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Trappings: Talk, Show, Host

From the furnishings in her Potrero flat to the creative minds at her conference, Dava Guthmiller loves to mix things up.


Dava Guthmiller.

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“I grew up doing jigsaw puzzles. It’s a rainy-day thing to do. They get my brain working. I have quite a few by Charley Harper and a gradient puzzle by Bryce Wilner, which is very OCD. In my next business I’ll design puzzles.”

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“I’ve known Pablo Pardo for about 20 years. This is an older Pablo light I’ve had for about 10 years. It’s very classic looking, but also still modern.”

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“My husband is into Triumph motorcycles. This one, a 2013 Triumph Thruxton, is modeled after a 1968 Triumph Tiger. We used the ‘13’ from my company’s logo so it looks like a racing bike.”

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“I really love straight-sided mugs. Hasami Porcelain mugs are great because they stack. They also come with coasters to keep your coffee warm.”

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“Muji is a Japanese firm that makes really fantastic, practical office supplies. These Muji pens are very minimal, very well designed, functional. I always carry black and blue.”

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Perfume is such a girly thing, but I love the simplicity of Jo Malone fragrances— they’re not super floral. My current favorite is the Oud & Bergamot.”

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“This vintage lawyer’s bookcase was one of the first pieces I bought 18 years ago, after I graduated from college. I like the industrial nature of it.”

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“This oxidized-silver dagger necklace is artisan made, a gift from my husband he found at Velvet da Vinci gallery. There’s an edgy quality about it.”

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“The one thing I love most about my Dstld leather motorcycle jacket is its all-black hardware. It looks really clean and modern.”

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“When I started to collect, I could never afford super fine art. So I started to collect local artists. Paper Jam Press letterpress prints are made by my In/Visible business partner, Arianna Orland. She uses woodblock letters and prints them at the San Francisco Center for the Book.”

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“These are my favorite large rings. The wood one is by a local designer, Julia Turner. The white one is nylon by Tzuri Gueta. The ones that look like Legos are 3-D printed and made by my husband. I tend to not go for delicate jewelry.”

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“I like that this Byrd & Belle felt laptop sleeve is very slim, and the felt wears really well.”

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“The more time I spend on the computer, the more I like older tools. I love the old-time numbers on these vintage rulers and the way some of them fold.”

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“I’ve been addicted to Rhodia notebooks for a good five years now. They have little tabs and an action area. I can tab through and see who I’ve met with.”

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“I used to wear either very high heels or Converse. When more stylized tennis shoes were coming into fashion, it was an opportunity for me to adjust. These Hogan platform sneakers allowed me to be edgy and also walk the dog.”

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“It’s fun to find unique gin when we travel. Last year we went to Japan and found Kyoto Distillery’s Ki No Bi [Kyoto Dry Gin]. Bertha’s Revenge is actually a milk gin from Ireland: a small batch made from milk whey. It’s spicy!”

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Twelve years ago
, Dava Guthmiller, founder and creative director of the design firm Noise 13, lugged a steel lawyer’s bookcase, one of her few possessions, up two flights of stairs into a two-bedroom rental in Potrero Hill. Much has changed since. Now many more things fill her apartment, where three bay windows provide a postcard view of San Francisco that Guthmiller has refused to obstruct with window treatments. This is a comfy and unpretentious home where mid-century knockoff s mingle with real mid-century chairs found at the Alameda flea market and vintage collections she and her husband, Jon Bradford—who heads the custom motorcycle parts company Bradford & Co.—have built over the years.

“If the whole apartment looked like it came from the same store, I’d be a little bit bored,” Guthmiller says.

What has allowed her to acquire her ever-widening collection is the success of Noise 13, which has grown from a small design firm working with local restaurants into a multimillion-dollar branding and design agency whose clients have included Uber, Twitter, and SHN. That success has led to a new venture for Guthmiller, who along with colleague Arianna Orland is hosting her own design conference this month: In/Visible Talks will take over the Pearl on January 11 and bring together big thinkers and doers, including Marta Harding, design lead at Ideo; Maria Giudice, vice president of experience design at Autodesk; Rob Goodman, creator and host of the Making Ways podcast; and Jenny Odell, an artist and Stanford professor whose presentation theme is “How to Do Nothing.”

“We want to bring together people in multiple mediums,” Guthmiller says, “because when we talk about the creative process, inspiration, challenges, those kinds of things are pretty equal no matter what you’re doing.” In/Visible’s name comes from the invisible process of creation that takes place before the public sees a finished product.

“We want to talk about things nobody talks about and get creative again.” As she prepared for a day’s worth of conversation, Guthmiller shared some of the objects in her home that she finds meaningful in the slideshow above.

Originally published in the January issue of San Francisco 

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