Design Spotlight: Urban Exposure

By Jennifer Massoni Pardini

Dining room: Studio Collins Weir reupholstered 1970s dining chairs, which appear to float on Lucite legs, in a Myung Jin mohair from Harsey & Harsey. They surround a graffiti marble table whose round steel base balances the residence’s architectural edges. | Photo courtesy of Adam Rouse

Form and function coalesce on Russian Hill.

Homes hold our treasures. For longtime San Francisco residents looking for a new abode on Russian Hill, the remodel of a one-bedroom, two-bathroom condominium also presented an opportunity to showcase a cherished photography collection.

Centering that collection and interest proved “a great starting point for the architecture,” Chris Weir says of the inspiration for a collaboration between San Francisco–based Aidlin Darling Design and the Sausalito interior design studio he helms with his business partner and wife, Susan Collins Weir. The clients enlisted Studio Collins Weir to embrace the architect’s vision and material palette while softening the space through fabrics and furnishings.

With east-facing windows flush to the floor, an expansive San Francisco landscape is an ultimate focal point: framing the Transamerica Building, the Bay Bridge, Treasure Island, Coit Tower and the Bay beyond. Among furnishings that would not detract, much thought was given to the dining table that anchors the main living area and is a key custom piece in the home (in addition to a headboard integrated with the millwork in the bedroom).

Living room with a view: Much of the furniture, such as the classic sectional by B&B Italia and Cassina nesting tables in a lacquered black finish, was previously owned and intentionally curated to complement the stunning city views. | Photo courtesy of Adam Rouse

“That’s a stone table on a steel base,” Weir says, “and the idea was that the steel base picks up on the architectural palette, but not as sharp. There’s a lot of edges in this apartment, so the legs of that table are … ” “Round,” Collins Weir chimes in, completing the thought in the familiar way of a partner. The table is surrounded by 1970s chairs, sentimental to the client and which the studio re-covered in an aubergine mohair, giving the effect of “color floating in the middle of this very modern architectural background,” Collins Weir says. A wall in the entry was painted blue to add warmth and to contrast the wraparound photo gallery that features a rotation of favorite photographers — among them, William Wegman and Dietrich Wegner.

“How do you create spaces that allow it to be curated and changed out?” Collins Weir asked herself during the project. In addition to what is hung throughout the home, the architect designed floating shelves between the living and dining areas that hold leaning frames. In the powder room, a vignette of black-and-white family photos are pinned to an alcove. And in the bedroom, a simple row of photographs over the bed and a large grouping across from it keep the space “serene and simple,” as the client wanted, Collins Weir says.

With furnishings and photography aligned, the client’s overall vision could come into focus. “We talk to clients a lot about art and living with art, but this was a real experiment,” Weir says. “She is living within her art in a way.”

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