PSFK Visits: Clift Mixes Old World Style With New Media Savvy

PSFK Visits: Clift Mixes Old World Style With New Media Savvy

At the Clift hotel San Francisco, old meets new as historic architecture gives way prolific modern art- all with a distinctly west coast sensibility.

Laura Feinstein
  • 12 october 2011

While in New York City most deals and mergers happen at the office or in the boardroom, in San Francisco things are done a little differently. Known as much for being a tech and new media Mecca as it is for its gold-mining history and foodie draw, the San Fran lifestyle beats to a unique type of hip/ young urban drum. On a typical afternoon at Clift, Morgans Hotel Group’s East Bay property, you might overhear in the waiting room a young entrepreneur casually pitching his company to a potential investor via cell phone, while upstairs in the suite hallways iPad toting software enthusiasts talk QR codes and debate the merits of Uber vs. Tram. A mix of old world charm and fresh young sensibilities, Clift perfectly represents how multi-faceted its hometown city has become.

Just as San Fran is associated with its impressive modern art scene (being host to the SF wing of The Museum of Modern Art along with several other contemporary art galleries) Clift’s lobby also boasts a plethora of interesting visual works- with chairs from Ray and Charles Eames, a coffee table by Salvador Dali, a surreal stool by Renee Marguerite, and a sculpture custom made by William Sawaya. The real attention draw though is the imposing thirty-five-foot fireplace located in the reception area with an unforgettable bronze chimney sculpture by Gerard Garouste. There’s a certain slickness when you walk in that lets you know that the Clift is the place where people go not just to relax- but also to forge ahead.

While Clift at daytime offers lux seating and a mellow atmosphere at night it transforms into a chic club, as the lushly renovated Redwood Room pours designer drinks for the city’s silicon-valley elite. Boasting Phillipe Starck designed lounge furniture and a series of digital portraiture plasma screens of eerie Victorian-goth-meets-Missed-Connections photography, the room’s real charm is the way in which it’s incorporated the building’s original art and architecture (look closely at the hunting mural near the bar) with modern flourishes. Next door in the plush Velvet Room, Clift’s masterful chefs have partnered with local farmers and growers to produce seasonal menu items – which in true San Fran style are sustainably and organically grown. Reminiscent in some ways of the lavish east coast homes of railroad barons like Jay Gould and The Rockefellers, the Velvet Room is almost a high school history field trip come to life, as you dine among rich velvet curtains, mahogany and leather banquettes, hand blown Murano glass lamps, and larger than life cross- shaped (illuminated) communal dining table made entirely of hand-etched Venetian mirror glass.

However, the best thing about spending an evening out at a hotel is that it’s a cinch to find your way to a warm bed. Venture upstairs and you’ll be greeted by a modernist’s dream, with crafted furniture custom-designed by Starck, English sycamore accented by velvet, leather and chrome, and wooden “wheelbarrow” chairs inspired by Man Ray illuminated by a custom Venetian Murano glass lamps.

If you’re an art lover and you’re visiting the city by the bay any time soon be sure to check out Clift–if nothing else for it’s more than impressive lobby dwelling art menagerie.

Clift Hotel



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