Propeller scores big as one of SF's definitive sources for hip, well-made contemporary furniture and art from small, emerging designers.
The philosophy behind Propeller is that both the furniture and the price points should be "accessible, not esoteric." Accordingly, the Hayes Valley retail space is just messy enough that it feels like someone is actually living there. Owner Lorn and his staff have packed a large and ever-changing collection of furniture, rugs, and objets d'art into fairly modest square footage, and the resulting density creates a level of approachability that's by design.
Lorn features unique items from emerging designers, folks who are small enough that their name ("and probably their hand as well") is on the piece. If you follow design in the blogosphere, chances are you will actually see the design objet du jour (such as the X-Pand Table) in the flesh on a visit to Propeller.
Propeller shies away from big brands and from goods manufactured offshore. Most of what they sell is built in North America, and has a handmade feel to it. Prices reflect the higher cost of limited production and domestic manufacturing: upholstered pieces are between $2,500 and $3,500; shelving and storage from $500, dining tables from $1,700 up to $4,000, chairs from $280, and art between $600 and $800.
Among the local designers featured at Propeller are William Earle, Derek Chen, Evan Anderson and Mebel.
Propeller is also importing the Brooklyn indie design scene via products from NY studios like Scrapile and Matt Gagnon.
Indie designers (as opposed to large manufacturers) offer good value because, as Lorn says, they really have to be"invested in your happiness" in order to succeed.
This porky triumverate was cast from actual fetal pigs by artist Harry Allen, best known for the design of NY's gallery-like Moss design store.
Propeller's website brings much of what the store has to offer to the web. (Edited from a 06.30.06 post)