Trailblazer: Ken Fulk

Imagining an over-the-top life.

ken fulk

He may be known for his visually extravagant interiors, but designer Ken Fulk starts every project with a portrait in words. “I begin to reflect on odd, often cultural references, places, people, things,” says Fulk, who oversees teams in San Francisco and New York. “It’s like pitching a movie.” Those references serve as the foundation for any of his projects, whether it’s “an over-the-top party, a hotel, a yacht, a plane,” he says. During his 25-year career, Fulk has transformed his written narratives into such creations as a pastel-saturated Belle Époque–style restaurant (Sadelle’s in Las Vegas), a tropical-oasis oyster bar (Leo’s in San Francisco), and even a multimillion-dollar Tolkien-inspired wedding (tech entrepreneur Sean Parker’s nuptials in Big Sur).

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On being in the moment: “It’s wonderful to dream and plan. We do it all day long. When we finish these projects, it’s like a crazy Christmas present. But you can have a real letdown because you’re like, ‘Oh my God, all this work,’ so we’ve got to enjoy the process.”

On how his life was influenced by the West: “[My husband and I] visited San Francisco for the first time, and we looked at each other and said, ‘Why doesn’t everyone live here?’ I could not be who I am professionally, personally, had I not moved west, had I not come to San Francisco, had I not been able to write my own chapter. If you’re going to make up a life, make up a good one. And I did.”

On the first post-pandemic shindig he wants to throw: “We’re going to have a huge blowout party as soon as we can: a roller disco, something crazy. It needs to be ridiculous. I just want to dance. I mean, I dance, still, by myself. But I wouldn’t mind dancing with others.”•

Julia Herbst is a senior staff editor at Fast Company.
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