Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Best of the 2019 San Francisco Decorator Showcase Continued: The Chic Spirit of Modern — Studio Collins Weir Creates a Masterful Design with Refinement and Elegance

Susan Collins Weir and Chris Weir turned a dull interior into a ravishingly beautiful living room/ grand salon, full of bold design ideas and dramatic gestures.

Making their début at this year’s dazzling showcase, partners Susan and Chris splashed white paint on a series of columns and added tall mirrors for a sense of grandeur and excitement.

The annual San Francisco Decorator Showcase is now in its 42nd year.

This Studio Collins Weir living room is a fresh presence at San Francisco’s iconic 1904 Le Petit Trianon.  
The intricate, original architecture of the living room served as a multi-layered canvas for this grand salon.

Classical columns and ceiling details and moldings and motifs were all restored and painted a warm white. The niches between the columns are filled with mirror to extend light and a sense of space around the room. This gesture also expands the views of surrounding gardens to create a traditional setting that seems to blur the visual effect between indoors and out.

The room is anchored by Mathieu Lehanneur’s carved marble table from the Carpenters Workshop Gallery.

Overhead there’s an Ozone Parisienne Opéra chandelier.

A custom designed, Baughman-inspired circular sofa and banquette, upholstered in rich plum mohair, wends around the table. The seating group welcomes a private conversation and invites guests to perch along its back, as cocktails are served from the bar cabinet. 

“We designed the pieces in the space to be minimal in form and materially rich,” said Chris Weir of Studio Collins Weir. “They are quite modern and work to contrast the classical detailing of the space, reinforcing the qualities of both. We further heightened this juxtaposition by lining the room with contemporary art.” 

The curated selection of art works from California galleries, including the Haines Gallery, Hosfelt Gallery, Jessica Silverman Gallery and the Future Perfect includes photography, painting and sculpture. Their explorations result in pieces that are textural and phenomenological.

“Placing modern art and furnishings in a classical space tells the story of different time periods and imbues the room with a sense of history,” said Susan Collins of Studio Collins Weir. “The layering of epochs is quintessential San Francisco – a city racing towards the future while looking over its shoulder to the past.”

The Interview—Meet Susan and Chris

I sat down recently with Susan and her husband Chris (they have two young children) and talked about their luscious décor.

DDS:Why did you select this room?
SCW: We loved the scale, detail, light and view of the garden. The strong axial layout made the room perfect for us as we knew we could respond to it in a way that would help make the traditional detailing more current. We liked the concept of making a perfect backdrop for us to work in our more modern style. We aimed for a perfect balance of traditional detailing and lush modern furnishings and art.

DDS: The room is a forest of columns and architectural details. How did you see this when you were planning the room.
SCW and CW: We knew that the columns, if handled correctly, would play a strong part in the overall scheme. So we devoted time end effort to restore them as they were in terrible shape. The capitals of the columns are solid carved wood which had split and cracked over time due to neglect. We restored these and painted them and the rest of the room a beautiful shade of white in an eggshell finish. The effect is to highlight the detailing of all original columns and moldings to add shadow and a layer of drama to the room. This neutral background allowed us to go big with color in the sofa and add pieces like the carved marble table by Carpenters Workshop, and art that is heavily textured.

DDS: Your sofas are dramatic and handsome. They offer utmost versatility. They work for two people or a cocktail crowd. How did you plan them?
SCW and CW: The living room has such strong central axis it felt natural to build our furnishing plan around it. The circular seating group provides a setting for an intimate gathering around the marble table. It also opens up the corners of the room for larger gatherings. We designed the sofa. Its ergonomics are what really lets the piece work well. The seat depth allows you to relax but not lounge while the back is at the perfect height to support you. The back also serves as a perch to sit on and engage guests in conversation around the room. At two people can perch and have a conversation in any part of the two sofas.

DDS: The abstract carpet adds dynamism to the room.
SCW and CW: We always start with floor coverings for our spaces. They ground the room and provide a context for every piece that follows. In this case, we wanted a graphic rug with a neutral palette that would provide movement and allow the minimal form of the coffee table and sofa to really make an impact. We worked closely with Mark Nelson. It’s a large carpet. For the design, we started with an image of a slab of marble and worked to abstract it into blocks of grey intersected by “veins” of ivory. It’s dynamic without being overpowering and really adds movement to the space. 

DDS: I love the effect of daylight in this north-and-east-facing room. The views are so elegant – beautiful flourishing trees and a sliver of the bay and Angel Island. The windows are tall and beautifully proportioned and the light seems to soar aloft. The room embraces a sense of place and a sense of time.
SCW and CW: Yes! The trees and changing light play such a prominent roll in the room. There’s soft sunlight in the morning. At night the trees are just silhouettes. We emphasized the light by adding mirrors to the east wall. The effect is to double the windows in space and blur the edges of the room. Everywhere you look you are greeted by a wall of greenery moving in the wind or light shifting around the space. We wanted the room to feel light and engaged with its surroundings rather the inward looking. Its a hard thing to do in such traditional architecture but, by the response we're getting, we achieved our goal.

All About Studio Collins Weir

Studio Collins Weir is a full service interior design studio based in the San Francisco Bay Area with projects throughout North America. Founded in 2014, the studio is directed by the husband/wife team of Susan Collins Weir and Chris Weir. Together with their studio team, they create modern designs with timeless appeal.

Studio Collins Weir’s expertise in both interior design and architecture creates fully realized projects, each unique to its own client. Their designs are a result of listening to and understanding each client combined with a deep respect for the site and the architecture. Within each projec, the firm’s signature touches of custom, crafted furnishings and textiles as well as elevated art curation.

Studio Collins Weir has received critical acclaim, recognized by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, GQ Magazine, 1st Dibs, California Home & Design, Luxe Magazine, and many more. The Studio has also received numerous design awards including the IIDA Honor Awards and Interior Design Magazine’s BOY Awards.

Susan Collins
Susan Collins founded the award winning design firm STUDIO COLLINS WEIR with her husband, Chris Weir in 2014. Susan’s deep understanding of interior architecture and art creates projects that are classic with a strong modern undertone. The studio is founded on the principal of balancing architecture with well-crafted interiors that are built out of deep understanding of context and client.

Susan began her career at Christie’s New York researching fine art and furniture before relocating to the west coast to study architecture and furniture design at the California College of the Arts. Studio Collins Weir’s work has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, 1st Dibs and Luxe Magazine as well as received numerous design awards including the IIDA Honor Awards and Interior Design Magazine’s BOY Awards. Susan lives in Marin California with her husband and two children.

Chris Weir

Chris Weir’s professional experience includes 12 years of work as a project architect in the bay area for the award winning firms of Aidlin Darling Design and EnvelopeAD; among others. His architectural experience includes the design of custom single-family residences, public buildings, restaurants, and commercial renovations. This work has been published in national periodicals and has been granted numerous awards over the years.

Currently Chris shares the responsibility of running STUDIO COLLINS WEIR, an interior and furniture design practice founded in 2014 with his wife, Susan Collins. The studios work leverages both partners backgrounds in residential, commercial, furniture design and fine art, to provide complete design solutions for their clientele. STUDIO COLLINS WEIR has received critical acclaim having been recognized by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, GQ magazine, 1st dibs, California Home & Design, Luxe magazine, and many more.

In addition to his interior design and architectural design experience, Chris has worked as product designer and creative director for Grain Audio, a company that he started in 2011 and brought to market with two partners. His role at Grain involved the design of all products, packaging and graphics associated with the brand. To accomplish this he managed teams both locally and internationally. Chris’ work at Grain has been widely lauded by both design and audio press; it also received a Reddot award for product design in 2014. 


Floors: SCW custom design, hand tufted cut pile wool quality, fabricated by Mark Nelson Designs

Window Treatment: Ripple fold drapery panels in Holland and Sherry. Patagonia Wool Flannel in color Mineral.

Light Fixture: Parisienne Opera Chandelier by Régis Botta for Ozone inspired by the Parisian street lights,

Sofa and Bench: Custom, designed by SCW in Pinot Noir Mokum, Alpaca Velvet

Cocktail table: Steel with satin nickel finish

Sideboard: Custom, designed by SCW in painted ash with a Nero Marquina marble top

Walls: C2 Paint in Architectural White, flat color on wall and ceiling panels, eggshell on remaining surfaces

Coffee Table: Ocean White Volakas Marble Memories Circular Low Table XXL by Mathieu Lehanneur from Carpenter’s Workshop.
Details: Mathieu Lehanneur’s Ocean Memories Circular Low Table presents a surrealistic vision of an ocean frozen in time. The complex movements of waves and currents are captured with the help of 3D special effects digital software – usually employed by the film industry. These digital forms are then machine cut from a block of volakas marble and hand polished, to produce the liquid-like surface that reflects and distorts light.


John Chiara Sunnydale at Russia, 2013
Camera Obscura Ilfochrome, Photograph – From Haines Gallery

Emil Lukas Heat Shield #1496, 2016
Paint on Plaster over aluminum – From Hosfelt Gallery

Dashiell Manley the breakers, 2019
Oil on Linen – From Jessica Silverman Gallery

Dashiell Manley quiet jails, 2019
Oil on Linen – From Jessica Silverman Gallery

Artist Details: Dashiell Manley’s zen “E” paintings contain two kinds of brushstroke: a short, rhythmic, repetitive stroke, which relates to a mindful focus on the process of painting itself; and occasional drifting transgressive lines, which signal and attempt to correct moments of distraction. The“E” originally stood for “elegy,” a poem that laments the dead, and a title often used by one of Manley’s favorite painters, the Postwar Abstract Expressionist, Robert Motherwell. But, as their living-and-breathing brushstrokes suggest, these paintings memorialize the vibrancy of emotional abstraction

Karl Zahn Vines #3 – 11 Leaves, 2017
White aluminum, chain – From The Future Perfect
Artist Details: Karl Zahn is a product and furniture designer based in Brooklyn, New York. His work recalls a Danish influence, with its stark minimalism and functional ingenuity - and includes lighting, household products, decorative and experimental objects.

Wanda Koop Still (Pink), 2017
Acrylic on Canvas – From Night Gallery
Artist Details: Wanda Koop has been reinventing and redefining landscape painting for more than 40 years. Featured in over 50 solo exhibitions, she is a preeminent figure in contemporary Canadian art. Her monumentally scaled work focuses on the intersection of urbanization.

The Living Room at Le Petit Trianon before Studio Collins Weir began their transformation.


Studio Collins Weir
451 Coloma street
Sausalito, California 94965

Matthew Millman

The San Francisco Decorator Showcase contiues through May 27 at 3800 Washington Street, San Francisco.


Monday, May 6, 2019

San Francisco Decorator Showcase 2019 — An Exclusive Report on the Super-Glamorous Music and Recital Room by Designer Martin Kobus

For sheer elegance and invention, the dark and glamorous recital room by Martin Kobus is a highlight of this year’s San Francisco Decorator Showcase. It’s very night clubby and very chic and Champagne bar-esque. I love the dark and moody and wonderful colors, and especially Martin’s perfectly calibrated banquettes, chic cocktail tables, and his air of total elegance.

The ceiling by de Gournay…very different and so dramatic. Note the chandelier dramatic lighting made in Morocco. Martin has such style and intelligence.

Interior designer Martin Kobus, based in Sausalito, is admired for the refinement and intelligence of his designs, always with a comfortable human touch.

He launched his firm, Martin Kobus Design a decade ago, and recently completed a series of dramatic and highly original rooms in acclaimed San Francisco Decorator Showcase. This year he returns with the most glamorous room of all.

“I think the sweet spot for me is a modern design, with a relaxed and richly detailed approach,” said Kobus. “Often modern design can feel cold and uninviting-- which is something we avoid entirely. There is definitely a European sensibility in my design that honors material integrity and plays with texture and form.”

Kobus has an encyclopedic knowledge of historical and modern architecture and has the ability to filter new interiors through a classic, historic concept. And it’s always tailored precisely to the site and the region and the room and its anticipated use.


Martin Kobus worked closely with his partner, Chris Bergin, to shape a powerful and dramatic décor.

“Upon our first view of the room it had a very sad demeanor to it. All of the original wood carvings and columns and architectural details were sort of raw and unpainted or treated. There were a few areas of damage on the ceiling and walls.

Although the room felt it had been sort of disregarded it also had a great deal of opportunity to be reborn.”


“The moment we stepped into the room Martin and I immediately said BLACK! It had to go dark in order to completely transform the feeling of the room. The barrel ceiling was the inspiration and Martin instantly thought of the de Gournay Symphony patternwall covering and that it had to be on that ceiling. A conversation began with Hannah at de Gournay and the room began to unfold.

“We then decided to call the room RECITAL and came up with the idea of the custom settees that would be place on the perimeter of the room and in the center or in the corners of the room.

“The original herringbone European white oak floors were kept and stripped to their raw unfinished state to add a bit of contrast to the walls.”


“The intention was to create a dark moody space for entertaining and for performance. We love to create an atmosphere in which people can have an 
“experience while spending time in a place. Our room offers a very layered experience of visual, aromatic, and sound qualities.

“The music we are playing in the room on our mini gramophone wireless speakers is by "2 Cellos" a duo out of Croatia that actually plays on the same electric cello that we have on display in our room.”

“Everything in the room was designed and custom made for the room, we did not borrow anything from showrooms this year. All of the architecture in the room was restored and kept, just treated. Paint is by C2, color Stout.

“The fabric used on the furniture, pillows and drapes is all the same but in different color ways.

“It is not silk, but a new tech velvet that gives the appearance of silk yet is much more durable.

“We have used it in other projects and it has performed very well.


“The fireplace is original to the house. We imagine that it was carved off site and brought into the house in pieces and assembled in the room.

We did a bit of restoration and of course cleaning, but it is so strong and adds power to the room that we left it alone otherwise, except to add the "charred" wood logs stacked and tumbling out onto the hearth.”

“A shining star of the room is the custom chandelier that Martin designed and had made in Marrakesh facilitated by Tazi. It is a nod to music notes that dance along on sheet music.

“Another star is the bronze cellist chair that Martin also designed and had made with Tazi in Marrakesh.

“Each piece of the chair was carved out of wood then dipped in bronze. After the bronze pieces were assembled the chair was then dipped to give it the brass finish.

Chris Bergin and Martin Kobus


Martin Kobus noted that this is a ‘golden age’ of design, as the design world evolves and new clients have enhanced design awareness.

“I’m noticing a wave of young clients very interested and appreciative of good design,” he said. “It seems as though there's a move towards 'the not so big house'-- more manageable, live-able, and less maintenance spaces. They want every inch of that space to be well curated but it's less about opulence and more about experiences. It's been incredibly refreshing for us to design for these clients and be able to mix high and low items in a way that captivates the eye.”

Kobus grew up in Holland and studied in the Netherlands and Italy.

“My mother is Dutch and my father was Indonesian so I am lucky to be the product of several cultures,” said the designer. “I was able to pick up five languages during my upbringing. This comes in handy when traveling.”

His roots in Europe and Asian have also informed his design in many ways, he said.

“My spouse, Chris Bergin, and I bought a vineyard in Healdsburg, and we recently conducted the first harvest,” he noted. “This vineyard/private resort is a bit of a passion project and will be a totally modern oasis with the footprint of the house smack in the middle of the vineyard. So now I’ll be a winemaker and a designer. Always learning, that’s the key.”


velvet - Novel Fabrics
paint - C2 Paints, color STOUT
ceiling paper - de Gournay, pattern Symphony
tables - Stone from Da Vinci Marble , fabrication by JB Tile and Stone
trim on curtains - Samuel and Sons
trim on pillows - Samuel and Sons


Christopher Stark
www.christopherstark.com@ christopherstark

San Francisco Decorator Showcase

Now through May 27

3800 Washington Street