Expanded Field, the book, and the installation from which it evolved, is both an expression of our passion for installation work and an exploration of the overlapping territories of contemporary practice.
Claire Bigbie first learned about envelope a+d while dining with a friend at Delfina Pizzeria, a restaurant project of ours, which had just opened in San Francisco. She called us later that day and asked us to design her house. Claire, then a photo stylist for ReadyMade magazine, had moved to San Francisco a year earlier after working as a design assistant for Precious McBaine, the hip London interiors firm. But Claire has been attuned with design as far back as she can remember.
Growing up, Claire moved often, from Seattle to Los Angeles to Paris and back to Seattle. She remembers ritually reconfiguring the decor of her various bedrooms and finding a strong affinity to the objects in her life as they were the things that remained constant to her. As a teenager back in Seattle, she created her own skateboard clothing line and learned graphic design working in Jeff Kleinsmith's (Sub Pop Records) screen printing studio, eventually designing for Seattle’s Tooth+Nail records, all before enrolling at RISD where she earned a degree in industrial design.
Claire and her partner Jay Shapiro are both skateboard fanatics and are also engaged in rock music culture and high design worlds. Jay, an amateur skateboard photographer and former team manager for Think Skateboards, is a bassist for Space Vacation, a local heavy metal band.
In 2005, Claire and Jay purchased a tattered Victorian duplex— two stacked flats with a typical series of dark, cellular rooms—in San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood. The renovation design conceives of the home as two distinct worlds sculpted to fit their uses: a surprisingly eclectic upstairs flat for living and a more matter-of-fact rendering for Claire’s lower level creative studio. In both flats, the first move was to erase the warren of partitions in the back third of the house, creating stacked live and work spaces that take advantage of the light and openness of the interior of the residential block.
Upstairs, the newly opened space developed into kitchen/living/dining space. The floor and the ceiling were pared back to its rough surfaces, exposing the gabled roof volume with its rough-sawn collar ties and raw redwood wood boards of the underside of the roof. The original douglas fir subfloor was extensively patched and left raw. The kitchen was designed with only lower cabinetry to allow spatial continuity between the shared functions of the room. The cabinets’ hemlock veneer lowers and a large central island with a reclaimed black walnut top define the working space of the kitchen. A single long shelf cantilevers from the new window wall, replacing what typically would have been solid upper cabinets, creating an ideal display shelf for Claire’s collection of Dutch and American designer glassware and porcelain. A dining nook—articulated as a wood box clipped onto the larger gabled living space—has hemlock veneer plywood walls that warp into a comfortable bench extending across the back wall. At the other end of the room, an informal sitting area, with its lower center of gravity, is inflected in plan to allow for casual TV viewing. A tapered wall of white cabinetry draws the line of the entry / hallway wainscoting into the room, collecting the flat screen TV and housing both pantry and media. Above the line of the high gloss wainscot, Erica Wakerly reflective wallpaper extends the light at the back of the house all the way to the front door.
The bathroom disorients as it throws you to the bottom of a swimming pool. The room recreates one of Claire and Jay’s favorite feelings: dropping in and out of an emptied pool on skateboards. A Bisazza mosaic tile wall wraps to the floor while a white plaster warped ceiling surface is used as a towering reflecting plane. Plumbing fixtures plainly mount on the sinuous wall of gray shower stucco. Concrete pool coping creates a deep shelf for shower potions.
The master bedroom inhabits the former front sitting room, where a defunct fireplace is re-imagined in light cyan, crating a bright focus for the room. The adjacent dressing room is remade with geometric Cole & Son wallpaper by Tom Dixon. A snow-globe collection lives in a recessed case, locked behind glass like precious high school football trophy.
Claire’s studio is rendered plainly, but chromatically. Orange laminate cabinetry, pink powder-coated off-the-shelf shelf brackets, a deep purple ceiling and blood-red bathroom emerged from a color palate that Claire has given us within the first week of working. Worthwood end-grain plywood flooring extends through the space, lending a raw studio feel. An aluminum and glass garage door opens up the back sitting area to a rear deck and the Palm Springs-inspired garden design by Flora Grubb.
CMY Saw Horses
CMY saw horse tables are available in cyan, magenta and yellow leg dip. Fabricated out of hickory hardwood, these saw horses pay homage to classic work-shop saw horses, but simplify and minimize joinery to emphasize the graphic quality of the iconic saw horse shape.
Tables were designed and fabricated at envelope a+d, in Berkeley, California.
Limited production run. Please email email@example.com for pricing and general inquiries. Local pick up required.
Search Engine Coffee
envelope A+D gets a lot of requests for shipping container design due to our wildly successful project PROXY in San Francisco. This project, a temporary coffee bar for a large tech company in Mountain View, started as one such inquiry. The client wanted the outdoor cafe to be inexpensive and quickly deployable. While a shipping container was suitable theoretically, onerous permitting restrictions pushed us to devise a different solution: the _dock.
The _dock is a food+drink pavilion composed of sets of tubes and screens. The pavilion is activated by any food truck that docks, creating virtually limitless programming possibilities.
A light blue ground graphic creates an intuitive queueing system while simultaneously defining the exterior space. The pavers were flipped over and the underside was painted to allow for an easy eventual dissolution of the space.
Though _dock is currently a one-off installation, we designed it with a series of pavilions in mind that would share a formal language but wouldn’t formally be the same. The pavilion’s easily adaptable nature and cost-effectiveness add up to a prudent system for providing places of rest and refuge amidst the hustle and bustle of the company’s campus.
Pizzeria Delfina California Street
San Francisco, CA
Inspired by a field trip to the birthplace of pizza, Delfina's pizzeria is an interpretation of the best of the Neapolitan Pizzerias, which are at once plain, urban and functional. A white-tiled floor and wainscot are a crisp textural container for the hickory bar and banquette, which bracket an all-stainless steel kitchen. Honed slate wall panels line the wall as you enter the space and display the changing fare of the day.
Pizzeria Delfina 18th Street
San Francisco, CA
Inspired by a field trip to the birthplace of pizza, Delfina's pizzeria is an interpretation of the best of the Neapolitan Pizzerias, which are at once plain, urban and functional. A white-tiled floor and wainscot are a crisp textural container for the quartersawn oak bar and banquette, which bracket an all-stainless steel kitchen. Honed slate wall panels comprise one full wall of the dining room and display the changing fare of the day. A new floor to ceiling storefront opens the space to the lively neighborhood streetscape.
San Francisco, CA
This headquarters for Durie Tangri, a law firm specializing in intellectual property, occupy the lower two floors of a turn-of-the-century mercantile building steps away from San Francisco’s iconic Transamerica Tower. envelope A+D transformed this historic structure with design a strategy rooted in the law firm’s mostly tech-related clients.
The spatial aspect of office prioritize openness and transparency: providing visual access while allowing for aural privacy where required for client confidentiality. Architectural expressions of the building systems, including the heavy-timber structural frame, venting ducts, sprinklers and data cabling, are treated as a kind of information with varying degrees of legibility throughout the varied spaces composing the offices.
On the main level, green rubber flooring defines more public meeting and reception spaces. On the upper floor, partner offices ring a central collaborative space defined by a “pool” of blue rubber. Collaborative spaces figure highly throughout the offices, supporting the firm’s need to actively collaborate in the crafting of new intellectual property laws in the territories of tech, web and biotechnology law. These flexible spaces promote casual group engagement through diverse postures from clustered seating focused on large white board walls to intimate couch-rooms to more traditional library-type work tables.
The design for Contigo links garden, dining, kitchen and street through a series of overlapping figures within a continuous spatial tube that runs from the front facade to the rear garden. The kitchen is located up front to forge an active link with the life of the street, with fresh local foods delivered directly into the kitchen during the day, in the evening the frenetic activity of the kitchen is placed in the foreground of the dining experience. Here, a stool seating bar along the warped entry ramp allows for a close engagement with the experience of the preparation of the food.
The dining zone in the middle of the space is bracketed and embraced by the both kitchen and garden, with the kitchen refrigeration wall reaching back toward the garden and a captured verdant garden reaching toward the front entry. Dining is defined above by a playful lighting field of porcelain shades and below by a sinuous slatted oak bench and field of classic black Thonet chairs.
The sandblasted concrete floor surface that runs from the street to the garden forms a continuous connecting surface. Two separate circulations paths - a gentle S-shaped ramp and a more direct stair and aisle path - creates a generous multi-directional circulation that threads its way through the dining room as it negotiates the level change between sidewalk and garden.
The spatial tube that runs from the front to the back facades is a crisp white box, with material expression in the wood of the spatial saddle bags where redwood siding is re-used from the building’s original 100 year old building siding and the wood storefront of the front and rear facades. The garden design extends the space of the dining to a covered exterior, with a large urban garden planter for edible plantings.
Throughout the design and construction of the restaurant an ethic of sustainability and durability permeated the design decisions. As restaurant environments are extremely intense and unforgiving, a concerted effort was made to use materials and methods that are environmentally friendly, beautiful and will thrive in the restaurant environment.