For the past 30 years, Randall Kline has been busy shepherding a small jazz concert series into a full-blown cultural institution. With the January opening of the SFJazz Center in the Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco, Kline, 60, may take a second to sit on the clean-lined sofa in his light-filled apartment in lower Pacific Heights and take a deep breath - but just one.
Then he’ll hop back onto his custom Italian bike and in eight minutes he’ll be back working.
He welcomes a moment’s respite in his quiet apartment, one of four in a multi unit building in which he’s lived since his second marriage 15 years ago. The sounds of the street are audible. No music is playing and there are no LPs strewn or stacked anywhere.
Some might find Kline’s home stark - to say it’s uncluttered is an understatement. But buttery yellow walls give the rooms warmth, and the spectacular stained-glass windows in the living room provide vibrant color and a sense of comfort.
Kline credits his wife, Teresa, with much of the design and color choices in the small apartment. The couple has been in this space for the past five years; a larger apartment downstairs is a former - and future - residence. Furnishings here mix modern with antique, and the highbrow with findings from thrift stores and flea markets. According to her husband, Pantaleo is an avowed treasure hunter.
"The Alameda Flea Market is practically her religion," said Kline of his wife’s love of the sprawling event. "She spots things nobody else can see."
It’s clear that Kline also has passion for a particular flavor of design, the convergence of form and function. He claims his is not a “sophisticated” aesthetic, but a blend of old, new and midcentury modern wed with a deep commitment to practicality. Working with architect Mark Cavagnero, Kline extended his personal design vision into that of the SFJazz Center; the center, the only one of its type in the country entirely devoted to jazz, is as functional as it is pleasing to the eye.
In citing his favorite possessions, Kline notes that, like his wife, he loves a bargain. His beloved Comme des Garcons summer-weight wool sport coat was found at a consignment shop. “It’s the perfect garment,” he said, pointing out the functional collar button, a perfect foil for the city’s unpredictable fog.
Kline admires the practical as much as the beautiful - he drives a chunky Honda Element. He loves the utilitarian aspect of the car: The interior can be sprayed out with a hose and is large enough to accommodate a bicycle or a pile of his wife’s flea market finds. Sometimes, he admits, practicality can trump beauty.
"It’s not beautiful," he said of the vehicle, "but it’s beautiful in its practicality. Plus, at $14,000, it was really good value."
A few of Kline’s favorite things:
CUSTOM-MADE STEEL-FRAME BICYCLE BY DARIO PEGORETTI
Sourced half a world away: Kline’s wife and mother-in-law, both from southern Italy, commissioned the bike as a gift for his 50th birthday.
Cool factor: Built to his body specifications and entirely hand-painted by Pegoretti.
A gift with legs? Ten years later, it’s still the nicest thing he owns.
STAINLESS KITCHEN SHELVES CUSTOM MADE BY JOE YICK
Such a workhorse: Flanking the Viking stove, the piece is perfection in the narrow gallery space.
Love of the locavore: The Robert Yick Co. started in 1910. Now they craft stainless for dozens of top foodies and notables: Cowgirl Creamery, Delfina, Slanted Door and Twitter headquarters, among many others. Joe is Robert’s son.
ASTRA ESPRESSO MAKER
Love and coffee: A wedding gift for Kline and his wife, their first date was to Caffe Trieste in North Beach; both love coffee.
Who pulls? Though Pantaleo grew up in her family’s cafe in Italy, now Kline is the barista in the family.
WOODEN SPATULA (well worn)
What’s special (besides the burn marks)? It has the perfect angle.
Humble workhorse: Bought for $2 decades ago, it seems unstoppable.
The shape of things to come: Kline would love to find a new one - identical, of course - but where?
CITIZEN WATCH, SLIGHTLY MILITARY
Elevated status? Hardly, the price tag is about $100 - and for that, it’s even waterproof.
Time honored: "It’s nothing fancy, but the proportions are right for my wrist."
HANDMADE, OFF-THE-RACK BLACK OXFORDS
Source: Bought in Italy.
Made for walking - and biking: Nine years in, they are resoled from time to time, but still going strong.
The art and soul of it: Carefully crafted, the look is both “particular” and “exceptional.”
Listening in: At home, Kline tunes into a wide range of music with Spotify (yet bemoans what it has done for musician royalties).
Ear quality: From a small device, the sound is “very close to acceptable - really very good.”
Not men-imal: These are compact, but effective. “Guys can sometimes be obnoxious about speaker size.”
TOLOMEO LAMP WITH GLASS SHADE
A steal: Pantaleo found the lamp at the Alameda flea market, and paid significantly less than retail.
Sweet luminosity: On the mantel, the thick glass throws a soft, diffused light.