Who is RareField? If you live in San Francisco and enjoy eating out, there's a good chance that you've dined in one of their interiors without realizing it. Flour + Water, Central Kitchen, Le Marais Bakery… the list goes on. If the firm's name doesn't ring a bell, that's because up till now they've been known as the design/build arm of Paxton Gate - the Mission District's storied purveyor of succulents, minerals, nautili and other assorted arcanum of the natural world (don't miss the real human skull). RareField signals a fresh start for the firm, and we caught up with founder Sean Quigley to learn more about the rebranding and to scope out their new beautifully renovated office on Valencia Street - hit the jump to take a look!
Wandering into Paxton Gate‘s Valencia Street storefront is like taking a trip to the natural history museum. Cabinets stuffed with curiosities line the walls, pinned butterflies sparkle in jewel cases, and a solarium-like space brims with carnivorous plants, tillandsia, and succulents of all shapes and sizes.
Sean Quigley launched the store in 1992, and in the years since he’s opened a children’s store, an additional location in Portland, and a design/build operation specializing in gardens, residences, retail spaces, and interiors for some of San Francisco’s most celebrated restaurants. However not all clients fit the store’s taxidermy-chic aesthetic – so the time came to relaunch the design/build venture with a fresh face.
Quigley says “We would meet with design/build clients at the store they would walk in with an astonished, but puzzled expression. Conversely when a retail customer discovered that Paxton Gate also offered design/build services, they would inevitably think that must include taxidermy, vintage ephemera or something macabre. When in reality, our design projects are driven by conceptual thinking customized for that particular client.”
RareField is helmed by Lead Designer Todd McCrea, Foreman Josh Neely, and Founder Sean Quigley. The name is a distillation of the team’s mission: “Enhancing life through space,” and it evokes the experience of standing alone in a field when a moment of inspiration strikes.
The launch of RareField coincides with the team’s move from a from a tiny, cramped attic above Paxton Gate to a lovely light-filled space down the street. The semi-open office strikes a balance between the privacy of cubicles and the airiness and circulation of an open plan. Walnut desks are divided by translucent panes of glass that allow light to pass while separating the space.
In many ways the office embodies RareField’s aesthetic: clean and modern, but also warm and inviting with subtle touches of wood and pops of greenery. Quigly and Co. spent weeks restoring the office’s original 19th-century fir floors, and they incorporated materials salvaged from the renovation throughout the office. The team customized off-the-shelf cabinetry with strips of reclaimed wood, and they built a beautiful work of wall art from strips of old-growth redwood salvaged from fence posts.
RareField currently has several exciting projects on the books – stay tuned for more in the future.
Photos by Sean Quigley