A successful designer can come from anywhere, a big city, a small town, even an apple orchard in Northern California. Such is the case with this month’s featured designer, Gary Hutton. As an art student at UC Davis in the 70’s, his exposure to significant artists informed and shaped his view on design that he continues to express with style and panache today.
After graduating from design school, his first project, a restaurant on Union Square, garnered him attention from San Francisco society and established his bona fides early in his career. Having that project published in Interior Design Magazine in 1979 certainly didn’t hurt!
In addition to continuing his cutting edge design work for clients, Gary branched out into designing furniture in 1986. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, he must feel quite flattered indeed. According to his website http://www.garyhuttondesign.com “his signature Ciao Table has been copied and reproduced by some of the biggest home retailers in America.”
His first book Art House, (Assouline, New York), will be unveiled at the Fall Art & Antiques Show at Ft. Mason on October 28th.
Our own Assel Abilova (Graduating SP 2017) caught up with Gary at his studio to ask him a few questions.
Assel: Your office looks amazing!
(Gary looking through files) Gary: This is what it looked like before we got here. The skylight really excited me. This was originally a warehouse. It was used for flowers, eggs, even at one point a Chinese noodle factory. This building didn’t even have an address. There wasn’t any phone service.
A: Could you describe your signature interior design style as it shows in the office?
G: The work we do is primarily contemporary. We’ve done some traditional work in the past, but it is not my passion.
A: I understand you also design furniture? How did that develop?
G: I was doing an interior design project and I couldn’t find what I needed, so I made it. Because, my first degree was in art practice and sculpture, I had an understanding about the materials needed. Then I found people who could make it for me. It sort of evolve into a furniture line from there.
A: Where do you draw your decor inspiration from?
G: Fine art. My best client, Chara Schreyer, is a serious contemporary art collector. We’ve spent a lot of time looking at her art collection and being inspired by that.
A: Who is your favorite designer, architect?
G: I greatly admire, Orlando Diaz. I also admire Clodagh in New York. Zak Rouge from Paris he is very terrific, his work is very beautiful and lyrical. And there are so many great designers here in the Bay Area.
A: I understand that you taught classes at the Academy a few years ago. What did you enjoy most about that experience?
G: I really enjoyed the interaction with the students. Sitting down one on one, talking about the projects. That was fun.
A: What are some of your favorite sources for products here in the area?
G: There so many great resources in the Bay Area. Incredible Stone are wonderful people to work with. Lusy Artwork in Berkley with their bronze work. And there are all sorts of resources in the Design Center. There are wood workers and wallpapers, just a lot here in the area.
A: Any cool new projects you can tell me about?
G: We’ve just finished my book! It’s not available yet though. It will be in stores by the end of November. The book is about my client Chara and myself. We’ve worked together almost 40 years. It is about her art collection and the 5 houses I designed for her, 3 in the Bay Area and 2 in Los Angeles. Her collection is amazing. It is so wonderful to work with her amazing pieces of art. In Los Angeles, we had a problem with sound proofing, so we came up with the idea of covering the walls with brushes.
A: If you could not be a designer, who would you be or what would you do?
G: I don’t know. (laughing). Probably a cook. It is my hobby.
A: What is your favorite cuisine then?
A: What skills are you looking for when hiring interns and designers?
G: Computer skills are obviously very important. But more important is curiosity. People who are curious about things, and want to find out. We try to go about things (see things) in a different way. For example brushes on walls in the LA house. We had to a lot of research. We wanted to know and find out how things work. Not just using a flat carpet, and stripes on a chair. That’s perfectly fine, but it is not how we would design. In an apartment here in San Francisco, we used toilet paper rolls as screen, and the floors were white epoxy. It was around 10 years ago, nobody had done it before. Ultimately it’s about doing a lot of research and solving problems.
A: What’s your advice for aspiring interior designers?
G: Be curious! There is so much information right now! You’ve got to get out and experience!
A: Thank you so much.
G: My pleasure.
‘Museum House is a complete renovation in Los Angeles, that was designed with a focus on housing an extraordinary collection of contemporary art while maintaining an accessible domestic quality. From a media room with sound absorbing brush panels to a custom dining table made of white Japanese glass and polished stainless steel, Gary Hutton Design shows that functional relationships needn’t be boring or expected.’
Check out all the amazing designs from Mr. Hutton on his website http://www.garyhuttondesign.com
Look for his new book Art House, (Assouline, New York), in bookstores in November.
Pictures provided by Gary Hutton Designs and used by permission