All that Glitters

By Thomas A. Kligerman

For a project to go well, an architect needs to understand a lot of different professions: contractor, lighting designer, interior decorator, mason, and more. But these last couple months I’ve found myself trying to understand a more unfamiliar role – Director.


With another kind of "Director" - SFFAS Director Ariane Trimuschat. 

Ike Kligerman Barkley was given the opportunity to design the Grand Entryway for the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show this year, and we jumped at the chance when asked. One of our earliest goals was to have an outsize display – something as spectacular as the show itself always is.  

The Fort Mason Center.

The show debuted last week Wednesday at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco with a glittering Preview Gala, and continued through the weekend. There were lectures, book talks and thousands of eager attendees. All the proceeds went to the Enterprise for High School Students, a vital San Francisco organization. Looking back, it’s always amazing how many people and tasks come together to make a final project shine – whether it’s a house, a single room, a weekend long show, or in this case, a towering video entryway.

Our powerful slowmo camera. 

First sketch. 

When we started our process several months ago, we began by riffing on the show’s theme: Rush of Gold. Our simple question: what can we do that is cutting-edge, beautiful, and gold all over? I loved the idea of incorporating video – the possibilities seemed endless of what we could display, and we could also pay homage to the Bay Area’s digital culture that is, indeed, its new Gold Rush. We decided on six, monumental columnar screens that would feature gold-inspired images. 



Our final four: Champagne bubbles, an antique clock's gears, our office's pet goldfish, and swirling gold leaf. 

We soon found that when you start to look for gold, you really find it everywhere. A festive, towering flute of champagne? Crumbled gold leaf, flowing golden curtains, or flying sparks? The gears of a clock? What about goldfish, with long, slowly moving fins? We tossed around many ideas before finally deciding on a series of four videos filmed in languorous slow motion. 

Preparing to shoot the Champagne. 

Our stars, Frank Lloyd "Wright" on the left, and "Wrong" on the right. 

We called on two colleagues from the office of Irene Mamiye to help us with our production. From Chinatown to the Upper East Side, we traipsed around the city to assemble our footage. We uncorked bottles of Champagne in the office, made a suitable environment for two new pet fish, and searched for a 19th century skeleton clock to film its gilded gears. (We found one at Fanelli Antique Timepieces.)

During this time, the screens were designed in our office – with a black lacquer base, trusses that resembled the industrial nature of the show’s pavilion, and a International Orange back, the same shade as the Golden Gate Bridge. (Got that one from John Ike.)  

Screens on their side at the Ryan warehouse. 

Soon, it was time to put it all together. Ryan Associates created the screens in their impressive San Francisco shop, while Robert Gilligan from VIA Home installed the complicated six projector system at the Fort Mason Center. Our San Francisco office did quality assurance to make sure it was all coming together. Hit play on the video above to see it the set-up in action. 

Months after beginning, it was finally the Preview Gala – otherwise known as show time:

With the weekend of the show over, and my directorial debut complete, I returned to New York, where the goldfish are normal sized and the streets more grit than glitter. As with the end of any project, it was time for a good night sleep.