Ken Fulk is a designer and creator of experiences. He is renowned for his layered interiors, high-concept hospitality projects and unforgettable parties. The Virginia-born designer has spent 30 years designing homes, planes, restaurants and special celebrations that elevate the lives of his clients. Leading a team of 75 architects, designers, branding and event specialists in both San Francisco and New York, Fulk has gained notoriety around the globe as a tastemaker.
Fulk has been named to Architectural Digest’s AD 100, Elle Decor’s A-List and was twice nominated for a James Beard Design Award. In 2018 Ken Fulk Inc completed restoration of a National Historic Landmark church in San Francisco, where he founded the non-profit Saint Joseph’s Arts Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting working artists and inspiring creativity for all.
Q: What draws you to and inspires you about Outside Lands?
A: The experience of watching a live performance in the heart of Golden Gate Park is so intimate despite the size of the crowds or the stages - there’s almost a country fair vibe as you walk through town and make your way into the park but mixed with that is the grand tradition of concerts in Golden Gate Park, which was designed in part for that purpose in 1894. It’s remarkable when a civic space can have such a timeless appeal.
Q: How would you describe your design perspective and strategy?
A: My role is as a creator of experiences rather than of spaces. Every day should be a celebration. Our goal, as a firm, is to make each moment of the day as special as it can be by conjuring our imagination or connecting us to our best version of ourselves.
Q: Describe one of your favorite projects.
A: We are currently working on a handful of projects that reimagine iconic buildings in American history - a famous mansion in Los Angeles, a formidable clubhouse in Boston’s Back Bay and the top floors of the glorious Chrysler Building, which were historically known as The Cloud Club. Each of these projects make my heart race because it means building upon a tradition of great design and making room for the next era of great parties and unforgettable evenings.
Q: What are you working on at the moment, other than Golden Gate Club at Outside Lands?
A: LOTS! Houses, hotels, a bespoke racing yacht, a line of hats! We’re also expanding our non-profit organization, which started in San Francisco with our transformation of Saint Joseph’s Church into an arts incubator and gathering place. There are now two satellite locations - one in Provincetown Ma, where I like to spend most of my summer and another soon-to-open spot in downtown Healdsburg. When we’re all able to gather again in person, we’ll have three times the opportunities to do good while having fun.
Q: Tell us about the Saint Joseph’s Art Society project and why you chose to renovate this building in SF in particular.
A: This glorious building is on my way to work, so I would pass it each morning. I would look up at the domed towers and imagine what a beacon for the city it must have been in it’s time. I long dreamed of seeing it restored to its original beauty so when the opportunity arose, I knew I had to find a way to help it happen. It took three years to restore what had fallen apart during 30 years of neglect. Once you step inside the voluminous space, with light pouring in from the rose windows, and the gilded architectural accents catch your eye, it’s truly awesome.
Q: As a frequenter of Outside Lands, tell us about one of your favorite moments at the festival.
A: My all-time favorite moment was standing on stage with Pharrell Williams and N.E.R.D. in 2018. Pharrell and I were in the process of a collaboration on Swan Restaurant in Miami’s Design District and by luck I was in San Francisco that weekend. Dancing on the stage for a killer, high-energy set that had the crowd in a frenzy was incredible. It fulfilled all my rock-star fantasies for life!
Q: As part of our virtual festival, Inside Lands, artists Tycho, Rexx Life Raj and Madeline Kenney performed their live sets from Saint Joseph’s Art Society - tell us about your experience with the event.
A: Our original intent in restoring Saint Joseph’s church was for it to become our new San Francisco studio space. However, after spending a couple months on the project, I knew that it was too special to fill with workaday office life. It had a higher calling and the Tycho set—staged under the miraculously engineered Flylight from Studio Drift—helped remind us of that higher calling. His music inside that space, surrounded by exquisite works of art, is the culmination of what we set out to do: Support great artists and inspire creativity for all.
Re-experience the magic of Inside Lands live from Saint Joseph’s Arts Society with Tycho, Rexx Life Raj, and Madeline Kenney on the Outside Lands YouTube channel