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Year in review: Trends that need to stay in 2017

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From white subway tiles to Edison bulbs

Photo by ImageFlow

As the year draws to a close, Curbed SF asked informed locals in architectural, design, and x-factor industries to give us their thoughts on 2016, architecturally-speaking. Revealed here are trends that grew too tired.


↑ Erin Feher (style and design editor, San Francisco Magazine):

“White, white, white, white interiors. We get it, your house is clean (or at least it looks that when the photographer blows out all the photos). Go have a stiff drink at the Proper and then buy a damn patterned pillow at least.”

Marcel Wilson (founder/design director, Bionic; 2017 Curbed Groundbreaker):

The overuse of the term ‘world-class.’”

Photo by Olga Prava

↑ Malo Huston (professor of urban planning, UC Berkeley):

“Not enough investment in the public infrastructure for biking and public transit. I’m also tired of walking into cafes and restaurants that are basically all designed the same such as having Edison light bulbs everywhere. It seems like wherever you go around the country, new establishments in hip or up-and- coming neighborhoods are designed with Edison light bulbs. I think what makes an establishment great besides its quality ingredients or service, is its unique character.”

Mark Jensen (principal architect, Jensen Architects):

“Fast-casual architecture. Might be a good concept for restaurants but not for buildings. Modernism-lite popping-up all over town makes me feel culturally malnourished. Let's put some thought and care back into our building culture!”

Anne Fougeron (architect/founder, Fougeron Architecture):

“Rough lumber in interiors. Edison bulbs. Cheap tile as a exterior facade material on the ground floor. Residential stoops that unfortunately become places for the homeless and have to be gated in the end. Defeats the purpose. And they have accessibility issues. Time to move on, there are other ways to activate the ground floor.”

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↑ Sally Kuchar (cities director, Curbed):

“Glossy glass facades. I miss ornamentation! Leave no facade untouched in 2018—I want Gothic-style ornamentation, and the more gargoyles the better.”

Kevin K. Ho and Jonathan B. McNarry (realtors, Vanguard Properties):

“The Blue Light Special. Misuse of non-dimmable, daylight light temperature LED recessed lights. Developers are to be applauded for using energy-saving LED light fixtures on the one hand but some go for the cheapest possible lights (that can’t be dimmed) without paying attention to what they’ll look like installed which leads to rather stark and harsh rooms. But this is also an example of how a bad design choice can lead to harm beyond aesthetics as there’s evidence that the higher and bluer LED light temperatures, 4000K+ for example, interfere with sleep people’s sleep patterns.”

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Victoria Fierce (organizer with East Bay for Everyone):

“I'm done with this obsession over autonomous vehicles as an excuse to continue planning for private automobile-heavy streets and transportation. Stop trying to make AVs happen. We already have extensive transit systems today in 2017 and it really won't take more investment to run busses faster; give dedicated bus lanes; or even paint some passenger loading zones on curbs to keep Lyft, Uber, taxis, etc. out of the flow of public transit. I'm also really glad that reclaimed wood as an interior aesthetic has died down. It was cool the first couple times I saw it, but after a while it got obnoxious. Its 2017. Let’s see some modernity!”

Richie Nakano (chef, restaurateur, consultant at ChefsFeed):

“New condos trying to look like modernized Victorians; every building doesn’t need faux bay windows.”

Photo by GillianVann/Shutterstock

↑ Jon de la Cruz (interior architecture and design, DLC-ID):

“White subway tile. Enough is enough. And rose gold. The cheap stuff just looks like copper.”

Allison Arieff (editorial director, SPUR):

“All of the 1000-2000 square foot houses that are being demolished and replaced with 4-6,000 square foot ones. No one needs this much space. A particular pox on the guy who owns a house on a nearby cul de sac who then bought a house two doors down which he plans to turn into a personal gym (including a full-size basketball court), effectively removing a unit of housing from already scarce supply. Bad trend.”

Adam Brinklow (associate editor, Curbed SF):

“I can't be the only one who thinks glass bannisters look like something your contractor installs as a safety measure while waiting for the real railing to be delivered?”

Photo by Brock Keeling

John King (urban design critic, San Francisco Chronicle):

“The notion of pairing regular stairs with ones scaled for seating makes sense—but architects who think it shows how clever they are at least five years behind the times.”

David Baker (architect/founder, David Baker Architects):

“Cars. Is that a trend? I'm tired of car danger, car congestion, car fetishization, car prioritization, car parking. We're ending the age of private human-piloted cars: We're in the transition phase of a new car-free revolution. Lyft and Uber are paving the way for urban mobility in that they're creating the argument for reduced or eliminated parking in new buildings. This makes the buildings better and frees up space and money for more homes. The City is working toward being safer and prioritizing pedestrians, cyclists, and transit, and developers are understanding that they no longer need to squander $50,000-plus per parking space for each resident.”