Allison Arieff: Behind the Scenes and #BeyondDesign

Elizabeth Latenser | 10.16.18

Photos: Allison with her family during a recent trip in Tokyo

Allison Arieff is the editorial director of Spur where she writes about architecture, design, and building smarter cities.  Her insights can be found almost anywhere you look including: The New York Times, California Sunday, the MIT Technology Review, Dialogue and CityLab. She is a former editor-at-large for GOOD and Sunset magazines and Dwell. Allison demonstrates a deep passion for her work which is clear in the her episode of Scratching the Surface.

Who is Allison when she is not writing, recording a podcast or plotting ways to develop smarter cities?

Who is your hero?
My 12-year old daughter who is not only smart and funny and a great artist & writer (I’m totally objective!) but also a competitive rock climber.

Favorite instagram account?
I love keeping up with family members mostly but I’m always impressed with design writer Alice Rawsthorn’s eclectic narratives.

What are you reading for fun right now?
Novels are my weakness: I read at least one  a week. Just re-read City of Thieves (written by David Benioff, pre-Game of Thrones though I don’t watch GOT) while in Berlin for a talk. Other great novels I’ve read this summer include Rachel Kushners’, The Mars Room (her book, The Flamethrowers is an all time fave) and My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh.

Superpower:
I can grow tomatoes in San Francisco.

What is always in your carry on when you travel?
Usually a too-heavy hardcover novel.

Top 3 cultural moments:
The David Bowie Is exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, The International Space Orchestra (NASA’s in-house band!) performing with Beck at PopUp Magazine in San Francisco in 2013; and the crazy amazing Bjork ballet, choreographed by Arthur Pita, at San Francisco Ballet earlier this year, which blew my mind.

Where are 3 places you always go when you host people in your city?
Zuni Cafe for the perfect meal: oysters, martinis, Caesar salad, chicken for 2; Alemany Farmer’s Market, especially in summer when it’s overflowing with stone fruit and tomatoes (plus it’s one of the only places you can actually experience true diversity in S.F. anymore); and Green Apple Books, which just celebrated its 50th anniversary and is just one of the best places anywhere (plus there’s great banh mi sandwiches across the street). Sensing a food theme here…

Favorite musicals?
Hamilton and Sweeney Todd.

How do you spend your last $5 in a foreign country?
Usually on candy at the airport.