November 10, 2011

21st Century Salon

by Brian Anthony from CA Home & Design
Photography by Philip Harvey

Established & Sons 'Wrongwoods', designed by Richard Woods and Sebastian Wrong
Established & Sons is represented at DZINE

In 2009, while searching for a new home in San Francisco, newlyweds Aditya Agarwal and Ruchi Sanghvi were becoming frustrated because the good ones kept being snatched up as soon as they came on the market.  The tech-savvy couple (early employees of Facebook who are about to start their own company) decided to play to their strengths: Agarwal developed a computer program that scoured the MLS and notified him the instant a property with their criteria hit the market.  They found their Noe Valley flat before the paint had dried on the For Sale sign.

The open living area provided the perfect space for entertaining, but the drab taupe paint and generic fixtures throughout were definitely lacking in the personality department.  Although Sanghvi had intended to decorate the space on her own, the realities of her work schedule and her husband's desire to have a finished home led the couple to seek help.  When a techie friend recommended Lauren Geremia, it turned out that the couple, without knowing it, was already a fan of her work.  Having frequented two SF establishments designed by Geremia - Bloohound and Coffee Bar - they were impressed with her ability to create bold spaces that didn't feel alienating or impersonal.  The warm, unrefined materials used by Geremia provided the look that the couple was hoping to achieve in their new home.  "Many of our friends were upgrading from Ikea to the next big-box store up the chain," says Agarwal.  "We weren't interested in following suit."

Geremia had gained a reputation in SF for designing buzz-worthy hotspots (her projects also include Umami, Taverna Aventine, Citizen's Band and Churchill), but she was eager to expand her residential portfolio.  "I love doing commercial spaces, but the turnaround time on those projects is often rushed," she says.  "A residential space allows me to slow down and focus on every detail."  A graduate in fine arts from the Rhode Island School of Design, Geremia fills her projects with custom pieces she creates herself or commissions from a select stable of local artisans and friends.  "A home is very personal, and input is crucial," says Geremia.  "I don't want to show people how they're supposed to live.  I want them to show me how they want to live."

Not only are Awarwal and Sanghvi happy with the results, they have become vocal advocates for Geremia and the other artisans who worked on the project.  It's no surprise that the former Facebook couple's home is now a regular venue for social networking, not unlike a Paris salon in the early 20th century - but here, when potential patrons and artisans discuss the art on the walls, the light fixtures overhead and the custom furnishings surrounding them, they're exchanging contact information with iPhone bumps rather than calling cards.

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