Ancient and amazing meets new and trendy at Viracocha
Jonathan Siegel could not have chosen a better name for the world he has created in the Mission District, at 998 Valencia Street. In pre-Inca mythology from the Andes region of South America, Viracocha was the deity that carved out the universe – sun, moon, stars and mankind. Viracocha created time, by commanding the sun to move over the sky, and civilization, by instructing the people who populated newly-created Earth.
At Siegel’s Viracocha there is a parallel creation: the store is a world made of cutting-edge trends based on old objects, a design and inspiration experience brought to life by one man’s fantasy of the past.
The store lit its lights for the first time over two years ago, opening doors to eras about to be forgotten. Ever since, Viracocha Creation Factory has charmed its visitors through a colorful palette of vintage items (yes, there are clothes too) strewn with story-telling typewriters and vinyl records with local music; galleries of multimedia pieces, photos, and ceramic creations adorn its walls. The walls are in fact Jonathan’s favorite “item”, and are covered with red-wood panels he got from salvage yards. Indonesian strangler fig tree trunks stand pillars illuminated from inside, adding sparks of magic to the location design.
A backroom holds the lending library – Ourshelves – brought to life a year later by Kristina Kerns. It includes around 200 books, some of them published in the 18th century. Interested readers can gain access for only $10 a month. This intimate place reminds me of the reason why people go to bookshops – “curation, creation, and good old-fashioned community”, as Kristina likes to say.
The store tells stories; theatrical performances, poetry slams, musical events, literary readings, all meet at dusk to entertain among the art. “We don’t want people to just hang out and drink, it’s about the artistic space.” Of course, this is not a museum but an avant-garde gallery that holds treasures anyone can buy: everything here has a price tag on it, waiting for the right person to come over, fall for it and take it home with them.
Let your imagination visit past times by stepping in this mystical place; perhaps you’ll feel the need to take a piece of yesterday for your rented apartment to remind you that not everything is ephemeral. Not even the black cat Asha, who lounges like a real celebrity at the store. See the space and check out some products at http://viracochasf.com