After the announcement by Cottages & Gardens, and a few weeks later LUXE Interiors + Design, of the new publications to be launched in San Francisco this year, this writer began to investigate why there and why now? A cross section of the region’s industry leaders shared their theories on a few of the factors creating the boom: a tech-savvy new generation, an influx of Silicon Valley money, and a flourishing culture of creativity.
Covers of the soon-to-launch SFC&G (San Francisco Cottages & Gardens) and LUXE Interiors + Design San Francisco
“The design community in the Bay Area, just as the rest of the country, rode out the recession and has emerged full speed ahead with a sonic boom,” said Suzanne Tucker, San Francisco-based interior designer. “There is so much excitement happening here with real estate, remodeling, restaurants, development, new building and a continuing embrace of all things entrepreneurial. The venture capital and tech worlds are hot—a new Gold Rush 165 years later!”
Tucker explained that her clients may work across many fields but all are savvy, sophisticated and selective whether it be their first or fifth home. “They may be up on the latest trends but definitely don't want their homes to look cookie-cutter, much less be dated in a year,” said Tucker. “Contemporary and classics mixed together is de rigueur. And I find that at any age, my level of clients all ultimately want the same thing—good timeless design with a fresh approach, to live well with style and ease.”
With a seasoned design editorial background in San Francisco, Alisa Carroll was recently named the editor-in-chief of the soon-to-launch SFC&G (San Francisco Cottages & Gardens), and knows the market first hand. “San Francisco is in the midst of a new golden age,” she said. “Creativity is flourishing on every level—from small-scale artisanal craftsmanship to new architecture on a city-wide scale. That’s one of the reasons why San Francisco is and has always been one of the world's great design cities—it drives innovation without losing its soul. SFC&G will be a space devoted to celebrating that sense of place, from interiors to landscape, lifestyle to the arts.”
“In San Francisco we are seeing a confluence of old and new money creating a dynamic marketplace that is producing the absolute best in creativity,” said Marianne Howatson, CEO and publication director of Cottages & Gardens. “Distressed areas have become hot neighborhoods and luxury high-rises are dotting the landscape. The architects, designers, landscapers and real estate agents that we have spoken to agree that the market is hot!”
"There's an exciting spirit in San Francisco's design community of late, fueled by a new generation of tech entrepreneurs, progressive architectural projects, a vibrant art scene and young, creative energy,” said Pamela Jaccarino, LUXE Interiors + Design president and editor-in-chief. “The surge in building and changing face of the skyline also brings a fresh perspective to the region's landscape.”
“There is a fresh crop of designers who are giving new energy to the design scene,” said Juin Ho, San Francisco-based interior designer. “It really comes from the fact that San Francisco is a town of entrepreneurs. Building and experimenting with new ideas, whether for a new retail environment in food and wine or in the arts, it’s built into the DNA here. The design here is a true international blend, with its own California flavor thrown in. It's becoming a new American classic.”
The Bay Area was less affected by the recession than other markets, and that included the San Francisco Design Center. “We have been lucky in the San Francisco Design Center,” said SFDC president Martha Thompson. “Even in the worst economic times we have not had a vacancy worse than 10%. At the moment, we are 97.5% leased. The showrooms seem to be doing well and many have asked for expansion space."
“With the recession in retreat, business has definitely improved,” said Greg Mcintyre, CEO of Shears & Windows in the San Francisco Design Center. “San Francisco has always been a very creative city and this is evident with an improved retail home furnishing scene as well as the increased number of designers working in our territory. There has been a bit of a shakeout in the design showrooms but that seems to be leveling off and those that are still here are stronger for it. So it seems that things are moving forward in a very positive direction."