San Francisco, CA
Can a store be coveted and admired? Can it be an idol of design and good taste to be worshipped?
If so, Russian Hill's Swallowtail is definitely our latest idol.
We have loved this shop from the day we walked in, and have often contemplated moving into Swallowtail and living there permanently. It's quirky, eclectic and full of beautiful objects that we love to dawdle over when visiting. It's a bit like an art museum of the odd, classical and collectible. Where else would you find a life-size geisha living alongside antique anatomy charts, vintage chandeliers, contemporary Noguchi lamps and Lucite chairs?
And no matter what your taste, we think everyone could find something special here to take home and make their own -- their very own pièce de résistance.
Swallowtail is jam-packed with an overwhelming amount of great finds; you almost have to watch your every step, lest you run into Omar, the resident ram. Every shop needs a large, friendly ram, don't you think?
Prices here are not for the faint of heart, but entwined among the pricier antiques and collectibles, you'll find lots of affordable accessories, vintage photographs and unique odds and ends, including estate jewelry and even gorgeous seashells. We picked up some lovely starfish and plan on putting them on display in an antique porcelain bowl in our bathroom. We've also found fantastic old lawn furniture and vintage signs tucked back in the backyard garden. Don't forget to pop back there.
And keep your eyes on the rafters as well. If you look up, you'll see hidden treasures like chandeliers and collectible taxidermy. Perhaps not for everyone, but nevertheless an interesting twist on much of the modern design at Swallowtail. We love the eclectic inspiration that envelops us as we browse around this store.
In addition to all the other wonderful, one-of-a-kind collectibles, Swallowtail's owner, Sheri Sheridan and her partner Nathan Brown of Disfigure Design are recreating old Louis XV-style chairs with a modern twist. Sheri and Nathan cover the chairs in fresh, modern fabrics, including an unconventional camouflage print and bright graphic designs like this one, which pretty much screams "statement!"
We're pretty sure adding any one of the unique pieces from Swallowtail will no doubt help you define and make your own personal statement.
(Edited from a post originally published 11.03.06)