Go East, Young Man
Jane Margolies -- Interior Design, 9/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
You're a furniture designer opening a showroom. So, to help come up with a vision for the space, you hire an interior designer and perhaps an architect, too. Right? Not if you're Ted Boerner.
Boerner, of course, is the designer of such modern classics as the Cello armchair and the Booktable. When he and Frank Pontes, president of Boerner's namesake company, decided that their 10-year-old San Francisco business was ready for its own bite of the Big Apple, they chose to take charge of the showroom design themselves—proving that both have inventive ideas in abundant supply.
The partners leased 2,200 square feet in an early 1900's building on the western fringes of SoHo and turned the space into something that resembles an inviting loft apartment, minus the kitchen. "This is all about us," says Boerner, who designed theater sets and interiors before finding his true calling in furniture. "I'm inspired by diverse styles."
The duo aimed for an organic aesthetic. Against walls painted eucalyptus green, persimmon, and khaki, examples of Ted Boerner custom furniture are arranged in groups, accented by pieces from other sources. There are table and floor lamps by Los Angeles ceramist Lesley Anton, paintings by San Francisco's Michael Shemchuk, and tree limbs by Mother Nature herself—one branch adorned with paper lanterns is centered over Boerner's slim solid-walnut Harvest table near the showroom's entry.
A vignette in the center reveals an Asian influence, with an oak Sidelines end table inspired by Japanese Tansu chests. The table sits next to a compact Ursula Major sofa covered in a striped acrylic-polyester blend. In front, Pontes and Boerner placed one of the famed Booktables, in oak and polished concrete.
Clients needn't squint at tiny wood samples to try to discern color and grain for potential chairs, tables, and cabinets. Instead, Boerner and Pontes paneled the showroom's rear wall in a checkerboard of 41-by-27-inch rectangles of the available hardwoods. "It also warms up the space," notes Pontes.
The display system for FrankFabrik, the company's year-old collection of upholstery wools and linens, is similarly integrated with the decor. Rather than hang fabrics from "wings," as is typical, Pontes and Boerner sewed samples into floor-to-ceiling curtains. Suspended along the wall, they show off the fabrics' body and feel to sumptuous effect.
A not-to-be-missed bathroom is collaged with pages torn from Boerner's sketchbooks. "It shows the process behind our furniture," says Pontes, who notes that each piece is made by hand in the company's California workrooms by people that he and Boerner know by name.