The following is an excerpt from the Benny Gold cover story 'Staying Gold' for the third issue of Pages Magazine.
The issue can be bought here.
On a warm Tuesday afternoon in August I find myself in a light speed walk down 6th Street in San Francisco in search of a pawn shop storefront with absolutely nothing related to pawn within. I am running thirty minutes late for a sit down with Benny Gold at his distribution location and I fear the rate of pace I am walking at may lead me to overlooking the storefront. After passing a seedy hotel and an even seedier adult video store, I arrive at a location with large pane glass windows that look like they might have once showcased an array of pawned, possibly stolen goods. The words ‘Paid in Full’ cover one of the window panes in blood red paint and I therefore draw the conclusion that I have arrived at my destination. Instead of the paint stained windows housing an array of items available for sale, they house an array of air plane toy gliders, along with other mementos that tell a story about the business within. That business within is the product of graphic designer Benny Gold, and that product has roots and history in San Francisco that make this downtown location a perfect fit. I walk through the doors to find a few employees hovered over delivered boxes and rummaging through the contents. I garner a few concerned stares from the employees before asking for Benny. One of the employees lets out a yell for him and a few seconds later he is walking towards the front of the store flanked on both sides by two fully stocked, ceiling high warehouse shelves.
We exchange greetings, I apologize for my tardiness and he takes me on a tour of the space that doubles as a distribution center as well as an office space. Towards the back of the building begins a creative space that looks like it belongs to a designer of Benny’s caliber. Six Mac desktop monitors sit on collaborative desk space and clothing mockups litter the walls. “Here is wherewe craft our cut and sew collections,” Benny says as he points to a table with covered with garments and even more printed mock-ups. I can barely hear what he says over the glaring rock music that has been flooding the building since I walked in the door. I think Benny senses it is a bit too loud to conduct an interview so he leads me down a set of cement stairs that lead into the basement of the former pawn shop. After showing me around the basement that also houses a product photography studio and additional storage space, we settle onto two chairs to begin our talk.
I begin with the generic question of how he got his start designing, and his answer leads to a two foot tall crafted wooden logo leaning against the wall that he created for the clothing brand HUF, who Benny started designing for before he founded his own brand. The logo is strikingly geometric and consists of linework that spells out ‘HUF.’ I would have never guessed he designed this logo due to the fact it is so geometric, and if you are familiar with the Benny Gold brand, you know geometric line work is not commonly present. It seems that every piece of clothing Benny has designed up to this point has a signature, hand crafted design aesthetic that has put him in a lane of his own. A lane that does not conform to current trends or to the norms of streetwear. Benny’s design work has always contained an attention to detail and craftsmanship that can only be attributed to a graphic designer. With the background of a formally educated designer mixed with a kid who grew up in the skateboard scene, Benny Gold has crafted his brand that displays the influence of both. High quality illustrated graphics combined with the skateboarder mentality has culminated into a clothing brand that emphasizes the importance of staying true to your self, growing up without growing old, and a DIY work ethic. Benny stays true to this mantra, as he has lived it, and strives to keep it alive through his releases.