Celebrating 20 Years and Reflecting Upon the Design that Started It All: The Headboard


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 this handrail.”


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 steel.

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 Home magazine.  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 headboard.  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 paid off.  Inquiries and orders started trickling in.  “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.  This was 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.  He is 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,, and here at  His Pacifica showroom and San Francisco workshop are available by appointment only.

Golden Gate Design& Furniture Company - 415.661.6263
Showroom: 446 Old County Road, Pacifica, CA 94044
Workshop: 1 Rankin Street, Studio #417, San Francisco CA 94124

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Save The Date: 2014 Fall Open Studios

Thanks to all who came to visit us at our workshop for the 2014 Spring Open Studios.  Be sure to save the date for the upcoming 2014 SF Open Studios presented by ArtSpan this Fall.  Our workshop studio will be open for Weekend 1 of the citywide event, October 18 & 19.


Islais Creek Studios #417

Golden Gate Design & Furniture Co.
One Rankin Street
San Francisco, CA 94124

Save The Date!

2014 SF Open Studios
Presented by


Weekend 1: October 18 & 19, 11am to 6pm

Hunters Point Shipyard & Islais Creek Studios

Opening Reception

Friday, October 17 - 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Golden Gate Design & Furniture Co.

446 Old County Road, Pacifica, CA 94044 - 415.661.6263

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2014 Spring Open Studios - Hunters Point Shipyard Artists and Islais Creek Studios


We will be participating in next weekend's 2014 Spring Open Studios at our Islais Creek workshop.  Come for a weekend of great art and designs from local San Francisco artisans.  The studio will be open for previews Friday evening, May 2, followed by the community's entire Spring Open Studios event Saturday, May 3, and Sunday, May 4.

For more information visit:

Islais Creek Studios #417

One Rankin Street

San Francisco, CA 94124

Golden Gate Design & Furniture Company - 415.661.6263

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Mark Your Calendars: Spring Open Studios 2014

If you were not able to make it last fall, we will be participating in another Open Studios event at our Islais Creek workshop this Spring.  Mark your calendars now for Saturday, May 3, and Sunday, May 4, for the 2014 Hunters Point Shipyard Open Studios.  Be sure to follow us here at our blog, our Facebook page (, or on Twitter ( for more event information as it becomes available.

Photos from Fall 2013 ArtSpan SF Open Studios

Thanks to everyone who stopped by last November to visit our workshop during the SF Open Studios event!


Workshop Studio at Islais Creek


Workshop Studio at Islais Creek


Vista Bench


Tea Table

To learn more about these and our other designs, please visit our website, or contact us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Golden Gate Design & Furniture Co
446 Old County Road, Pacifica, CA 94044 - 415.661.6263

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Happy New Year!


A New Design for a New Year: The Table Lamp

Originally previewed at DWELL On Design this past summer, the new Table Lamp design is now in production and available for purchase:


The new Table Lamp design incorporates a piece of historic hand rail cap as its shade and a cross section of the vertical rail picket as its base.  It uses an energy efficient 6.3 watt, 410 lumens LED with a 3,000K white color temperature that is equivalent to a 35 watt halogen bulb.

The Table Lamp has a limited edition production run of 195.  Each lamp is hand-crafted locally, numbered, and comes with a Letter of Authenticity.

To place an order for a Table Lamp, or any of our other designs, visit our online store or contact us directly via email or phone:

Online Store

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Wishing you all the best in 2014....

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