Jacques Saint Dizier | Saint Dizier Home
As any interior designer can tell you, at some point in design school, you will learn about Angelo Donghia. It's inevitable that you do a little research and realize that he was a rock star of the design world who was taken far too soon. His style was unimpeachable, and he was prolific in his career that spanned just over a quarter of a century. He was a great businessman to boot, and he had opened a few important design firms, all of them bearing the name of a man who became a synonym for style.
Donghia's legacy is cemented for the foreseeable future thanks to the fact that he had hired and mentored some of the brightest young talents in the interior design world during a time when designers demanded the spotlight. The 80's were a formative time for me, the atmosphere was one where creativity was a part of the fabric of society in very interesting ways. Cultures were influencing other cultures. Technology and the media allowed for messaging and taste-making to occur at light speed. To stay ahead of the trends, having a talented pool of young designers was key. Among that pool was one of his brightest stars, Jacques Saint Dizier.
I got to meet up with Jacques in Healdsburg last week to talk a little bit about the design business and also the retail side of the game. I was really humbled that he would take the time to talk to someone like myself, just starting out, and hungry to break in the business. Jacques has been on the AD100 list twice! So I was a little nervous on the drive up to the North Bay. I haven't spent a lot of time up that way since leaving Sonoma State to chase dreams of being a starving artist for a living in 1995. I had lots of feels during the drive remembering old hangouts and events that shaped me as the artist I am today. So I was comforted when I finally got to sit down to talk with Jacques and he turned out to be one of the warmest people I have ever met. I soaked in the information, foregoing my usual habit of scribbling in my notebook. I didn't want to run the risk of not being present while talking to someone who has designed a house where Beyonce and Jay-Z stayed!. Yeah, I was swimming in deep water, and loving every minute.
Since I am new in the trade, and I have aspirations of also having a retail space of my own, I was extra attentive when he talked about his store, Saint Dizier Home. After lunch, I was eager to spend some time looking through the store and talking to the staff. Jacques had to get back to his busy day, so I broke out my notebook and camera and started in at the store. Right away, the first thing that I noticed, was that it felt like walking into home. It was a retail space, but one that was put together with the utmost care and attention to the interaction of scale as well as the balance of colors. A quick glance through to the back of the store, and I couldn't see anything in the store that made me shrug and say, "meh." Jacques made it clear that the true brains behind the success of SDH was his trusted head purchaser and in house designer, Cathy Hopkins. The textures and colors are unashamedly Californian in their essence, truly representative of the style of the Sonoma coastal and agricultural areas. Raw and refined.
I mentioned the textures. I love textures. I noticed during lunch that Jacques was making an emphatic point, and the motion he made with his hand across the table, made an imprint of the iron mesh of the outdoor cafe table below. He stopped mid-sentence, but I had hardly noticed his pause in the conversation, because I too had paused in a rare moment of distraction to look at the detail of the diamond shapes on the red napkin. I wasn't surprised to walk through the store feeling like Jack Skellington walking through Christmas Town the first time. "What's this!" I kept giggling to myself because the textures weren't gaudy or overwrought ... instead they were handsome details: tasteful in their application and artful in their presentation. Every texture was unique, but there were motifs throughout, keeping one from feeling overwhelmed. Again, a testament to the expert curation of each piece.
I just wanted to walk through the store with my eyes closed and my arms outstretched.
I also was struck by the quintessential California Coastal color palette of the showroom. I had a deep affinity for the blues and greys that were found throughout. The other notable aspect was the careful selection of hanging art on the walls. Bold splashes of colors were featured in the paintings and prints, but the colors represented more of the natural, raw Californian beauty, so there was an ease with which one could move from browsing the furniture, to browsing the walls looking at the art. It feels like a home, and like a well designed home, the design disappears, and the people in the space get to take it in on their own timeframe. In other words, the dang place is stylish AND comfortable. But something that I kept coming back to was that it felt like a very approachable type of luxe. Perhaps because everything worked so well.
I don't want to give the impression that the style of the store is monolithic. It is decidedly not. The store embraces wholeheartedly the Transitional mantra that style is not beholden to artificial labels and epochs.
Instead, the diversity of the ways that beauty is expressed in the store is representative of the diversity of the terrain and the people and cultures of California.
I'm a California kid, born and raised, so it was a stylistic sentiment that I harmonized with. To further this, just about everything on the floor is customizable with hundreds of swatches and finishes.
If you've ever been to a showroom that serves the trade, the tendency is to cram in products and samples so tightly that it is often uncomfortable, too dark, and not amenable to making important decisions for one's home or business. It was refreshing, then, to see that whenever customers walked into SDH, the very knowledgeable staff would be readily available to help customers explore options for different pieces. The public has the ability to explore the beauty of a well-curated collection in a well lit environment that is comfortableand inviting. They also have free access to skilled interior designers ... it is truly a unique and remarkable experience.
If you are an interior designer or informed consumer or neophyte DIY decorator looking for a way to beautify your home, Saint Dizier Home is a must see. Well worth the drive to Healdsburg.