Best of the Bunch

Winning Home of Year is exciting for the publicity and acclaim- that’s what I’ve always valued the most. So when the magazine reminded me that I had a $5000 shopping spree at Mitchell + Gold as well, that was really icing on the cake. Of course, going shopping is not something I take lightly, so I took my prize selection very seriously…

Luckily, there was a store close by in San Francisco that was a Mitchell + Gold dealer, Ruby Living, so I was able to go down first hand to take a look at their stuff. Truth be told, I had heard of Mitchell + Gold prior to this contest, but had never owned, spec’ed, nor knowingly interacted with any of their stuff. In retrospect, I am sure I have sat on many of their products as I learned that they do a significant amount of contract business with places like W hotels. That said, most their stuff is pretty simple, understated- I would call it “modern American” design, mostly made to order in North Carolina. From a price point perspective, they seem to be like a Room & Board or Crate & Barrel, maybe a tad more expensive.

So when I got to Ruby Living, I really didn’t know what I was shopping for, which as a designer is weird. But when I thought about my house and went through it room by room, there was NOTHING that I needed, nor could fit really. I mean my house is pretty set- what do you expect from a designer right? So I decided to employ a sports draft day analogy that I hear all the time; when a team either has no needs or so many needs that they need multiple position players, they will often say “we’re gonna to take the best athlete available at the time.”  That makes sense- why limit youself to say the best running back at that moment when the best player available period is the cornerback? Maximize your pick with the best talent and find a way to use him in your system. That was my strategy to pick out my furniture.

Upon entering, it took only about one minute to see the first thing that I liked  and would later order – the Shelby Desk. What immediately attracted me was the slender, delicate lines as well as its unusual design with a canted overall shape and drawers positioned at the bottom. Never having been a fan of desks because they are typically so boring, I was struck by how different this one was. Described in their catalogue as “50’s architectural inspired French,” I knew that this could could be the center of a gorgeous vignette somewhere whether in the back corner of a large living room, in an alcove off a master bedroom, in a daring foyer arrangement or simply in an office! Of course, I had no clue where I would put mine. I didn’t have an office, nor believe in one. I’ve had desks before and never used them, except to pile crap on. Yet, I’m buying a desk hmm…

As a wandered around some more, I decided that I should probably get an upholstered piece, what Mitchell + Gold is known for. If you have a gift certificate at Morton’s, get a steak, not the catch of the day. Around the showroom, no one chair really sold me. The one that came close was called the Ashton, a modernized wingback chair with clean, straight lines. While I could really see this in my house, it wasn’t “special” enough to grab me at first glance. So I asked for a catalogue to see what the store didn’t have in stock and that’s when my chair spoke to me- the Gustave.  The Gustave is a also a wingback chair, but only slightly modernized and nuanced. I’ve always loved these chairs and have dreamt of a real deal one from Poltrona Frau, the ones that use the same leather as that found in Ferraris and Maseratis. Unfortunately I’ve never been able to afford their five figure version. The Gustave that I ordered is cool, I think, because I made it modern with the color palette – white leather, pewter nailheads and Java legs. There’s nothing like taking a classic shape and adding your own twist to modernize it. In this combination, I think I can use well into the future in a myriad of looks.

So with that, my $5000 was spent (and I actually owed a few bucks after factoring in taxes). I’ve had a few people shocked that I only got two pieces for for my prize money, but like I said, I went for the best talent.  I could have stocked up  a bunch of pieces if I wanted volume that wasn’t my need, at least now.

So that night I went home to figure out where in the world I would fit a moderate-sized desk and a large lounge chair. Since I always thought of my house as being set, this was no small task. In the end, my plan is to move a few old pieces around and to fit my two new pieces in my master bedroom alcove. I intend to face the desk into my room so that you see the front of the desk when you walk in.  Then I intend use the Gustave chair as the desk chair  for the Shelby. From straight-on, I think the theatrical wingback shape as seen through the breezy Shelby desk is going to look pretty cool. I haven’t thought of accessories yet beyond the black Spun table lamp I was going pair with the desk but I’m not worrying.

With a fireplace in the alcove, a Santa & Cole Tripod lamp for ambient lighting and a plush area rug, I am hoping that my new “office area” will change my mind on the value of desks. I don’t think I’ll ever do hardcore work on this Shelby / Gustave setup but I can certainly imagine being inspired enough to make some sketches or write some correspondence. Isn’t that enough? Well, when they finally get here (6-8 weeks of course) I’ll take pictures and let you know.

Shelby DeskGustave Chair

About Cantilever Design

Designs for Modern Luxury is a blog by Karman Ng, principal of Cantilever Design, an award-winning interior design firm located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Always reading, researching and reveling in “the best of design” for himself and his clients, Karman began his blog as a way to share his thoughts and finds-from furniture to fashion to food. Karman hopes his blog fosters dialogue and sharing of design-related products, news, tips, ideas and secrets so that everyone can enjoy a little bit more modern luxury in their lives. For more information about Cantilever Design, visit http:/// or follow Karman at
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