A Little About Us
Alessandro and I were friends in high school, but neither of us would have guessed that our paths would cross a few years after college, we'd date, eventually get married and start a family and life together. Our career paths also crossed in creative ways. Alessandro in the world of architecture and furniture design and mine as a graphic designer and photographer. We had talked for years about starting a business where we would bring together our experience and interests. This is how SOBU was born.
Named after our kids, Sofia and Bruno, SOBU began with an idea for a kids' bed which led to a pop-up shop in Old Oakland, which led to a shared space in Rockridge, which then led to taking over our current space in early 2016.
We wanted to design modern, well-crafted pieces from all natural materials that would last a lifetime. We saw SOBU as an alternative to the mass-produced, hastily made and soulless furniture available at every mall across the country from the corporate giants we all know. Our hope was to offer exceptional craftsmanship and design, and really connect with our customers for a much more personal and meaningful experience purchasing items for their homes. We wanted to show our customers we care and we appreciate them.
Our mission with SOBU is really the same which we live by and which guides us as parents: to be authentic, respectful, joyful and creative.
In addition to our own designs (DESIGN BY SOBU), we showcase furniture, art and a wide range of home accessories from local and global artists whom we hold in high regard.
We truly hope you enjoy your visit with us and that you take away with you some warmth and inspiration from the little world we have created together! - Laleh
Past Informing the Present
Furniture designer and former architect Alessandro Latini was born in Rome and spent his childhood living in inspirational locales such as Sardinia and Rio de Janeiro. He attended UC Berkeley's School of Architecture and discovered his love of furniture making amongst the machinery in the school's architectural workshop. After graduation, Alessandro moved to New York and lived in an East Village basement apartment designing and building custom furniture. A move back to San Francisco led to working for a handful of architecture firms and then a transition back to designing furniture and accessories for retailers such as Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel, and traveling internationally to source sustainable materials and methods of fabrication.
Iranian-born graphic designer and photographer Laleh Latini moved at the age of 8 with her family to San Francisco to escape the revolution. She became friends with Alessandro in high school (he dated a close friend of hers). Laleh studied Design with an emphasis on Film and Photography at UC Davis and soon after, embarked on an around-the-world trip with a dear college friend traveling across 4 continents and 13 countries. Back to reality in San Francisco, she did a brief stint as a photographer's assistant and quickly learned the commercial route was not for her. Instead, she was offered a graphic design job which then led to a freelance career with clients including Pottery Barn and Design Within Reach. Through the years, Laleh has remained a devoted photographer and you can see her images throughout the SOBU website (home page image, product photography) and some are also available for purchase at the Oakland shop.
Crossing Paths Again
While on a visit from New York, Alessandro spotted his high school friend riding past on her Vespa. He left a note in her helmet inviting her to coffee and the rest is SOBU history. The next chapter included living together all over San Francisco with numerous awesome and unforgettable roommates, and a somewhat ill-fated move to France that led to a 1-year relationship hiatus, then...back together, kids and SOBU.
Laleh's high school Vespa is still around and being restored by a friend. Recent additions to the SOBU family include a rusty Citroën HY and a naughty cattle dog named Nacho.
SOBU always welcomes your thoughts and suggestions. We love what we do and hope you feel the same way!