Local Design SF: Seesaw Children’s Workshop and Café


More often than not, people tapping away on their laptops and ipads in the San Francisco coffee scene won’t look over to see kids at play. Well here’s a change. Hayes Valley’s Seesaw is a café and children’s workshop in one. Sabrina Gabel, a child psychologist, and her husband opened Seesaw with plans to provide kids a learning studio as well as a lounge for their accompanying parents and neighborhood coffee enthusiasts. The clean design pulls from both the Danish and Korean aesthetic, a husband-and-wife collaboration, and insists that being around good design is beneficial even at a young age.

Beginning with the Scandinavian basics of white walls and light washed wood, the simple base is played up with colorful accents. This style-oriented café is chock full of design classics, including the Louis Poulsen PH5 pendants overhead and child-sized seats replicated from famous Eames and Bertoia pieces. Gabel worked with architect Brent Van Gunten from Gensler and Mission Bay Construction for structural advice but also selected a very DIY approach in all aspects of design. Art from local illustrators are on display atop custom natural wood shelves and tables and the light shades that hang above the coffee bar are made from recycled terracotta pots. A sliding barn door separates the café dining area from the children’s studio, where Gabel holds classes that teach kids to learn by social interaction while people on the other side of the door enjoy refreshments from the organic menu with a shot of Four Barrel espresso.

In the studio, kids gather around on mini Bertoia and Eames chairs from Hayes Valley’s Room Service. Chalk paint in the studio and restroom is from Hudson Paint. The hanging wall illustration is from cartoonist Lark Pien.


The hardware for the sliding barn door is sourced locally from Crown Industrial in South San Francisco. On right, terracotta pots hang above the Marzocco machine and gluten-free baked treats.


Gabel says this dollhouse was crafted by a customer and was gifted to Seesaw for the workshop. On right, the New York skyline wood blocks are from Japanese cult favorite Muji.


For a listing of scheduled workshops at Seesaw, please refer to their website.

Seesaw is located at 600A Octavia St., San Francisco.

Photos by Architectural Black.

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The Summit Café
Chambers Restaurant and Lounge

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