Forget about furniture fairs—San Franciscans looking to expand their design horizons need look no further than the penthouse of Fifteen Fifty, the new residential tower rising nearly 400 feet at the nexus of the Mission and Hayes Valley. There, in one of the 40th floor penthouses, is the West Coast debut of nomadic gallery Gabriel&Guillaume, which specializes in rare 20th century furniture. Born in Beirut as a partnership between Nancy Gabriel and Guillaume Excoffier, the gallery eschews a permanent location in favor of staging exhibitions in incredible residences in Beirut, Paris, New York, and beyond.
It was marketing and branding agency frenchCALIFORNIA and Related California, the developer of Fifteen Fifty, that invited them into this exclusive space. As Guillaume Coutheillas, founder of frenchCalifornia tells it, the like-minded creatives met at the Salon of Art + Design in New York and collaborated on an exhibition in the landmark penthouse of Steinway Hall at 111 West 57th Street. For France-born, San Francisco-based Coutheillas, the Golden State holds a special kind of appeal.
“We really thought it was very interesting to do it in San Francisco because the market is changing and people are getting way more interested in art and furniture and they’re purchasing,” Coutheillas told Departures. He and Excoffier of Gabriel&Guillaume approached the project with a California mindset, which they see as more casual than the kind of style you’d expect to find in New York.
“Our mission across markets, but particularly in California is to really show that high design can be approachable,” said Coutheillas, explaining that when people enter the penthouse, there’s music playing and a beautiful scent wafting through. “Yes, the pieces are all museum quality, but it feels relaxed.”
One way they accomplished this was by painting the walls in bright, bold colors like a Marrakech-inspired dusty rose, a deep blue, and minty green, to designate different zones in the residence. The furniture includes a rare 1950s wood sideboard by Brazilian modernist designer Joachim Tenreiro and a white sofa by French designer Martin Szekely. “I really love the Martin Szekely white sofa,” Excoffier remarked. “You can’t really point out which period it’s from. It’s from the late ‘80s, but it’s not obvious. It looks very architectural, but when you sit on it, it’s surprisingly comfy.”
In the office, graphic green wallpaper makes a punchy backdrop for Leon Rosen swivel armchairs and a Brazilian midcentury Carlo Hauner and Martin Eisler velvet sofa. The master bedroom juxtaposes light green walls with a bold red painting by San Francisco-based artist Davina Semo above the bed and a colorful rug by Marguerite le Maire.
“I never thought in terms of a model residence. I furnished and created the design of the place thinking about what I imagined a young family would want living in San Francisco,” Excoffier explained. Though the furniture is museum quality, he and Coutheillas insist that it’s meant to be used, not just displayed. The pieces on view are on sale and—for the right price—you could scoop up everything in the residence and move right in.
Coutheillas is happy to offer tours of the exhibition by appointment, adding that it’s a great opportunity for potential residents to see the building, which has 550 apartments for lease and 40,000 square feet of amenities, including a private park and the city’s largest dog run. Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill with interior finishes by Marmol Radziner, Fifteen Fifty has apartments ranging from studios starting at $2,895 per month to $19,000 per month three-bedroom penthouses with panoramic views. In addition to the private park and dog run, residents get exclusive access to a business lounge with conference rooms, a rooftop pool and sun deck, a private screening room, electric vehicle charging stations, 24/7 valet parking, and more.