SF book event for designer Eric Cohler
Though the Hudson Grace design store on Sacramento Street is in a monochromatic mood, co-owner Monelle Totah was thrilled to hold a book signing Feb. 5 for designer Eric Cohler.
“When we added napkins in 21 colors here, that was a big deal,” joked Totah. “But Eric is not afraid of color or risks, and I love that about his vision.”
At the event co-hosted by art consultant Sabrina Buell, Onekingslane co-founder Alison Pincus, Allison Speer and Eric’s brother, venture capitalist Matt Cohler, friends jammed the store to celebrate the Manhattan designer’s first book, “Cohler on Design,” a monograph encompassing both family memoir and the 20th anniversary celebration of his design business.
Among the fans: Trevor Traina; Dorka Keehn; Yelp co-founder Jeremy Stoppelman and Zoey Stafford; Bill Brady; filmmaker Tiffany Shlain; J.P. Conte; Barbara Brown; Max Armour; Regina Callan and Dr. Priscilla Chan Zuckerberg.
Cohler was also a keynote speaker last week at the San Francisco Design Center’s Winter Market, where he discussed the 1937-era A. Conger Goodyear residence, a Long Island modernist masterpiece he once owned that he purchased to save and restore to its former glory.
“I’ve never met an old house I didn’t like. Even if they don’t always like me,” said Cohler, who also maintains a historic, landmarked Nob Hill pied-a-terre. “I like to restore, not renovate. There’s a major difference.”
Dubbed the “Mixmaster,” Cohler excels at combining contemporary with classical while embracing color, texture, art and architectural elements.
“My West Coast clients tend to be more contemporary and open to new ideas. But always with comfort in mind,” he says. “Not that New Yorkers don’t want a comfortable sofa. But New York is a more formal city than San Francisco.
However, his best, and most basic, advice for both seasoned design clients and budget-minded newbies derives from his colorful late grandmother whose life mantra was summed up in three words: “Edit, edit, edit!”
Cohler is also connected to Silicon Valley’s young tech titans who’ve recently been racking up substantial real estate.
“For some tech folks, putting a home together is daunting. They’re on the computer all day and figure they’ll do it themselves by going to Crate Barrel or Restoration Hardware,” he said. “But too often their home ends up looking like a furniture showroom.”
While their business spheres seem world’s apart, Matt Cohler, the first external executive hired at Facebook by founder Mark Zuckerberg, sees only similarities with his big brother.
“Eric’s aesthetic and taste definitely influenced my work,” says this current Benchmark Capital partner. “Because we’re both involved in a creative process that fulfills a larger vision.”
That said, there are degrees of intensity.
“The tech folks live in a world where they can push a button and expect things to happen instantly,” noted Eric Cohler, with a laugh. “So you better get that sofa in on the day you said it would arrive.”
Catherine Bigelow is The San Francisco Chronicle’s society correspondent. E-mail: [email protected]