The Archery Brings Professional Craft and Culinary Culture Together Under One Roof
Randall Stowell is no stranger to cross-platform thinking. Building on a start-up portfolio that includes the high-profile, interdisciplinary design firm Autofuss and robotics atelier Bot & Dolly—both acquired by Google—the San Francisco entrepreneur has now parlayed his love of craft, design and food culture into a shared space for professional makers called The Archery. The category-defying enterprise—complete with studios, a kitchen with on-site chef, retail showroom and flexible production workspace—is housed in a 20,000-square-foot former iron factory in the Mission and features work environments designed with the artisan in mind.
“The Archery is a place that’s meant for the person making a product or practicing fine craft—a creative hub for designers that comes with built-in resources, technology and community,” says Stowell. The evolving space currently accommodates resident makers jewelry designer Lauren Godfrey and textile artist Renee Johnson, along with a growing ecosystem of creatives including commercial photographers, 3-D modelers and culinary inventors who rent out space on a project-by-project basis.
The Archery’s vast, soaring central room, with its open rafters, natural light and original, unfinished wood floor, is highly conducive to creative production. The lounge area features De Vorm pod chairs (acoustically designed to promote private conversation), while the work area features desks by design-forward outfits Artifox and of-the-moment Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingles Group. Other furnishings—standing desks, bench seats and office accessories—were made in collaboration with local builders Four/Quarter, Most Modest, Yvonne Mouser and artist Andy Vogt. Also headquartered at The Archery is Mod, a shared workspace prototype that Stowell and brother Brian are developing (it launched with Mod Phoenix in 2014). Their goal? To redefine the future of work by bringing concierge-style service to mobile workers who want finer amenities. Mod’s custom digital platform, called Merci, allows members to text Apple Watch–wearing concierges with any number of productivity-boosting requests, from help with shipping a package to purchasing a new power cord.
On-demand services also include one of Mod’s best perk by far: direct food delivery to your workspace from a seasonal, nutritious in-house food program overseen by 22-year-old chef Kane Adkisson, previously of Michelin-starred Saison and Coi. “The menu is designed to keep workers feeling satisified, energetic and productive throughout the day,” says Jamie Shaw, director of brand experience. “It includes fresh farmers market produce, small grazing portions and globally inspired dishes.” When caffeination is needed to fuel the mind, members indulge in craft coffee drinks from yet another of Stowell’s concerns, Front microroastery, housed in the complex.
The space is also the home base for Stowell’s acclaimed Taste Workshop, a program of food-themed, conceptual art happenings that’s been luring the city’s culinary intelligentsia into experimental territory since 2012. “Where there’s food, there’s culture, and culture is what’s most important to me," says Stowell. "That, and retaining creative production in the Mission."
A version of this article appeared in the November/December 2016 issue of SFC&G (San Francisco Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: A Feast for the Senses.