• at home with
    AT HOME AND AT WORK WITH TODD BARKET & CARL CHIARA
    Owners of Unionmade San Francisco. Read our interview with Todd, and see the incredible home and business he's built with his partner Carl.
    April 23, 2015  |  BY TARIQ DIXON
    When Todd Barket's nearly two decades long tenureship at the Gap unexpectedly came to an end, he knew he could always rely on the one thing he knew best - retail.But after spending so many years in a corporate environment, Todd was ready for a dramatic change. Despite the troubled economy, opening his own store seemed like the only natural decision - In fact, he already had an exact location in mind.

    Living in San Francisco's Bernal Heights neighborhood for over a decade, Todd frequently passed a charming, little storefront on Sanchez St, in one of the few surviving buildings from the devastating earthquake of 1906. At the time, there were no other stores in sight - but for Todd, that was perfect. “I wanted it to become a destination” says Mr. Barket.

    In no time at all, Unionmade has indeed become the destination Todd envisioned, and is easily one of California's most popular new menswear concepts. The store's rapid success has allowed Unionmade to open three additional locations, along with a sister-store called The Mill. The demands of the business quickly outgrew the work of only one man at the helm, so in 2011, Todd's partner Carl Chiara left his post as Design Director of Levi's to join Unionmade full-time.
    Todd and Carl recently invited us to the home they've shared for the past twelve years. Perched atop one of the city's treacherously steep hills, Nick and I were admittedly winded by the time we got to the couple's door. But as we glanced behind us to admire the profits of our hard work, we were mesmerized by the breathtaking views of San Francisco's entire northern half.

    We were equally impressed once we stepped inside, but also a little surprised. The minimalist, whitewashed interior was a departure from Unionmade's navy walls, wood paneled floors and overall feeling of warmth provided by its workwear-inspired merchandise. As we sat down, Todd explained to us the differences in design between the Unionmade stores and their own home. With intermittent bouts of off-topic banter, we passed the afternoon unraveling the home's twelve year history, including the sources of the most memorable pieces of their collections.
  • THE DESIGN AESTHETIC OF THE STORE IS A BIT OF A CONTRAST FROM YOUR HOME. WAS THAT INTENTIONAL?

    It's certainly warmer - the colors from the clothes and the wood floors add to that. But when you really pare it back and take a look at it, it's actually really clean. You take out the clothes, and you're left with bare walls and black fixtures. So the store is really about the clothes - the colors and textures happening around you - which we like. It's fascinating because we're building this new store in LA at the Grove and we're doing a modern take on what we have now - even cleaner, so its more like our home, in a way.

  • HOW SIMILAR ARE YOUR AND CARL'S TASTES?

    They're super similar. We've been together for so long, we've become the same person, haha. I was a little more modern than he was when we met - or I was at least a little more aware of it - but now we're on the same page. We've never had any major disagreements, believe it or not. For the house, I tend to bring in more things than he does. I'm the one that's like 'Look at this!' He kind of stopped years ago, after the big pieces were bought, but I'm the one who will still occasionally throw some pottery in.

  • When you really pare it back and take a look at it, it's actually really clean...the store is about the clothes - the colors and textures happening around you - which we like.

  • HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGN SENSIBILITY?

    We like to apply a hand-touch to the home that makes it feel less slick, but at the end of the day, we're pretty modern and clean - utilitarian, in a way. The people who were here before us liked color a great deal, but we decided to take the house back to how it was when it was originally built - a white space and very much about light. The best part of the house is that there's so much of the outdoors coming in, so you really don't need a whole lot - it's really more about the environment.

    I think we're kind of casual on top of it. We've had a lot of the furniture for over ten years, since we've moved in. We try to be timeless about our choices, and I really anticipate the house staying the same for the next forty years.

  • HOW DID THE INTERIOR COME TOGETHER?

    It's been a series of adding things over the years. It's nice because you can look back and go 'Oh, that's from fifteen years ago.' That's what makes a home. And editing too, because after a while, it can get a little crazy, haha.

    But we're so busy with the store that we don't add a lot here. When we worked for the big companies, this was a total priority for us, but now, I think we've settled on what our aesthetic is going to be. After a certain age, you're not always looking to completely turn things around.

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  • The best part of the house is that there's so much of the outdoors coming in, so you really don't need a whole lot - it's really more about the environment.

  • After a certain age, you're not always looking to completely turn things around.

  • It's been a series of adding things over the years. It's been nice because you can look back and go, 'oh that's from fifteen years ago.' That's what makes a home...

  • We try to be timeless about our choices, and I really anticipate the house staying the same for the next forty years.

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