T W G : Design Journal

My Trip to French Polynesia

Paul has always been drawn to tropical climates and locations, so he was thrilled when the opportunity arose for him to travel to the atoll of Taha’ in French Polynesia. While the rest of The Wiseman Group followed along on his journey via his Instagram, we really wanted to share the experience with all of you in the best way possible, in his own words. So, from Paul himself, here is a recap of this incredible Polynesian vacation…


One of my goals this year was to take a real vacation, completely off the grid (well, except for my Instagram, of course) with total relaxation. So, when a couple of friends invited me to join them this summer on an excursion to Vahini Island, a remote resort off the island of Taha’ in French Polynesia, I immediately said, “I’m in.”

Mission accomplished: With only nine rooms, a delightful French chef, and an extensive wine list, this private resort was pure heaven. Surrounded by palm trees and tucked inside a coconut grove, this was also my first time traveling to French Polynesia. Decidedly more European than Hawaii, everyone we encountered looked like someone out of a Gauguin painting.


Beyond the wonderful people, I snorkeled everyday and found the myriad of sea life absolutely breathtaking. I had always wanted to see Bora Bora and, in addition to a stunning view of it from my bedroom, we were able to take a day trip and enjoyed a fabulous picnic prepared by our chef. Bora Bora was gorgeous, despite the larger crowds.


All in all, I achieved my goal: With my newfound relaxation, inspiration, and, rejuvenation, I have a new perspective on how to reflect natural beauty in the work with my team here at The Wiseman Group.

TWG Wins 2017 Designer Mix-Off

I’m thrilled to announce that our own James Hunter and The Wiseman Group’s ‘Summer of Love Negroni’ cocktail took first place at the Third Annual Designer Mix-Off, a drink competition and design party hosted by California Home & Design magazine and Studio Becker last week.

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Tucson Mineral Show: A Gem of an Event

As a mineral enthusiast and avid collector, I eagerly anticipate my annual pilgrimage to The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. The world-renowned event, held in Tucson, Arizona, is a feast for the eyes and senses as over 5,000 unique vendors and exhibitors from around the globe offer the finest selection of natural history wonders ever assembled.This year was my fifteenth year attending. Truth be told, my spouse has been going to the show since its inception over 40 years ago (and collecting since he was 8), so while I’m a veteran, he is the gem authority.

Immediately, I found myself among a splendor of great exhibits. Consistently extraordinary exhibitors include GeoDécor, Ron Coleman Mining, Inc. and Crystal Springs Mining Company.

Not to be missed is The Westward Look Show (always during the middle weekend) which is comprised of well vetted high-end dealers.

But the unexpected find this year was the exquisite Aquamarine crystals in matrix with Muscovite Mica and Red Apatite crystals. Mined from the northern Pakistan tribal area, these gemstones are gathered at great risk. The payoff is worth it though, as these stones are some of the most remarkable pieces I’ve ever seen.

When I attend the show, I’m always looking for rare finds for clients. This year, I purchased a couple of 80 million-year-old petrified logs for inlaying into a conference table for a corporate client.

Of course, I’m also on the lookout to add to my personal collection, so I picked up a few for myself as well. I have a couple displays, one in Belvedere and another in Mill Valley. My passion for collecting grounds me in the present, but is reminiscent of the past.

Needless to say, it has been another successful trip that has me inspires until the next Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.


My collection in Mill Valley


This specimen lives in my Belvedere home, where we are currently building a new cabinet for our collection.

Paul’s FOG Favorites

Earlier this month, I had the honor of attending the 4th annual FOG DESIGN + ART fair at Fort Mason in San Francisco. It was a true delight to be in attendance alongside the work of some of the 20th and 21st Century's most influential artists and designers.

Paul Wiseman admires artwork from Holster Burrows Gallery

Paul Wiseman admires artwork from Holster Burrows Gallery

One of the highlights was the textured wall art featured at London’s Carpenter Workshop Gallery. This patterned gouged wood wall art is at once dramatic and understated.

 Paul Wiseman posing next to the gouged wood wall art

 Paul Wiseman posing next to the gouged wood wall art

Another favorite was Gagosian Gallery’s outstanding collection of works on paper by American Abstract Expressionist Helen Frankenthaler, who pioneered the Color Field movement. These vibrant pieces demonstrate her true mastery of color and form.

TWG Design Principal James Hunter admires Gagosian Gallery’s collection of works by Helen Frakenthaler

TWG Design Principal James Hunter admires Gagosian Gallery’s collection of works by Helen Frakenthaler

I can’t go without mentioning Joel Shapiro's minimalist steel figure sculpture that appeared as if it were jumping off of its pedestal. Presented by Pace Gallery, this artist is particularly dear to me as we recently included his work in a client’s Northern California residence designed by architect William Wurster.

Joel Shapiro at Pace Gallery

Joel Shapiro at Pace Gallery

Finally, the pièce de resistance was without a doubt the glorious 21POP installation that greeted me as I entered and exited the pavilion. Designed by FOG committee member Stanlee R. Gatti, the installation consisted of a vibrant rug-like patterns made out of 200,000 real roses. The result is a graphic, ephemeral art piece that perfectly marries art, nature, and design.

A look at Stanlee R. Gatti’s 21POP installation

A look at Stanlee R. Gatti’s 21POP installation

There were far too many inspired exhibits to name them all, but when I left Fort Mason last week, I not only felt revived by the visual splendor, but also a sense of pride. San Francisco, once a refuge to emerging artists looking to escape New York City, has since risen to the forefront of art and design. And for that, I couldn’t be more grateful.


Stunning cluster of quartz crystals roughly two feet in diameter

Photo - Richard Snyder

According to their website, the

Tucson Gem and Mineral Show

is the "largest, oldest and most prestigious gem and mineral show in the world." The show has "enjoyed international stature since the 1970s, and was the first gem and mineral show to bring the hobby enthusiast, the public, and the curator/professional together for discovery and discussion."

Paul Wiseman and Richard Snyder in front of a spectacular crocodile fossil

Photos - Kirsten Honeyman, unless otherwise indicated

Paul Wiseman has been attending the Tucson show for years. It is a wonderful opportunity to find one-of-a-kind treasures for clients looking for that certain something to enhance their decor. Paul has a long-standing relationship with many of the top dealers, and they greet him by name as he moves about the show. Paul's spouse, Richard Snyder, has had a life-long passion for minerals, and the two make a formidable team: Paul zeros in on what is aesthetically beautiful while Richard adds helpful guidance as to the specimen's quality and provenance.

Pair of fossilized palm fronds

Museum quality Woolly Mammoth fossil (10,000 to 15,000 years old) found in North America

Fabulous conference table made of two booked slabs of fossilized wood

Paul sits on a naturally formed lingham stone found in the Narmada River in India

Paul and Richard always stay at the

Arizona Inn

, a storied property with great character and charm. The exceedingly polite young staff add to the of pleasure staying at the hotel.

Grounds of the Arizona Inn

Photo - Inn website

Cozy library where morning coffee and afternoon tea are served

Photo - Inn website

Tucson is a fascinating area, so taking side trips from the show rounds out the experience. The flora and fauna of the surrounding high desert create an other-worldly experience.

Paul at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum near Tucson

Mountain lion exhibit at the museum

Photo - Richard Snyder

Saguaro cacti on the grounds of the museum

Returning from the show, one feels as though one has been in a far-away land, not a place only a hop, skip, and jump from California!