Catherine Kwong Invites You To The Perfect Cup Of Tea At The 2016 SFFAS


Designer and San Francisco native, Catherine Kwong, is yet another shining example of the success one can accomplish when you “Go West!”. Sure, New York, where Kwong spent her formative professional years studying at Parsons and designing luxury interiors for Studio Sofield, on top of working on the flagship store for Ralph Lauren, basically redefined any young designer’s definition of “honing their chops,” however Kwong eventually discovered there’s no place like home. 

Catherine Kwong

After returning to California, Catherine Kwong Design opened in 2011, specializing in high-end residential projects with an emphasis on modern architecture. “In New York, I was really influenced by the fashion industry, and all of the energy of the city,” says Kwong. “In San Francisco, one can’t help but be affected by the gorgeous nature that surrounds us. The water and the light, you can see its influence in work by California artists and I feel that influence in my aesthetic as well.”

Custom oak tea counter bar with marble top, copper accents and fresh florals.

This year, the design firm’s principal was invited to create the vignette featured in the 2016 San Francisco Fall Art & Antiques Show’s grand entry hall, her first time as a member of the SFFAS’ Designers Circle. The event itself has been renamed to reflect “art” since, for the first time in 35 years, artwork and antiques from every era are included. “Each designer had an assigned theme, and ours was ‘Birds of Europe,'” Kwong says. “We were thinking of a way to create a European look and feel, and tried to imagine what type of room would have these beautiful hand-painted wallpaper panels. A tea salon seemed like an appropriate way to create that mood.” And thus, “Salon de Thé” was brought to life. 

Custom designed deGournay pale gray silk wallpaper with hand-painted trees and bird motif.

Vintage armchairs from Battersea flank a custom oak tea counter bar, complete with marble top and metal detailing. Pale gray silk wallpaper with hand-painted trees and bird motif – custom designed by deGournay – adorn the walls, while custom drapery by Malatesta & Co. via a sienna-colored wool fabric from Holland & Sherry, with grosgrain trim from The Ribbonerie and pearl header trim from Schumacher, add an elevated elegance when paired with Hans Agne Jakobsson copper pendants from Almond & Co. “I love incorporating antiques and vintage elements in my interiors,” Kwong explains, “I think it adds an extra layer of depth, even to the most modern spaces.”

Hand painted antique china, from Catherine’s own wedding.

“Creative development is my favorite part of the process,” Kwong adds. “We start from a conceptual level, and start to pull together a distinct point of view incorporating that mood: colors, imagery, and abstract ideas. It’s the translation of that concept to actual materials that I love.” One such material used in Kwong’s vignette adds a remarkably beautiful and personal touch to “Salon de Thé:” the decision to include antique china from her own wedding. When she was getting married, a family friend sent Kwong and her husband an exquisite set of hand-painted china, which the family friend’s husband had bought for her when he was stationed in Korea during the war. It is this astounding aesthetic when it comes to reflecting on the past in order to evoke original creativity in present day, that truly sets Kwong apart from other designers. 

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