San Francisco Chronicle August 11 2013
California Marquees Put Artist On Map
Scott Coppersmith's California state marquee was the focal point in Erin Hiemstra's installation at Sunset.
As part of Sunset magazine's annual Celebration Weekend earlier this month, the Reimagining the Sunset Home exhibit enlisted five under-35 designers to reinterpret vintage photo spreads from the 1940s through 1980s. San Francisco blogger-stylist Erin Hiemstra of the lifestyle site Apartment 34 was asked to reimagine the den and home office of a 1978 photo shoot.
Hiemstra's vision required a focal point, and when she spotted Scott Coppersmith's California state marquee while scouring the Alameda Point Antiques Faire, she knew she'd found it. Made of reclaimed old-growth redwood and automobile-grade aluminum, the marquee features 13 lightbulbs representing the state's major cities.
"A California theme had already emerged for my space, and we decided to take it to a really large scale," she says. "I loved the rustic ease of Scott's work, its playfulness and the idea of the sign being a conversation starter."
Ventura artist Coppersmith's marquees have been making people smile since his first commission three years ago for a Los Angeles Pilates studio, which was in the shape of a heart. By the end of that day, he had his first two clients and secured a coveted spot at the famed Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena. He's been a regular there ever since as well as at the Alameda flea.
Coppersmith, 37, attended college at State University of New York at Geneseo and Buffalo State and minored in furniture design. His detour into home building after college, initially in Colorado and then in California, helped pay off student loans and kept his hands busy, but little else.
"I disliked the tediousness of being a contractor. It was crazy. I was building these multimillion-dollar Malibu homes, but found it really hard to break out of the traditional house bubble," says Coppersmith. The construction waste and its environmental impacts also spurred Coppersmith to refocus on the creativity of designing furniture and lighting.
The idea for the marquees stemmed from a dislike of floor lamps and the way they light a room. That and his own clumsiness.
"I'm a big guy and I'm always bumping into stuff, and I thought what I need is a way to hang a lamp on a wall," Coppersmith says. It wasn't long before he was dreaming up designs he thought would "make people happy," including marquees shaped like peace signs, dinosaurs and a map of the world.
His first California state marquee hangs in the Echo Park field office of Los Angeles state Sen. Kevin de León and since then he's been backlogged with orders (he makes each by hand). Average lead time is four to six weeks. The state marquee comes in three sizes - 3, 5 and8 feet, with a starting price of $450. All come with the option of a vintage cloth cord and dimmer. There's also a choice of 10-watt standard or Edison-style bulbs.
Hiemstra isn't the only decorator to spy Coppersmith's marquees at the Alameda flea market. One of Facebook's interior designers spotted his art there as well and commissioned him to create a 5-foot California state marquee for Facebook Director of Engineering Andrew "Boz" Bosworth. With these recent commissions from Sunset and Facebook one wonders: What's next for Coppersmith and his whimsical oversize art?
"Google," he jokes.
Scott Coppersmith Designs: http://scott-coppersmith-designs.myshopify.com.
Sophia Markoulakis is a Burlingame freelance writer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org