Q&A With Show Chair, Suzanne Tucker

What is your connection to the Show? How did you get involved?

I am passionate about the decorative arts and have been a loyal supporter and patron of the San Francisco Fall Art & Antiques Show since day one. The late Michael Taylor took me to the very first show (me with pen, notebook, and measuring tape in hand, the scrambling assistant!), and I’ve missed only one in 37 years!

I served on the Show’s advisory board and was the Designer Circle Chair for about ten years. This is the fourth year that I am the Show Chair and each year it has gotten better and better. As Chair, I am closely aligned with the Show Director, Ariane Trimuschat, who works tirelessly all year on the Show. Together we determine the overall direction and look of the Show: the theme, the Designer Vignettes in collaboration with de Gournay, the Lectures and Book Signings as well as cultivating new dealers. In addition, I act as publicist, and art director for the Show’s Opening Night Preview Gala and subsequent events, to make sure every year surpasses the previous one in terms of quality, visual delight, and entertainment. It’s a demanding and multi-faceted position but I work with a great team and enjoy every minute of it!

What most excites you about coming to the Show every October?

Our goal is to raise the bar every year with the finest dealers who bring the best quality and exquisite pieces, so first and foremost I am most excited about the wonderful and unique items our dealers curate specifically for this show. I try to shop all of the major US and European shows and the San Francisco Show is truly one of the best, being one of the oldest and most revered shows in the country.

Benefiting the Bay Area’s non-profit, Enterprise for Youth, it also has the most glamorous opening night party bar none!

How have you seen it change over the years?

When I was Designer Circle Chair, I fought hard to establish a preview night for the design industry to pre-shop for clients. The Designers Circle Preview Reception is now an ongoing event and has been a great way to build enthusiasm and for designers to get first dibs for their clients when the show opens on gala night. We’ve also established Designer Saturday where we focus the lectures to design and decorating. As Show Chair, I brought back the Designer Vignettes at the Show’s entry. These are a wonderful way to showcase how antiques can be incorporated and interpreted in a variety of decorating vocabularies. Each year, de Gournay has generously collaborated with the designers to create custom wall coverings that serve as the backdrop for their various vignettes, further enhancing these truly unique installations that now draw quite a lot of well-deserved attention!

Two years ago, “Art” was added to the name of the Show. This was by popular demand from many dealers and opens the Show up to a broad range of art galleries as well. We have also invited our dealers to think beyond antiques and bring pieces from antiquity to present day (no more than 50-year cut-off date). This has brought a more contemporary vibe to the Show which has been well received. Two years ago we also reconfigured the entire layout of the Show floor, something I had been itching to do for years. The new layout is more open, the walls are all 12 feet high, the booths are interactive and less expected, and the cafe is more intimate. It feels fresh and invigorated.

How do you walk the Show? What are you looking for?

As a member of the Designers Circle, I get my first look at the dealers’ wares during the Designer Preview Night. Some of the booths are still under construction at that point, but it’s a great time to catch up with dealers and learn all about their pieces. After the Opening Night Preview Gala, I try to walk the Show at least two or three times more by myself or with my staff, as there is always something else that will catch my eye.

I have a soft spot for anything with good lines, yummy finishes, deep patina, and intriguing provenance. I’m not a purist, though and I definitely believe in marrying contemporary pieces with antiques, modern elements with antiquities, and mixing the high with the low. I always say that one should always have at least one piece with some age in a room. It does not have to be over-the-top expensive, but antiques resonate with history’s silent voices. The appeal resides in a patina only achievable with time: their very imperfections speak to me of soul and character and life lived.

What tips do you have for someone shopping the Show?

For anyone interested in art and design, furniture and the decorative arts – whether its buying, collecting, or simply learning about art and antiques – the Show is not to be missed. It’s a Bay Area “must do!” of the fall social season with four wonderful, vibrant days filled with terrific dealers, fascinating lectures, and gobs of eye candy. I encourage everyone to come see for yourselves, explore the booths, meet the dealers, learn a lot (ask lots of questions: they are welcome and encouraged!) and take home a fabulous find. Don’t miss the Opening Night and take a tip from what every top designer knows – The San Francisco Fall Art & Antiques Show makes for outstanding shopping and a never ending treasure hunt!