California Home and Design: Brass Tacks

First Course: Brass Tacks is SF’s New Industrial-Chic Watering Hole

Interior designer Sayre Ziskin’s latest commercial project is Brass Tacks, a Hayes Valley neighborhood bar located on Hayes and Octavia in the afterglow of much-adored gay bar, Marlena’s. The design aesthetic of Brass Tacks comes down to three key concepts: symmetry, simplicity, and warmth. The owners, Anthony Healy-London of Churchill, Matt Conway of Comstock, Absinthe, and Nopa (and also the head bartender at Brass Tacks) and Joshua McAdam (a childhood friend of Healy-London) requested these touchstones that Ziskin brought to life by fusing brass fixtures with basic geometry tenants. She layered dark iron, weathered brass, and glass to create a richly-hued neighborhood haunt with a sprinkle of classy shimmer.

Ziskin reimagined the space by stripping the bar down to the studs and installing sliding windows panels in front, opening up the small space and taking advantage of the prime Hayes Valley location overlooking Patricia’s Green. The piece de resistance is the 10-foot custom chandelier designed by Ziskin and fabricated by Cleveland Art, a Los Angeles-based manufacturer of repurposed home décor pieces. Over 400 hand blown glass cylinders dangle from a heavy wrought iron frame. In the evening, light filters through the translucent surfaces and fills the bar with an ambient glow.

As its name implies, the bar is accented with striking brass pieces. Steel drink rails are bolted to the wall with brass fixtures created by Oakland metalworker Luigi Oldani, and sleek black tables in the back of the bar are outfitted with shiny brass legs. To kick the classy quotient up a notch, the bar’s name is emblazoned into the pegboard-style bar grate. A stately walnut bar top (handcarved by a local boat builder from a simple slab of wood) and reclaimed oak flooring from a San Francisco mill tie the warm elements together. Between the black and white photography installation by Bay Area photography legend Christopher Felver and herringbone patterned flooring, the atmosphere of the bar strikes a sophisticated yet earthy nature-meets-geometry chord.

Whether customers want to chat with a friend at the front window facing the park, sit at the walnut bar and try a tasty cocktail, or find their way to the back with a large group and plunge into the sumptuous dark blue leather banquette couches, Ziskin created a respite to appeal to all. Order up a couple rounds of Her Majesty’s Secret Service or Hella Berry Rum Punch, and settle in to this hip Hayes Valley hotspot.

Brass Tacks, 488 Hayes (between Octavia St & Gough St). Monday – Friday 2 p.m. – 2 a.m. Saturday & Sunday 12 p.m. – 2 a.m.