Monday, January 30, 2012

Dazzling New San Francisco Apartment: Architecture by Andrew Skurman, Interiors by Andrew Fisher and Jeffry Weisman

CLOUD CLUB   The glamorous new San Francisco pied-a-terre of wine scions Jean-Charles Boisset and his wife, Gina Gallo-Boisset sparkles with classical architecture, festive silver furniture and fantasy décor. Feather chandeliers, anyone! 

Three years ago, when newly-engaged Jean-Charles Boisset and his wife, Gina Gallo-Boisset went house-hunting in San Francisco for a glamorous, romantic pied-a-terre their Realtor introduced them to San Francisco architect, Andrew Skurman.

It was a fateful encounter. Skurman helped the couple select a superb apartment on the sixteenth-floor of a venerable thirties Art Deco building on the crest of Nob Hill in San Francisco. 

Living room: The expansive living room/ dining room/ has a wall of mirrored French doors (shown here open) that multiply the views of downtown San Francisco and the bay. On the left, a silver-leafed chair crafted by Gilles Nouailhac, inspired by an 1812 Jacob Empire style. Table lamps and the black-shaded torcheres are by Baccarat. 

The apartment—a petite one-bedroom—is located at the top of Nob Hill and is an ideal setting for entertaining. But it is the view that thrill.

The Golden Gate Bridge looms to the north, the Bay Bridge arches to the east, all visible from the vast expanse of the living room and dining room, and even the spire of Grace Cathedral are visible from the shower and the bedroom windows.

Zigzag slivers of the Bay, shimmering in the early morning, form a silvery backdrop to the concrete towers of the Financial District and rooftop terraces of Chinatown far below. At night, a galaxy of bright stars and city lights turn the apartment into a movie set, an Astaire and Rogers fantasy.

Skurman was hired to turn the dated and dowdy floor plan and tired interiors into a sparkling jewel-box of their dreams. 

Jean-Charles Boisset and his wife, Gina Gallo-Boisset

Entry hall: The décor of the entry hall of the apartment was enlivened with Baccarat crystal scones, a tall silver-framed chalkboard, and chic silver moldings. 

In the living room: Louis XV-style Cabriolet chair and settee by Gilles Nouailhac are modernized with shimmering leather upholstery and silver-leaf frames. 

“Andy quickly suggested an elegant architectural concept to transform the very conventional apartment layout of small rooms into a dramatic place for entertaining, “ said French-born Jean-Charles Boisset. He is the proprietor of Boisset Family Estates. The company, which he runs with his sister Natalie, is an international wine powerhouse with significant vineyard properties in Burgundy, Beaujolais, the Rhone Valley, Northern Italy, Languedoc, northern and central California and Canada.

Boisset’s DeLoach Vineyards has been named winery of the year for over a decade. (See an earlier story I wrote about the gorgeous JCB and the Boisset Taste of Terroir wine-tasting salons in Sonoma county, HERE).

Gina Gallo-Boisset, a granddaughter of Julio Gallo (co-founder of the largest privately-owned wine producers in the world), is the winemaker for Gallo Sonoma, including the prestigious single-vineyard wines of MacMurray Ranch. Gina and Jean-Charles had met six years ago at an international wine event.

“Jean-Charles and Gina were inspiring clients because they had bold and imaginative ideas,” said Skurman, who is known for his rigorously classical architecture. “They love to entertain, and they had a vision of this apartment as a super-glamorous escape, a home in the sky.”

The original 1,800 square foot layout included two small bedrooms, a tiny living room, and a barely workable kitchen. Boisset-Gallo loves to cook. 

Dining room: A series of ‘Glass Class’ chairs by Philippe Starck for Baccarat encircle the stainless steel pedestal dining table, which was custom-made by Metropolis Metalworks. Silver and gold curtain fabric is by Gretchen Bellinger. A collection of Baccarat decanters on the mirrored bar. 

The worst offence: the original space, with its warren of poky rooms did not showcase the extraordinary panoramic views

“My vision from the start was to create glamour and drama by taking down walls and making one sumptuous living room/ dining room across the whole apartment,” said Skurman, founder of eleven-year-old Andrew Skurman Architecture based in San Francisco.

Inspired by the sparkling Galerie des Glaces in Versailles, Skurman proposed building a wall of mirrored French doors along one side of the 14-feet x 40 feet space, to double the apparent size of the room, but also to double and triple the effect of the changing light and the views.

The wall of mirrors also conceals a series of cabinets where the couple’s extensive collection of Baccarat carafes, decanters and wine glasses are stashed. One set or mirrors also hides the kitchen pass-through, adjacent to the dining area. 

The renovation, down to the studs, took just over a year.

“Andy took a small apartment, redefined the spaces in a very logical manner, and made it feel grand,” said Boisset. Two tiny bedrooms were turned into a mirrored bathroom (with a grand tub) and a one sunny bedroom with walk-in closets.

As construction proceeded, the couple hired San Francisco interior designers Andrew Fisher and Jeffry Weisman, known for their theatrical effects and subtle sense of color, to co-ordinate the décor.

“Andrew Skurman had devised a brilliant plan with exquisite classical details, and we developed a color scheme of rich taupes, greys, slate,” said Weisman. Artist Karin Wikstrom added silver leaf decorative painting to the moldings and window frames.

“The rich dark brown floors were left bare, to maintain the light-hearted feeling,” noted Fisher.

Weisman and Fisher devised ethereal curtains with two layers of gauzy high-tech Gretchen Bellinger fabric, gold floating over silver. Even on a foggy day they light up the room.

“It is almost as if we hung ball-gowns on each window around the room, it is so frivolous and fun,” said Weisman. 

In a corner of the living room, a button-tufted chaise longue is upholstered in white patent leather. 

As a final touch, the ceiling was given a silver-leaf finish, so that the whole room appears to float. It enhances the couple’s Baccarat collection of sconces, lamps, torcheres, decanters and wine glasses, a pure example of modern French style.

Meanwhile, Boisset and Gallo-Boisset went to Paris to order their dream furniture.

“We wanted to revisit classic French styles like Jacob and Empire designs, as well as Louis XIV furniture, but with a modern touch,” said Boisset, who is equally passionate about French style and l’art de vivre, as he is about wines.

They ordered chic Cabriolet-style chairs, glorious chaise-longues, and perfectly proper medallion-backed chairs from Gilles Nouailhac—but had them finished with a bold silver-leaf finish with no attempt to make them look antique. 

The small bedroom was given a sense of glamour with upholstered walls by Hilde-Brand Furniture, and a vintage Chinese-style chrome end-table. The lamps are by Baccarat. Boisset acquired the feather chandeliers for the apartment in Japan. 

Bathroom: Baccarat crystal sconces, and mirrors inset on walls and the ceiling create a mesmerizing, shimmering effect in the glamorous bathroom. The white Tasso marble counter and sinks were custom crafted. 

To further emphasize a modern punch, the couple had their pieces upholstered in silver leather, shocking pink velvet, silver silk satin, as well as a vivid green. Cushions and pillows were ordered—in faux chinchilla, faux fox, and a sweetly faux ivory mink. The effect is witty, flirty, and notably it has the panache the couple dreamed of.

In the evening, Jean-Charles Boisset will produce, from his extensive wine cellar, a JCB No. 21 Cremant Rose, a bubbly and classically French aperitif evocative of their life in France.

Or Gina Gallo-Boisset may pour a Gallo Family Estate 2007 Sonoma Chardonnay, a concept she first developed with her grandfather, Julio and her grand-uncle, Ernest.

“Our apartment is high in the sky, so our wines bring us back down to earth, tasting the terroirs that we both love,” said Boisset.

“The apartment has been such a celebration and a joy,” said Gallo-Boisset. “We are so happy our friends and family can enjoy it with us.”

And as a coda—the couple are now the happy parents of twins, Honoré-Josephine and Grace-Antoinette. The Nob Hill is still the perfect pied-a-terre, an escape and a cloud club in the sky. 

Architect Andrew Skurman


All photography by Lisa Romerein, Los Angeles. Shown here exclusively with permission.

Architecture: Andrew Skurman Architects, San Francisco and Paris,

Design: Fisher Weisman, San Francisco,
For more information on Jean-Charles Boisset,
For information on Gallo:

Monday, January 23, 2012

Culinary Style Setter I Love: March Pantry

My friend, the great trend spotter Sam Hamilton, recently launched her dazzling new MARCH PANTRY shop in San Francisco to present superbly edited collections for kitchen/dining/hearth/ cooking/tasting, and living well.

Bon Appetit! 

Sam Hamilton and her partner Jen Chaiken launched March Pantry with a fundraiser dinner for The Edible Schoolyard, one of Alice Waters’ pet projects. With them is San Francisco party-planner and scene-setter, Stanlee Gatti.

The most brilliant new culinary style shop in California
With tasty merchandise for high-achieving cooks—such as massive AGA cookers, the finest copper pans, or tiny indigo glass jars of pink Pangasinan sea salt from the Philippines—March Pantry is focused, bold, and inspiring. 

Working closely with Sarah Marchick, senior VP of product development for March Pantry, Sam zeroes in on the best custom-made tables, ethereal handcrafted tableware, vintage baking equipment, antique kitchen furniture, traditional Belgian linens, all very healthy and eco-aware.

The store opened recently with a highly successful fundraiser for Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard projects.

The March Pantry space was formerly MARCH, Sam’s highly admired antique shop with partner Mark Cunningham. 

March Pantry stands on a handsome retail block of Sacramento Street in Pacific Heights, with great stylish neighbors including Sue Fisher King, Henry Beguelin, and Wynne Alex.

The store—all light and air—offers exclusive kitchen décor, a delicious concoction of comestibles, paintings, and flavors, along with tableware, pots, lighting, accessories, linens, Matt Dick’s elegant casual fashions, and custom furniture and kitchen essentials.

Come with me for a visit!

Confession: I don’t cook. Never. I make tea (Bellocq). I occasionally heat something delicious on the stove when it is not covered with books. Cooking is not my thing. I leave it to the professionals. 

Don’t worry. I eat well and love luscious flavors. Living in California I enjoy beautiful seasonal ingredients year-round, so I make spectacularly delicious and healthy salads and love fruit and everything fresh. (My oven is pristine, never used.) 

I’m not exactly in the market for a new AGA, nor even a saucepan, but still, I am captivated and a huge fan of Sam Hamilton’s new culinary store in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights. 

I love its originality, its skillfully edited selections of tableware and especially the monochromatic décor. There’s intelligence and creativity behind every selection and concept.

It’s true, I never cook. But I occasionally toast Ezekiel bread, so now I can slather the crisp toast with intensely flavored March Pantry Plum Lavender Jam or Apricot Preserve with unsalted butter, or March Pantry Almond Butter. Cherry Chutney on cheddar cheese. Divine. 

I make spectacular mixed baby greens salads for lunch, now with March Pantry red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil—and a lovely discovery, March Pantry pink or white Pangasinan sea salt or ground pink peppercorns. Delish. 

The Store 

Anchoring the main space are bespoke butcher-block tables with Farrow & Ball-painted legs.

Walls showcase the work of Carrie Mae Smith, a still-life painter who creates images of meat (her fleshy images of bacon and of ribs are very Lucian Freud, in my opinion.) 

Tahiti Pehrson’s intricate hand-cut white pap
er works are a mysterious presence on white walls. 

An enormous painted antique display cabinet from a monastery in Ghent, Belgium is outfitted with wares from notables like Ted Muehling, Christiane Perrochon, and Jasper Conran, alongside handcrafted ceramics and pieces from artisans both local and from afar. 

Exclusive Items
March worktables and butcher-blocks are designed in collaboration with Matt Bear of Union Studio. The tables feature Farrow & Ball-painted legs. 

March Clothing, light as air and artful are a collaboration with San Francisco based designer, Matt Dick 

Blackcreek Mercantile & Trading Co hand-carved spoon collection has a beautiful heft. 

March Pantry offerings include:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Red Wine Vinegar, made by Katz & Co. 
  • Preserves and Almond Butter, plus new and spectacular Cherry Chutney made by LouLou’s Garden. 
  • Spices 
  • Jarred Organic Tomatoes, made by Happy Girl Kitchen 


Curated and collaborative collections include pottery from Victoria Morris, pots from Brooklyn Copper Cookware, leather accents from Rene Holguin, bespoke butcher block tables, ceramics from Brickett Davda, and table linens from Boxwood Linens.

March also presents iconic slow cookers from AGA and cast iron cookware from Lodge. 

Brickett Davda
Beautifully simple handmade tableware inspired by a very English palette. The shapes are conceived and designed from pure, functional objects, cherished and worn by use. The goal of Jo Davda’s work is to inspire and enhance cooking and eating. 

Brooklyn Copper Cookware
Brooklyn Copper Cookware has reintroduced the storied Waldow line of solid copper cookware updated in heavier weights for professionals and accomplished home cooks. All three elements of BCC's Hammersmith brand, pure copper, tin and iron, are sourced in America to be machined on classic Waldow tooling in the heart of Brooklyn. The last copper cookware company in America, proudly notes the company. 

Victoria Morris Pottery
Native Californian Victoria Morris has been making pottery since she was sixteen years old. Her work is inspired by nature as well as Scandinavian and Japanese aesthetics, emphasizing the beauty found in subtle, random imperfections and natural organic forms. There is a strong focus on classic simplicity in design and proportion in her work. Each of her bottles, vases and bowls are one of a kind and handmade. Victoria Morris has developed stoneware and porcelain canisters, bowls and platters. 

Bespoke butcher block and Carrara work tables (Parsons, Turned Leg, Steel Legged) were designed in collaboration with Matt Bear of Union Studio. Matt has worked with March designing fixtures and furniture over the years. His workshop is in Berkeley.

Accessories for these tables will included black ash baskets (another collaboration with Jonathan Kline of Black Ash Baskets), knife and cookbook sheaths (collaboration with Big Bend Saddlery of Alpine, TX (close to Hamilton’s residence in Marfa). 

Matt Dick of San Francisco showcases elegant shapes often featuring indigo pieces dyed for March Pantry in Japan (the gentleman overseeing the indigo process is a national treasure in Japan). 

LouLou's Garden is the producer of the seasonal jams, nut butters, and now chutneys. Casey Havre started LouLou’s Garden several years ago in Escalon, CA. The products she produces are short runs of unusual jams and chutneys. Simple, organic ingredients. 

The olive oil and vinegar are produced by Albert Katz of Napa. Albert is a perfectionist—his approach to the production of olive oil is akin to a chemist. And freshness is the key to the pure quality of his oils. His are the go-to oils for many chefs in the Bay Area. 

Spices are provided by Le Sanctuaire. By far the freshest on the market—and a go-to resource for chefs. 

Spices and oils and vinegar are presented in indigo bottles to insure the longest shelf life. 

Steel fixtures (Shaker peg rack, pot racks, drying rack, etc.) by Tommy Hicks of Hicks Metal Design in San Francisco. 

Brass and sterling pins by Stacey Lorinczi. Stacey collaborated with us on a line of organic safety pins to tie back in with the clothing line. 

RTH bags and accessories. Leather goods by Rene Holguin. His shop in Los Angeles on North La Cienega is not to be missed 

Blackcreek Mercantile: Josh Vogel is a master wood carver. Bread boards: March Pantry has an exclusive on a series of one of a kind wooden spoons. 

Billy Cotton's line of flatware, china and glassware is not only lovely but also well priced. March and Bergdorf Goodman have the exclusive on this line. 

Just arrived: John Pawson serving dishes, sterling salt and pepper mills from London, felt bird ornaments, Bensimon sneakers galore. 

Jarred Organic Tomatoes, made exclusively for MARCH by Happy Girl Kitchen. 

Photo credits: 

Interiors and products photographed by Angie Silvy, and by Drew Altizer, San Francisco,

Published with express permission. 

March Pantry

3057 Sacramento Street
San Francisco