Her signature style is aesthetically adventurous for her unique way to merge the beauty of traditional furniture with the audacity of contemporary design. Kendall Wilkinson, founder of Kendall Wilkinson Design, is a well-known San Francisco-based interior designer who just launched her first collection with Fabricut, featuring colorful indoor and outdoor fabrics. With a background in the movie industry, she understood her real call during a conversation with her mother, Alice Wiley, interior designer as well. Driven by a deep curiosity and the need to expand her design horizons, she left San Francisco and she landed in Paris to study interior design and architecture. In the city of romance she fell in love with French architecture, antiques and culture. After this long experience she started traveling abroad importing her new European mindset and taste to the United States. Thanks to her worldwide design knowledge she has been invited for six times to the San Francisco Decorator Showcase and to the Elle Décor showcase in 2010.
We talked to her about the design scene in San Francisco.
D: How did the local design and architecture industries have changed in the last 5-10 years?
KW: There are more options out there. We still have clients who lean toward classic design but we are designing more modern homes and commercial spaces. One trend that I see is moving away from highly decorated spaces. Rooms tend to be more curated where every item in it must pull its weight in terms of design, artisanal qualities and authenticity.
D: How is technology affecting the idea of design and architecture, the development of new products and new building?
KW: It’s affecting it in a myriad of ways. We are getting more clever at incorporating technology needs into the aesthetic design and there are many innovations in functional design that have allowed us to be creative with lighting, shading and green products. We are also seeing nostalgia for a time when technology was less a focus of our lives, for example the interest in vinyl in music or clients seeing their homes as a respite from their work lives.
D: What are your favorite design pieces and architecture projects in the Bay Area?
KW: There are many! I just visited the new BAMFPA in Berkeley (the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive) and thought that was an interesting adaptation of an industrial building with a very sculptural overlay. My understanding is that the architects submitted their proposal with the simple use of a sculpted form (representing the new overlay on the existing building). It was such an elegant, understated but powerful way to convey intent and the recently opened building is really interesting with surprising moments.
D: And those you don’t like at all?
KW: While I don’t want to single out any particular projects, those that don’t have a strong driving vision from either use or aesthetic perspective are so much less effective.
D: What are you doing to leave a positive mark on it?
KW: I try to lead a good life, one that will make my two boys proud. As a single mother, I work hard to raise my boys in a way that is respectful and to teach them to give back to their communities. My firm supports a number of philanthropic activities: in the past, we’ve supported children’s shelters, remodeled a shelter for abused women, worked on a number of educational projects and have just started a remodel for an organization in Oakland that offers mentoring in the tech sector working with underserved children. Plus, I think good design for all my clients, pro-bono or not, leaves a positive mark.