Golden Gate Design & Furniture Company is celebrating
its 20th Anniversary this spring. What
started as a personal desire for a headboard created from a piece of Golden
Gate Bridge hand railing, has developed into a business and craft that has kept
designer Rick Bulan busy over the last 20 years.
In early 1994, Bulan happened to catch a local television
news segment featuring the 1993 replacement of some original pedestrian
handrail on the Golden Gate Bridge. “Out
of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse on TV of this section of handrail
being removed from the bridge,” Bulan reflected, thinking back upon the moment
that the concept came to him. “As a San
Francisco native, I thought it would be cool to have a headboard made out of
After tracking down the contractor who did the replacement,
he bought himself a section of railing and created four headboards out of the
material. “I went to buy a section of
railing, not realizing that each section was 12 feet long and weighed,
literally, half a ton. I arranged to
have a truck pick up and deliver my piece of handrail, then spent several weeks
with abrasive blades trying to cut the steel down to a manageable size so that
it could function as a headboard.” After
seeing the interest in the headboard by other friends and family, Bulan went
back to the contractor and negotiated to purchase the remaining sections of
hand rail so as to start a business crafting furniture out of the historic
After negotiating to purchase the available sections of
handrail from the contractor, Bulan ran his first advertisement in the July /
August 1994 issue of Metropolitan Home, launching the headboard design crafted
from that first section of handrail purchased earlier in the year.
Reflecting on the circumstances of the initial advertisement
that launched his business, Bulan “started by purchasing an ad in Metropolitan
It was a special
advertising section that provided an image of the product with a couple
paragraphs of backstory.
I had sent them
my ad copy and an image of the headboard on a white background just before my
wife and I left for a month long trip to visit her family in Kentucky.
However, while we were on the road, I
received a message from the magazine that they wanted a photo of me to go with
the story in the ad."
"They wanted it to look like I was leaning up against the
So, my wife and I are out in
the middle of rural Kentucky, trying to take a snapshot of me on a white
background, looking like I was leaning against an imaginary handrail of the
Golden Gate Bridge.
As luck would have
it, the local town’s beauty parlor was hosting a traveling portrait studio that
week, and I was finally able to get a portrait done.
I think we used a broom as the prop for me to
lean my elbow on, which the magazine then cut out and replaced with the image
of the headboard that I had sent them.
Of course, by doing this, the proportions were off and it made for a bit
of an awkward photograph,” Bulan laughingly recalls.
All of this was unknown territory to Bulan, but the gamble
Inquiries and orders started
“My wife and I were
creating our first product brochures by hand, making mini-scrapbook style
booklets with pages we printed out on our printer at home and actual
photographs affixed to them.
back in the day when you had to drop your film negative off at the local 1hour
photo shop to have reprints done, and we were just using snapshots we took with
our personal camera.
Eventually came the
professional photographs done in a studio and professionally printed
literature, but it’s amazing to look back over the years and see how the
technology has changed, to become what it is now in the digital age.”
However, as he looks back over the last two decades, Bulan
points out that the technology and techniques of creating the furniture has
basically remained the same. It is the tools and techniques used to run
the actual business that have changed over the years. "As we've
moved into the digital age, it's the use of computers, cell phones, email,
etc. that has changed the most, making communication and running
a business so much easier to do. But the way I built the furniture
then is pretty much the same way I do it today."
Spring 2014 marks twenty years since that fateful day when
Bulan saw the local news story.
still creating headboards, as well as various table and lamp designs, from the
historic handrail that was removed from the Golden Gate Bridge in 1993.
All of the limited edition designs are
hand-crafted locally in small batches by Bulan and the specialized artisans he
works closely with at his studio workshop in San Francisco. You can
see all of Bulan’s current designs at his company’s website, GGBFurniture.com
and here at TheChrysopylae.com
His Pacifica showroom and San Francisco workshop are available by
Golden Gate Design& Furniture Company
Showroom: 446 Old County Road, Pacifica, CA 94044
Workshop: 1 Rankin Street, Studio #417, San Francisco CA 94124
firstname.lastname@example.org - www.ggbfurniture.com - www.facebook.com/ggbfurniture