Thursday, September 24
I am delighted to announce a feature in the latest issue of San Francisco Magazine (October)- that is hot off the press- and just arriving in mailboxes around SF.
I am honored that one of the most talented design writers- Diane Dorrans Saeks wrote such an amazing feature. Many thanks to Diane and all of the editors at San Francisco Magazine.
You can link to the article on the San Francisco magazine website (as well as reading below):
Taste for the times
Rising-star San Francisco designer Grant K. Gibson is striking the perfect balance between old and now.
By Diane Dorrans Saeks, Photographs by Aya Brackett
The design world has been reeling from a series of seismic shocks—not only the financial crisis, the real estate slowdown, and the corresponding shift in clients’ budgets and tastes, but also the closure of top showrooms and antiques galleries, including Ed Hardy and Urban Chateau in San Francisco. But if you happen to be highly skilled and agile, like Grant K. Gibson, these disconcerting times present a wonderful opportunity to shine. Gibson’s breezy blend of casual groupings and polished precision, evident in his own serene Presidio Heights apartment, is proving just right for the moment.
Gibson grew up in the Hollywood Hills, refined his taste during childhood trips to Paris, Stockholm, and Rome, and learned the design business as an assistant at several New York firms. He has risen to the top of San Francisco’s new design crop by staying small (his seven-year-old firm has a staff of only four), hands-on, and versatile, synthesizing his clients’ ideas instead of forcing his style on them. He is inspired by design-minded San Franciscans’ sense of adventure, demand for comfort, and passion for collecting—but also by the work of design stalwarts Michael Taylor, a master of scale and proportion, and John Saladino, known for lavish lighting and color. “I seem to attract young couples who like the way I use antiques in a lighthearted, modern way,” Gibson says.
That gentle touch with tradition is on display in the designer’s tailored yet easygoing one-bedroom corner apartment in a 1920s building, his home since 2005. Gibson was smitten with the flat’s inviting bay windows, all-day sun, and cohesive, symmetrical layout. “I could see the basic floor plan and structure, even though red-and–seafoam green walls and green shag carpeting had turned it into a bit of a circus,” he says.
In his main sitting room, Gibson, a dedicated collector with a classical bent—one of his prize possessions is a book on Billy Baldwin’s interiors, picked up for $15 at a flea market when he was a teenager, and now worth many times that—wanted a neutral, almost monochromatic background to highlight his drawings, books, and sculptures. “I like to start with an organized, well-structured floor plan, with no clutter, and work from there. You can always add.”
He methodically sanded and stained the floors a rich espresso, and painted the trim and woodwork a shade of Donald Kaufman white. To give the decor a refined yet laid-back feeling, Gibson deftly combined costly pieces (a Biedermeier secretary) with less expensive ones (tortoiseshell boxes found at flea markets). He avoided the “instant decorating” look by using antique Fortuny fabrics on pillows and mixing in antiques, including Gustavian chairs with new swing-arm lamps. Vintage books and prints, 19th-century oil portraits, and a mellowed Oushak rug add to the sense that the furnishings didn’t all arrive on a truck at the same time. The pieces’ open arrangement makes the apartment seem more expansive than its 1,000 square feet.
In this environment, Gibson’s many collections add warmth and spice without seeming the least bit stodgy. “Books make a room look lived-in and inviting,” he says. “I like to stack them neatly, but in a relaxed and accessible way. They should not look like mere decor, never touched or read. Horrors!”
Gibson’s only regret about his apartment is that he is too busy to spend much time there. Instead, he makes the rounds of his clients’ houses, from Marin to San Francisco to Carmel to New York, including for one project that combines one-of-a-kind mid-20th-century furniture and an electric-orange laundry room. But rather than add staff to his firm when he takes on new projects, the designer works longer hours and more weekends—another decision that seems to reflect the times. “I run a boutique firm, and I want it to stay that way,” says Gibson.