Tuesday, April 23, 2019

2019 San Francisco Decorator Showcase Exclusive: Jonathan Rachman

San Francisco Decorator Showcase opens this week with patron and benefactor parties and the big reveal of exciting work by more than a hundred top designers, architects, accomplished crafts specialists, artists, special fabricators, and the best of the best talents in San Francisco. It’s an extraordinarily inspiring house this year—rich with ideas, inspirations, vivid creativity and extraordinary leaps of the imagination.

I had a special preview over the weekend, and it is, I believe, the best showcase in the four-decade history of this fund-raising event for University High School. From the extraordinarily accomplished first-floor rooms, and up the stairs to the bay-view rooms, (and downstairs), the décor is polished, thoughtful, super-elegant, sumptuous, chic, subtle, and highly original. Inspiring.

Come with me for a first look at a highlight of the house, the bold and superbly detailed decor by Jonathan Rachman, the upstairs living room and salon. Jonathan’s design is a sumptuous and wonderfully personal homage to the English country house style. The design inspiration came from twenty-two highly detailed panels of exquisite new hand-painted wallpaper by de Gournay. In particular, I admire Jonathan’s orchestration of vibrant color with a dash of eccentricity. It’s an elegant bohemian room with wit and fun, and the kick of a new generation of ideas. I love it.

“I wanted this ensemble of rooms to show how much I love design,” said Rachman. “It’s a collaboration with de Gournay, and it has been a pleasure working with the de Gournay family and team. I was inspired by the grand scale of Houghton Hall, one of the most admired classical country houses of England.” – Jonathan Rachman

Jonathan Rachman’s room is super-charged with glamour with an edge. He started with the strong structure of beamed ceilings, a massive scrolled fireplace, double doors, a powerful dimension, and windows overlooking the Presidio and the misty bay.

Jonathan noted that the entire room was inspired by the silk de Gournay wallpaper. It’s in a mysterious and elegant antique China blue, with a delicate Chinoiserie design that dates back to the late eighteenth century.

De Gournay, an international design firm based in London, are experts at re-creating historic and authentic wallpapers. This one is based on a hand-painted wallpaper originally created for Houghton Hall in Norfolk. Houghton is one of the grandest stately homes, and the residence of David Rocksavage, the Marquis of Cholmondely. His lovely wife, the Marchioness of Cholmondely, Lady Rose, recently contacted de Gournay about reproducing the original wallpaper. It’s a triumph, painted in the most exquisite detail with a flourish of peonies, exotic birds, blossoms and arching leaves and branches. Dazzling.

Jonathan Rachman, originally from Sumatra, was educated in France and Switzerland, and has always had a collector’s instinct for getting to know the antiquaires of London and Paris. He has had a longtime love affair with the English country house, with all its eccentricities.

“With this room design, I wanted to show its heritage and grand history, but for the décor to look like the next generation arrived to give more than a breath of fresh air, new ideas and iconoclastic colors,” said Rachman. “I was inspired by seeing the grandeur and tradition of Houghton. David Cholmondely, the new generation, boldly adds daring and visionary contemporary art, newly commissioned sculptures, and the clash of bold new ideas. It’s exciting. Design must move forward.”

One nod to heritage is his moss green ‘Rite Of Spring’ paint on all paneling, woodwork, and framing. It’s given the spark of elegant water-gilding accents. And there’s the Dior-inspired dusty rose satin-upholstered sofa, with frou-frou trim and bolsters.

Rachman worked closely with teams of decorative painters (the birds and stars and insects on the ceiling reward close inspection), as well as gilders, embroiderers, marble fabricators, and the artists of de Gournay.

“I love to collaborate with my upholsterers and artists, and every creative person who contributed so much joy and life to this room,” said Rachman. 

De Gournay demonstrates it is much more than a wallpaper company. Rachman rounded up de Gournay’s silk damask fabrics, their embroidered curtains, a gilded Chippendale-style mirror. There are even de Gournay’s new chocolates, presented in a glamorous Chinoiserie box. (The chocolates are by Rococo, London.)

De Gournay has a showroom on Sacramento Street, Presidio Heights, in San Francisco.

Rachman is an expert at detail and invention. Tufts of natural horsehair spring from the impossibly glamorous ottoman. Orange fringe and orange tape by Samuel & Sons add the shock of color on a pair of chic raspberry velvet banquettes.

This room is an homage to the art and craft of de Gournay…who now offer appliquéd satins and silks, along with hand-painted porcelains and new brocades, a pair of wing chairs, antiques and objects.

And its an ode to fine craftsmanship, extraordinary upholstery, weaving, passementerie, with the clash and dash of a quartet of fifties bronze-based chairs with chartreuse silk velvet upholstery.

There’s an antique Lobmeyr chandelier, and Lex Pott’s modern acryclic ‘tree of life’ overhead. And there are the four Coup d’Etat swivel armchairs, their strong sculptural shapes in confident juxtaposition with the swooping silhouette and rosy countenance of the ultra-long 15-foot sofa. Maximal, yes. Tongue-in-chic wit, definitely. And a new way of honoring tradition—with rollicking color, carefree delight, and iconoclastic confidence. 


This year’s San Francisco Decorator Showcase is presented in the Presidio Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, with views of San Francisco Bay. More than fifty top interior designers, landscape designers, architects, artists, creators and teams of accomplish crafts specialists have transformed the interiors and gardens.

The annual San Francisco Decorator Showcase benefits tuition for San Francisco University High School. 

San Francisco Decorator Showcase began in 1977. In its first year, the Showcase netted $26,000, and today this prestigious event raises over $500,000 annually.

Le Petit Trianon, 3800 Washington Street, San Francisco

April 27, 2019 - May 27, 2019


Photo credits:

Images of interiors:
Suzanna Scott Photography

Images of flowers and details: 
Jeffrey Fulgencio, in-house photographer at Jonathan Rachman Design.

Jonathan Rachman
Jonathan Rachman Design

J Rachman
1632C Market St.
San Francisco, CA 94102


De Gournay

Samuel & Sons trim

Decorative artist (ceiling):
Caroline Lizarraga

Julie A Stonehouse Decorative Painting


AJK Design Studio – Metal Grille

Antique & Art Exchange – Fender, Winged Chair

Bright on Presidio – Sconces by Boatswain; Chandelier by L & J Lobmeyr

C. Mariani – Foot Stools, Giltwood Stools

Claremont Rug Company – Large Area Rug

Coup d'Etat – Swivel Chairs, Credenza & Side Tables by Daniel Jones, "Thing" stools by Konekt, Console by Elan Atelier

Cowtan & Tout – Fabric on Banquette and de Gournay Chairs by Jane Churchill, Fringe on Sofa by Colefax and Fowler

de Gurney – Handpainted Wallpaper, Embroidered Window Treatment & Fabric, Mirror, Chairs, Porcelain

Ellis Dunn – Sheer Window Treatment Fabric

Epoca – Sleigh Beds, Table Lamps, Blue Mirror

G B Rafael – Marble Fabricator

Germán Dominguez – Four Star Painting

J. Rachman – Sofa & Banquette by Arden Home, Outdoor Furniture, Accessories, Flowers

Kneedler-Fauchere – Tables by Holly Hunt, Passementerie and trim by Samuel & Sons, Fabric on Pillows by Dedar

Lex Pott – “Tree of Light” Chandelier

Margot Lar – Hand Painted Glassware

Mettle Inc. – “Nest Cluster”

Osborne & Little – Fabric on Ottoman by Designers Guild

Peggy Klock Sewing – Window Treatment, Pillows, Bedding

Shears and Window – Passementerie by Décor de Paris, Embroidered Pillows by Ribana, Fabric by Jim Thompson

Sloan Miyasato – Fabric on Beds, Trim, Hardware by Houlès

Stark – Blue and Gold Area Rug, Fabric on Pillows

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