Monday, August 15, 2016

The Great Antonio: In San Francisco’s historic Mission district, interior designer Antonio Martins creates a dynamic refuge with a modern edge and cool Italian vibe for a tech innovator

Antonio Martins is one of the most versatile and original designers in California today. You’ve seen his work on THE STYLE SALONISTE over recent years—including his showcase tribute to Portuguese design, with its superb blue and white color scheme, and his ultra-modern artist’s gallery on Telegraph Hill recently.

This week we are taking an exclusive up-close look at Antonio’s newest work—the superbly planned interiors of a dramatic loft/ apartment by Kennerly Architecture and Planning.

Mission accomplished.

Antonio Martins was first contacted by his client in late 2015, when the building was being completed.

Antonio recalled:

“The young, energetic and adventurous owner wanted something different. He was born in Italy but later moved to the US and trained to be a pilot. This led him to a career in the movie business, with periods of time working in Africa. After years of adventure, he decided to settle in SF and started working for a tech company in the Silicon Valley. He found this great new architecture in the Mission.”

The new house by Kennerly Architecture and Planning includes three bedrooms and 3 bathrooms divided on 5 different levels. To balance the crisp planes of the architecture, the client wanted an interior with history. “A bit of this, a bit of that”, he said. He wanted it to reflect his international interests in art, and a life of traveling around the world.

In the lively heart of the Mission, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, he is also within walking distance of Tartine, Bi-Rite grocery, and individually created places of style and taste like Craftsman & Wolves, Dandelion Chocolate, Bar Tartine, Locanda, and a thriving art and design and cultural scene. 

Antonio recalls:

“The interview process took a month. He wanted to be sure we had a connection and understanding. I believe he made up his mind after the second meeting when we met in my office and he was able to see the mix of styles in the space. Our office is a loft in the SOMA design district and combines an architectural brick warehouse with an eclectic mix of antiques and modern art. The fact that I had also lived all over the world, including in Italy also played a big part in his decision. He had a feeling that the spaces would be less “decorated” and more “lived”. 

Antonio recalls:

“Once I had a clear understanding and a good feeling for his aesthetics, I suggested a strategy: why don’t we look for vintage and antique items in auctions all around the country? This would be a way to get great and fast results and “build” a hundred-year story. He loved the idea and we quickly started. I searched all the auction houses in the US with coming auctions and we made our selections.

I would send him the list of items coming up for auction during the upcoming weekend, detailed the low and high estimates given by the auction house and suggested our bids. Depending on “how much we wanted a piece”, we would then decide the absentee bid. It was an exciting process and we got 99% of the pieces we bid on.”

Interior Designer Antonio Martins

Antonio recalls:

“The strategy paid off and after two weeks of shipping, we received all pieces that were theN refinished, reupholstered or simply touched up. I would show him the piece and pointed some nicks or dents and his answered was often “what do you think?” or “why touch it up? After all, it is antique or vintage, right?”. ‘It is not every day that you find a client with such sensibility and understanding.

The final steps were to find the missing pieces and accessories. Our inventory was a clear target and together with additional finds in local markets, antique stores and design stores in SF, we were ready.

“The install happened in a day. Our great client left for work at 7 am and we were at his door, ready. Good Moves, the drapery installer, and art installers worked together from 7 am to 7 pm to get it ready. Throughout the day, I would send him a text or email asking “can we do A or B?” and his answer was always the same: It is your house, do whatever you want.

He called at 7 pm asked if we were ready and if he could come back home. He loves it. Mission accomplished.”

Hall chair (used as side table): George III Mahogany hall chair

Design Credits

Living Room

· Sofa: Vintage Chesterfield Sofa
· Coffee table: HD Buttercup

· Deco chairs: Vintage Pair of French Art Deco chairs upholstered in green mohair
· Chrome chairs: Vintage Nicos Zagraphos chairs upholstered in faux suede
· Pair of stools: A pair of Continental Neoclassical style painted benches with animal legs upholstered in Mongolian lamb

· Side table: Vintage art déco table. Coil Lamp: vintage gear coil lamp with burlap lampshade

· Side table: Italian mid-century modern chrome and burled wood side table
· Gallery Wall: Vintage and new art

· Floor lamp between living room and dining room: Paul Evans (attributed) Cityscape Floor lamp
· Rug: HD Buttercup

· Pendants: Vintage propellers 

Dining Room:

· Dining table: Vintage Milo Baughman for Thayer Coggin

· Dining chairs: Vintage Marcel Breuer Cesca

· Chandelier: Birdie chandelier by Ingo Maurer

· Portrait: 19th century Portrait of a Gentleman holding a newspaper, unsigned, oil on canvas
· Pair of photographs: Diptick Viswakarma Blues by Drew Kelly framed on steel custom frame

· Side chair by window: Vintage Portuguese Dining chair
· Sculpture by window: “Land Ahoy” by Antonio Martins, created for the 2014 San Francisco Decorator Showcase

· Rug: Vintage HD Buttercup

Entryway / Staircase

· Vintage Black and white Photographs

· Frames: White frame by City Picture Frame

Powder Room:

Mirror: Continental giltwood carved mirror in the rococo taste

Wallpaper: Nuvolette wallpaper by Cole & Son

An International Design Education: The Life of Antonio Martins

“My family is originally from Portugal but moved to Brazil in the late 1800s.

The entire family kept moving between Portugal and Brazil and my mother was born in Brazil but moved back to Portugal when she was 12.

In Portugal, my family had farms and land in the north. When my grandfather moved to Brazil he had a coffee and corn processing plant.

I was born in Portugal and move to Brazil in 1975 at the age of six. We lived in Rio and my father had several businesses but his main passion was a coffee farm in the state of Minas Gerais.

After graduating high school, in 1988, I moved to Switzerland to study hotel management - Centre Internationale de Glion. After graduation, I was hired by Hyatt international, and moved to Hong Kong where I lived for about 10 years, and working in Germany, Italy, Bangkok, and throughout Southeast Asia.

I moved in 2000 to Chicago to work at the head office of Hyatt International and worked in development projects in Paris, Sao Paulo, Chicago, and Argentina.

I resigned from Hyatt in 2001 and moved to San Francisco to join the Academy of Art University where I taught…and then I opened my own design studios in San Francisco and in Lisbon. It has been a great, great pleasure to work for my clients around the world.”

Details, details — Collection of locks: Collection of antique and vintage locks on acrylic cubes.


Showplace Square West
550 15th Street, Suite 32
San Francisco, CA 94103

Kennerly Architecture and Planning
375 Alabama St #440
San Francisco, CA 94110
Special thanks to Drew Kelly. 
Photography used with permission.

Drew Kelly is a photographer based in California. When not on assignment, he enjoys tending campfires, listening to A’s games on the radio and being outdoors with his family.


1 comment:

Scarlett Fiona Reed said...

Thank you! It's been a while since I've been this inspired by a designer, and his client doesn't hurt! What a dream job. Antonio works the same way I do. I love clients this easy and am so grateful for them. #perfection