There are plenty of good reasons to visit San Francisco, from the breathtaking scenery to the world-class restaurants and, of course, the Full House house. And if you’re on the hunt for good design, you’ll find it around every corner here. These are just a handful of our favorite design destinations in the city by the bay.
Balmy Alley Murals – Street art abounds in San Francisco, but this is the place to go to see the most concentrated collection of murals in one spot. Located along one block off of 24th Street in the Mission, some of the alley’s 30-plus murals date as far back as the 1980s, and it’s in a constant state of flux.
111 Minna Gallery – Get a taste of San Francisco’s gallery scene at this SoMa hotspot. The 4,000-square-foot converted warehouse showcases a regularly rotating roster of international and local artists like Joe Kelly, Michael Reedy, and David Choong Lee. The featured exhibit for March is “Acting Funny,” a group show curated by Andres Guerrero. Grab a cup of coffee from the in-house café to fuel your art-viewing, and be sure to check back at night for film screenings, happy hours, and artsy events.
de Young Museum – The exterior of this building alone warrants a visit from any architecture fiend; located in Golden Gate Park, it was a collaboration between local architects Fong & Chan and Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron. Inside, the museum boasts tens of thousands of American artworks ranging from the 17th century to today. On view now through April 19, “Celebrating the Spectrum: Highlights from the Anderson Collection” features works from Jasper Johns, Josef Albers, Roy Lichtenstein, and more.
Rare Device – Both locations of this boutique/gallery (in Noe Valley and Nopa) stock everything from jewelry to kids’ clothes to paper goods from emerging designers. The aesthetic is modern and whimsical — you’ll find everything from local designer Christine Trac’s delicate neon necklaces to original paintings from Courtney Cerruti.
The Ferry Building – This historic marketplace on the Embarcadero isn’t just for foodies — it’s also chock-full of good design. Admire the midcentury-inspired pottery of Sausalito’s famous Heath Ceramics, gush over the packaging at homegrown salumeria Boccalone, and fall in love with the décor at Boulibar, an eatery with custom-made oak tables, a bronze hearth, Hans J. Wegner chairs, and lighting by iconic British designer Tom Dixon.
Three Fish Studios – Husband-and-wife team Annie Galvin and Eric Rewitzer run this sweet little print shop in Dogpatch. They collaborate to create original prints, paintings, and other artsy goodies, and they host regular printmaking classes, too. Take home one of their California bear hug prints as a souvenir.
Museum of Craft and Design – After several years of bouncing between pop-up locations, this contemporary museum has settled into the Dogpatch neighborhood. Current exhibits include Chris Eckert’s steampunk-inspired “Mechanical Parables” and “Data Clay: Digital Strategies for Parsing the Earth,” which pairs up ceramics and digital technology. Keep an eye on the calendar for regular Etsy Craft Labs.
Saint Frank Coffee – The San Francisco chapter of the American Institute of Architects recently recognized this fair-trade coffee shop, designed by David Baker Architects and Open Scope Studios. The uncluttered Scandinavian-inspired space boasts soaring ceilings, white tile, warm oak, and loads of natural light.
The Design District – Anchored by Townsend and Henry Adams streets, this sprawling district is frequented by designers and architects. Here you’ll find the San Francisco Design Center, the Design Within Reach flagship store, and the man cave-like Battersea, plus dozens of other design-oriented shops of all shapes and sizes.
Proxy – This collection of shipping containers in Hayes Valley is home to a biergarten, pop-up restaurants, art installations, and shops. Originally intended to be temporary, Proxy extended its lease for eight more years in 2013, and it’s since become known as a model for innovative urban development.