San Francisco’s “The Battery” is an upscale exclusive club with a host of impressively inventive interior design schemes.
While membership into exclusive, upscale fraternal organizations and clubs has become a staple of upscale Western society, it is in our university days that young men and women become most acutely aware of the phenomenon, and so it’s only fitting that the the founders of The Battery in San Francisco met in a college bar, in London, some years ago. There, founders Michael and Xochi Birch (now members in matrimony) set out on an entrepreneurial journey illuminated by the notion that the best ideas are often conceived in a comfortable bar, over a couple of drinks. The Battery, San Francisco’s most eclectic, electric, eccentric, and exclusive club, embodies the spirit of that notion and emboldens it with a progressive, diverse, and intelligent interior design.
We are seeing in The Battery the modernization and revivification of the Western heritage of exclusive clubs, executed with a flare all its own. The most suggestive element of this is a secret bookcase that leads to an all-green lounge. The green conveys a hidden-paradisal mystique while the walls are impressive pieces of facade work that are right at home in San Franciscan architecture. But there’s not just an esoteric aura permeating the club, there’s also an energetic one, and it extends to the tonal groundwork upon which The Battery’s conception has been formulated. That tone is a fairly comprehensive beast, tackling everything from the intellectual, the artistic, the progressive, the diverse, even the bizarre, and its all reflected in an impressive design that implements a myriad of influences, all implemented and fleshed out by Moore and Markatos with collaboration by interior designer Ken Fulk. The dining area might be described as California Gothic, the portraiture on the walls--diverse in sizes and in facial features--being shadowed and very suggestive of the ancient, both in age and style; and the same goes for the upholstered seats: bolted leather on wood frames, very retro-Victorian. The exposed brick offsets the portraits with a USA-urban twist, and the mirror placed amongst the paintings switches the viewing up so that one is looking inside as much as outside--and mirrors are very gothic, after all.
The bars are even better; there’s four of them, and combined, they carry the real spirit of the club, and no that’s not a reference to the alcohol--which is aplenty, for the matter. For starters, there’s the House Bar. Every establishment, ever, needs its own distinctive cocktail menu. It’s like asking a woman what her zodiac sign is: whatever she answers, you’ll be decently familiar with what to expect of her personality, plus you can use it branch off into all kinds of more personal, intimate, and flirtatious questions. This is where you’ll find The Battery’s, and they match it with a comprehensive selection of liquors to be enjoyed on the rocks for those who want to eschew the fancy talk and get right down to business. Such a boldness finds an artistic backing in the greco-roman busts of the House Bar as well.
While The Battery’s members can at any time bring up to three guests, the Musto Bar is a members-only area, and the design team has really held out the best aesthetic to be enjoyed by this exclusive bunch. The Musto Bar packs the suave of a gentleman and the swag of a rocker, taking exposed cedar tree ring-wooden columns and painting them black and white, in a design that magnificently encompasses the entirety of the bar but also extends to the bookshelves at the periphery of the room. Bar stools are colored a sanguinary blood red, while table stools are a mystic sylvan green, harmonizing with the schemes of the gothic and the paradisal previously alluded to in the restaurant and in the hidden lounge.
The Garden Bar tackles leisure on a much more familiar turf, with a spreading lawn, wooden benches, and umbrella’d tables. The wine cellar taps more into the sophistication of the Musto Bar without all the gloss, being much more straightforward: a custom oak cellar featuring 600 labels attended to by Frenchman and Sommelier Christophe Tassan. Though the collection features labels from around the world, it is a testament to stateside viticulture that many if not most are from our very own golden California.
The suite’s are hierarchical, almost neoplatonic, each one increasing in size and luxury. There are three rooms, the Deluxe, the Garden, and the Garden Deluxe. Then there are three suites, the Battery, the Lounge, and the Balcony. Each is larger and more impressive than the last, but the prima platé, the divine dwelling, takes form in the Penthouse suite, a gigantic spread featuring multiple HD television sets, an enormous panoramic balcony, exposed beams, interior fireplace, exterior fire pit, and seating for everybody and their mothers, not to mention floor-to ceiling windows that allow openness while protecting the penthouse’s rooftop privacy.
The Battery’s comprehensiveness is evident, members being able to eat, drink, sleep, and invite their guests for the interchange of intellectual ideas in an energetic and relaxing environment. There’s a very Renaissance mentality at play in regards to the way art factors in to this intellectual exchange. Under Art Director Thomas Moller, The Battery features a rotating exhibition that synergizes club members’ aesthetic palette with the Bay Area arts scene, and this in turn directly ties into the club’s inherent energy, for the arts have operated at the forefront of the genius intellect not just in the artists themselves, but in the great thinkers, philosophers, and innovators of the past two millennia. This humanistic bent is not only a unique and attractive design choice. It is also descendent of the clubs and salons of Western society, the members of which were, or became, some of our most revered and respected thinkers and intellectuals--and, yes, artists.
This is the most exclusive and indeed the most intellectual and progressive minded club in America today, and the execution of the interior matches the brain power every step of the way, incorporating, conglomerating, and sometimes even inventing, new aesthetics that could indeed blaze a new trail in Western fraternal organizations.
Photography by: The Battery