Jerry Smith – Artist, Friend, Colleague

It is with great sorrow that I learned of  the untimely passing  of my friend and colleague Jerry Smith. Jerry was the eldest of 3 brothers born in Philadelphia on November 3, 1965.  He attended the Tyler school of art for his undergraduate degree and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for his graduate degree.  His paintings were shown at the Carl Hammer Gallery in Chicago as well as the Bucheon Gallery in San Francisco.  He co-founded Connell-Smith Fine Art Services in 2001 with his wife and business partner Laurel Connell. He was an amazing painter, an avid reader of literature and newspapers, a lover of music, and most of all,  a great friend. We will all  miss him dearly. Contributions are being accepted in his honor to the California College of the Arts and the Langley Porter Psychiatric Care Institute at the University of California San Francisco Campus.

 Jerry Smith

Langley Porter Psychiatric Care Institute at the University of California San Francisco Campus : and hit Make a Gift button

California College of the Arts: Contact Emily Major at 510-594-3784 or

Clarellen Adams

Galleria Image-MMDSOriginally I visited San Francisco in the summer of 1977 as a young gay man in search of a happier place to live. At that time, the design district was located in the Ice House and in Jackson Square. They were wonderful and so was the city. I dreamed of living here one day and of having a design office in wonderfully sophisticated  Jackson Square. It certainly was a world apart from Austin, Texas.

As it turns out, the shift was premature for me. When I did finally make it here for good, in the summer of 1987, Clarellen and Henry Adams had turned the design industry on its ear – moving the entire district South of Market to the site it now occupies 30 plus years later. Henry Adams had already passed away, but certainly his memory and his accomplishments had not. 

Clarellen – well that is another story. She was as vibrant and alive as anyone I have ever known. We worked on many projects together and she was always there supporting every part of the industry. On the occasion of her 90th birthday party – beautifully hosted by Applegatge Tran Interiors – I remarked that I hoped that as many people would attend my funeral as were at her birthday party. Clarellen replied, ” Don’t worry honey, I will be there!”That is the kind of dear woman our Clarellen was.

Clarellen and  Michael Resto

Clarellen will be in our hearts & memories forever!


Antiques in a Modern Environment

Although our work is more contemporary than not, I am in favor of using an antique element or two in most environments. I do not want to recreate a period space. We are not living in Tuscany, it is not the 18th century and we do not have large household staffs any longer. Rather, I want to use antiques sparingly to create a sense of contrast to make the space more modern than it would otherwise be.

To do this, I suggest thinking of the antique as a piece of sculpture. It needs a strong silhouette, a graphic presence. I also am in favor of a piece that shows use – even wear and tear. The Japanese ideal of Wabi-Sabi is totally on the mark. A piece that shows loving signs of having been used and enjoyed is more beautiful than one that hasn’t been touched often enough.

Go ahead, dare to use antiques to play up the modernity of the space you live in. It will enliven your home and bring warmth that is impossible to live without.


MMDS’s iPad Design Catalog

Michael Merrill Design Studio iPad Design CatalogAbout ten years ago, we began assembling a database of design ideas. These are images of other professional work spanning a range of topics: kitchens, living rooms, staircases and art presentation are a few of the 50 categories that we have assembled. Our database currently hold approximately 10,000 images, all of which are sorted and numbered for easy communication within our firm, for communication between our firm and contractors and most importantly to establish quick efficient communication with our clients. This database was nearly five years in the making until it was a potent tool in the design process. Images are uploaded weekly to keep the file fresh and relevant.