San Francisco is a city mad for design, yet even there, designer Dan Friedlander stands out for the scope of his vision. Friedlander, 49, also owns Limn, the largest contemporary-design store in the country. Operating out of a remodeled warehouse that sprawls over some 50,000 square feet, Limn carries furniture, decorative items and even full kitchens from more than 1,200 forward-looking companiesB&B Italia, Cappellini and Bulthaup among them. Friedlander founded Limn in 1981; 14 years later he opened Limn Gallery (known for, among other specialties, its roster of avant-garde Chinese artists) next door. More recently he launched a design journal called Limn Almanac, which is now on the Web (at www.limn.com/almanac_index.asp).
As if that weren't enough, two years ago Friedlander took on yet another role: restaurateur. Halfway through the building of Cafe Monk, which he had designed, in a former clothing factory not far from Limn, he learned that the financing for the restaurant had fallen through. And so he and his wife, Kazuyo, bought the place themselves "Why not?" he says with a shrugand filled it with Limn furniture and art.
Recently, Dan and Kazuyo gave a dinner party that showed how great design and great food complement each other. The Friedlanders set up tables by Maxalto in the courtyard between the store and the gallery and tucked eye-catching works of art, including a large sculpture of a Mao jacket by the Chinese artist Sui Jianguo, into the corners. The guests were a cross-section of colleagues involved in Limn enterprises.