Monday, July 23, 2012

The Essential New Book for Your Design Collection: ANN GETTY INTERIOR STYLE

First look at my new book, publication date October 16, 2012. 

If you’ve been wondering what I’ve been doing for the last few years—I’m pleased to formally announce to my wonderful readers that my new book, ANN GETTY INTERIOR STYLE, published by Rizzoli, will be available on October 16, 2012.

I wrote it for everyone who loves beauty, and those who want to know more about the connoisseurship aspects of collecting and designing.

It’s a rare and very private view, including new houses designed by Ann Getty that have never been published.

In new photographs by Lisa Romerien we show the inspiring interiors, as well as close-ups of the collections.

The highly detailed text (I worked closely with the Getty family curators) offers rich details and insight into the provenance, stories, ideas, creativity, history, and themes of the rare (and sometimes eccentric) art, antiques, ceramics, textiles, and furniture. 

It’s my twenty-first design/style book, and I worked on it with a fantastic and talented group.

Ann Getty and her wonderful design team were superb.

Lisa Romerein, the leading interiors photographer, shot beautifully poetic and highly detailed new images.

Alexandra Tart is my brilliant editor at Rizzoli.

The exceptional Paul McKevitt at Subtitle, New York, has designed all of my Rizzoli books, including the great ‘Michael S. Smith Elements of Style’ (which has sold a whopping 50,000 copies, and counting) as well as ‘Palm Springs Style’ and ‘Orlando Diaz-Azcuy’ and ‘Santa Barbara Living’. And more.

I love this new book. It is available for pre-order on but kindly also consider ordering it from your local independent book shop, your neighborhood book retailer, or a design book gallery such as Archivia or Potterton in New York, or Builders’ Booksource in Berkeley. And Rizzoli on 57th Street in New York.

Here are some images from the 240 pages of ANN GETTY INTERIOR STYLE...

For more information, here is the Rizzoli catalog copy for ANN GETTY INTERIOR STYLE:


By Diane Dorrans Saeks
Photography by Lisa Romerein

The first-ever compilation of the luxurious interiors from the influential designer and philanthropist Ann Getty. 

For those who are passionate about fine interiors, the preservation of antiques, a high level of craftsmanship, and respect for architectural integrity, this book offers an insider’s view of the exquisite designs of Ann Getty. Fluent in classical styles and periods, and known for sourcing her vast array of objects and opulent materials from across the globe, Getty creates interiors that are steeped in historical style yet remain fresh and vibrant for today’s clientele.

From the exceptional residence she and her music-composer husband, Gordon Getty, use for entertaining and displaying their world-class collection of art and antiques, to the comfortable yet elegant townhouse she designed for a stylish young family, the book showcases richly detailed interiors that are coveted by design enthusiasts and collectors. Featured are pieces from Getty’s successful furniture line of original designs as well as authentic reproduction pieces inspired by the renowned Getty collection and her own extensive travel and design studies.

This intimate look, Getty’s first-ever monograph, demonstrates how to combine objects from different time periods and styles in a sumptuous atmosphere rich in bold colors, vibrant textures, and classic elegance.

Based in San Francisco, Ann Getty has been providing custom interior design to clients worldwide since 1995. She and husband Gordon are philanthropists to the arts, culture, music, anthropology, and education.

Diane Dorrans Saeks is a noted design lecturer, founder of the design/travel blog The Style Saloniste, and the author of more than twenty books, including Hollywood Style, Palm Springs Living, and Michael S. Smith: Elements of Style.

Lisa Romerein’s photographs have been featured in many books, including Michael Smith: Elements of Style, as well as C magazine, Town & Country, and Elle Decor.

240 pages
8 ¾ x 10 7/8 inches

Monday, July 16, 2012

Wilde Child: Ken Fulk’s Magical Loft

The shock of the hue, industrial elegance, and a dash of daring

San Francisco interior designer Ken Fulk is creating buzz and delight, shock and awe, with bold, iconoclastic and witty décor. His loft in San Francisco’s gritty South of Market district offers jolts of color, playful wit and a spirited view of modern design.

It’s the scene of private client consultations—along with bacchanals, chic cocktail parties, sold-out fundraiser dinners for city museums, and scenes of generous and witty hospitality.

Come with me for a visit.

“I always say if everyone loves my décor, it is probably boring, and I haven't done a very good job.”—Ken Fulk

Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative” states the Oscar Wilde quote adorning the front window of Ken Fulk’s South of Market design studio and loft. The quip tells everything you need to know before heading upstairs to meet the witty and design-fearless Fulk, who is currently one of the brightest sparks in San Francisco’s design arena.

“I will never be accused of being boring,” said Fulk, originally from Jefferson country in Virginia. “Design should inspire and make you smile. And it should never be a bore.” 

A pair of ten foot-long vintage Edward Wormley tufted sofas were restored and reupholstered in Bergamo sapphire blue velvet. Acquired from 20th Century/John Meaney, San Francisco. The tall French industrial glass lamps, c 1900, were originally made to carry electrical cable. Purchased from Stephane Olivier, Paris. On festive evenings, the studded steel 1920s French industrial table, also acquired from Stephane Olivier, often substitutes as a dance floor.

He founded Ken Fulk Design twelve years ago, after testing the waters by designing for handpicked clients. Fulk by-passed design school and a classic apprenticeship with a design firm. He has always stayed under the radar, taking on new clients by referral only. His 20-person firm is currently working on projects from Aspen to Provincetown and from Pacific Heights, to the Dordogne in South-west France.

“My biggest complaint about most rooms I see is that they look too 'decorator-y', said the designer. “I tend to shy away from most things 'designer'. I find it to be chatter that might cloud my instincts. I always want to mix things up and relish the imperfection. Even impromptu has to feel definitive. It sounds easy, but it's not.”

“I always want to mix things up. I relish imperfection.”—Ken Fulk

Take a right turn on a deserted street in a hidden corner of SoMa, and the handsome brick building that houses Ken Fulk’s design studio and loft hovers into view. With its grand arched windows, sculpted escutcheons, and elegant demeanor, the four-story edifice is more Grand Canal than industrial warehouse. It was this Quattrocento-style fantasy that inspired Fulk to acquire the building five years ago.

“I always wanted to live above the shop, though this loft is admittedly a bit more Bruce Wayne than corner grocer,” Fulk said. The warehouse includes his loft and a roof deck on the top floor, and Fulk’s design studio on the third floor. On the first two levels he warehouses an ever-expanding inventory of furniture and accessories he uses in design projects.

The building, built in the 1920's, has a Moorish/Venetian exterior but the interior when Fulk acquired it was pure warehouse, with brick walls and worn fir floors.

“From the moment I walked in the door, I knew I was going to buy the building,” said Fulk. “I saw the old spiral staircase and the soaring 16-foot ceilings, and there was no turning back. I left the meeting and wrote an offer. Three weeks later I owned it.” 

Ken Fulk refashioned the vintage Robsjohn-Gibbings table and topped it with a dramatic new reverse-painted glass top in Hermes orange. From 20th Century/John Meaney. Glass fabricated by Paige Glass. Vintage Tommi Parzinger chairs, upholstered in Clarence House Greek key cut velvet, were from 20th Century/John Meaney in San Francisco.  

Fulk planned a restaurant-style kitchen with a marble-topped island for working and another one for socializing. The work counter is a vintage French printer’s table, purchased from Chelsea Antiques in Petaluma. The skeleton-pattern glass plates are by John Derian. French cafe stools, said to be similar to those used by the French navy, were from the Sundance catalog.

Fulk shares the loft with his partner of 20 years, Kurt Wootton, an accomplished pianist.

When they purchased the building, the interior brick walls had been sandblasted, most interior walls removed, and the old fir floors sanded.

“Basically it was a perfect shell. It took on an almost spiritual quality. It was this purity that moved me,” said the designer. “My motto in undertaking the project was 'don't screw it up'. I did not want to lose the feeling and character that so moved me about the space.” 

Ken Fulk works on design projects from his office on the second level of the building.  The giant skull image was de-accessioned from the Oakland Museum.

The sitting area has a patchwork rug made from old oriental carpets at Stark Carpet, French leather club chairs, and a pair of rope chairs by Audoux-Mine from Habite.

Fulk and his team added all-new systems to the entire 14,000 sq. ft of the building, new plumbing, electric, HVAC but keeping them simple and industrial in appearance and leaving most systems exposed.

“For the loft I wanted to resist the trend to condo-ize the space by cutting it up into a traditional series of rooms,” said Fulk. “ I literally banished walls and doors with few exceptions.” 

Fulk, a passionate and knowledgeable collector, had only to take a trip to Paris to check in with his favorite French antiques dealer, Stephane Olivier to find an 18th century portrait of a dandy for the bathroom, a 10-foot square industrial steel table for the living room, as well as gilded chairs and a series of vitrines for the bedroom and dressing room. 
“I wanted the space to function as a huge grand salon with quiet moments throughout,” said Fulk “Despite my love of color I resisted the urge and kept all of the walls white.”

Furnishings provide the bling. Against a graphic backdrop of black and white (zebra prints, houndstooth and Greek key patterns) colors pop. Two super-size Edward Wormley tufted sofas were covered in sapphire blue velvet. A vintage Robsjohn-Gibbings dining table top was recreated in reverse- painted glass in vivid Hermes orange. A pair of giant wing chairs is covered in an iridescent purple fabric from Etro.

Fulk’s large-scale draped bed divides the dressing room from the open loft. “I've always wanted a sort of Elizabethan curtained bed to crawl into and shut off the world,” said Fulk. “I got one on steroids! The curtains open and close easily. They are made of black satin cotton banded with white grosgrain ribbon.”

“I have always felt very self-confident about design, “ said Fulk. “I was never afraid to learn, but afraid to be taught in a conventional sense. I feared I might lose something in the translation. Like a singer afraid to take voice lessons, I was scared that an innate gift might be lost.”

So he toys with scale. His 15-foot tall draped four-posted bed towering over the dressing room and adjacent bathroom, and an Hermes-orange dining table shimmering beside the industrial marble-topped counter in the kitchen.

To avoid other walls he designed the headboard of the bed to obscure the closets hidden on the other side. The shower floats in the space and encloses the bathroom.

“I take things of great disparity—spaces, furnishings, art, accessories—and find a way for them to live in harmony or at least live together in an off-hand way,” said the designer. 

The sunny bathroom has a French vibe. The sink is 1920's French by Porcher. The tub is from Waterworks. “The arm is one of my absolute favorite things,” said Fulk. He found it at March long ago. “I swore I would someday use it as a towel rack,” he said. The nineteenth-century French oil portrait was acquired from antiques dealer Stephane Olivier at the Clignancourt flea market in Paris.

With bare windows on four sides of the loft—and the gilded dome of a Ukrainian Orthodox church looming outside the living room—the loft is consistently engaging.

He experiences the full spectrum of the day, with sunrise over the city; sunset behind Twin Peaks, and all-day light playing off the spectral Federal Building just blocks away.

“With all of the skylights we are never in the dark,” said Fulk, still entranced. “The full moon traces it's way across the room, so bright I can almost read in bed by it. Waking up just as the sun is about to rise is magical. The space is cathedral like at that moment. In the meantime, his design studio is becoming the think tank he hoped for.

“I work with incredibly talented people who challenge and support one another to do better and better work,” said Fulk. 

The 18th century Russian candle chandelier with oxidized bronze Hermes.

The grand piano is a vintage 1920's Steinway once owned by pianist Alfred Cortot, and signed by him. Timorous Beasties design company made the ‘Iguanas’ wallpaper. 

And the loft has become the grand salon he hoped for. He and his team have countless dinners, fund-raisers, birthday parties, a masked ball or two, a dinner for Jean-Paul Gaultier, piano recitals, movie nights and even more fundraisers.

“Now I am essentially looking for any excuse to throw a party.”

“I needed some way to shut the living space off from the studio down below connected by the industrial steel spiral staircase. My first instinct was a glass-walled enclosure, a sort of poor man's Louvre entrance. However that turned out to be a rich man's concept. Instead I settled for a floating library. Essentially it is a sky lit conservatory at the top of the stairs. It is an ideal spot to house my growing book and sculpture collection. The steel and glass doors to the library were salvaged from the Napa State Mental Hospital.” 

Illusion is the first of all pleasures. –Oscar Wilde 


Interior design: 
Ken Fulk 

Philip Harvey, San Francisco

Philip Harvey’s work was also recently featured in my profiles on designer David Oldroyd, as well as the feature on Darin Geise/ Coup d’Etat, San Francisco (both in THE STYLE SALONISTE archive).

Phil specializes in interiors, life-style and product photography, and is technically first-class and he’s extremely pleasant and congenial to work with. Highly recommended.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Writers’ Block: California architect Cass Calder Smith has created a dramatic new writers’ retreat in the wilds south of San Francisco

Looking to write a bestseller, craft a poem, or compose a symphony?

This is the new place for inspiration, silence, and devotion to ideas and brilliance. Come with me for a private visit. 

Far from the hullabaloo of San Francisco and Silicon Valley, the dramatic new Middlebrook Studios offer writers a quiet room of their own amid the solace of the California landscape.

Architect Cass Calder Smith’s concept: artful and green modern silhouettes for fostering creativity.

The studios are the first ground-up addition to the highly regarded Djerassi Resident Artists Program, founded in 1979 by Dr. Carl Djerassi, famous as one of the inventors of the contraceptive pill. 

This summer, four fortunate and talented writers, jury selected, will settle into their chic new digs in the Santa Cruz Mountains for five weeks to work on their book, play, poetry, thesis, or film. No pressure.

The sleek new Middlebrook Studios--four cedar-clad cabins shaded and sheltered by a freestanding steel roof that carries solar panels—are arrayed along a hilltop to take best advantage of day-long sun and expansive views.

Each cabin, styled as a modernist take on the California farm-building vernacular, is an airy 340 square foot refuge that includes an 18 x 25 feet work/sleep living room with a sleeping alcove, a bathroom and a closet. Writers dine together with other residents at the central Artists’ Barn to foster a collegial and mutually encouraging atmosphere so no kitchen is provided. 

“My aspiration was to create ‘micro places’ that would support and inspire individual writers and offer total privacy, yet would also be a cluster of residences with a sense of unity and purpose,” said architect Cass Calder Smith, whose twenty-two-year-old San Francisco firm CCS Architecture is known for rigorous modernist designs for residences as well as award-winning restaurants (LuLu, Perbacco, Terzo). 

The interior of each cabin is designed for working and relaxing, with a writing desk aimed at the views. Behind this is a sleeping nook with a queen-size bed that can be curtained off. The floors are multi-colored carpet tiles that were an unmatched assortment handed off from the CCS sample room. The firm also yielded up an assortment of bathroom tiles. 

The cost, $650,000, was raised from educational foundations and private individuals. The program has provided over 2,000 artist residencies, and currently serves more than one hundred artists each year.

The new studios are set on six hundred stunningly beautiful undeveloped ridgeline acres. On the western horizon the Pacific Ocean, a smudge of silver, is visible from the front windows and private terraces.

"These are the first new structures to have been purpose-built for the artists program. We had to make a significant statement and I’m happy with their modernity and compatibility," said filmmaker Dale Djerassi, son of Carl, and a founding trustee of the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. 

Cedar siding on the walls and roof that is unfinished so it will age with time, like the other structures on the property.

The four cabins are covered by one continuous roof that symbolically links them. The roof emphasizes this accord and holds solar panels to establish a net zero electrical load for the buildings. The carbon foot print of zero.

The cabins are aimed at the views, but are slightly skewed a few degrees from each other so the arrangement has a looseness that deliberately contrasts to the linear rigidity of the canopy roof.

“I planned separate cabins to ensure the most acoustical and visual privacy possible, and this plays well to writers wanting monastic peace and quiet and privacy on their terrace, “said Calder Smith. 

The galvanized steel canopy structure that sits on ten concrete piers shelters the pathways that lead to each entry.

Rectangular cutouts in the roof create patterns of sun and shadows onto the cabin roofs and the landscape. They also align with skylights in the cabins so the sky can be viewed from the live/work spaces.

When inspiration flags and muses fail, writers can hike on trails through ancient redwood forests or gather in the communal barn to commiserate with composers, visual artist, choreographers or musicians who are also part of this program. 

Architect Cass Calder Smith
As it happens, Cass Calder Smith grew up in the seventies just east of the Djerassi retreat, near Woodside. His family moved from the East Coast to a determinedly self-sufficient hippie commune, the off-the-grid Star Hill Academy for Anything. It was situated on 1,800 wild acres in the Santa Cruz Mountain foothills. The other neighbor: Neil Young at his Broken Arrow Ranch.

It was at the commune, on the site of an abandoned timber mill, that Calder Smith picked up a hammer and nails and helped his family shape discarded off-cuts of wood and salvaged windows into their perfectly crafted cabin, a refuge from the world.

Smith’s knock-about carpentry and inspired adaptive use of old lumber also inspired his commitment to architecture and his drive to gain two architecture degrees at Berkeley, supporting himself with carpentry along the way. 

It was also in that early landscape that Calder Smith, roaming the wilds, first met Dale Djerassi. A chance recent re-acqaintance with Djerassi, son of Carl Djerassi, lead to his selection as the architect for the studios program.

Venerable artists’ and writers’ retreats like MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire (which has inspired talents like Aaron Copeland and Carson McCullers) and Yaddo in upstate New York (Saul Bellow, Truman Capote, Leonard Bernstein) were inspirations for Carl Djerassi when Diane Middlebrook (later his wife) first proposed the program more than thirty-four years ago. 

The Djerassi program is now the largest and most prestigious artists and writers-in-residence retreat in the West.

Carl Djerassi planned the new studios as a memorial to Middlebrook, a noted biographer and Stanford professor emerita.

These new artist cottages will allow the program to increase its capacity to support and enhance the creativity of artists, by fifty per cent, said Dale Djerassi. 

“The triumph is that these studios got built,” said Calder Smith, who worked closely with Tim Quayle at CCS Architecture, the project architect. “It was on a tight budget and there were many obstacles from county approval to funding. It was completed, thanks to Carl Djerassi who initiated it, and to Dale Djerassi and the board member George Wolfson, an architect, who kept their hands on the steering wheel throughout. The real test now will be how the writers who stay there and write will judge them. I hope they’re inspired.”


Cass Calder Smith, AIA

Cass Calder Smith established the architectural firm that bears his name in 1990. Born in 1961, Smith earned his Bachelor and Master of Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley. A native of New York City, he has lived in California since 1972. As the son of an Academy-Award winning filmmaker and a California landscape painter and designer, his early years were influenced by both Greenwich Village intellectuals and rural California artisans.

Smith is recognized internationally for his architectural and interior design projects. Firmly based in the modernist idiom, Smith draws

inspiration from history’s great architects and cities as well as the epic filmmakers of the last century. Bold imagery and intricate detail are characteristic of his designs balanced with experience and common sense.

Smith and his work have won numerous awards and he has been recognized in The New York Times, Architectural Record, Metropolis, Architectural Digest, Dwell, Interior Design and Abitare, among others.

CCS Architecture closely followed the Build It Green program's established GreenPoint Rating system, which is the standard for San Mateo County where the retreat is located. The system rates resource conservation, energy efficiency and healthy materials, among other considerations. While a minimum of 50 points is required for new construction in the county, the Middlebrook Studios exceed a rating of 100 points. 


All photography by Paul Dyer, San Francisco

Phone 415-640-0810

All photography used with express permission of the photographer.

Djerassi Resident Artists Program