San Francisco

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Earlier in February we flew to the west coast, to spend a week in the city of San Francisco. And what a city it is.

Once we got there, and thanks to Airbnb, we found ourselves perfectly located on Divisadero Street in Nopa, right across the road from Bi-Rite, a great deli, so long as you’re okay with spending $80 on some cheese, chocolate and a good bottle of red. I’m not sure I was.

First though, on arrival we had to contend with turmoil as we turned up just as new announcements on who was and was not allowed into the US seemed to be being made every few hours. Protesters were gathering at the airport as we came through immigration, and at least gave us the sense of a city united against all that was going on.

Anyway, once suitably sated at the deli, we were more than ready for a week of making new connections, finding inspiration, and enjoying the change of scenery from London.

We started by ticking off a few of the obligatory tourist spots. We got the boat over to Alcatraz, tried the food at the weekend farmer’s market at the Ferry Building (the Primavera Mexican stall was our favourite, though anything Mexican got our vote), wandered the piers, flicked through old vinyl at Jack’s Record Cellar on Scott Street, roamed the Mission District, and saw the Golden Gate Bridge from every angle. Sun, seals and ‘Sitting on the Dock of the Bay’ in Sausalito.

Then we explored a little more off the well-worn track. We went to a wine-tasting at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery, where I made a mental note to re-watch Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere after reading up on the Coppola family. Oh, and I recommend the Archimedes Cabernet Sauvignon 2013. And another wine-tasting, this time organic wine, at Preston Farm and Winery, where we also enjoyed farm-grown olives, home-made bread and cheese (thanks Michael & Lucy). Before anyone gets the impression that this was really a wine tour, I should mention other highlights included Ocean and Java Beach, the Redwoods at Muir Woods, and heading off to Sonoma Valley, which is, er, wine country.

With that bit of getting our bearings out of the way, it was down to business. We were in San Francisco to attend Le Book Connections West Coast. By our calculation, this is the 17th time we’ve exhibited with Connections since 2007, so we’re real veterans at this point. This was the first Connections event they’d held in San Francisco, at the Vitale on Mission Street. Visitors included Intel, Wells Fargo, Eleven Inc, Sonos, Benefit Cosmetics, Edelman, Gap, R/GA, Theory SF, Lyft, Sephora, Facebook and Wired (which gives us the chance to mention you should look out on our site for a chat with Wired creative director David Moretti in the coming weeks, where we discuss our collaborations over the years). It was a great chance to see existing clients again, and meet some new ones. Plus, it was a chance to show off some of Danny Sangra’s film work – we picked The Tourists, the film he made for and Balenciaga to show to the Le Book jury.

After a day of meeting new faces and old friends, we headed back to where we were staying, exhausted but enlivened by stopping off at The Mill for what they insist on calling (like Dean Martin) a pie, but to us was a pizza. Albeit one the size of a planet. And a bottle of red, though a little less expensive this time.

Some went on to the second part of Connections West Coast, in LA. But we decided to stay put and meet up with some potential new friends in the city.

The next two days were packed with appointments galore. I loved this, because it’s a chance to show off the array of Breed talent to people who are genuinely interested. We met with Facebook (good to see Rachel Gogel again, now relocated to San Francisco after time at T Brand and The New York Times in New York), and The California Sunday Magazine (while we’re here we should congratulate Leo Jung and the team for the two awards won at the Ellies 2017 National Magazine Awards for Print and Digital Media, one for Excellence in Magazine Design, the other for Photography).

We met the creative teams at Apple over in Sunnyvale and Cupertino, and a reunion with Arem Duplessis, who used to work at the New York Times. That took us back to Arem’s first commission, with Andy Gilmore, for Key Magazine in 2007.

We finished our days of meetings by hanging out with black Labradors Missy and Peppa in the reception of Cutwater just before the final meeting. A perfect chance to decompress a little.

We didn’t have time to see everybody that we wanted to, but we already have a list for next time. Oh, and we should thank Jessica and Michelle at Argonaut for the top San Francisco tips.

In short, I loved this trip, and this city. It has clean fresh air, isn’t as hectic as New York, has a different vibe to LA and its own unique thing going on, Plus, you’re just half an hour away from beautiful countryside. The sun suns much of the time, and I don’t mind the fog… it just adds to the atmosphere and makes for better photos of that bridge.

Where to next? I’ve heard wonderful things about Lake Tahoe…

Words: Olivia Triggs

Image: Amy Milligan