Monday, October 31, 2011

Introducing Matt Murphy: A versatile designer with tailored precision and a fearless focus on bold color

This San Francisco interior designer’s admiration for the elegant retro style of Tommi Parzinger shapes his chic and witty Jackson Square gallery and interiors. His singular style is a shock in a sea of grey and beige.

Come and meet Matt Murphy, get a jolt of color, encounter his inspiring design, and find out his top five favorite design picks in San Francisco.

With its cheerful crush of bright orange Billy Haines upholstered chairs, and a pair of citron silk-covered chairs based on drawings by Tommi Parzinger, Matt Murphy’s shop is a kick in the pants.

Add vivid Venini and Barovier & Toso hand-blown glass lamps in tutti-fruit colors and Matt Murphy’s design gallery is a lively juxtapostion to the stately antique stores and historic buildings in Jackson Square. 

Matt Murphy Studio, San Francisco

Matt Murphy Studio, which opened last year, is a finely curated collection of 20th century furnishings, accessories, and art, a chock-a-block showroom for works by mid-century designers Murphy admires, in particular T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, Edward Wormley and Parzinger. Matt is such an expert of these designers, he’s now the go-to authority for these classics. 

In his Jackson Square studio, Murphy highlights superb craftsmanship and luxury materials, a rich antidote to factory-made mid-century design. 

“Top-quality, one-of-a-kind twentieth century design is a first love of mine, but I planned the studio to be much more,” said Murphy. “I have so many other interests and an unusual history for a 20th-century design dealer. The space is a creative outlet for everything I love."

Murphy also offers his new collections of wallpaper, along with fabrics and decorative objects, all in his distinctive 20th-century tinged elegance.

"I take everything I've studied, all the designs I’m passionate about, and put it all together,” said Murphy.

Included in the mix are Parzinger chairs and lighting, along with his own designs. Murphy planned his Jackson Street storefront as a design studio, laboratory and think tank.

“It's very exciting to be working for a new brand, and this time it's my own," Murphy said.

Prices range from $1,800 for a pair of sixties Italian Chiavari chairs, to $12,000 for a platinum maple Parzinger sideboard from the late forties. 

Matt Murphy apartment, Russian Hill, San Francisco 

“I first encountered Tommi Parzinger’s style when I unearthed a pair of his lamps at a tag sale,” said Murphy. “They were urn-shaped, neoclassical in style, and so refined. I still have them, now in my apartment in San Francisco.”

Parzinger for four decades ran a New York design studio that custom-made furniture and lighting, and designed elegant classical interiors with a pared-down elegance.

Murphy, instantly obsessed, researched everything he could find on Parzinger, 1903-1981, and eventually introduced himself to Parzinger’s partner of forty years, Donald Cameron, in Manhattan. Cameron has been a mentor to Murphy, who is often consulted on authenticating Parzinger pieces. As a result of Murphy's intense interest in the work of Parzinger, and his relationship with Cameron, Murphy is considered one of the foremost authorities on Parzinger. 

Before opening his gallery Murphy was a vice president in product development and design with Pottery Barn in San Francisco. He worked for Target Corporation in Minneapolis where he headed up design for furniture, lighting, tabletop and home accessories.

A lifelong collector of twentieth-century art and design, Murphy had made a name for himself in Minneapolis as a designer and antique dealer.

Recently Murphy introduced his collection of screen-printed silk textiles inspired by stylized Parzinger graphics. Printed to order, the fabrics can be customized in individual colors and textiles. He is also working on a collection of embroidered silks and linens, as well as woven linens in Parzinger style motifs.

“Parzinger has been a rich and rewarding inspiration for me, and the foundation for my interiors and furniture design,” said Murphy. “Now I’m branching out, working on interiors and working on a new lighting collection.” 

20th-Century Chic 
Matt Murphy recently made his debut last week at the highly prestigious San Francisco Fall Antiques Show. He was invited to present his collections by Lisa Podos, the extremely discerning director of the show, which benefits Enterprise for High School Students (which helps students find jobs, apprenticeships and learning opportunities. I love this group.) 

Included in Matt Murphy’s beautifully presented stand were pure Tommi Parzinger selections and bold paintings by Paul Burlin (who in a fascinating twist of fate, was the grandfather of Marta Benson, a top executive with Williams Sonoma, which owns Pottery Barn, the company for which Murphy used to create furniture and accessories designs.) 

"Discovering the work of Tommi Parzinger changed my life, and it lead me to Donald Cameron and a new direction in design,” said Murphy.

“In my own work, I can't help but be influenced by Parzinger," says Murphy. Some of Murphy's newest fabrics are already on display in his studio.

"I have more ideas and designs than I'll probably ever be able to produce in a lifetime,” he said. 

Matt Murphy’s 5 Design Favorites:

“Their ‘Made in California’ sale, held twice a year, is a particular favorite. The sale features historical works by some of the state's top designers and artists.”

Coup d'Etat
“An eclectic mix of antiques and furnishings, with fearlessly theatrical merchandising and styling. It’s witty and bold and always ahead of everyone else. A fantastic source.”

Andrew Woodside Carter
“My favorite source for woodworking and restoration. As modest as he is talented, he studied at Ecole Boulle in Paris. Nice young guy, beautiful old world craftsmanship.”

William Stout Architectural Books
“Chock-a-block with titles on subjects ranging from architecture, to graphic design, landscape, and urban planning. And don't forget the basement if you're into furniture and interior design. Considered by many designers and architects as the top source for books, in the world.”

Kathleen Taylor - The Lotus Collection
“A San Francisco institution, Kathleen's dazzling gallery is a must-visit for designers, collectors or for any one who appreciates fine textiles. Kathleen is a world authority on antique tapestry to 18th-century embroidered silks, Japanese indigo-dyed cottons, African Kuba cloth, and the finest French silk brocades. Visit, learn, and be inspired.” 

A view of Matt Murphy's room at the 2011 San Francisco Decorator Showcase.

Matt Murphy Studio
550 Jackson Street
San Francisco
phone 415.277.7224

All photographs by John Bedell, San Francisco, used with permission.


Renée Finberg said...

quite stupendous work!!!

happy halloween :) xx

Love Your Homes said...

While browsing the pictures I can see a slight resemblance with Svenskt Tenn.....or am I all wrong here? Perhaps a little more crisp....great work!!

Hope all is well.

We switched for studded tires today, maybe a little early this year but it felt wise thinking of last years surprise of early winter.


Lynne Rutter said...

nice! what a great mix of color, pattern, form... a refreshing and timeless style.

Cristin // Simplified Bee said...

Love Matt's showroom and new line of fabrics. Lovely!


A Super Dilettante said...

My dear Diane, Amazing colours and patterns. I love the exquisitie biege leather sofa co-ordinated with the carpet and the bookcase behind the sofa. The blue pugs on the table remind me of the story of Duchess of Windsor. Apparently, she collected a lot of Dresden ornamental pugs and she displayed them on the piano. Best wishes, ASD x

*Chic Provence* said...

HI Diane

Thanks for the introduction and inspiration.. Matt is indeed fearless in his color and bold design spirit. I love the fabric featured next to the portrait and can't wait to see more of his work.

As always, a wonderful post!



Fashion Cappuccino said...

What a beautiful inspiration! I love his clean aesthetic! xoxoxo