Secret Sources: Roving Designer Jonathan Rachman


When it comes to sourcing vintage odds and ends to fill his unique collections, there’s no corner of the world too distant for him to explore on his quests for hidden treasures. In fact, Rachman has been doing just that his entire life—the Sumatran native traveled throughout his childhood and continues to draw inspiration from his perambulations for his design work. Some of his favorites include a rare chartreuse obsidian he found on his travels, an antique linen roll he picked up in Avignon, France, and a gorgeous box from Penhaligon’s of London. But I wanted to know where he goes for the good stuff in San Francisco. Here, the designer gives us a primer on shopping his local favorites. 

Flowers: I used to be a floral designer, so I go straight to the source, the San Francisco Flower Mart on 6th and Brannan. I still go there often to decorate my own home, or when I need gifts or to style a photo shoot. I’m such a romantic—when I get in there, everything else disappears, and all I see is an ocean of colorful flowers. It’s a feast for the eyes and the soul. One of my favorite purveyors for flowers there is Torchio Nursery—they’re so personable and fun, and they have the best selection of hard-to-find flowers.

Midcentury Furniture: I will randomly go to local estate sales and garage sales wherever I am. I think they are still the best place to find reasonably priced midcentury designs. But I love and obsessed with the One King’s Lane site for Vintage & Market Finds—just type “midcentury” into the search field and enjoy! I also love to go Orange when I’m in LA. It’s one of the best midcentury stores in the county. For me, the search is part of the fun, so I will go to any unassuming neighborhood in any city and just poke around. It’s so much better than shopping the expected items from big box stores. Orange, 8111 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, 323-782-6898. 

Books and Magazines: I like to support small, local businesses (since I’m one as well). I love going to City Lights for its history. I bury myself in the basement with books and the history of the space—I take all my out-of-town visitors there. For rare or used books, I head to Great Overland Book Company in the Inner Sunset. For magazines, my go-to spots are Books Inc. on Market and Juicy News on Fillmore. I also used to live in Menlo Park, so Peninsula dwellers should check out Keppler’s and wrap up the visit with a stop at Cafe Boronne next door—it’s one of the best cafes in the Bay Area. Great Overland Book Company, 345 Judah St., San Francisco, 415-664-0126; Juicy News, 2453 Fillmore St, San Francisco, 415-441-3051.

Barware: I am old school, so, again, I tend to go to vintage or antique stores for my glassware. But lately I’ve been in love with Hudson Grace on Sacramento Street. And for specific bar needs, I will either go to Cask in downtown SF or to Beltramo’s in Menlo Park. Beltramo’s is an old-school institution (founded in 1882), and they have the best selection of wines and spirits. 

Textiles: Where do I begin? For designer textiles, the showrooms at the San Francisco Design Center are my first stop. My favorites are too numerous to name, but I always check out Holland & Sherry, Stroheim, Vervain, Osborne & Little, Kravet, Cowtan & Tout and Sloan Miyasato. For a quick-but-fabulous selection of fabrics, I head to Satin Moon on Clement in the Inner Richmond—in there, what you see is what you get. But my favorite textiles are from local markets where I travel: Ubud in Bali, Jogjakarta in Java, Chiangmai in Thailand, antique dealers in London or Paris, the insanely dizzying market in Morocco…the list goes on; Satin Moon, 32 Clement St, San Francisco, 415-668-1623. 

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