Every year since 1977, The San Francisco Decorator Showcase tricks out one of San Francisco’s most luxurious properties, showing off work by the city’s most talented interior designers and raising money for the San Francisco University High School financial aid program. The program has raised more than $17 million total.
Typically, the showcase is located in a large stand-alone home in one of the city’s toniest neighborhoods, such as Pacific Heights, the Marina, or Presidio Heights. This year is a little different—the property sits atop a 1960’s-era Russian Hill high rise, the penthouse, of course, with a 360-degree view of the San Francisco Bay.
The assignment was to transform the property for an empty nester couple who wanted a new vibe for their newly kid-free home. The homeowners wanted to showcase their art collection, which includes works by female artists including Jutta Haeckel, Rita Ackermann, Devina Semo and Judith Eisler. They wanted an environment both cozy and ready for grown-up entertaining.
Catherine Kwong is a veteran Showcase designer, and for 2021 she decorated the two primary bedrooms. Kwong was inspired in part by the jewelry and tattoo designs of San Francisco’s Fiat Lux and Rosegold’s, respectively.
“When tasked with the design of a bedroom suite, tucked amidst the clouds of our fair city, we looked to those references, and interpreted them into a space that strives to be at once simple and intricate; both serene and layered, with the depth and edges of local artisans’ work,” Kwong said in a statement.
The owners enter the rooms via the gallery hall, one wall of which is lined with shelves featuring the owners’ favorite art and design books, including “Beyond Extravagance: A Royal Collection of Gems and Jewels” (a reminder of their 2009 visit to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, to view “Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts”). The other wall features artist Dana Harel’s Landscape Variations 4 , which is lit by Apparatus Studio’s darkened bronze fixtures.
Rose Uniacke’s ebonized oak console sits atop pale oak floors, and as you cross the threshold into the bedroom, the undulating form of Achille Salvagni’s Angel wall sconce, crafted from a single piece of onyx, lights the way.
Inside, the bedroom walls are painted a dramatic grey—Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe No.26, making the 360 views pop (though they don’t need help). The room’s seating nook features a custom curved banquette with a criss-cross bronze base with to Faye Toogood’s sculpted fiberglass table, and is topped with a postwar jewel: Angelo Lelli’s “Vela” fixture for Arredoluce. The captivating curves of Ben & Aja Blanc’s gold antiqued Serpens Mirror completes the space.
Above the bed, a site-specific charcoal drawing, inspired by a tattoo line drawing by artist Frederic Forest, covers the wall. The Minotti bed, set against a custom headboard, is topped with a custom pillow made from vintage tapestry, and flanked by custom nightstands, inspired by Sven Larson’s iconic 1960’s tiered table. Across from the bed, a wall of oak with an inset fireplace, cleverly conceals storage.
The en suite bathroom features floors of French reclaimed limestone tiles and a Marmi Serafini Pietra Di Farsena stone tub. Vintage copper pendants by Poul Henningsen and custom mirrors float against the skyline view.
Studio Collins Weir decorated the atrium, kitchen, dining room, and terrace, creating spaces that highlight sculptural furnishings and contemporary art. The jaw-dropping kitchen features an island, counter and backsplash of Verde Antigua marble in the subtlest shade of bluish green. Accouterments are concealed behind Rift white oak cabinets and caning.
Regarding the dressing room by Applegate Tran Interiors, I will just say that it brought up many feelings, principal among them envy.
Because this year (like last) is virtual, the tour is free, but donations are welcome. You can access the virtual tour through the end of summer.