A new book celebrates San Francisco-based designer Jonathan Rachman's ability to combine contemporary and vintage elements to create magical rooms.
This gorgeous room perfectly defines the Rachman style: vintage with a modern sensibility.
Jonathan Rachman has had a whirlwind of a ride over the past two decades. The internationally renowned interior designer was uninspired by corporate America 20 years ago and decided to pursue his true passions. First, he opened a flower shop on San Francisco’s Sacramento Street, which, in 2009, grew into Jonathan Rachman Design (jonathanrachman.com). He also debuted the J. Rachman shop, the brick-and-mortar stage for his burgeoning business, on Market Street in 2015, and penned his 2020 memoir, The Garlic Peanut Story.
In September, the Jonathan Rachman imprint is set to expand once again with the release of his first monograph, Currently Classic (Flammarion). The beautiful coffee-table book documents Rachman’s work and life since he decided to take a chance on himself. Currently Classic pays homage to the people, places and homes “that have made the past 20 years so incredibly special,” says the designer. “It’s my passion to share my design style that truly inspired this book. My style is always classic yet current. I’m not one to follow trends, nor do I want to. My passion in design is about human beings, the clients I’m designing for, as well as how I am influenced by my background.”
The cover of Rachman’s new book
Early reviews of this impressive book have been effusive. “I’ve admired his interiors for some time, and I adore how he mixes and matches colors and plays with patterns,” says design journalist Susana Ordovas (@susana_ordovas). “This book showcases his power to conjure up an entirely new atmosphere and transform a space into an enchanting and stylish oasis.”
Art and decor complement each other in this space.
Rachman was born in Sumatra, Indonesia, educated in Switzerland and has also called France home. His love of traversing the world informs his designs, which meld the best of elements of East and West, and classical and modern. His exposure to antique and flea markets around the world developed his eye for curating collections of textiles, objets d’art, leather goods and historical treasures. “I was never educated formally as an interior designer. Traveling is my education,” he says.
Various tones of green play wonderfully in this living room.
Rachman has been working on the book for more than two years and is quick to praise his collaborators, including Dean Rhys-Morgan, who provided the text, and his “dear mentor, muse and friend” Denise Hale, who wrote the introduction. He says every project featured in the book is a favorite, and he found it difficult to pare down 3,000 photos to 250.
Hunt Slonem wallpaper offers a whimsical and modern twist amid vintage furniture.
A diverse clientele has led to a wide-ranging portfolio that includes some of Rachman’s favorite designs for the book, including the Collector’s Library (his first San Francisco Decorator Showcase), the Green Room in Paris, Houghton Hall reimagined, the Loro Blonyo custom wallpaper and full renovations of homes in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights and Ashbury Heights neighborhoods.
A crimson couch, replete with gold tassels, pops perfectly against blue wallpaper and soft green paneling.
“They exemplify my favorite projects for clients,” he says of the latter two. “They didn’t only trust my firm with every aspect of the renovations, but they allowed me full freedom in designing their home to be completely theirs, in terms of aesthetics and function.”
Rachman says his love of vintage objects, history, design and travel—plus his aversion to trends—was his beacon. “I love all things classic, yet I never want to design a period-style interior. No one wants to live in a museum, a theater, a literal Victorian or an art deco-style home. Everything I do is about the clients and their lifestyle; it has to be practical for them. My style in design is not only classic but also current. Naturally, it’s currently classic.”
Photography by: DOUGLAS FRIEDMAN; SUZANNA SCOTT