Homan Rajai and Elena Dendiberia, founders of San Francisco–based Studio Ahead, want to fill a perceived void in the marketplace. “San Francisco tends to go for either seriously traditional design or the kind of spare, modern look that appeals to the tech crowd, with not much in between,” explains Rajai, who grew up in the Bay Area as the son of Iranian parents. “For all of the city’s forward-thinking liberal culture, design in San Francisco remains fairly conservative and Eurocentric. We wanted to celebrate interiors with a more layered, multicultural texture, tapping into the incredible community of fabricators who work in this part of the country,” adds Dendiberia, a native of Samara, Russia, who alighted on the West Coast eight years ago. Studio Ahead’s roster of projects speaks to the elasticity of the partners’ vision. They’re currently working on a home heavily influenced by the Solarpunk movement, a penthouse that represents a contemporary interpretation of classic Art Deco, and a high-concept, quasi-industrial meditation/hangout room for a San Francisco marketing firm. In addition to interiors, Rajai and Dendiberia (photographed at a Bay Area job site) have developed a signature collection of biomorphic furnishings, as well as an online journal spotlighting intriguing Northern California artists and artisans. Says Rajai, “The more voices and viewpoints you can add to a conversation, the more exciting it becomes.” studioahead.com — Mayer Rus 

Photo: Stephen Pagano 

LK Studio 

Hudson, New York 

“I want spaces to feel personal, well balanced, not too decorated,” reflects Lily Dierkes—spaces, in other words, that look “like they’ve always been that way.” And as this designer is showing, she’s got a knack for it. Two years ago, in a pandemic lifestyle move, Dierkes relocated from L.A. to Hudson, New York, where she launched her own firm, LK Studio. At the time, she had been working for the AD100 titan David Netto, under whom she honed her eye for color and pattern, contributing to projects like the beachy Bahamian abode that recently graced the pages of AD. (He praised her in the May 2022 article, noting, “All projects have their heroes.”) Today she’s putting her own spin on classic Americana, in projects that range from a pre-war apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side (pictured) to a Georgian-style manse in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Wall stenciling, painted floors, and punchy patterns harken to folk art, while palettes take inspiration from Shaker villages. Dierkes, who studied film and previously worked as a production designer on music videos and commercials, gets a special thrill from designing second homes. “You can use things in a country house you might not use in a city apartment,” she notes. “It’s fun to do something a little theme-y.” lilydierkesdesign.com —H.M.

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