san francisco design guide!
The D*S San Francisco Design Guide was written by Amber Clisura and supplemented by Victoria Smith (who shared her favorites on the guest blog) and D*S. The guide is broken into four quadrants and includes some Bay Area must-visits. Be sure to catch the dining recommendations as well.Haight Street (Upper, Lower) + Inner Mission
[Accessible by: 7, 71, 22, 14, N, J, BART lines]Haight street can be a drag (there is little to see in terms of fresh, new design) but sometimes you just have to go here so here are a few exceptions if you're in the area:
- Kid Robot: Ok really, I’m not allowed in here. All the best and brightest in independent and Japanese toy makers can be found here and then some. Who is Gloomy Bear? What is a Dunny? You need to know. You need to go here. Amazing pieces by Japanese wunderkinds Nara and Murikami.
- Giant Robot: Giant Robot was around before Kid Robot hit town, but it was only in magazine form. But now Giant Robot has been on the street and the two Robots have lived happily ever after. Why? Because Giant Robot has separated itself by having a really top grade gallery associated with the store. Some great work has gone through this place and I always love taking a peek no matter when I go to the Haight.
- Doe: This is a simply beautiful store. Almost all local designers. The store owner takes the time to thoughtfully pick out everything in there. Doe is full of unique jewelry, textiles, fashion and home tschotkes. I find this a very safe place to stop for easy designed goods.
- Rooky Ricardo’s Records: This is heaven on earth… mostly because this is where so many DJs go to get the beats they love so much. This place is a TROVE of old records and 45s… all things that Ameoba wouldn’t be bothered with because it wouldn’t make their margins. This place is top notch and worth a browse. How can you decorate without music?
- Candy Store: One of D*S' favorites for indie designers (clothing, home design and otherwise)
- Needles and Pens: This little store is more vegan and punk rock than you’ll ever be. But that’s ok. They don’t chide you for it here. Stop in for great up and coming artists, zines, magazines and clothing (more of the T-shirt variety than anything.)
- Therapy: This place has been around since the early 90s and has weathered the storm quite well. They have found their niche in selling well crafted furniture and clothing and home goods. Neither cheap nor outrageously expensive this place can fill a void of “I need something “designy” but don’t want to pay $175 for it… more like $50!” fix. A good selection of local craft as well.
- Painted Bird: This place is too good. So good that I’m not going to write about it for fear of more people shopping there and all the great clothes going bye bye.
- Paxton Gate: Forget the stag antlers and the nautilus shells I mean really, more coral? A taxidermy alligator head attached to the body of a badger dressed like a 19th century dandy? Watch out Domino Home!! This place is an AMAZING trove of the perfect odds and ends to decorate your home with.
- Pirate Supply Store: I don’t know what you heard about this place – but that tutoring inner city school kids thing is all a front. Really. Dave Eggers hates kids and only loves pirates. That is where this store comes into play. Fantastic selection of independent authors and superb hardcover books like “Giraffes? Giraffes!” are perfect for any and all libraries. Pick up a pound of lard and watch out for falling mops. Make sure to stop by and say hello to King Carl.
- Gypsy Honeymoon: This store is great. Along some similar themes of Paxton Gate but far more refined- it's as if Paxton Gate was the insane love child of two uptight Victorian Lesbians. Does this make any sense? Amazing antiques, taxidermy, some clothing, but mostly things to make your apartment look like you stepped into a Parisian Victorian apartment and not the “junior one bedroom” you have.
- X-21 Modern: Oh jeez don’t start me in this store. It is like this store has culled all the weirdest and best designed pieces in the country and have brought them here for you. For a price, a big price, hat will send you crying in most cases. The basement holds some good deals though and is always worth checking out. This place will give you a million ideas on things for your home and color combinations you never thought of doing. A must stop.
Hungy in the Haight? Southern BBQ (think dry rub and sauce on the side) at Memphis Minnie's is good. Or keep it simple and get some Indian food at Indian Oven. Want cheap but tasty noodles? Upper Haight’s Citrus Club suits almost the pickiest eaters. Even cheaper? Escape from New York Pizza – WARNING TO NEW YORKERS – this is NOT, repeat NOT, like any pizza in New York. It’s good – just not “New York Pizza (tm patent pending)”.Hungry in the Mission? Burritos. Everywhere. Have one. Now. Cancun, El Toro, El Farolito, Pancho Villa are some of my favorites [D*S loves La Tacqueria].Pacific Heights/Polk Heights
[Accessible by: 1,2,3,19,21,22]
- Timeless Treasures: Victoria says, "I always visit Timeless Treasures for vintage letters and unique gifts. This place is what I like to call 'Alphabet City' and owner Joan is a wonderful hostess."
- Kinokuniya Book and Stationery Store: If you have never been here before you are about to be initiated. This is the Mecca for ALL things design. Inside they have Japanese and English magazines on everything from fashion to foundation pouring. You can get a book here on Sock Puppets that you would swear was designed by Jessica Helfand. I mean, sock puppets! They are more than willing to help you order subscriptions, special editions… anything you want. Don’t be shy either – the staff speaks English fluently but leaves you alone as that is Japanese custom in shopping. Be polite though as they are very big on manners. Was it the devil himself who placed this store right across the way from the bookstore? Probably. Find ALL your stationary needs here. Pens, pencils, markets, inks, calendars, books, notebooks, folders… I could go on. You can find some of the most random and awesome Japanese characters (like the dancing rice dude) or just the finest paper you can afford. I use their acid free papers as frame liners for example. Wonderful way to blow a paycheck.
- Soko Hardware: One part hardware store, one part Japanese 5 and dime equals awesomeness. This is a strange store to be sure. The basement is full of ceramics, rice cookers, and gardening supplies. The upstairs is a true blue hardware store. You wouldn’t think these two things would be all that impressive – but together they function like the Wonder Twins. Find just the right chargers for your dining set as well as some amazing odds and ends to decorate your home.
- Paper Source: Victoria loves' Paper Source when she's jonesing for cool stationary, beautiful cards, ribbon and wrapping papers.
- Zinc Details: Victoria also loves Zinc Details for its super hip home accessories. She adds that they also continue to rotate local artists' work on their walls- which she always loves seeing. "It's like shopping in your favorite local art gallery".
- Genji Aniques: What with the whole world a titter with gumfsmørgen this and gumfsmørgen that I find there is nothing better to offset all the blond with some amazing Japanese antiques. Peruse their kimono, Japanese vanities, and amazing compartment/storage/what have yous. The people here are very very quiet and very very nice. If you are polite about your bartering there is room for it here. Especially if you buy more than one piece.
- Swallowtail: Back in the day when Swallowtail was in the upper Haight I never suspected this sleepy store to turn into the cornerstone of so many amazing design “happenings.” Then they moved to Polk Street and the store pretty much blew up. What is really refreshing about this store is how the owner sees things. Yeah yeah yeah with the antler bullhonkey already! But when Sheri gets her hands on them they actually look fresh again.
- Nest: Do you happen to need a hand-quilted French comforter? No… ok, well, how about some amazing coffee table books about teacups? Ix-nay? Well then you will have to need some amazing French children’s coloring books from the 1940s. This store is a bizarre assortment of home goods. From some of the most amazing linens to French antiques to glassware – this store is really fantastic… to window shop. The prices are through the rough on so many things. But go here and mine for ideas until the day is neigh and then head over to Urban Ore or Ohmega and create your own amazing French-antique wonderland.
- Mascara Vintage, Picnic and Bella Cose: Great vintage clothing and home accessories. Victoria says, "They're all small, mom & pop type shops that carry local designers' new work as well as cool flea market finds, which is my favorite kind of business to support."
[Accessible by 5, 21]
- Bulo: shoes, shoes and more shoes. A local favorite.
- Peace Industry: Really why buy a rug anywhere else? If you have money and can afford to purchase quality wool rugs then to go to a place that isn’t Peace Industries is just stupid. I dream of a day when I can put rugs in my house that are as beautiful, well crafted, color balanced, ans textural while being subdued as these rugs.
- Alla Prima: I’m gonna say this and then shut it: I have a lingerie obsession. This was my pusher man for years. A serious of occurrences have made me rethink my shopping here. But I won’t lie to you… one of the best shops in the city for FANCY (read over $200) bra and panties.
- Rose + Radish: D*S's favorite shop in the neighborhood. Beautiful ceramics, gifts and home accessories from the best independent designers worldwide.
- Lavish: one of Victoria's favorites.
- Flight001: great shop for all your modern travel needs
- Zonal Home and Alabaster: More of Victoria's favorites.
- Propeller: This store has a whole hell of a lot of what you want… and a whole hell of a lot that you don’t. Depending on when you go in there they could be the coolest couch set you’ve ever seen or some bizarre cow-print chair that looked like it crawled out of a Betsey Johnson store circa 1989. If you are curious about what is “hot” then this is the store to go to see. They have most of the current trends readily available for you to purchase. At a price mind you.
[Accessible by 14, F, 12, 19, T]
- Limn: What is happening at Limn is the next generation of furniture. Beautiful art pieces that you can sit on really. An amazing attached gallery that shows some of the best and brightest (like up and coming Courtney Skott!) I just like to go here and dream of a time when I can take my denim millions in here and support a store that gives so much back to the design community at large.
- Dandelion (Tampopo): I mean really. This store has been around almost as long as I have. So much more than a “house wares” store. The carefully thought out spaces and great gifts really speak to a wide audience. Sometimes “cutting edge” but sometimes just a good place to go to KNOW there will be something I can purchase. Always. Sometimes that is worth it’s weight in gold.
- Ribbionerie: Looking for that perfect piece of ribbon to hang that gilded frame? A just right piece of heaven to wrap around an entryway poll? Something to dangle off a chandelier or perhaps a little something to tie back the old drapes. They have it all here and more. Really. Nothing but ribbon (don’t let the overpriced antiques in the back fool you.) This is the place I go for a little something extra. My vases are all decorated with pieces of French glory purchased here
Cliff’s Variety Hardware
- Period George
Hungry? South of Market house some pretty crazy eating holes though none of them are really close to these stores. Some of my favorites though are Tu Lan Vietnamese (6th and Market), Farley’s Coffe/Hazel’s Deli (18th street in Potrero Hill) and A2 café at 1111 8th street, not so much for the food (though I love the yam sandwich) more so for the amazing art that is going on at CCA(c).Extras Around the City
- Aria: Victoria says, "They carry just about everything you never knew you were looking for. Owner Bill Haskell rounds up the coolest, and the oddest of oddities and there's usually some melancholy French music drifting in the air. This is just a wonderful old shop to linger in after a cappuccino at one of the many Italian cafes nearby."
- Veridgris: Victoria loves shopping for Rae Dunn's ceramics here.
- Urban Mercantile: a personal D*S favorite
- Eden and Eden: a great new suggestion for fun design accessories from Rena Tom
- Wingard: D*S loves this shop for its gorgeous metal wall hangings
- Urban Ore Ecopark: inexpensive recycled furniture
- Tail of the Yak Trading Company: a unique mix of all things beautiful and vintage (furniture/accessories/papergoods)
- Ohmega Salvage: great architectural salvage shop in Berkeley.
- Alameda Flea Market: Just go- don't ask questions, just go. The first sunday of every month THIS is where you need to be if you love great vintage and flea market finds.
- Relish at Home: one of D*S's favorite SF shops: run by the fantastic Kelly Sperbeck
- RETRO @ Home: mid-century modern furniture.