Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cool Stuff: SF20

I played hookie from my deadlines today and sneaked over to Fort Mason for the opening of SF20, the San Francisco 20th Century Art and Design Show & Sale. (Bonus quasi-celebrity sighting: designer Windsor Smith.)

Some of the standout booths there:

The most unique exhibitor was relatively new Los Angeles retailer Voila!, which repurposes military salvage and vintage airplane parts into breathtaking furnishings and home accents.

The lights above, for instance, are from a naval vessel, while the lighted wall sculptures are actually parts of the fuselage from an aircraft.

I didn't even bother to note prices, but suffice it to say that many pieces cost more than some hardworking people earn in a year. (OK, fine -- the Tommi Parzinger sideboard above, from L.A.'s sublime Downtown, will set you back $36,000. And the beautiful George Nakashima lounge chairs below, from a San Francisco store that does not wish to be named, are $24,000.)

Given a few hours, I could find a lot of this stuff on eBay for a tenth the price. Vintage Bitossi horse lamps like the one above, for instance, pop up there from time to time. But there's nothing quite like seeing items like these in person and getting the chance to admire pieces in such absolutely pristine condition.

Plus, I love making mental notes about how the spaces are put together and learning tricks that I can experiment with at home, substituting my thrift-store and eBay booty for the museum-worthy pieces that will most likely never be in my price range.

I also enjoy seeing high-end dealers get creative with inexpensive materials in their exhibit cubicles. San Francisco's Ed Hardy, for instance, staple-gunned plastic highway mesh to the partition walls to mimic the look of bold, colorful wallpaper. And several other exhibitors put down what looked like simple pieces of 4-by-8 plywood painted glossy white to approximate epoxied floors.

I may not be able to afford their wares, but I can definitely steal a clever idea or two and file it away for future use.

This space, which I dubbed "the Liza room" (duh!) and which was as much an art installation as a showcase for designer Ken Fulk, was my absolute favorite of the entire show.

Yes, that is indeed a discarded black bra on the floor. There was also an ashtray overflowing with lipstick-stained cigarette butts and random bits of disco-era bling flung about. Really, there should've a been a razor blade and a white-powder-dusted mirror on the coffee table to complete the vignette.

One word: Genius. (Hey -- I told you I was partial to over-the-top Seventies design.)

SF20 runs through Sunday, September 14 at Fort Mason's Herbst Pavilion. Read more about it here.


Anonymous said...

WOW!!! What a wonderful treat! I LOVE the repurposed airplane just leaves me speechless...unless drool counts as a form of speech.

Thanks so much for sharing!!

rebecca said...

WOW, thanks for sharing! If I still lived in SF I could have (would have) played hooky too!

Anonymous said...

if i weren't so unemployed i would totally shell out the $20 bucks plus to make it into the city.
thanks leah!!

Anonymous said...

leah, thanks for sharing. divine!

Anonymous said...

AWESOME post! Now I really miss SF :) And I also love over the top seventies design!

BTW, have you been to X21, the vintage dealer in the city? The stuff upstairs is $$$, but downstairs holds many dusty yet negotiable treasures.

Leah said...

Hi Erin,

LOVE X21! Blogged it here.



Suzy said...

Lucky girl, I'm so jealous! That Parzinger console is pretty amazing...but it could be some light years before I can afford it!

Anonymous said...

Wow, so much awesome stuff! That Liza room is brilliant. I can't afford to drop $20 to go ogle expensive stuff, but thanks for you post!

Jennifer in ATL said...

What a neat show!!!
Do you happen to remember who's booth had the A R T letters? I would LOVE to find an A, T, and L for my apartment. (I live in Atlanta.) More specifically, I would like to find some cool ones like those. Anthropologie has some large ones right now but these are WAY cooler!
P.S. Any suggestions on how to search for some letters on eBay?

Leah said...

Hi Jennifer,

The ART letters are from Voila in L.A.

To find similar ones on eBay, search "metal letter," "marquee letter," and "sign letter." There are always dozens available -- the trick is finding the three you want in the same size/typeface.

It may take awhile, but eventually someone will show up there with a whole lot of letters from an old theater or something, so just keep looking.

Good luck!

Jennifer in ATL said...

Thanks, Leah!!!


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