Member Profile: Tory Schenkkan

Tory Schenkkan AvroKO Managing Director, San Francisco

San Francisco native Tory Schenkkan began her career in the hospitality design space in her home city before moving to New York, where she worked for building and interiors firm Roman and Williams and real estate development company, Related, project-managing the interior design of luxury residential towers 15 Hudson Yards.

Tory moved back to SF to raise a family with her husband where they’d both grown up and serves as managing director of design firm AvroKO‘s SF studio, where she oversees a team of 15 designers across various hospitality projects from CANOPY Jackson Square.

In Journal, Tory introduces some recent projects from AvroKO’s SF team, and why she’s excited about the potential implications of AI in the world of design.

Journal readers have likely spent time in spaces AvroKO has designed. Can you share a little background about AvroKO?

AvroKO was founded in New York by four partners, Kristina O’Neal, Adam Farmerie, William Harris, and Greg Bradshaw, and has earned a reputation as one of the world’s most innovative design firms, due in large part to its integrated design process and focus on creating emotionally-connected experiences through Hospitable Thinking®.

Our portfolio includes restaurants, bars, hotels, retail, residential, and mixed-use projects characterized by a unique convergence between the ideals of the past and an off-beat, forward-looking sensibility. Over the past 20-plus years, we’ve grown globally to five offices—New York City, Bangkok, London, Miami, and San Francisco at CANOPY Jackson Square—working on projects across 22 countries in 32 cities.

AvroKO designed SingleThread Farms in Healdsburg, a restaurant and inn that has three Michelin stars. More recent projects from the SF office include Auberge resorts property The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos, SF’s first omakase restaurant Akiko’s, and neighborhood destination Twelvemonth in Burlingame.  We also just finished and opened The Jay Hotel in the Financial District, 10 minutes’ walk from CANOPY FiDi, where guestrooms and suites are inspired by SF resident and sculptor Ruth Asawa.

What current/future developments in your field are you most excited about, and why?

I’m excited to see AI’s impact on our industry and how we can use it to develop better, more detailed projects by handing the busy and administrative work off so we can focus on developing the design.

How do you define success in your role as Managing Director?

By creating beautiful, highly detailed projects, and ensuring our staff is happy and well-rested.

When did you join CANOPY and what about this space appealed to you?

AvroKO joined in 2020, and we have a Private Office at Jackson Square, which is a beautifully designed space convenient for central neighborhoods and many of the city’s creative firms. We decided to sign up for a membership here for many reasons, but having Brian, the barista, for unlimited caffeine, and the CANOPY member concierge team always available to help out are my top two. The Canopy staff feels like part of my team and always goes above and beyond to help me get and stay organized.

What single piece of advice do you like to give to someone who wants to enter your field?

It’s a challenging industry and can take a lot out of you but there’s nothing like walking

into a space you spent months or even years fussing over every detail and seeing all your ideas fully realized. If you want a career in interior design, go for it!

What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned in your career?

Listen first.

What’s a skill everyone should master?

Knowing when it’s time to get up and take a walk.

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?

Pachinko, a novel by Harlem-based author and journalist Min Jin Lee. The story follows the 20th-century experience of a Korean family who immigrates to Japan.

Is there a podcast you’d recommend to anyone?

Huberman Lab, a podcast from neuroscientist and professor Andrew Huberman, Ph.D., that launched a few years ago. Episode themes are wide-ranging—finding your purpose, female hormones and fertility, mental health—and underpinned by science and science-based tools for everyday life.

What’s your favorite thing to do in the San Francisco Bay Area?

I love exploring the city I grew up in as an adult with my young son. Experiencing all the parks and restaurants that I grew up going to at this time in my life with him feels really special and like I’m giving him the same gift my parents gave me of a childhood in San Francisco. There’s nothing like it!

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Follow Avroko on Instagram @avroko and on Linkedin; follow Tory at Linkedin.