Retail travels

San Francisco - Explorer

By Karl McKeever | 05.10.18

Karl the Fog may never be too far away, but when I recently visited San Francisco it was clear to see that there are some fine examples of good retail  in the city.

Dzine, 128 Utah St

What do we love?
Specialising in contemporary kitchen interiors, Dzine’s store is everything you’d expect but no less impressive for it. Minimalism is very much the watchword in this store, both for its products and the environment in which they are displayed. Product is undoubtedly king. Yet through the deft use of simple cooking elements and accessories (such as the balanced display of pans and utensils), Dzine elevates the retail experience from one that could have been cold, austere – even pretentious – to one that feels like an engaging and useable space, helping customers to imagine the Pitt Holland made products taking pride of place in their own home.


March, 3075 Sacramento St

What do we love?
‘Make yourself at home’ is clearly a mantra that March believe in. Its beautifully crafted store environment creates a true sense of home and feels both informal and accessible. In truth, product presentation is carefully curated and effortlessly executed in a way that is artistic but accessible – enabling the personality of the brand to shine through. Draped linen clothes are displayed over a clothes airer as if they’ve been left to dry, while paintings by Gary Komarin hang on the walls. Compelling product stories are told around each collection, while the effective use of colour balance and coordination gives a strong, cohesive visual identity to the entire retail space.


Playmountain EAST, 555 Alabama St

What do we love?
There are too many retail examples of cookie-cutter store experiences. Retaining much of the original old factory equipment, this unique industrial space turned gallery/store is anything but. It oozes cool, showcasing a wonderful assortment of rotating artists and artisans crafts by mostly Japanese artists. Here you can buy everything from bags and notebooks to glassware, chairs and accessories. The open space creates a fresh, artistic gallery-like vibe, reinforced by the use of minimal basic fixtures and simple, effortless presentation techniques. Proof that less sometimes really is more.


Kolo Topdrawer, 1409 Haight St

What do we love?
Topdrawer want to create tools that last a lifetime and are passed down through the generations. Its strapline is ‘Tools for nomads’ – the brand believes that all its products should be able to fit in a bag to achieve your best work. The tools in question (a mix of American and Japanese manufacturing) revolve around four basic life activities – work, photography, eating and travel. Natural hues and wooden interior fixtures provide the perfect backdrop to products with a strong colour focus. Though highly impactful, it’s far from a riot of colour. Instead, the palette is carefully coordinated, with a repeated pattern throughout the store, making everything from stationery and storage boxes to wash bags and travel accessories more engaging than they really have the right to be.


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