unexpected guests: windy chien.
i’m delighted to take you on my first home tour and introduce you to windy chien—a vibrant and very talented product designer based here in san francisco’s mission neighborhood. victoria and i had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know windy during a recent trip to tulum. i was thrilled she was part of our camp, as i was already a fan of her edgy wooden spoons. with an interest in elevating the daily rituals of life, windy has designed her first collection of truly unique objects, which includes the hand carved wooden spoons with heavier ergonomic handles (which she nicknamed “fat bottomed girls”), a set of bad ass brass rings that go with every outfit, macrame dog leashes that are both stylish durable, and beautiful macrame corded lamps (which hide the long plastic-covered wiring.) she originally made all these pieces for herself and then shared them with her friends, a creative bunch who have been honing their crafts for years and are a constant inspiration.
before launching her products, windy studied filmmaking (even presenting her work at sundance), owned and operated sf’s aquarius records for over a decade, and also worked for apple’s itunes and app store. in addition to being a product designer and maker, she’s also an iOS consultant.
i hope you enjoy getting to know windy and her very colorful home feature!
how long have you been living in san francisco and in your current home?
i’ve been in SF since 1989, when the city was full of freaks, punk rockers and artists. i have always proudly lived in the mission, first in a 2BR apt on bartlett street for 20 years, and now in my own house in a quieter part of the mission for the past 5 years.
what are a few things about san francisco that make you call it home?
my friends and my history here. i’m immensely proud of my 14 years with aquarius records, helping build it into the world-class music shop and telling the world about the great music we loved. the store is still there, proudly holding it down on valencia street.
what is the best way to get to know your neighborhood?
just walk. i like to see how folks have painted their victorians, who has dug up their sidewalk and planted, who’s walking their dog, and what kind of bikes are hip nowadays.
what has inspired/influenced your décor style?
the house is old, built before the 1906 earthquake, so its age tells me what to do with it. for example, i kept a section of the walls bare and raw when we uncovered layers of plaster and lathe found under the last paint job, and even put gold in the cracks. it’s my favorite part of the house. i also try to balance out the old victorian architecture stuff with mid century thrift scores, my own ‘70s-inspired macrame hangings, and lots of art made by my friends. there’s a mural painted directly on my dining room walls by the local artist amy rathbone. recently i’ve become obsessed with the memphis milano style, and am constantly on the lookout for crazy pieces in that new wave, primary color style.
what is your most favorite room and why?
i can’t pick just one! this is truly my dream house.
my closet, which is an entire room with a doorless hanging rail and tons of open shelving again made with the floorboard reclaimed from my attic remodel. i hate closets with doors —how can one see anything? so my closet is a proper dressing room with everything out in the open and natural light.
my attic bedroom. you get there from a circular stairway up through the dressing room on the ground floor. the attic is the entire footprint of the house in one gigantic room. here i have all my books and cds in the long, low open shelving i’d always wanted, and an open half bath with ferns and skylights. the attic is a perfect place to wake up.
my combined dining room/kitchen, because i spend all my time there. the dining room is filled to the brim with art made by my friends amy rathbone, virgil shaw, chris corales, jim haynes, and jeremiah maddock. the kitchen is a bright and happy place made more open by the open shelving i constructed with the floorboards from the attic remodel, which replaced the old and heavy closed cabinets that were there before.
what’s currently on your turntable/pod/phone?
cosmic space disco from
where have you traveled recently and what did you bring back?
i have a beautiful white knotted hammock found in tulum, mexico, and a blue and white rug from morocco.
is there another talent or hobby you’d like to master?
i’d like to play guitar better. and learn to surf.
any secrets about the city you think we should know about?
the best chinese food in the city is not downtown, it’s in the other chinatowns in the sunset and the richmond. also, dog heaven, a.k.a. fort funston.
what bores you to death?
working on something i don’t care about.
future plans or projects for your home?
later this year we’re going to paint the front of the house just like the back of it already is — in a gradient probably in sunset colors, from yellow to coral to red. i’m always amazed that more people with victorians don’t do this! a great way to make an old facade modern. my inspiration for this is that beautiful rainbow-painted house on clipper street in noe valley.
to learn more about windy get a peek inside her backyard studio, check out this feature here. and if you have any questions for windy, feel free to leave them in the comments section and she’ll happily get back to you.
thanks for joining me! i look forward to sharing another home visit with you soon.
• all photography by leslie santarina.