San Francisco’s FOG Art + Design Fair, a Puccini Group Review


With San Francisco brimming with hubs of instagrammable art pop ups (think Museum of Ice Cream and Color Factory), design has become the topic of the moment among artists and taste makers. This trend of art-pop-talk gets a lift from the swirling success of the city’s museum jewel, SFMOMA, which claims the solo spot on the list of West Coast curators who showcase solely 20th century pieces.

Equally as scrumptious to behold was this year’s FOG Art+Design Fair. This 5th annual celebration of leading creatives and visual arts contributors assembled 45 galleries, including Hosfelt and Gagosian, bringing contemporary dealers and socialites a weekend of “wow” moments in the city’s Fort Mason Pavilion. And who better to join the fray of celebrated architects and global taste makers than Puccini Group’s own pack of purveyors. Designers from each of the firm’s studios joined forces with Curate Art Group to explore the show floor a discerning eye and inspiration-readied notepads.

Designers Derek Jacobsen and Jennifer Sharp found scale to be of huge influence, while Chief Creative Officer, Rob Polacek, and Studio Director Nick Domitrovich noted that what was impressive in size was contrasted with subtleties, natural materials, and what Domitrovich described as, “an overall level of somberness.” He further articulated the mood, “Given the overall political climate, the art world seems to be collectively responding in the best way they know how – through the art itself.”

“…the art world seems to be collectively responding in the best way they know how – through the art itself.”

In other trends seen, Designer Jocelyn Ramos noted that, “Showcasing the many ways to manipulate ceramics was amazing. The way it can take different forms is great for use in projects with art as the focal point.” Emulation was in fashion as designers noticed a focus on the manipulation of materials through different mediums. Domitrovich and Sharp saw use of atypical components in creating elements of surprise or a direct, artificial version – a la trompe l’oeil effect. Whether in the form of ceramics fired to resemble reclaimed wood or carved marble mocking wrinkled paper, falsities caused viewers to stop, stare, and question. To Domitrovich, the ah-ha discovery is a source of delight for potential guests who may revisit the same hospitality space frequently.

Speaking of evoking emotions, Puccini Group designers found themselves engaged in an experience of art begging a visceral response. Sam Mason struck a humorous note with Jasmin Anoschkin’sYogapants,” a ceramic sculpture inspired by fantastical creatures, while Sharp recalls her most memorable discovery in Kohei Nawa’s superficially surfaced taxidermy. Glass orbs covered the entirety of the animals, a layered method notably displayed in the artist’s stag (pictured above). The photography of Thomas Struth mesmerized designer Seth Huxel, finding himself struck by the nuances of the sophisticated space equipment and causing him “to spend a great deal of time conversing with curators on the intricacies involved in such intense technology.” Be it beguilement or captivation, FOG delivered in the non-traditional museum walkabout.

Mason also believed Struth to be a fair favorite, specifically his Full-scale Mock-up 1, JSC, Houston (pictured above), showcasing a provocativeness in photography. She shares to have been, “immediately drawn in by the bright blue hues as I curiously tried to piece together what exactly I was looking at. Was it something from space? Why would I see light reflections? What were the yellow items in the image? After standing there for quite some time, I finally asked the gallery owner to explain the piece.”

Turns out, Houston’s aerospace facilities house a full-scale mock-up of a spaceship, purposed to train the astronauts in exterior aircraft repairs. A practice model is submerged in a pool, providing an experience similar to being in space. Mason continued, “It’s pieces like this that really get you thinking!”

Creatively thinking, sure. But physically connecting?

Dealing with space beyond the immediate art form is a daily consideration for Puccini Group creatives. At FOG, the team felt that the enormity and angular perspectives encouraged visitor interaction. In the Hosfelt Gallery, Emil Lukas’ Collective Binding #1591 hung so that by observing from either its convex or concave side, one’s vision into the tubes was partially inhibited. Installations used components to bounce and amplify sound, which Sharp described as “reminiscent of a science experiment.” While Huxel found this level of exploration to be original, he felt it “catered to the audience on hand,” a direction he appreciated and applauded.

Whether through trend or theme, FOG Art+Design promised remarkable art and delivered a new wave spectacle that strayed far from the canvas norm. And while you no longer can visit, you can peruse our designer’s favorite artists, both international and California made, in your own FOG Fair greatest hits virtual tour:


About Puccini Group

Puccini Group has been creating inspired concepts, interior designs, and brand identities for the world’s leading hospitality brands since Bob Puccini founded the firm in 1996. Puccini Group’s client roster includes the Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, InterContinental, Hilton, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Starwood, St. Regis, and more. Puccini Group’s multi-studio specializations include Concepts, Interior Design, Marketing, Branding, and Operations, which together results in a holistic approach to successful hospitality experiences in projects both within its home state of California, and internationally. The San Francisco-based firm is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary.