WHEN SAN FRANCISCO LANDSCAPE DESIGNERS
John and Danielle Steuernagel of Sculpt Gardens teamed up with Seth
Boor of the architecture firm Boor Bridges to design an artful office
for Chris Miksovsky in 2016, they could not have hoped for a more
Miksovsky’s product design company, called humangear, devises clever
tubular travel and camping containers such as the immensely successful
Gotoob. Humangear’s office in a single-story 1918 horse-and-carriage
shop in the Haight-Ashbury district still contained the tiny cubicles
installed by the previous owner, a music promoter, and Miksovsky was
ready to make changes.
An avid outdoorsman, he wanted an open-plan office with a workshop
for making prototypes, plus a back garden that permeated the interior
as well. He wanted the garden to be a place for humangear’s team to
brainstorm but also a restorative spot for meditation. “After a weekend of
mountain-biking, backpacking or motorbiking, he also wanted to swing
straight into work if deadlines called for it,” Boor recalls.
So a full-fledged shower and a backyard grill also became part of
the unusual program for this industrial-design hideout. What evolved
within a few months is a kind of 4,000-square-foot live/work space with
a 2,000-square-foot back garden that blurs the lines between recreation
A large green garage door opens into the foyer so Miksovsky can roll
in on his bike. Inside, humangear’s happy crowd can look out at nature
through roll-up glass doors in back.
While this is not the first office Sculpt Gardens has worked on, it is
the first time they were asked to install custom wood-clad steel planter
boxes between desks as dividers. The boxes have an irrigation and drainage system; mounted on casters, they can be unhooked from their water
supply and rolled out for air into the backyard, where the Steuernagels
have created a year-round wonderland.
“There was already a 1980s garden back there,” Danielle Steuernagel
says. “During the ’60s, someone had removed the rear section of the build-
ing roof and parts of the concrete floor and installed a garden filled with
bamboo, camellias and palm-like Cordyline australis. It was completely
overgrown and falling apart.”
Still, Boor Bridges reinforced the open sections of the old roof and
added new truss beams protected with layers of paint; the Steuernagels
saved some of the old garden, including birch trees, pruned to fit the new
landscape they created.
“There was a vine that had engulfed the whole building and we had to
get a demolition crew to eradicate it but we could not totally get rid of
it,” John Steuernagel says. “It is a maintenance job because it sort of trails
This page, top right: The 1918 Haight-Ashbury horse-and-carriage shop, which is
now humangear’s headquarters, was redesigned by Boor Bridges Architecture.
A minimalist front garden and green front doors don’t prepare you for the garden
in back. Middle: Garage doors roll up to make a section of the office — which is
decorated like a midcentury living room with an open kitchen — one with the
back garden. Bottom: Large planters on hidden casters, which can be rolled
outside, separate the foyer from designers’ desks and a workshop for prototypes.
Facing page: Another view of the garden, with a boardwalk linking “Hippie Hill”
on the east end to the fire pit in the center and to a barbecue and benches on
the west end of the garden, all designed and built by Sculpt Gardens.
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