Inside the newly refurbished Hermès store.
Photo: Frank Oudeman

5 Must-Visit Art and Design Spots in San Francisco

Find respite from January’s popular fairs at these stylish restaurants and boutiques

Hundreds of art aficionados will soon be flooding the San Francisco waterfront for Untitled, Art on Pier 35 and FOG Design+Art at Fort Mason Center. But great art and design aren’t limited to the marina; there are plenty of exciting spaces nearby that offer a visually appealing respite.

Here, Galerie looks at the five must-visit hot spots.

Ken Fulk and Jon de la Cruz helped design Leo’s Oyster Bar, a tropical hideaway serving up fresh seafood and refreshing cocktails. Photo: Courtesy of Leo's Oyster Bar

Leo’s Oyster Bar

Evoking a bygone era of glamour with tropical accents like bespoke botanical wallpaper, rattan barstools, seashell sconces, and a pink onyx bar, Leo’s Oyster Bar is a local mainstay. Designed by hometown luminaries Ken Fulk and Jon de la Cruz, the restaurant serves up fresh seafood selections like caviar blinis with American sturgeon caviar, crème fraîche, and truffle oil; snow crab claws; and Leo’s paella with halibut, shrimp, mussels, clams, crispy arborio rice, and yuzu kosho aioli. For pre- and post-show libations, head past the kitchen to the cheeky Hideaway cocktail lounge for scintillating concoctions such as the Easy Money, with mezcal, green chartreuse, cucumber, and citrus.

This artful eatery in San Francisco’s chic Proper hotel is named for French Cubist painter and printmaker Jacques Villon. Photo: Courtesy of Villon

Villon

Aptly named for French Cubist painter and printmaker Jacques Villon, mid-Market’s all-day chic eatery Villon is artfully layered with deep robin’s-egg blue walls, flowy bed-skirt-esque chandeliers, and abstract black-and-white paintings by Los Angeles design icon Kelly Wearstler. At the helm of the kitchen is executive chef Jason Fox, whose epicurean selections range from halibut crudo with tomatillo crema, Syrah grapes, and gooseberries to sprouting grain porridge with broccoli, nettles, pickled shallots, and fennel pollen. Thirsty? Comb the expansive cocktail menu designed as a nod to the city’s total square miles with 49 concoctions, including those invented at hotels and others using libations made in the Bay Area.

Hermès San Francisco boutique is designed by RDAI, the Parisian firm behind the Museo de Arte de Lima in Peru and Hôtel 230 in Paris. Photo: Frank Oudeman

Hermès

Outfitted by Parisian firm RDAI (of Museo de Arte de Lima in Peru and Hôtel 230 in Paris), the newly renovated and expanded Hermès boutique is layered with Greek friezes, intricate mosaic floors, and a sculptural solid-oak staircase. Once inside the pristine emporium, head to the second-floor café for fresh coffee and peruse design objects such as an Hermès surfboard, throws that resemble modern hanging tapestries, and special iterations of the Kelly bag.

An art and design staple in the city, the Interval at Long Now offers a wide selection of design books, unique art installations, and Prohibition-era libations. Photo: Courtesy of the Interval at Long Now

The Interval at Long Now

Tucked inside the headquarters of the Long Now Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering long-term thinking, the Interval at Long Now is lined with floor-to-ceiling books. Also inside is a mix of creative installations, such as a robotic chalkboard drawing machine by Swiss artist Jürg Lehni; an ambient painting by Brian Eno; the “Orrery,” a mechanical planetary display made to ring in a different sequence each day for 10,000 years. The veritable “think tank” space (which also serves as a museum and bar) serves up drinks with cues from postmodernism and the pre-Prohibition eras with rare cocktails like the Clover Club, with old Tom gin, lemon, blanc vermouth, and egg white served up with a nutmeg garnish.

William Stout Architectural Books houses a well-edited collection of more than 70,000 art and design tomes. Photo: William Stout Architectural Book

William Stout Architectural Books

Situated in Jackson Square, surrounded by some of the city’s most beloved art galleries and antique stores, William Stout Architectural Books houses an expertly edited collection of more than 70,000 art and design tomes spanning Japanese garden design, Inca architecture, decorative ceramics, and women of Abstract Expressionism. Opened 30 years ago by owner Bill Stout, the library-like purveyor is a go-to staple for bibliophiles, notable interior designers, and architects.

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