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Best In Design

Throughout the year, we showcase outstanding architects, designers and products, but for this special issue we culled our favorites throughout the state, and asked you, our readers, to participate. From inspiring rooms to restaurants that dazzle to innovative collaborations, read on for our honor roll of the very best in California design.

Susan Hornbeak-Ortiz in her new Laguna showroom with pieces from her line, including the Ambroise sconce ($3,750)

Portrait by John Dole


Among the pleasures of Susan Hornbeak-Ortiz’s splendid home furnishings line, Shine by S.H.O., is a selection of handcrafted sconces, pendants and chandeliers inspired by the past yet subtly reflecting the modern worldview of their designer, who earned her MFA at UCLA before transitioning into the world of interior design. Pieces for 2015 include the elegant Ambroise sconce ($3,750) along with a sleek array of case goods (from $2,200) and upholstered furniture (from $4,750)—all on display at Hornbeak-Ortiz’s new Shine by S.H.O. showroom at the Laguna Design Center. 23811 Aliso Creek Road, Suite 133, Laguna Niguel, 949.643.1000

When it comes to interiors that are truly contemporary and of the moment, designers Gioi Tran and Vernon Applegate are the ones to know. For nearly 20 years, the duo (who also own the Poliform showroom at the San Francisco Design Center) have been creating cutting-edge residential and commercial interiors, and, most recently, a range of lighting available at Sloan Miyasato. “In the past year, we had the opportunity to work on major projects,” says Tran proudly. “We also purchased a building in the heart of the Mission District for our offices [that] are currently under construction.” While the team readies their new space, they are also hard at work on projects in California, New York, Panama, Hawaii and Vietnam, where they have been tapped to redesign the famous Q Bar at the Saigon Opera House. 34 Woodward St., San Francisco, 415.487.1241

Suzanne Tucker’s career is a study in perpetual motion. “In 2014 we saw the completion of major projects in California and beyond,” says the S.F.-based designer, who worked with design legend Michael Taylor before launching her own studio, Tucker & Marks, in 1986. Known for crafting graceful, sophisticated spaces, Tucker also designs furnishings. “I’m thrilled with my new Alhambra fabric collection,” she says, “and there are more exciting textiles and furniture lines to come in 2015.” 58 Maiden Lane, Fourth Floor, San Francisco, 415.445.6789

BEST ARCHITECTURE FIRM // Feldman Architecture
The past year was a banner one for Feldman Architecture, who saw its Butterfly House in Carmel Valley garner international attention and whose FittyWun House was featured in Modern Luxury’s San Francisco magazine. In addition, the award-winning firm was able to “show off their urban work in a more tangible way,” explains principal Jonathan Feldman. “Members of the community were able to walk through FittyWun House during the AIASF Home Tour.” In the coming year, the architect and his team look forward to “continued work with amazing clients,” he says. They’re also looking forward to starting a roster of projects that includes a vacation home in Healdsburg, urban infill projects in San Francisco, and several single-family homes on the S.F. Bay Peninsula and beyond, including a cabin on Martha’s Vineyard. 1005 Sansome St., Suite 240, San Francisco, 415.252.1441

Without equivocation, Natasha Baradaran knows how people of style and taste live, and she listens—really listens—to her clients, taking time to appreciate their quirks, passions and experiences. More importantly, however, she possesses a vital understanding of how color, objects, space and light can combine to extraordinary effect. The resulting interiors may vary in look, period and purpose, but they contain a compelling throughline: They are exquisite creations united by functionality, deftly blending California casual with architectural strength. Last year, Baradaran debuted her jewelry-inspired furniture line; worked on projects in L.A., Vietnam, London and Milan; and moved into a new office in the coveted La Cienega Design Quarter. This year, she is completing actress Kate Hudson’s Pacific Palisades residence and launching a furniture collection inspired by the architecture of Milan, her second home. The line will feature a piece inspired by architect Piero Portaluppi’s seminal Villa Necchi Campiglio. 723 1/2 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood, 323.456.4314


BEST BEDROOM // Marmol Radziner
For a residence in Truckee, on the north shore of Lake Tahoe, award-winning architecture and design firm Marmol Radziner took its cues from mountain vistas. The master bedroom “maximizes direct views of Lookout Mountain and westward views of the Sierras,” says Managing Principal Leo Marmol, FAIA. The bed is a custom design by the firm, while the long, horizontal fireplace creates a cozy ambience—ideal for appreciating the abundant natural beauty. The past year has been a busy one for Marmol Radziner, which opened its new S.F. office and launched its first home accessories line. The firm also worked on the restoration of Richard Neutra’s Kronish House in Beverly Hills; oversaw the redo of the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center, Edwards Harris Pavilion; and designed the new Oliver Peoples store in San Francisco. This year finds them at work on projects in Pacific Heights, Calistoga, Napa and Maui, their first Hawaiian commission. 12210 Nebraska Ave., L.A., 310.826.6222; 612 York St., San Francisco, 415.872.5107

“They wanted clarity in the simplicity of the design,” says Los Angeles designer Jeffrey Alan Marks of his Coronado Island clients, “plus uncluttered and clear views of the ocean.” And with that simple directive, Marks, in collaboration with San Diego-based firm Island Architects, created a space that is equal parts sleek, intimate and, of course, functional. On the heels of his colorful new fabric collection for Kravet, this year, the designer promises “a Jeffrey Alan Marks bedding collection, coming to a major retailer near you!” 1112 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, 310.207.2222

BEST BATHROOM // Amy Meier Design
San Diego-area designer Amy Meier studied photography before interior design, so it’s no wonder her homes are created with an artist’s eye for balance, proportion and color. For this La Jolla bathroom, the designer blended traditional elements like a gilded mirror frame and polished-nickel sconces with whisper-light window treatments and a bold David Hicks-inspired wallpaper. “I believe in mixing: matte and shine, brass and silver, antique and custom,” she says. “It makes rooms fun and inviting.” Special touches include the bespoke design of the bathroom’s stone-and-wood vanity, the apron of which was inspired by the raised-panel style of the home’s interior doors. What’s ahead for Meier? “We have a full schedule this year, which is just the way I like it!” By appointment, Del Mar, 858.848.4151

BEST LIVING ROOM // Ehrlich Architects
This May, Ehrlich Architects will receive one of the field’s highest honors, the 2015 AIA Architecture Firm Award. Since 1979, the L.A.-based firm has worked steadily to develop an internationally recognized oeuvre. Along the way, they have built a reputation for crafting structures, both residential and commercial, that blend California’s unique expression of modernism with more vernacular elements. The recently completed McElroy Residence, commissioned by a young Laguna Beach family, embodies the firm’s ethos. A flat roofline floats gracefully above rooms illuminated by natural light. The living area, which opens to the exterior via retractable glass walls, is the ultimate expression of California indoor-outdoor living. 10865 Washington Blvd., Culver City, 310.838.9700

BEST DINING ROOM // Harte Brownlee & Associates
For the dining room of a 12,000-square-foot home situated in Pelican Point in Newport Beach, designer Sheldon Harte pulled out all the stops. “The owner, a fashion executive, wanted a traditional, classic house with European charm,” says Harte, who founded Harte Brownlee & Associates in 1984 with the late John Brownlee. The designer mixed custom-designed grillwork, select antique pieces and luxurious new furnishings and fabrics for “a tailored look” in keeping with his client’s sartorial style. “The room is elegant, not opulent,” he adds, “with dashes of formality and whimsy.” Based in Laguna Beach, Harte also keeps offices in San Francisco and Palm Springs. 962 Glenneyre St., Laguna Beach, 949.494.8343


BEST HOTEL // Ken Fulk
The Battery (rooms from $595,, a London-style private club in the Jackson Square neighborhood of San Francisco, is garnering lots of attention, and for good reason. Founders Michael and Xochi Birch called on local designer Ken Fulk to mastermind a dynamic new expression for the site, located in a former marble yard. The rooms, now furnished with “one-of-a-kind pieces and curated artworks,” says Fulk, feature “exposed brick walls, pale wide-plank oak floors, high ceilings and lots of light.” The designer, whose name is popping up everywhere these days, has also been busy with the opening of the LVMH-owned U.S. flagship of the Crystal Jade restaurant in S.F.’s Embarcadero Center, as well as a “custom-designed private jet inspired by classic British sporting heritage,” he adds. This year, Fulk looks forward to working on restaurants in Las Vegas and New York City, a top-to-bottom restoration of San Francisco’s famed Mark Hopkins Hotel and a residential commission in the south of France. Ken Fulk, 310 Seventh St., San Francisco, 415.285.1164

When Domenica Catelli called on FORM’s Joshua Rose (a childhood friend) and Rafael Kalichstein to redesign the event space of Napa’s 80-year-old Catelli’s restaurant (, the answer was a resounding yes. The redo included turning unused outdoor areas into functional spaces. “You enter through dramatic gates, then step into beautiful gardens,” explains Kalichstein. But the pièce de résistance is a circular patio laid with Nero Marquina and Calacatta marble. Eschewing anything faux, the designers based the graphic pattern on historic floors they had seen in Italy—the result is timeless yet modern. Next to an equally exquisite new bar and surrounded by Ascolano olive trees, the patio is the perfect event space. “It can take any color and be dressed up or dressed down,” says Rose. “It’s magic.” Form, by appointment, 310.933.5390

For designer Thomas Schoos, the challenge of designing Herringbone ( was in adapting an existing hot spot—an acclaimed La Jolla restaurant characterized by rough-hewn figures in a vintage warehouse setting—to a brightly colored modernist hotel like the Mondrian Los Angeles. “How do you keep the essence of a rustic brand and make it fit into this completely new space, the playground of Hollywood’s A-list on the Sunset Strip?” asks Schoos. “To me, it was like designing a dress for an award-winning actress on Oscar night. It has to be both classic and new.” To that end, Schoos took key elements from the La Jolla eatery and cleverly dolled them up, creating what he calls “a perfect blend of organic beauty and opulence” by revamping original elements with more refined finishes and jewel tones. “It works because it is still being true to the roots of the brand,” says the designer, “but it captures the spirit of Hollywood glamour.” Thomas Schoos Design, 8271 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, 323.822.2800

BEST OFFICE // Gensler
An adventurous company requires an equally adventurous office, so it’s not surprising that Airbnb ( founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia turned to renowned architectural firm Gensler to create an office in S.F.’s SoMa neighborhood reflective of their unique vision. Working with Chesky and Gebbia (designers in their own right) over four months enabled the Gensler team “to get to know them at a more nuanced level than in the traditional design process,” says Design Director Dominique Price. The resulting workspace “encourages staff to go out into the adjacent neighborhood but also invites the public in,” explains Price, thanks to an internal plaza, theater, library and rotating gallery. “The workspace contributes to the vitality of the emerging neighborhood,” she adds. But what’s most inventive about the office is that different areas replicate real Airbnb properties. “Selected listings were crowdsourced and curated,” explains Price of the experiential and functional installations. No wonder it’s an office where people want to actually stay. Gensler, 2 Harrison St., Suite 400, San Francisco, 415.433.3700


Reagan Hayes ended 2014 with a bang: the opening of her flagship showroom, Reagan Hayes Inc., at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. “It’s a great opportunity for us to showcase my products the way I’ve always envisioned them,” she explains. “I was able to design the space and accessorize it to match my taste.” Aside from her own coveted furniture creations (all of which are handcrafted in Los Angeles and start at $3,200), Hayes represents the lines of artists Peter Walker and Amanda Talley. In the coming year, she has her sights set on opening a showroom in New York City while continuing to expand her residential interior design services. Selective about the projects she takes on, the designer’s biggest goal for 2015 is “to stay highly involved with design while still spending a lot of time with my three little boys!” But balance is something all great designers master, after all. 8687 Melrose Ave., Suite B300, L.A., 888.380.8642

BEST COLLABORATION // Kelly Wearstler x Shantell Martin
Leave it to Kelly Wearstler, master of all things cool, to devise one of the most inventive collaborations in recent history. The L.A.-based designer, a leading figure in West Coast style since the 1990s, turned to London-born artist Shantell Martin to build a limited-edition line of one-off items with Martin’s signature swirls, dashes and faces drawn onto Wearstler’s designs. Together the twosome created clothing (from $125), totes ($495), decorative items and furniture. 8440 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, 323.895.7880

“We believe Commune wouldn’t be Commune if we didn’t live and work in California,” says co-founder Roman Alonso. “There’s a sense of freedom from convention here that is key to the way we approach design.” That freedom is evidenced in smart, singular pieces like its Douglas fir- and redwood-scent distributors ($2,400), as well as clever spins on more common objects: bookends ($900), notebooks (from $24) and even cookies ($25). Its Shibori blanket ($1,100), created in collaboration with Small Trade Company of San Francisco, is but one example of Commune’s commissions from California’s artisan community. Founded in 2004 “with the goal of approaching design holistically with a multidisciplinary mindset,” says Alonso, Commune’s ingenious home products—as well as its concepts for private residences and commercial spaces—are testament to the shared vision and unconventional thinking that define the organization. 650 N. Robertson Blvd., L.A., 310.855.9080

Urban sophistication was his influence; The Town Collection (price upon request) was the outcome. Metallic hues and rich tones dominate designer Kerry Joyce’s series of city-inspired textiles, designed to evoke modern urbanity in all its splendor. Town joins Joyce’s growing luxury home line that includes furniture, lighting, textiles and rugs, all of which neatly wed classic to contemporary. In the coming months, Joyce will continue his series of design talks and launch a line for Sunbrella fabrics. By year’s end, he’ll reveal a monograph showcasing his celebrated interiors. 2900 Rowena Ave., L.A., 323.660.4442

Famosa’s new showroom in the SoCo Design Center was a labor of love and over a year in the making. This year, major additions are in the works, as are research trips to Dubai, Europe and South America. With the showroom’s motto being “create the extraordinary,” visitors can always expect a treasure trove of new and exciting materials. 3323 Hyland Ave., Suite H, Costa Mesa, 714.800.1642