Fifteen years ago, Mark Sommerfield was working for venerable San Francisco antiques dealer Ed Hardy fixing old dining tables and other pieces of furniture that required restoration. After several years of night school, where he honed his knowledge of interior architecture, furniture design and fashion, Sommerfield launched his own custom furniture company, Derapage Design, in San Francisco. This summer he expanded his showroom to include many more examples of his work, as well as antiques that he has picked up along the way.
"The antiques get people interested in possibilities. They might like the look of a table or a chair but might want it sized differently, or have a different leg or base, and we can do it all because we're a custom house ," says Sommerfield, who will make drawings on the spot to show clients the possibilities of modifying a piece.
His services cover the gamut: clients often bring in pictures of furniture that they want altered and he'll recommend different feet, more or less carving, or a lighter or darker finish; he repairs and reupholsters all kinds of furniture ("I've even replaced missing tortoiseshell in a Boulle commode and had my faux painter touch it up in places where repair was not possible," says Sommerfield); and he makes pieces from scratch. "I designed an aged-leather headboard with a faux marble frame and gilded fluted posts for a client inspired by an antique commode she saw in the showroom," he relates. "Several artisans were involved in the making of that headboard, but it was all done in-house."
With his extensive background in antiques, Sommerfield has designed collections of lighting, casegoods, tables, chairs and mirrors, creating those pieces of furniture that are always useful in an interior—dining, console and small tables, lanterns and other lighting, armoires outfitted for today's technological requirements and other functional items. The Celtic table (above left), one of the first pieces he designed, came about when Sommerfield perceived the need for a small cigarette or beverage table that could be moved around as needed. He had studied the celtic knot in design so he used the motif, done in water-gilded leafing, on the gracefully curved apron of the walnut table.
The Italian Baroque–style giltwood two-light lantern (left), with antique glass, Neo-Gothic Pier mirror (bottom left), Italian-style diamond-point armoire (bottom right), whose sides are beautifully panelled, also are some of his designs that are regularly ordered by designers and private customers.
While Sommerfield updates antique styles for present-day living, he's mindful of stylistic details that can enhance a custom piece. On the diamond-point armoire, he added solid brass hinges purely for decoration, as the doors slide in on a rack to accomodate television and stereo equipment. All of his custom pieces are available in myriad finishes.