Rael San Fratello Architects

Straw Gallery . San Francisco

Rael San Fratello Architects . photos: © Matthew Millman

The Straw Gallery was designed for HEDGE Gallery for the 4th annual sf20/21 San Francisco Art and Design Show held at the Festival Pavillion, Fort Mason Center. The temporary gallery was on display from September 15th through 18th opening with a benefit for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s educational programs.
The gallery is an aromatic, enveloping, and raw space in contrast to the refined and modern elements that are displayed within. The gallery consists of three unfinished, blackened steel display niches interwoven within the walls of straw bales. Each niche is an excavation that is filled with HEDGE’s highly edited visions of 20th and 21st century design, art and craft, presented at different levels relative to the eye and the hand of the visitor.
The juxtaposition of the two materials, steel and straw—one industrial and the other representing a storied agrarian history—heightens the tactile sensibilities as one navigates between the richness of the hay and the clean surfaces of the steel compartments. Straw is an incredibly effective acoustic buffer and the walls are in most places two bales thick and placed strategically to block views to the exterior as you enter the space.  The experience within Straw Gallery is one of quiet, calm and focused observation in contrast to a busy exterior.
The several hundred wheat straw bales, an agricultural by-product used for bedding, roughage and fuel, used to construct the gallery were returned to the feed store. The steel shelves were recycled and will be used to construct furniture and shelving in San Francisco.

Project Date: 2011
Project Location: San Francisco, CA
Design Team: Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello.
Project Information: Photography: Matthew Millman Photography, Straw: Concord Feed, Metal Fabrication: Hicks Metal. Client: HEDGE Gallery, Press: “The star of the night was undoubtably Hedge Gallery, who enlisted Rael San Fratello Architects from Oakland to design and fabricate a booth out of hay bales and blackened steel“, ”a jaw-dropping, don’t-miss hay and steel space“, “the elevated environment was Hedge Gallery’s hit of a hay-bale box smack dab in the center of the hall“, “Party Central, once again, was Hedge Gallery, where owners Roth Martin and designer Steven Volpe created a one-of-a-kind straw bale salon“ ]

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