A designer’s life is, ideally, full of experiences that enhance our understanding of beauty and empower us with the tools for creating beauty in the lives of our clients.

Longtime readers of my blog know that I love nothing more than empowering my clients to entertain, to live lives that enhance their connections to their families, friends, and communities.

Hosting dinner parties, setting a gracious table, welcoming people into a space that not only nurtures them, but also and most importantly nurtures the homeowner in living their best lives, reflecting so clearly who they are, the light in them; this is at the core of what I do, and why I love it.

So, you can imagine my immense delight at attending a dinner party this past week, celebrating the launch of this year’s San Francisco Fall Antiques Show, in the home of Design Industry Power Couple, Gioi Tran and Vernon Applegate, of Applegate Tran Interiors.

The way that Gioi and Vernon throw a dinner party, you simply have to step back and admire the results of all of the effort they put into it! Everywhere you look is a beauty moment; and not just in the decor — which, of course, you would expect that of an interior designer. But also, in every single thoughtful detail, the flowers, the pianist, every aspect of the six-course meal, which Gioi designed and executed himself, as he’s also a chef, and a painter.

This dinner party highlighted for me one of my favorite topics: what it takes to be a gracious host. What I observe about Gioi is that he gives himself permission to fully express his creativity and his joy. He has so much to share, he moves with such velocity through life, with nothing inhibiting his creative flow. And he and his partner Vernon take so much delight in taking care of others, creating experiences for them, down to the tiniest detail…

Every time someone got up from the table to use the restroom, Gioi would pause our conversation, “hold on!” and select a song for that person, to be playing in the bathroom.

Even going to the bathroom was a curated experience!

Of course their home was astonishing. Vernon and Gioi bought this warehouse in the Mission-adjacent, years ago, moving the company offices in upstairs and converting the downstairs into living quarters with a relatively tiny (yet mighty) kitchen, lounge/living room area, and of course, an extraordinary dining table. The design style is more “new tradish,” with fun, funky art pieces, furniture that has interest in its own right, and, of course, Gioi’s paintings. Our dinner was lit by the most fantastic wood-and-hand-blown-glass industrial-style chandelier, “The Fungo” by Lasvit Design. The couple is always tweaking, always adding to and changing their home, as it pleases them.

The dinner was in part celebrating the launch of this year’s San Francisco Fall Show, an art and antiques sale benefitting Enterprise for Youth. I love this show. For many years, I have attended with Piedmont resident and building contractor Alex Hodgkinson (formerly of McCutcheon Construction, currently with Mueller Nichols) as my tour guide. Alex’ father was an antique dealer and it is always a delight to walk through the festival pavilion with Alex, who has a story for nearly every interesting thing, explaining various obscure objects and their uses.

Guests in attendance at the dinner party included the rep who sold Vernon that chandelier, plus members of the staff of Philip Jeffries as well as the owner of this eponymous wall-covering company, who is the senior son of the founder, plus other Bay Area interior design luminaries.

If you are on my email list, you may recall that in September I had the honor — and pleasure — of being a panelist for a to-the-trade-only talk on layering textures at the Philip Jeffries showroom at the San Francisco Design Center.

Thus, it all interweaves together, for me. The talk I gave, the dinner guests, the antiques show, the tribe of beauty makers, of which I am both a contributor and beneficiary, the events we celebrate, and the ways that we create the palettes for the celebratory events of others, highlighting the values of grace, connection, community, and home.

A version of this article appeared in the Piedmont Post

Photo Credits:

The Fungo: Chandelier install at the home/offices of Applegate Tran (photo credit: Gioi Tran)

The centerpiece: Flower arrangements on the dining table at our gracious party (photo credit: Laura Martin Bovard)

Our gracious hosts: Vernon Applegate and Gioi Tran, in front of a painting by Gioi Tran (photo credit: Laura Martin Bovard)

The Dream Team from our textures and textiles talk at SFDC — photo credit Nikki Richter: (L-R) Todd Huckabone (Philip Jeffrries VP of sales for N. America), Natalie Mize (Outside Sales Representative for Philip Jeffries), speaker/designer Laura Martin Bovard, speaker/designer Cynthia Spence, and Jeremiah Allen (Showroom Director, Philip Jeffries).