Step Inside Designer Eche Martinez's High-Style Atelier

Interior designer Eche Martinez.Since founding his firm in 2015, San Francisco interior designer Eche Martinez has drawn the spotlight for his playful approach to serious design. Grounded in classicism but enlivened by bold, contemporary gestures, his current projects include residences in Belvedere, Seacliff, Kentfield, Portola Valley and beyond. Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Martinez studied design and business in his home city and  Paris before moving to San Francisco in 2010. Now, his firm is housed in a storied Potrero Hill space: a 1908 Mediterranean-style building that served as the home of iconic Therien Antiques for almost three decades. “The challenge was to create a space that spoke to our vision, while providing a neutral enough backdrop for the important process of discovery and inspiration,” says Martinez. Kicking off SFC&G’s new column, Room Stories, Martinez shares the highlights of his studio’s cosmopolitan central space.

Interior designer Eche Martinez's Potrero Hill studio.1. My office window looks out on our beautiful garden filled with topiaries, an antique water fountain and crushed blue stone ground covering. On nice days, it’s a perfect place for lunch or post-work drinks­—one of the best-kept secrets in the Design District area!  

2. My desk is a vintage piece by the Italian furniture manufacturer Studio Diapoason. The two pedestals are carved of a single piece of Carrara marble and make the glass work surface almost float.

3. The 19th-century Spanish doors that separate my personal office from the meeting areas are part of the building’s unique heritage. Throughout the building, Therien Antiques installed exquisite architectural elements of historical prominence that speak to the tradition of West Coast design and remind me of what an honor it is to work here on a daily basis.

4. Sam Still is a contemporary artist based in New York City. These two pieces are original inks on paper. The titles of Still’s drawings are based on the time and location where the drawings were completed, making each piece a contemplation not only on his long career as an artist but also the patience and level of craft he brings to each drawing.

5. This polished brass floor lamp by Vaughan Design delivers 1970s sophistication.

6. While sourcing antiques for a client, I found this inlaid marquetry desk and knew I had to bring it to our studio. I love how the elegant, classic lines relate to the raw strength of the Sam Still drawings.

7. I’ve always been obsessed with Danish designer Verner Panton. This iconic black Panton chair perfectly offsets the desk’s classical lines.  

8. The height of the ceilings called for an unusual and dramatic art installation. These hand-carved alabaster vessels accentuate the height and elegance of the room and the square cantilevered ledges are inspired by one of my favorite pieces by Donald Judd, adding a dose of modernity to the room’s traditional finishes.

9. I designed the custom coffee table in one of my favorite natural stones: arabescatto marble. The massive surface is perfect for client presentations.

10. The polished steel Alessi bowl came from a practical joke I played on my husband on a trip to L.A. We were staying at the London Hotel, where these Alessi bowls grace every suite’s coffee table. Jokingly I told my then-boyfriend I’d get one of those as a perennial “fruit bowl” if we ever got married. That ended up being a self-fulfilling prophecy!

A version of this article appeared in the June/July 2017 issue of SFC&G (San Francisco Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Divine Provenance.