Tucked away on a quiet Pacific Heights side street just a few miles from San Francisco is the historic Hellman Mansion, a four-story, eight-bedroom Classical Revival estate—home to this year’s San Francisco Decorator Showcase. Considered one of the premier West Coast design events, the showcase hosts some of the region’s brightest designers.
At the top of that list is Catherine Kwong, principal of San Francisco’s Catherine Kwong Design. “I’ve always had a passion for architecture and interior design,” Kwong says. “This was my first showcase and it provided an excellent space for me to showcase some great pieces.”
After completing her undergraduate track at Brown then embarking on the interior-design studies program at Parsons, Kwong started sharpening her skills in New York City, working at Studio Sofield and Ralph Lauren. In 2008, Kwong relocated to her home city of San Francisco, working for The Wiseman Group and Nicole Hollis. By 2011, she was ready to become professionally independent, and Catherine Kwong Design was born.
“I specialize in high-end residential interior-design projects, with focus on modern architecture and custom detailing,” Kwong says. “I always try to find ways to make a room look fresh, with clean lines, an elegant, tailored look, and an emphasis on statement pieces.”
The Decorator Showcase, which has hosted more than 500 designers over the past 34 years and attracts 15,000-plus visitors every year, uses the proceeds of the event to benefit the San Francisco University High School Financial Aid Program. Since 1977, the showcase has raised nearly $12 million for the program.
Kwong’s first (and second) room of choice for the showcase is an office adjoining the master suite, to be utilized by a popular San Franciscan fashion blog writer. “I fell in love with the room the minute I saw it,” Kwong says. “It gets gorgeous light, especially in the morning, and the layout is perfect for a sunny, productive writing environment.”
Kwong used fashion as the primary inspiration for the room; incorporating pinup boards, look books, and, as Kwong says, “a custom closet to display a truly inspirational wardrobe.” Other flourishes include a “Chanel No. 5” Andy Warhol print framed near the entrance to the room, Hermes scarves framed in the panels of the closet, wool-upholstered walls, white panel trim, and custom window treatments.
“I’m really attracted to high-end, modern projects,” Kwong says, adding, “I want to try new things in my interiors—things nobody else is trying.”
Chandelier: Blackman Cruz
“This was originally a prototype piece meant for the Blackman Cruz studio line, but when I saw it, I knew it would be perfect for the room, and [Blackman Cruz] made it special for this showcase.”
Mark Saw Photograph: Mark Saw
“The whole design of the room takes inspiration from this photo, which was taken by Mark Shaw backstage at a 1954 Paris fashion show.”
Vintage Eileen Gray Lamp: Almond Hartzog
“I found this vintage, 1920s lamp at Almond Hartzog. It’s one of my favorite pieces in the room.”
Julian Chichester Desk: Julian Chichester
“I love the clean lines on the piece and it has a beautiful finish and a subtle, handmade quality.”
Porcelaine’ Rug: Mansour Modern
“Ben Soleimani designed this ‘Porceiaine’ rug, which is made from a wool/silk blend for his Chinois collection.”
Custom-Made Window Dressings: Christian Fischbacher
“I used a Christian Fischbacher fabric for these draperies, which were custom made in my drapery workroom.”
Vintage Fabricius & Kastholm Chair: Almond Hartzog
“I also found this vintage piece at Almond Hartzog—and it’s another one of my favorite pieces in the room.”