Sara Jaffe, Sara Jaffe Designs
San Francisco, California
The Home Trust International (HTI): What first compelled you to enter design?
Sara Jaffe (SJ): Becoming a designer was an evolution. While studying Political Theory, I started taking architecture classes and then decided to get a Masters in Architecture. I wanted to know how and why things were done so I started to design and build residential remodels. This led me to design and construction of custom furniture. I love designing furniture, it is about creating form that must function beautifully; it is about scale and proportion, and this scale allows me to really pay attention to the details.
HTI: What inspires you and who has most influenced you?
SJ: I learn from Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Japanese joinery. Hector Guimard, Victor Horta, Joseph Hoffman, and Charles Rennie Mackintosh inspire me, to name a few. They designed the shell, the interiors and the objects within the spaces they created.
HTI: What is the best advice you ever received?
SJ: “Go back to work” from Art “Espenet’ Carpenter, my mentor
HTI: Who is the real Sara Jaffe?
SJ: I think being real and who you are is key to being a friend or working with clients or business associates. Stay honest, be reliable, have a sense of humor and have fun along the way.
HTI: Is there a common thread that runs through all great products?
SJ: Good design is about scale and proportion, using the right materials, and the quality of the craftsmanship. When I design custom furniture for clients, it needs to be done just right for the space and the aesthetic. When I create a furniture collection, it needs to be about pieces that can be used in different spaces without forfeiting the uniqueness and quality of the furniture design.
HTI: In what ways has your company or industry changed over the years?
SJ: My business has evolved from my being the design/build person to designing and having others build what I do. What is the same is that I am totally focused on craftsmanship and designing specifically for my client’s needs and requirements. Every job is different and challenging. Interior design is about bringing the entire interior space together while respecting the architecture of the house. Designing custom furniture and cabinetry is about creating special elements within the space and bringing artistry down to the details.
HTI: Do you enjoy reading?
SJ: I am an avid reader, mostly of fiction. A great read is a delightful escape and reading something well written is a joy. Some of my great reads: A Prayer for Owen Meany, all novels by Henry James, and I love a great mystery!
HTI: What type of music do you enjoy?
SJ: I have eclectic taste in music: opera, classical, R & B, tango and all sorts of other Latin music. I admire Yo-Yo Ma because he is a fearless artist who is open to exploring music in all its facets. If I add in a couple of fine artists: Motherwell, Monet, and Vermeer all speak to me because of how they work with color and light and form. When I look for inspiration for design, I look to other art forms that allow me to think about design in a different way.
HTI: Where do you like to travel?
SJ: Italy is wonderful as it is the so stylish and I love the food.
HTI: Do you have a favorite museum?
SJ: The Metropolitan Museum in New York is wonderful because of the breadth of its collection and the beauty of the setting. I also love the Neue Gallery in NYC because it is filled with a collection of artistic jewels and small in scale.
HTI: When you’re not working, where are most likely to be found?
SJ: Swimming or reading on my couch and also enjoying the view of the Bay out my windows. I also love to cook and entertain.
HTI: Why The Home Trust International?
SJ: The Home Trust is focused on presenting quality. It brings together designers, product and services to those who value excellence. There is a lot of “stuff “out there; it is wonderful to be part of a group that is committed to making sure the design, the job, and the product is well done, and well made, for those clients who want the very best.
HTI: How do you see yourself in design?
SJ: My job is to listen and interpret a client’s needs and make it better than they can imagine. One of the best compliments I ever received was that the client could not even remember living any other way once they started living in their new space. If it is done right, it should look and feel effortless.
When I design custom furniture for my clients, they let me know over the years that I have created something that continues to be artful and appreciated over time.
Sara Jaffe has a unique set of skills that combine her architectural training with her experience
both designing and building house remodels and custom furniture. She applies that knowledge
to all her projects by paying attention to details.
Sara Jaffe apprenticed to master woodworkers and learned her craft. Designing furniture is her
passion.Working with quality materials and designing furniture made to last is her focus. When
designing interiors she understands how to integrate luxury and comfort.
Having grown up in El Paso, Texas on the border of Mexico, she has always been aware of and
thought about different cultural ideas and how they influence design and lifestyles. Capturing
her clients particular needs and expressing their values and lifestyle is her specialty.