You Can Now Find Design Inspiration at One Kings Lane's San Francisco Studio
Similar to its New York location, the home decor company has set up shop in the West Coast with a select arrangement of its signature mix of new and vintage furniture and light fixtures, wall mirrors and linens and decorative pillows.
For the last seven years, One Kings Lane’s fiercely loyal 12 million members have cuddled up with their laptops and iPhones at all hours of the day and night, fawning over a fabulous, eclectic-chic lifestyle they want like to mad to make their own. And with one click and a credit card, voila, a French Club Recliner or Montauk Rope Hammock arrives on their doorstep.
But as of Thursday, in San Francisco, fans of the curated online marketplace will be able to hop an elevator to the second floor of an unassuming office building South of Market and, as co-founder Susan Feldman put it, "touch and feel" a select arrangement of OKL’s signature mix of new and vintage furniture and light fixtures, wall mirrors and linens and decorative pillows — and the cutest littlest cocktail table you’ve ever laid your eyes on. (By Interlude, with a marbled black base that sells for a respectable $305.)
The new 2,200-square-foot San Francisco studio, which two days before its opening was the site of a high-powered political powwow that drew several Bay Area A-listers, is OKL’s second; the first opened last summer in Tribeca to instant popularity. And if the plan goes according to Feldman and her co-founder, Alison Pincus, they hope to expand (likely to Los Angeles next). Maybe, one day, there will be actual OKL stores lining chic, boutique-filled streets, but for now, it’s intentionally an intimate, almost exclusive-feeling affair — held at OKL’s headquarters, where you’re matched with a personal One Kings Lane designer for a one-hour sit-down — free of charge. (What?Yes.)
"The design process can be so overwhelming for people," explains Feldman, who once held an online focus group in a space decked out with OKL items and watched, amazed, as everyone ogled the pillows and couches and rugs. She knew then that a brick-and-mortar was a good idea. "We have over 40,000 items on our site — it’s daunting!" Online, OKL always has offered shoppers inspiration and access, she says, but it hadn’t quite mastered the ability to help customers truly personalize their experience and express themselves. The opportunity to work with customers, one-on-one, and in person will be a game-changer, she says. Plus, suddenly the idea of buying a bigger-ticket item, like an OKL couch is easier to stomach, when you can actually come in and sit for a spell, sink into its cushions and feel the fabric. (You’ve gotta try the gorgeous, masculine gray wool couch with mahogany trim and chrome steel legs, that commands the "City" room in SOMA. At $1,500, "you get a lot of look for that price," says Alex Reid, head designer.)
To the left, cubicles of tech types toil away, to the right, guests are greeted with coffee and fresh fruit, and mini-mason jars of yogurt parfaits — and two former conference rooms that have been transformed into two seasonal "vignettes" — Town + Country, they’re calling it. "In an ideal world, you’ve got your city place and your country place…" said Reid.
Here, in the "Country," which ironically overlooks SOMA’s construction cranes and a dim sum restaurant — you’ve got bold blues mixed with lots of wood, a distressed "quirky-sized" vintage dough table and dhurrie rugs, an airy beaded chandelier and a vintage shandong bench with a zebra print hair hide upholstery, the walls are decorated with a montage of sea-themed oil paintings and old black-and-white surf photographs. A few steps, and suddenly you’re back in the city — "No commute!" jokes Feldman — where it’s all about easy urban sophistication: a clean-lined iron bed; linen sheets; an assortment of horn-rimmed wall mirrors; and an almost invisible Plexi-Craft clear coffee table ideal for small spaces.
Online, OKL has a seemingly infinite scroll of its curated offerings, but the studio cures the amateur decorator’s ADD, by further curating the inventory. And shows folks what an OKL-sourced room really looks — and feels like — in the flesh, while still allowing customers to design their own space, in their own way, which is what OKL has always been about.
For now, at least, the San Francisco studio and the New York City studio feature the exact same vignettes — down to every throw blanket and fiddle-leaf fig tree. Whether East and West coasts tastes will wildly differ down the line remains to be seen. "We just don’t know yet," says Feldman. "We can’t wait to see!" But, says Pincus, a "best-seller is a best-seller," regardless of the city.
Reid, OKL head designer, agrees. "I lived in L.A. for eight years and moved to New York a year-and-a-half ago, I don’t think New York is really any more buttoned-up than California, maybe some of our easy-breezy pieces will do better out West, where, it’s constantly summer.” Still, Reid changes the vignettes every season.
And every month, he does a celebrity home makeover. He recently designed Rebecca Minkoff’s Brooklyn living room. He put together a nursery for supermodel Coco Rocha. California designer Jenny Kayne is up next, along with Estee Stanley’s Hamptons manse and Gwyneth Paltrow-founded GOOP’s Manhattan office. OKL also has projects in the works with Lauren Bush Lauren, shoe designer Jesse Randall, and handbag maven Claire Vivier.
Going into stars’ and tastemakers’ homes, and lives, is one way OKL hopes to spread the big news that it’s open for highly personalized business. The other is by word-of-mouth — the San Francisco studio hasn’t even officially opened yet, and already they have five appointments lined up on Day One.
And if my own peek at OKL’s newly designed digs is any indication… once they get you in the door — and let you see, firsthand, the way, say, the Luna 6-Light Chandelier in Bronze by Cristorama looks up-close, and over a table — they’ve got you. "This studio is the gateway drug," says Wilson.