Jonathan Rachman Injects the Past Into the Present at His Debut Boutique, J.Rachman
For interior designer Jonathan Rachman, there was a certain romance about the vacant storefront on Market Street—2,000 square feet of white walls and wood floors, with a ceiling lined in sheet music. This last element, a remnant of its previous life as a piano business, may have sealed the deal. “My mom is a pianist and was a piano teacher,” explains Rachman, who opened his namesake shop in the space in October. The location, across from the venerable Zuni Café, didn’t hurt either: “I can order a cocktail from my front door,” he says with a laugh.
Creating an environment that is “not contrived and formulated,” as he puts it, was key. “I’m very much in love with the story of gorgeous objects from the past—top hats, abandoned spectacles, jars and dinnerware from beautiful eras,” he notes. “I want to continue to preserve and share these things.”
J. Rachman goods range from antiques found around the world to new wares by artisans whose work he admires to his eponymous new line of Italian-made leather bags and accessories. An area of the shop that he refers to as “the living room” is anchored by a seven-foot vintage sofa topped with seat cushions upholstered in an ecru linen by Bolt Textiles and an array of Alexandra D. Foster silk pillows. His affinity for vintage chic—“the classics never go out of style,” he says—manifests in equestrian motifs like horsebits hand-painted onto vintage tumblers and horsehair tassels (the large versions make for whimsical drapery tiebacks). But the most striking feature in the tableau may be the custom artwork behind the sofa: A friend gave Rachman a black-and-white photo of a young couple from Welahan, the Indonesian village from which Rachman’s dad hails. He repeated the image on an expanse of Plexiglas to ghost-like effect, yielding a unique conversation piece.
According to Rachman, that’s part of the joy of having a shop. “The human connection is so important, the exchanging of stories,” he says. “I basically want to host people—have them come in, hang out, and enjoy themselves.”
A version of this article appeared in the November/December 2015 issue of San Francisco Cottages & Gardens with the headline: Heirloom Quality.