(The designer amidst one of her typically organic vignettes. Photo by Angie Silvy)
: Alison DavinOccupation
: Principal, JuteResides in
: San FranciscoBest known for
: Urban earthiness. 1. Antique or modern?
Antique. I will always buy something with character or a great patina over something new.
2. City or country?
City. I need the energy of a city. San Francisco is great because it's small, so you get a lot of the perks of city living without a lot of the negatives.
3. Which colors do you use most?
We call them non-colors in our studio: colors that are mixed together to create indistinguishable hues that have amazing depth. Our signature "jute" color is one of them—the perfect blend of brown, green and gray.
4. Favorite materials or textures?
Concrete, linen, steel, and wool.
5. What is your favorite interior design-related word?
(The dining room (above left) and living room in a San Anselmo bungalow accented with earthy textured objects and clean-lined furniture pieces. Photos by Matthew Millman)
6. Does your current home look like the one you grew up in?
No. I grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles. San Francisco living is much more charming.
7. Does a room need a view?
Yes. I am really big into light and the positioning of windows within a space. There is nothing better than well placed windows and doors that frame a view. They enhance the space more than anything else can.
8. Favorite designer or architect?
Patricia Urquiola for product design, and John Saladino for interiors. Both understand scale so well.
9. Which design blog, website, TV show, or magazine would you be lost without?World of Interiors
. I get over a dozen interior magazines each month and if I could just keep one, that would be it.
10. What qualities do you most admire in a room?
I admire a room where the interiors are in harmony with the architecture. A room where nothing stands out and every element complements the next.
(A Potrero Hill home's dining room. Photo by Matthew Millman)
11. What is a forbidden word in your house?
Now. Please is so much nicer to hear from a five-year-old.
12. Design rule you love to break?
I don't think there are rules these days.
13. What is your favorite room in the house?
I like a formal dining room with four walls. No one wants one these days but there is something great about sharing a meal in a more intimate setting rather than a multipurpose great room.
14. What is your most treasured possession?
My grandmother's silverware. It's monogrammed and from the '20s and reminds me of her.
15. What do you wish you could do without?
Email. I dislike it more than anything.
(The bedroom (above left) and living room in a flat in San Francisco's Marina neighborhood. Photos by Matthew Millman)
16. How does West Coast design differ from East Coast design? Does it?
I think West Coast design is a little less intentional and a little more organic.
17. What is your favorite thing about the West Coast—design-related or
The West Coast is beautiful. I am very fortunate to have a Marin-based office. It is one of the most stunning places on the West Coast.
18. If you could live in one historical figure’s house, whose would it be?
Marie Antoinette's carriage house at Versailles. I love the thatched roof and beam work. And the adjacent gardens are more unruly than the rest of the grounds.
19. On what movie set would you like to live?The Dreamers
. I could live in Paris in a heartbeat. And the city as seen through the film is so vibrant.
20. To which country would you move for the design?
Uruguay. I love the mix of modern and rustic. Whenever I see images of a home I love it's always in Uruguay.
21. If you were reborn as a piece of furniture or an object, what would it be?
A ring. I am not a jewelry person, but if I was an object, I like the idea of being a symbol of love or friendship.