Interview with Ken Fulk

San Francisco designer extraordinaire Ken Fulk will dream up the fourth vignette at the upcoming Fall Art & Antiques Show. Ken is a designer of experiences big and small. He is renowned for his exuberant interiors, high-concept brand identities and over-the-top parties. The Virginia-born designer has spent the last 25 years developing a business by elevating the daily lives of his clients, not only designing their homes, jets, restaurants and hotels but also directing their birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and family getaways.

Leading a team of 70 architects, designers, artisans, branding and event specialists in both San Francisco and New York, Fulk has expanded his impact around the globe. In addition to current residential work from Mexico to Miami and Provence to Provincetown, Ken Fulk has made his mark in New York over the past year with three new restaurants including the renowned Legacy Records restaurant, the highly decorative Felix Roasting Co., and Noda, an exquisite omakase jewel box. And now, with the long-awaited launch of Saint Joseph’s Arts Society in San Francisco, Fulk is able to offer his rarefied experiences to the community at large.

How did you first become interested in antiques? 
Growing up in Virginia I was absolutely enthralled by the many historic homes and the wonderful antiques that often filled them.
Are there any specific historic periods that you are drawn to?
I have a fondness for early primitive American pieces and folk art. I also have a mild obsession with Biedermeier furniture.

In your interior design work, what is your approach to incorporating art and antiques?
Buy what you love. Every project needs tension. A modern painting never looked better than when it’s sitting above an 18th century chest.
What was your most favorite/memorable art/antique find? Or alternatively, can you tell us about “the one that got away”?
Many years ago, on a buying trip to London, I happened upon a series of antique haberdashery cabinets that had been removed from a famed Savile Row storefront. They were so beautifully crafted that I snapped them up hoping that someday I’d find a home for them. Thankfully, they worked perfectly when it came time to outfit my San Francisco dressing room. Each morning I get the pleasure of “shopping” for that day’s wardrobe.
What most excites you about coming to the San Francisco Fall Art & Antiques Show?
It’s such a celebratory occasion. Everyone truly seems excited to be there; dealers and patrons alike.

Interview with Madeline Stuart

Our third vignette designer for the 2018 show is Madeline Stuart, a leading member of the Los Angeles design community whose projects reflect a collaborative relationship between architecture and furniture, function and form, client and designer. Over the past 25 years, the work of Madeline Stuart & Associates has been featured in numerous publications including Architectural Digest, Elle Décor, Veranda, Town & Country, House & Garden and House Beautiful. The firm has been distinguished by its inclusion on the AD100, Architectural Digest‘s prestigious list of the top 100 design & architecture firms. Since 2010 Elle Décor has included Madeline on their A-List as one of the top designers in the country as well. 

Madeline lives in the Hollywood Hills and Santa Barbara with her husband, writer Steve Oney, and Beatrice & Mr. Peabody, professional Jack Russell terriers. Here are her thoughts on decorating with art and antiques – and why the lamb chops at the opening night gala of the San Francisco Fall Art & Antiques Show are not to be missed: 

How did you first become interested in antiques?
I’ve been interested in antiques for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a house filled with beautiful antique furniture and objects and every piece told a story of a period and a place. Contemporary furniture represents a snapshot of the moment—antiques represent history. They possess a patina that can only be achieved through time. My mother would go to London when you could still find exceptional things for a pittance. I remember being fascinated by an antique brass scale with all the little brass weights. 

Are there any specific historic periods that you are drawn to?
I’d prefer to answer a slightly different question. Namely, please identify what specific historic periods you’re NOT drawn to! That would have to be the Victorian period, specifically in this country. I have a love—or at least an appreciation—for so many different periods and so many different countries. I wouldn’t know how to narrow it down.

In your interior design work, what is your approach to incorporating art and antiques?
It’s the difference between couture and prêt-à-porter. I’d much rather find something unique than something that’s been mass produced. How thrilling it is to locate the perfect antique chandelier or an exceptional piece of artwork! I love the idea that you can suss out a piece that’s capable of transforming an interior from one that’s merely good to one that’s truly extraordinary. Antiques are one-of-a-kind and their uniqueness is what brings life and soul to a room.

What was your most favorite/memorable art/antique find? Or alternatively, can you tell us about “the one that got away”?
I have a friend who was in a junk shop and discovered a painting by Charles Sheeler, an artist whose paintings I adore. Sadly I don’t have such a dramatic tale to tell… I recently found a stunning little Jean Dunand vase for a terrific price. I felt like I’d stumbled upon a rare gem in a field of rocks—there’s nothing like the thrill of the hunt. At last year’s antique show I was so determined not to “let one get away” that I bought a Portuguese cabinet just because I didn’t want anyone else to have it! It’s sitting in storage because it doesn’t fit in either my LA or Santa Barbara house, but I fell so deeply in love with it, I bought it anyway!

What most excites you about coming to the San Francisco Fall Art & Antiques Show?
The lamb chops! (seriously—my record is 13!) And the people watching!
I have such respect for the dealers and am fascinated by their unbridled passion for whatever it is they believe in, whether that be Asian antiquities or American folk art. I’m awestruck by the incredible range of beautiful things. And I love the enthusiasm of the people who attend—these are folks who truly enjoy a good party. And of course I’m compelled to torture myself by looking at all the exquisite jewelry that I can’t possibly afford to buy. I’m also excited to wear what I bought just for the show—so fabulous!

How do you walk the show? What are you looking for? Any tips for shopping the show?
I realize that everyone has a different technique when attending an antique show and I’m not sure my method has any merit. I have to go “round and round” – there’s no way I can see everything on the first pass. I find myself discovering objects toward the end of an evening, even though I may have spent time in a particular booth early on… Let’s face it, there’s a lot to see and a lot of lamb chops to eat in a very short period of time!

(Room photos, from top, by Victoria Pearson, Simon Upton, Dominique Vorillion, Trevor Tondro, Simon Upton)

Interview with Paul Wiseman

Paul Vincent Wiseman, one of the four vignette designers of the 2018 San Francisco Fall Art & Antiques Show, was born in the rich delta country of California’s Sacramento Valley. His formative years in an agricultural community have made him both sensible and grounded, but he has always marched to the beat of his own drum. After studying at the University of California- Berkeley, his zest for travel took him all over Europe and the Far East. By his mid-twenties, he had lived for extended periods in both France and Australia. It was during these youthful travels that he realized his passion for design. His eponymous interior design studio, The Wiseman Group, was founded in 1980. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, arguably one of the most dynamic and creative regions in the country, The Wiseman Group benefits from the cross-pollination of ideas and aesthetics in this high-energy locale. Influenced by both the city’s rich history and traditions and its proximity to Silicon Valley, the cutting edge of modern technology, the firm buzzes with vibrancy.

Direct, thoughtful exposure to the disparate cultures of the world has allowed Paul to be truthful to what is authentic. He has been influenced by the classic European motifs of Italy, France, England, and Spain, but is equally inspired by Asia and Africa. His is a global perspective on design—eclectic in the best sense of the word.
Paul has a deep appreciation for history, culture, art, and architecture. This love, paired with exposure to fine decorative arts through travel, has inspired his patronage of superb craftspeople. Artisan studios from Paris to the Far East provide the custom design elements that have become a signature of TWG projects.

In anticipation of his vignette at the entrance of the 2018 San Francisco Fall Art & Antiques Show, we asked Paul about his approach to collecting and decorating with art and antiques:

How did you first become interested in antiques?
I am a history buff and I was fascinated how history is often manifested through objects. For example, the neoclassicism of the late 18th century was directly connected with the discovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum. There are many other examples such as the Napoleonic campaign furniture. Once I became an interior designer, I loved using antiques to give people a more in-depth reflection of time and space.

Are there any specific historic periods that you are drawn to?
There are many. For me personally, Japanese and Chinese Asian antiquities from the Han and Ming periods and the 20th Century Japanese Art Deco period are particular favorites. I have a 500-year-old Ming table in my living room and on it a Three-legged Han Vessel from a tomb and behind that is a 1920’s Japanese Screen of gold and silver leaf. Each one of these pieces drew my eyes as they were not heavily ornamented.

In your interior design work, what is your approach to incorporating art and antiques?
I love the tension of combining contemporary art with antiques. I think that it reminds us that we are just not of one time or place. Our homes are a great reflection of this dynamic. 

What was your most favorite/memorable art/antique find? Or alternatively, can you tell us about “the one that got away”?
I think my favorite find was a console table that I spotted at a Sotheby’s auction in London. My clients got it for a very good price. We found later that it had royal inventory markings that Sotheby’s had missed.

What most excites you about coming to the San Francisco Fall Art & Antiques Show?
Of course the Opening Night Gala is the best party in town, but that is a known fact! I like the way the show is evolving which includes more diverse periods including contemporary art.

How do you walk the show? What are you looking for? Any tips for shopping the show?
I always pre-tour the show with my staff to scout out objects that will fit our various clients’ needs. During this tour, everyone gathers images and vendor information. We then follow-up the next morning with a breakfast meeting at our office to review and share all our wonderful finds. We engage clients before the show to gain their approval on prized pieces so we can purchase on their behalf as soon as the show opens.
What we look for varies each year and depends on the phases of our projects. Educating one’s eye is key to a successful show. Due to my experience I can recognize an unusual, unique find in order to educate my designers and clients.