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First look: Inside an iconic design store’s new San Francisco showroom

Colorful modern chairs and stools by French architect Jean Prouvé are lined up in temporary exhibition at Design Within Reach's San Francisco store.
Design Within Reach's debut exhibition in its new San Francisco store highlights the chair and stool designs of French architect Jean Prouvé in a temporary exhibition space. | Source: Courtesy Design Within Reach

Although some have declared 2024 “the year of the renter,” that dream San Francisco pad may still be a little (or a lot) out of reach.     

But you can at least fantasize about your perfect city abode at Design Within Reach’s new showroom in Potrero Hill, which opened Wednesday morning. The 15,000-square-foot furniture “studio” takes the place of the San Francisco-born brand’s flagship store at 200 Kansas St., which quietly closed shop and moved over to 1400 17th St. last week. 

Design Within Reach's new San Francisco showroom features brown leather couches and Eames chairs.
Design Within Reach's Potrero Hill studio showcases elegant leather couches and Eames chairs at the center of the store. | Source: Courtesy Design Within Reach

The newly renovated space, once occupied by California Caster & Hand Truck Company, not only features upscale furniture arrangements and designs specifically inspired by the Bay Area but also a gallery and exhibition space for temporary art and furniture installations.  

You can start your visit off by kicking back in a Steve Jobs-inspired living room. The space—ringed by comfy and curved velvet Togo sofas and armchairs reminiscent of curled-up caterpillars—was specifically designed with the iconoclastic Apple co-founder in mind, explained Omar Nobil, vice president of product design and brand creative at Design Within Reach. 

“This concept here really started from that amazing image of Steve Jobs in his apartment sitting on the floor with a Tiffany lamp and a turntable and just an empty room,” Nobil said on a press tour of the new store.

Floor-to-ceiling shelves hold textile samples behind a wooden dining room table and modern chairs.
Warm, earthy tones accent Design Within Reach's new San Francisco showroom in Potrero Hill, which features a customization zone where clients can pick out textiles. | Source: Courtesy Design Within Reach

A turntable sits at the center of the setup atop an elaborately marbled, black-and-white plinth coffee table by Norm Architects that sells for a cool $2,395. While you cannot afford to place your $7 latte on this piece of upscale modern design, you can enjoy a haute-couture listening experience for free. 

The vinyl records stacked about the coffee table and accompanied by chunky, white, over-the-ear headphones were handpicked from Amoeba Records and will be dated and stamped with a description of why they were chosen for the space. Flipping through the stacks, you’ll find familiar and niche albums nodding to San Francisco music history—from Big Brother and the Holding Company’s debut record to live performances of Miles Davis and Aretha Franklin recorded at the Fillmore West.  

You can also picture yourself as a Beat poet—albeit one with a trust fund and a healthy custom furniture allowance—in the store’s “Case Study Apartment” space. Part of a more than 2,000-square-foot temporary exhibition space, this section of the store will showcase furniture installations more experimental than practical.

Wooden cabinetry lines the back of a sample kitchen in a Design Within Reach furniture store in San Francisco.
Design Within Reach's new San Francisco showroom features a section with cabinetry by Danish kitchen company Reform. | Source: Courtesy Design Within Reach

The debut installation designed by Swiss modular furniture manufacturer USM features a stark white cubic headboard that doubles as a dresser, a low-to-the-ground sideboard adorned with books curated from North Beach’s City Lights, a minimalist bar cart with just two glasses, an airy, doorless wardrobe that can be rolled away and a sleek desk, where, theoretically, you could write your own version of On the Road

What is more within reach is the store’s complimentary tea service, which visitors can enjoy while swiveling in a spinning leather chair near the center of the studio. While the tea served hails from New Canaan, Connecticut’s Grace Farms, the decor’s color palette is inspired by Golden Gate Park’s Japanese Tea Garden—including couches and armchairs swathed in groovy green hues ranging from forest green to mossy tints. 

With these earthy colors and cozy textiles ranging from velvety to woolen, the new showroom strikes a more approachable tone—less intimidating than its glitzy competitor RH (née Restoration Hardware) housed in a five-story, Classical Revival building at Pier 70. While you could easily drop hundreds at RH’s elegant Palm Court restaurant, you can get out of Design Within Reach’s store without paying a cent. Its current exhibition on the iconic Standard chairs of French architect Jean Prouvé is free to peruse, along with a reading room for visitors.

Design Within Reach's new showroom in San Francisco features a white, minimalist facade.
Design Within Reach makes its new home at 1400 17th St. in Potrero Hill. | Source: Courtesy Design Within Reach

“What we do want to make sure we’re doing is bringing shows to the Bay Area that would not otherwise come here,” Nobil said. Customers “don’t have to come here to transact. This is for them to really just learn, be exposed and enjoy.” 

Of course, even the innocuous-looking objects, like a $145 knot pillow, can still feel like a reach. After all, “The name Design Within Reach was never meant to suggest that we’d all be able to afford the lovely things,” reminded a 2009 Fast Company article on the brand. 

But hey, a girl—and maybe her real estate agent–can dream. 

Christina Campodonico can be reached at