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The New Rules of Design

Celebrating San Francisco’s ceiling-shattering design ideas, from light cannons to micro-dwellings to white-on-white-on-white.


From our ballooning skyline to our shrinking studio apartments, boom-time San Francisco is an orgy of cutting-edge design. But is there a method to the madness? We surveyed scores of local architects, designers, and artisans to find out. Here, 24 principles that are driving Bay Area design.

The Battle Over San Francisco’s Skyline Is a Battle Over Its Soul

Rule #1: Even skyscrapers need a front yard.

Rule #2: Any room can be turned outside in.

Rule #3: There’s no such thing as too much white…

Rule #4: …unless you're gutsy enough to go all black.

Rule #5: The kitchen should rival the dining room.

Rule #6: You can shoot light out of a cannon.

Rule #7: The future will emerge from a workshop on the pier.

Rule #8: Farm-to-table isn’t nearly good enough.

Rule #9: That gingerbread house can handle more glass.

Rule #10: Former porn palaces have terrific bones.

Rule #11: The new design stars aren’t the designers—they’re…the fabricators.

Rule #12: A loved-to-death park can be brought back to life.

Rule #13: A great city calls for a better banner.

Rule #14: Pare down the parts, pick up the pace.

Rule #15: The stairs should float.

Rule #16: Beige is for hospitals and hotel chains.

Rule #17: The dorm makes the college.

Rule #18: It all starts with Eames.

Rule #19: Even typography can have sex appeal.

Rule #20: 500 square feet is plenty.

Rule #21: The walls should talk—loudly.

Rule #22: If you must use reclaimed wood, hit us over the head with it.

Rule #23: They don't make playgrounds like they used to (thank God)…

Rule #24: …and you can put them wherever you want.


Originally published in the October issue of San Francisco

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