During its 40-plus-year history, the San Francisco Decorator Showcase—an annual benefit for University High School’s financial-aid program—has encountered its share of twists and turns. After all, the design process can be unpredictable, particularly when dozens of firms are involved. COVID-19, however, was an unprecedented challenge. In 2020, even though the site, a circa-1926 residence in the city’s West Clay Park neighborhood, was fully decorated—top to bottom, inside and out—visits became strictly virtual. For 2021, not only are tours virtual, but the entire design process went digital. New Perspectives, presented in conjunction with creative agency Steelblue, features the work of ten Bay Area design firms in an interactive online space.
Despite the lack of a physical space with which to work, studioHEIMAT’s Eva Muller Bradley and Alicia Cheung Lichtenstein approached the project like any other. “We were thorough and thoughtful,” notes Lichtenstein. They considered the intangibles as well. As Bradley notes, they mused “What do we want the space to feel like? How do we achieve the vibe that we’re going for?” For example, in creating the meditation room, cognizant that activities such as yoga and meditation often mean being seated on the floor, the duo devised an overhead art installation: an ethereal interpretation of San Francisco’s topography, crafted with undulating panels of a Coraggio ecru sheer.
Subtle gestures can also be appreciated with the tour interface’s zoom feature. The pillows topping the sofa in De Sousa’s space, for example, feature embroidery by London artist Geraldine Larkin. “The visuals are really beautiful,” De Sousa says. “From the texture on the fabric to the little metal details.”
Visitors can get a closer look (and feel) of the pieces from SFDC showrooms at the Design Center: The Ted Boerner mirror and Fuse Lighting sconces in Applegate Tran’s space can be found at Hewn; the bold, cobalt-hued Dedar fabric adorning the chairs in the dining room is by Studio Collins Weir, at Kneedler Fauchère; and the fabric designer Martin Kobus selected for the living room drapes is Osborne & Little. Most of the virtual walls are swathed in paint shades from Benjamin Moore.
More firsts this year: The location is a high-rise penthouse (rather than a stand-alone manse) and admission is free, with donations accepted to support the financial-aid program. “This was uncharted territory,” says De Sousa of putting the 2021 Showcase together, yet “everything went very smoothly, and it was wonderful to see how our design community came together.” New Perspectives is accessible through August 2021.