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On Clouds, Picnics, Leather & Lace

Finding wonders in unlikely places.



BROKEN BOWL, a seemingly solid vessel by German designer Maximilian Schmahl for Alessi, neatly folds apart in the middle to form two conjoined food containers. Made of polished stainless steel or black epoxy resin-coated steel, the bowl costs $120–$160, depending on the finish, at Alessi, San Francisco. alessi.com

INTERIOR DESIGNER Eugene Nahemow, of Studio Nahemow in San Francisco, has a new limited-production furniture series he calls Editions that borrows from early 20th-century modernism as well as classicism and possesses a fine Japanese arts and crafts sensibility. Charred Shou Sugi Ban woods, parchment, gleaming lacquer and cast bronze are combined with flashes of color and lacy details. Shown, the Gallery Bench. $18,000. studionahemow.com

BROOKLYN DESIGNER Faris Elmasu’s Bent Basket has been five years in the making, while he refined the details of the Eames-inspired, bent ash wood, easy-to-install lightweight bicycle basket that is actually tray shaped (to rest comfortably on a rear rack) and as tough as a skateboard. It comes with vibrantly colored crisscrossed elastic straps to hold up to 50 pounds of cargo comfortably. $99. bentbasket.com; publicbikes.com

BAY AREA ARTIST Susan Parker, an avid sailor, records the stunning skies reflected in the water around her. A solo show of her mesmerizing, vaguely nautical canvases that also reference compasses and charts will be at the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara August 21–October 23. She sometimes creates low-relief fossils and traceries — lacy coral-like textures she sees just below the water’s surface — and then lets hundreds of translucent layers of paint wash over them. Shown, “Enigma One,” 2012 (page 12), and “Tracery Four,” 2015. susanparkerpainter.com; tritonmuseum.org

DESIGNER TED BOERNER’S new Cumulus bed capitalizes on a tufting pattern he first devised three years ago for Cloudbox sofas and ottomans. The cloudlike asymmetrical molecular quilting for the headboard — handmade in California, and available separately — is as soft as it looks. Prices vary according to the upholstered bed’s size, wood or metal leg finishes, and footboard styles; available at Hewn & HewnX in San Francisco. hewnsf.com

PICNIC ON THIRD, a charming new daytime eatery with a Kelly green front door in San Francisco’s SoMa district, invites you to leave your basket behind and encounter a small but delectable gourmet menu composed daily by chef/owners Natalia Bushyager and Leigh Loper. If you are not in a rush to leave, you can eat inside the hip dining room they decorated on a shoestring. Its nostalgic pressed-tin ceiling is faux; metal storage racks are made of plumbing parts; the shiny caps of Mason jars, like those used for the unique homemade spice rack behind the busy service counter, hang on the entry wall like fish scales. picniconthird.com

INTERIOR DESIGNER Floriana Petersen’s information- packed book 111 Places in San Francisco That You Must Not Miss, with photographs by Steve Werney, will lead readers to oddball and insider destinations on both sides of the Golden Gate Bridge, including off-the-beaten-track parks, the Headlands Center for the Arts, the Taj Mahal houseboat and Heath Ceramics in Marin, and it highlights street art by Marin artists such as Zio Ziegler. About $15. amazon.com

CLOSE TO THE Golden Gate Bridge and directly opposite the historic Hyde Street pier (see Rear Window, page 122), the 1893 Ghirardelli chocolate factory with its clock tower in Ghirardelli Square, which famed architecture firm Wurster, Bernardi & Emmons and landscape architect Lawrence Halprin helped resurrect as a shopping enclave during the 1960s, changed hands again about six years ago. Five of the former factory’s red brick structures became the Fairmont Heritage Place, a boutique membership hotel as well as a private residence club linked to the hotel group of the same name. You can now rent spaces in one of its 53 fully equipped homes-away-from-home or vie for fractional ownerships that allow monthlong stays. Among its many shared amenities are also wide terraces that sport outdoor fireplaces for roasting marshmallows while gazing at Alcatraz Island and the bay. fairmontatghirardelli.com

ARTIST EDDY SYKES, who collaborates with architecture firms such as Diller Scofidio + Renfro (designer of Los Angeles’ new Broad museum) and also shows his sculptural chandeliers and furniture in the Bay Area, created a fine tooled and stitched tire-shaped leather swing he calls Rubicon. An architect and engineer before he turned to making limited-edition pieces, Sykes works from his Frogtown studio near the Los Angeles River. Prices vary for each design. eddyskyes.com

NEW YORK architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro have been very active in the Bay Area, first with the McMurtry Building for the department of art and art history at Stanford, and now with the new Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archives building, a metal-clad addition to a repurposed 1939 art deco former UC printing plant in the heart of Berkeley. The opening exhibition, Architecture of Life, curated by BAMPFA director Larry Rinder, did the building proud. Like the museum’s sculptural and interactive addition, which has views from its third-floor cafe, through the steel armature of the original building, and into galleries and the amphitheater-style lobby area, the exhibition, which closed recently, also made linear yet jazzy connections between spiders’ webs, Native American basketry, 19th-century lace-making, the woven wire sculptures of Bay Area artist and educator Ruth Asawa, and architect Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes. Spectacular. bampfa.berkley.edu

UNVEILED at Milan’s Salone del Mobile, the Chaise Longue by Dutch designer Marcel Wanders adds to Louis Vuitton’s Objets Nomades Collection. The collapsible carbon-fiber-and-leather design, composed of three tubes and a headrest, is a lightweight go-anywhere lounge that can be easily assembled using leather straps. Prices vary by color and custom details. Call Louis Vuitton, San Francisco at 415.391.6200. louisvuitton.com

IF YOU COULD easily carry these made-in-California heated molded concrete garden benches and chairs from Galanter & Jones with you into the great outdoors, even picnics in gray weather would be a hit. As it is, these heavy Helios seats created by designer Aaron Jones have embedded heating coils that need a handy power source. Still, when plugged in, the voluptuous cocoons atop powder-coated steel legs are stars in the garden. Prices vary according to size from $4,200 to $7,900. galanterandjones.com

EVEN IN OUR wireless, cloud-based society, Most Modest, a South San Francisco design hub, recognizes the need for old-fashioned earthbound electrical power sources for recharging a battery of things. Its Niko, a chic new great-to-touch, 10-foot-long, pastel-colored wood-and-knitted-mesh-covered power cable with three outlets, looks nothing like its shrieking industrial-orange rubber-clad cousins. Four colors, each for $95. mostmodest.com

VOLTA, A SWEDISH BRASSERIE with a French accent in downtown San Francisco, is the latest in a line of sister restaurants by the San Francisco– and New York–based designer Cass Calder Smith. Inspired by chef Steffan Terje and co-owner Umberto Gibin’s Swedish and Italian backgrounds, the restaurant yields toward upholstered Scandinavian-style furnishings, worn-leather textures for banquettes and an arresting blue and white hexagonal Swedish tile floor with a lacy mesh of intersecting lines. And the food? Showstopping presentations. voltasf.com

GERMAN DESIGNER Sebastian Herkner’s Bell Table, produced by Munich-based ClassiCon, turns convention on its head; the top is made of solid crystal glass with a spun brass, copper or burnished steel frame, and the base is made of mold-blown, translucent colored glass. Good indoors (or out, if you dare). Small and large versions cost between $3,000 and $5,000 at Arkitektura in San Francisco. arkitekturasf.com

MARIN INTERIOR designer Homan Rajai, who spends a fair amount of time in Mexico, has launched a line of handsome, supple suede, calf hair and leather topstitched bags with pig suede and linen linings that are all made south of the border, but of United States materials and under his new label Umman. Shown, Juan Carlos, $1,125. umman.com

DUTCH DESIGNER Claudy Jongstra’s site-specific installation “Aarde” (or “earth,” as in soil), at the new Snøhetta-designed seven-story SFMOMA building, is composed of clouds of golden and earth-colored tufts of naturally dyed wool, alluding to the land on which the museum is built. The symbolic installation lines the bridge between Mario Botta’s 1995 SFMOMA building and an old fifth-floor sculpture garden, which is linked to the new building, which itself seems like a misshapen white box that has been squeezed into its narrow site on Howard Street. The resulting building form has scrapes, dents and perforations that leave Snøhetta’s rain-screen fiberglass-reinforced polymer shell striated to echo rippling water, indented to form outdoor terraces and galleries, and punctured to open small views from within the galleries and to bring in light from above to a living wall. The interior — particularly the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection galleries — of this 235,000-square-foot addition is magnificent and the free-to-all, Wi-Fi-equipped 45,000-square-foot ground floor space, with stepped seating facing an installation of Richard Serra’s enormous “Sequence,” form an agora for a brilliant new age of interactive museums. But old-timers approaching it from Third Street, where Botta’s central, vaguely Moorish, monumental striped black-granite-and-white plaster staircase has been replaced by a zigzagging maple-and-steel version, might feel the pain — despite the museum’s streamlined new prosthesis — of a phantom limb. sfmoma.org

THERE’S NO MORE thrilling way to discover unusual graphics than at a grassroots music festival. Now in its 20th year, California World Fest celebrates international sounds and cultural diversity July 14–17 in Grass Valley, California, with headliners such as the Bay Area’s Boz Scaggs, exotic Élage Diouf, Emel Mathlouthi and Ziggy Marley, and from nearer home, Los Lobos and The Suitcase Junket. Pack a picnic or your Airstream trailer. Tickets for the day start at $70. worldfest.net

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