West Coast Bohemian

Kara Mann’s new collection for San Francisco’s McGuire reinvents classic 1970s California style
Black and white photo of a beautiful woman in leather jacket and jeans looking off into the distance.

Above Image: Kara Mann, creative director of her eponymous firm.

By Linda O’Keeffe

“My mom has reupholstered them many, many times,” says Kara Mann, referring to a pair of McGuire side chairs she grew up with in her family home. Just as life tends to come full circle, a modified detail from the chairs found its way into the inaugural furniture collection the in-demand interior designer created for San Francisco-founded McGuire. Comprising 24 pieces, the line is Mann’s distilled take on 1970s California design. “I was combing through vintage magazines, and that era’s chill, indoor-outdoor look resonated,” she says. “When I was drawing, I envisioned a woman wearing faded, flared jeans, a white T-shirt, and a funky necklace, sitting on a chaise or sofa. That earthy kind of glamor felt so current.”

Seating area.

The Column table and Taper chairs capture the sculptural but earthy sensibility of 1970s pieces

Mann, who is based in Chicago and also has offices in Los Angeles and New York, draws upon a range of influences from art, architecture, and fashion when she designs interiors, but it was the 1970s concept she proposed to McGuire that acted as a vehicle for her own vision. Her collection redefines the organic forms of that era, rendering them pared back and softly angled. The Column cocktail table, for example, with its curved travertine top and solid legs in a crème finish, calls out for a sunken living room where it can surround itself with palm fronds. By contrast, a few of the occasional chairs are attitudinally pert, shapely, and chic. The Echelon might be the love child of an Hervé Léger–Rennie Mackintosh collaboration. Mann notes, “I’m always searching for that energetic sweet spot between opposites—cultured and gritty, masculine and feminine, elegant and casual. To my eye, that’s where the magic happens.”

Clean lined desk and chair against a white washed plaster wall.

“In conceiving the design, I knew I wanted to create a pastel nebula on the walls and ceilings. And then I wanted to find a celestial body that was visible across the African diaspora, ideally one that was seen as a feminine body…”

Channel upholstered bench with stack of books acting as side table for flower in vase.

Whether cerused, sandblasted, or wire-brushed, distressed oak is formed into tables and seat frames. Raw, pitted travertine and granite are utilized on shelves and tabletops. Lashed, laced, woven, wrapped, and bound Danish cord and rawhide discreetly secure joints and serve as the lavish central component of selected chairs. And Mann’s nearly 30 upholsteries—including chenille, bouclé, mohair, linen, and silk—come in an enticingly organic palette of ivory, apricot, black, and tobacco.

Two images side by side of similar design sample objects in two different tone-on-tone examples, one light and one dark.

Kara Mann’s range of highly tactile fabrics sings with her organic material palette

The overall approach combines enticing shapes, tactility, and natural coloration, evoking classic California bohemian style for a new generation of creative souls.

Upholstered metal framed bed.

Though its frame is cast in solid bronze, the Molten bed appears to float

The collection will be available at McGuire’s SFDC showroom in late fall.

Two Henry Adams Street, Suite 2M-33
San Francisco, CA 94103