I recently stumbled across SHED, a newly opened food retail and café space. With its open layout and natural interior light, the elegant and authentic mix of the coffee and pastry bar, fermentation bar, larder, pantry and grain mill, and selection of fresh flowers, produce and other wares is probably the best representation of Northern California comfort.
Designed by owners Cindy Daniel and Doug Lipton, along with San Francisco’s Jensen Architects, SHED is located in the center of Healdsburg in Sonoma County. A modern interpretation of a traditional barn that draws on historic structures in the surrounding rural valleys. It fits perfectly with the agricultural legacy of the local region. ‘Custom’, ‘natural’ and ‘sustainable’ are probably the best words to describe it, as the woodworker who built the chairs, barstools and tables drew inspiration from packing crates, fences and, of course, barns. With woods locally milled from sycamore, pecan, white ash and Douglas fir, the centerpiece of the café is a 15-foot community table that functions as the social hub of the space.
With a resumé that includes a culinary fellowship at Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga and six years at pioneering restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Niki Ford is SHED’s culinary director. Ingredient driven and plant-based, her food focuses on seasonal, organic ingredients from Northern California’s farmers, producers, foragers and artisans – yet another sign of the locavore movement’s growth and the resurgence of interest in food and food retail design to benefit community development. SHED is beautiful. Daniel and Lipton are to be congratulated on what they have built, and I hope one opens where I live. Just another example of how design in the full sense of the word can inspire us all to live better lives.