enjoy painting with color. Growing up in India and being surrounded by myriads of color, it is ingrained into my sensibility.


Q: What’s your take on incorporating colorful fabrics into a room? 

A: I enjoy mixing colors with neutrals, often combining complementary hues. For instance, I like deep, warm purples with rich golds as an accent, paired with a warm neutral gray. I also like to combine colors within one spectrum of the color wheel. Shades of blues with green is one example.


Q: What can we expect from your designs moving forward? 

A: We are continuing to create new collections, going deeper with our research of craft influences. Our new collection for spring ’18, Silverado Trail, is inspired by Napa Valley and its serene and scenic beauty of the natural environment. We have exciting things ahead, as we are working towards introducing our first wallpaper collection in the fall and venturing into woven, indoor-outdoor textiles. There are exciting things ahead.


Q: What is the most rewarding part of your work? 

A: It’s gratifying when I’m confident that our product achieves high-quality standards. Working with many hands—weaving, color-mixing, hand-printing and embroidery—there is a lot of room for error. We have spent the time on training and learning about limitations from our artisan partners. It informs our design process to produce high-quality textiles. I’m rewarded by creating impact on people’s lives. My company’s founding mission is to create awareness for Indian craft and to contribute towards social benefit and empowerment within the artisan community.

SFDC Showroom Focus on Saelger Shading

This issue of Designwire focuses on Saelger Shading, a sales and marketing company specializing in architectural window treatments and technology. Saelger Shading has been represented at the SFDC since 2016.

 We are excited to feature Karen Goelst, founder of Saelger Shading, with offices in San Francisco and New York. Karen was born and raised in the Netherlands and grew up in the window coverings business as her family launched and owned Silent Gliss — both in the Netherlands as well as in the United States.

 The family developed the Goelst brand 45 years ago and offered their proprietary drapery hardware line and patented 6200 motorized track providing unique features and benefits. Today, Karen continues to direct the import, fabrication, as well as all national sales for the Goelst brand in the US and produces a line of unique architectural roller shades with hardware designed for Lutron motorized roller shades as well as their own OXG battery operated roller shade systems. All products are fabricated in Los Angeles allowing for a quick two-week turnaround into the Bay Area.

 Saelger, founded in 2011, is proud to market their inspired architectural window treatments, unique roller shade textiles, and technology directly to the A&D community. Their offering provides all the necessary tools and resources to ensure exceptional outcomes to even the most discerning project. To learn more, visit saelger.com.



When Lightning Strikes Back ~ Fannie Allen



Chapin House on Isle au Haut in Maine was hit by lightning in 2009, as its owners were close to completing a yearlong renovation. Credit Courtesy Fannie Allen

Late one July night in 2009, George Cogan, a financial consultant, and his wife, Fannie Allen, an interior designer, got a nightmarish phone call. Chapin House, their early 1900s gabled summer retreat on Isle au Haut in Maine, had been struck by lightning in a violent thunderstorm. A neighbor who spotted the flames around 3 a.m. roused the town. About 50 islanders and park rangers, forming a bucket brigade, needed five hours to put out the fire.

The news was particularly devastating because the homeowners, who lived with their three children in Atherton, Calif., had nearly completed a yearlong restoration of the property.


A wintertime view of lobster boats off Isle au Haut. Credit Stacey Cramp for The New York Times

Isle au Haut is a fishing community six miles south of Stonington, Me., with a year-round population of about 40. It’s “not Martha Stewart’s or George Bush’s world,” Ms. Allen said recently, but its relaxed charm suited the couple.

In fact, Mr. Cogan, 60, had visited the island since boyhood. His family vacationed in a house where salt once was stored for a lobster-canning factory near the town dock. As a teenager, he mowed lawns for neighbors who were like extended family.

When a nearby two-story wooden house with a dock of its own came on the market in 2008, he and Ms. Allen, 59, bought it for $650,000, with the plan to use it throughout the year.


Chapin House in the mid-20th century and today. Credit Left, courtesy Fannie Allen; right, Stacey Cramp for The New York Times

Mr. Cogan knew a few things about the property — including how Lidie Chapin, who lived there decades before and whose family gave the house its name, had once seen lightning flow down an interior pipe and jump across the living room. Neighbors said lightning had struck even before that, and Ms. Chapin predicted a return appearance.

But Mr. Cogan brushed aside the childhood memory and focused instead on insulation. Chapin House had none. It also had an addition with vinyl siding that marred the facade. “Everything had rotted underneath,” Ms. Allen said.

To update the house and its barn, they hired Elisabeth Doermann, a San Francisco architect and an old friend of Mr. Cogan, who had also grown up summering on Isle au Haut. She gathered a team from the town of Blue Hill on the mainland and all available locals.


A view from the dining room, which features posts and brackets from a porch of the original house. Credit Stacey Cramp for The New York Times

Upstairs, they added dormers and skylights. Downstairs, they ripped out the addition and extended the central foyer by 12 feet for extra living space and a larger kitchen. The back porch was enclosed for a dining area with insulated windows overlooking the water.

Nearing the end of her work, Ms. Doermann went to inspect the house. All that remained were final decisions on the interior paint colors and spots to be patched on the siding and roof. Lightning rods lay on the living room floor, ready to be installed.

And so they remained the next day, when lightning hit. “If the barn had caught, the fire would have spread to the whole town,” Mr. Cogan said. The bucket brigade saved it and the century-old one-room schoolhouse next door, but not Chapin House. The top floor was incinerated and water ruined the rest.


Fannie Allen owns Chapin House with her husband, George Cogan. Credit Stacey Cramp for The New York Times

The couple discussed remodeling again. “But nobody could guarantee that we would get rid of the burnt smell,” Mr. Cogan said. Anyway, it would have been just as costly to salvage the remains as to knock them down and rebuild. This time, they started from scratch.

The couple decided the 2,500-square-foot replacement home would be a replica of the destroyed one. “Context was important,” Ms. Allen said. A modern building would have clashed with the nearby gabled stone town hall and 19th-century Congregational church. So a new Chapin House rose on the old stone foundation.

To save time, even mainlanders on the construction team lived on Isle au Haut on and off from August 2009 through June 2010. “During the winter, it was hard enough to get materials to the island and get waste off it,” Ms. Doermann said, never mind the workers. The mail boat that ferried between the mainland and town dock could transport small loads, but large barges were needed for lumber and Dumpsters and were often delayed by tides and weather.


A replacement for an original square stained-glass window came from Portland, Ore. Credit Stacey Cramp for The New York Times

“Perhaps that’s why islanders don’t get rid of things and reuse what’s there,” Ms. Doermann said. “Many houses have pieces from other houses because of that ingrained mentality of recycling.”

Indeed, Bill Stevens, the roads commissioner-turned-contractor who did the septic site work, gathered Chapin House’s charred but usable frame and windows to build a painting studio for his wife.

Ms. Doermann turned her energies to reclamation, as well. Pine beams from a Boston warehouse were milled for the new house’s main-level flooring (now with radiant heat), while the hand-hewn floorboards upstairs came from a Nova Scotia barn.


A new Bertazzoni stove and its backsplash of tiles made of recycled airplane aluminum were reinstalled in the kitchen. Credit Stacey Cramp for The New York Times

Pressed-tin ceilings that survived the fire were reused in the sunroom. A new Bertazzoni kitchen stove and its backsplash of tiles made of recycled airplane aluminum were reinstalled, as were vintage hardware and the paneled front door. (Both were in refinishing workshops off the island the day of the storm.)

Ms. Doermann also rescued the lathe-turned posts and arabesque brackets of the former back porch and split them in half to form pilasters flanking new dining room windows.

Ms. Allen, for her part, borrowed from the local landscape palette of aquamarine, cobalt blue, wildflower red and foggy gray, using it in upholstery fabrics, painted doors and kitchen cabinetry.


A guest room features vintage metal bed frames, a painting by a local artist and a chest of drawers painted by a neighbor. Credit Stacey Cramp for The New York Times

She bought metal beds and wood dining chairs originally from Maine that had made their way to vintage stores in California and New York. A replacement for an original square stained-glass window came from Portland, Ore. Deer Isle granite counters in two of the bathrooms are from a Stonington quarry.

Rebuilt at a cost of about $360 per square foot, Chapin House is a vivid reflection of its old self. But there is also something conspicuously new: lightning rods on the roof, grounded with concealed copper cables connected to steel plates buried far from the house.

“Twenty-five other houses got lightning rods that year,” Mr. Cogan said. That’s how the installer’s business works “right after a burn.”

A version of this article appears in print on March 8, 2018, on Page F10 of the New York edition with the headline: When Lightning Strikes Back.


San Francisco Decorator Showcase 2018 – Spotlight on Susan Chastain and Willem Racké

Susan Chastain and Willem Racké’s Tangerine Dream Lounge is a warm yet vibrant place to relax on the comfy 1950’s settee with a cocktail, of course. Susan and Willem partnered with the SFDC’s De Sousa Hughes, Kneedler | Fauchère, and Shears & Window to create a creamsicle-inspired place of respite.


Photography by Rebecca Kmiec

San Francisco Decorator Showcase 2018 – Spotlight on Beth Daecher

Beth Daecher’s Sea Scape Powder Room transports one to a calm oasis. The Mediterranean roots of the house are emphasized with wallpaper that has a seaside feel, and porthole mirrors recall visions of sailing on the bay. Beth partnered with the SFDC’s De Sousa Hughes, Pindler, Robert Allen, and Walker Zanger to create this jewel box powder room.


Photography by Margot Hartford

San Francisco Decorator Showcase 2018 – Spotlight on Melanie Coddington

Melanie Coddington’s Rosé Lounge is modern, unapologetically feminine, with hints of vintage – inspired by feminine edginess and fueled by French rosé wine. Melanie partnered with the SFDC’s Cowtan & Tout, Georgina Rice, HEWN, and Shears & Window for this Instagram-worthy lounge.

Photography by Patrick Argast

San Francisco Decorator Showcase 2018 – Spotlight on Eden Wright

Eden Wright’s Ocean Retreat Bedroom took its inspiration from the healing ocean air and stunning bay views from the room’s picture window overlooking the Marina Green, the Bay, and the Marin Headlands. Her light-filled sanctuary with white linens, natural grass shades, and woven fabrics has textured layers and pops of silvered blues and deep ocean tones to complement the natural bay palette. Eden partnered with the SFDC’s Cowtan & Tout, De Sousa Hughes, HEWN, Palecek, and Stark to create a room for one’s imagination to run free and to restore one’s senses.


Headshot Photography by John Wallace

Bedroom Photography by EWD

San Francisco Decorator Showcase 2018 – Spotlight on Jeff Schlarb

Jeff Schlarb’s Ten Thousand Dreams Master Bedroom is a retreat in the home – a space for romance, abundance, and comfort – a place to allow dreams to flourish. Jeff partnered with the SFDC’s De Sousa Hughes, Donghia, HEWN, Half Full, Kneedler | Fauchere, Shears & Window, and Sloan Miyasato to create a space to uncover passions and ambitions, desires and dreams.


Photography by  Jose Manuel Alorda

Designers Deconstructed – Jon de la Cruz


Currently residing on the cusp of design fame, this classically-trained designer is capturing attention for past projects as well as current accolades, including the 2017 House Beautiful “Kitchen of the Year” which was a major feature of the San Francisco Decorator Showcase. Focused to the extent of being devoid of interests other than his work, de la Cruz operates with an obsessiveness that applies in equal measure to his design aesthetic, business management and career path, and is destined to claim his rank as one of the California’s design luminaries in-the-making. With quiet determination and a steely resolve, he continues to accumulate clout and kudos from clients and colleagues as he journeys to the pinnacle of professional recognition.

On how it all began
I was born and raised in San Francisco by Filipino parents. I studied biology at U.C. Santa Cruz because I thought I wanted to be a marine biologist. When I took my first advanced chemistry class, with its complex equations, I said to myself, “I’m an artist, not a scientist!” Which makes sense. As a child, I would always doodle and draw. Art was always a huge part of my life. In class, I would always be the artist who did the bulletin boards outside the classrooms. Ultimately, I learned my craft graduating from AAU with a BFA in Interior Architecture Design.

On his grooming as a designer
My first experience in interior design was working for Joel Hendler as a receptionist. I moved quickly into a variety of roles—librarian, assistant and finally Junior Designer. The seniors did the serious architectural work. I got to do the frosting– and I loved it. I progressed to a Senior Designer role with Steven Volpe, an incredible mentor, who taught me the design basics and a keen eye for detail– how to order curtains; how to design a lamp shade or a pillow; and all of those little intricate details in traditional interior design that you don’t get in most of the younger people coming out of design school today. And he taught me how the industry works—for example, working at the residential high-end with very private clients who are protective of their privacy.

When I went to work for Pamela Babey at BAMO, it was a 180-degree turn in direction. Steven’s point of view is very honed and concise. At BAMO, because of its hospitality focus, I learned how to compromise—in a good way. When you’re working in a hospitality interior, you don’t have $10,000 for a sofa. You have $1,500. I learned flexibility at BAMO—in design and in dealing with clients. Instead of “My way, or the highway”, it was “Let’s see what we can do with your budget”.

I was introduced to Ken Fulk on Facebook. He was looking for someone to work on a hospitality project, which turned out to be The Battery. I worked on that assignment from start to finish–all the interior architecture, the finishes, the furniture. It was an illuminating and exhilarating experience because they did things differently and quickly. There was no CAD. No drafting. Everything was done through images and fabrics. They would be clipped to a board and then shown to the clients. They would promise to deliver full houses in three to five weeks. And it would happen because Ken had an amazing group of people who were intensely creative and committed.

One of the biggest lessons I took from working with Ken was “vertical integration”. He had people doing flowers, staging, branding and marketing and even planning events. He wanted to make sure that everything the client touched would look beautiful. He has a belief that the client shouldn’t have to worry about anything. That’s what I took away from my time with Ken, that and the belief that “Why do it, if you’re not going to make it beautiful? Why do it half-way?”



On going out on his own
I never thought I wanted my name on the door. I just wanted to do good work and be well paid for it. But when I turned 40, and I thought, “Maybe it’s time for me to start getting the recognition.” Ken was very good about giving me recognition–very generous, very appreciative, and always understanding. But as I looked at all the magazines, I found myself saying, “Hey, I did that. That was my work!”

I don’t want to become a huge design enterprise. I want to have high-quality projects and a great team, and develop a portfolo that I can be proud of. Right now, I’m busy, so my first priority is to make sure that I’m doing right by the clients I’ve got before I worry about tackling anything else. When you hire Jon de la Cruz, you get me. You don’t get an assistant. I work on every single project. And I still like to do the actual work. I want to be the one who designs the table or the counter. That’s why I fear getting bigger.

On his design style.
When someone walks into a room I’ve designed, I want them to feel that the design has been well thought out. For example, when you walk through the kitchen at the Decorator Showcase, the function should dictate the design. If it doesn’t, it won’t be beautiful. I stressed about everything on that job — about the placement of the oven, the range and the sink, and making sure that it all functions well for a house with 10 bedrooms. I could stand in that kitchen and not find a single thing that I would do differently.

My house is not my showroom. It’s a big white box with a stack of laundry — folded and not put away. There’s not a lot there–a couple of pieces of beautiful art, and every now and then I add a special piece of furniture. I have a comfortable sofa and a great, comfortable mattress. When I go home, I like to turn it off and not think about work. That’s my luxury right there.

On his current focus
I’m currently concentrating on new residential construction and restaurants. I like designing restaurants. Not only do you get to work with food people, whom I like, but it’s a faster-paced environment where the work can be more “out there” and leave a more decorative mark. You also get to see the reactions from a wider audience, and that’s particularly gratifying.

Leo’s Oyster Bar was one of my first projects when I went out on my own. That was with Anna Weinberg, with whom I did Cavalier and Marlowe while at KFI. I’ve worked on the small Turner’s Kitchen in the Mission and the huge Carbone restaurant at the Aria in Las Vegas. Right now, I have a number of restaurants on the books—Che Fico, an Italian restaurant on Divisadero and an adjoining pie shop called Theorita. I’m also working on a restaurant in Palo Alto called Protege, and Merriman’s on Oahu.

On the people and assignments that endure in memory
I had a Volpe assignment for a client who had a very traditional suburban house. It was horrible- completely overdone–the quintessential mansion that had been over-designed and over-decorated throughout the years and then sold for a lot of money to a client who didn’t think it needed any change, just more furniture. When we took that project over it was a lesson in how to develop a relationship with your client, and a lesson in design—how do you glean a diamond from an ugly rock?

Joel Hendler was a great mentor because he taught me that I could be an interior designer and that this is a viable business. I’m not just being an artist — I’m being someone who can actually make a paid living. Stephen Volpe taught me about quality. Sometimes working for him would make me want to pull my hair out. His response to everything I’d show him would be, “No, no, no. None of that works.” And then he would come back and say, “Well, this is what works.” You’d look at it and you wouldn’t know why, but you would understand once you touched the fabric or saw the color. There’s that indefinable, intangible factor that makes it perfect for what it has to accomplish. Pamela Babey taught me how to break all of Stephen’s rules!



On the seminal moments in life
I visited Europe when I was 23, and seeing Paris–all of the old beautiful buildings and architecture– was one of those moments. Just that sense of style, the panache, looking at all the windows and all the beautiful things in them. That’s when I realized, “We don’t have to just do it. We can do it with style and beauty.” Like walking into Pain Poilane, a bakery in Paris, and watching the way they wrapped a beautiful pastry and handed it to you almost as if it were an heirloom gift. Rome was also another life-changing experience. It’s a different point of view. It’s the way the Italians think– a combination of “bella figura” and La Dolce Vita.

I visited Axel Vervoordt, an antiquarian and designer in Belgium. He does stunning design and collects beautiful antiques. That heightened my point of view about interior design and antiques. It taught me about the integrity of materials and antiques and how to just let it be. In his gallery, he had installed a huge Anish Kapoor dome, 8 meters in diameter and painted in this most beautiful pigment of red. You walk under the dome, and it’s almost as if you’re swallowed into time and space, and forget where you are.

Interview conducted by Alf Nucifora, Chairman of the Luxury Marketing Council; sponsored by the San Francisco Design Center.

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