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.


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