Our Story

Our Story

RareField Design/Build

(Formerly known as Paxton Gate Design/Build)

Since opening 1992 the retail store and the design-build operation of Paxton Gate shared the same name. Over that time, both grew and evolved in quite different and interesting directions.

As ardent supporters of evolution, we decided to acknowledge this fact by changing the name of the design-build division. Hence, the same team responsible for countless, beautifully crafted gardens, decks, accessory structures, residential spaces and such high-profile eateries as Flour + Water and Le Marais Bakery, now operate as RareField Design/Build.

What does this mean to you? Well, on the one hand, nothing; on the other, quite a bit. While we have re-purposed and expanded our vision of what is possible for our firm and our clients, RareField continues our long tradition of embracing all facets of design. From commercial spaces and residential interiors to gardens of all shapes and sizes—as well as new avenues of design and innovation—we remain dedicated to the kind of exemplary craftsmanship that has been our hallmark for nearly three decades.

– Sean Quigley, Founder, Paxton Gate and RareField Design/Build

The Team


Sean Quigley owns San Francisco’s Paxton Gate which he opened in 1992 alongside the design/build firm which now operates as RareField.

His designs gravitate toward contemporary, simple and clean lines but are far from stark as he often utilizes reclaimed and aged materials. “I’m initially trying to make the space work,” says Quigley “but often stumble upon the beauty that can be found in the simplest of details.”

In 2008 he opened his third business, Paxton Gate’s Curiosities for Kids. Here his somewhat Victorian gentleman/inventor/botanist/biologist demeanor is balanced by a pursuit of simplicity and craftsmanship. Not to mention a quintessentially western practicality. “I don’t use tricks or methods to make things work,” he says. “I start with the functional challenges inherent in a project and then connect the aesthetics that yield the visuals I’m after.”

Sean’s interest in gardening, construction and the natural world was instilled early in life while growing up in the rural Northern California town of Happy Valley where he gardened with his mother and built with his father. Though it sounds like a name dreamt up by an ad man working for McMahon and Tate, it is a place where his family raised its own food and livestock, built barns and where kids were free to roam through woods for fun, literally miles from home. And where a 6th grade Quigley built a fort that by 7th grade had received an upgrade that included a second floor along with an elevated deck supported by surrounding trees.

In his teens and early twenties Quigley worked as a cabinet maker and in general carpentry. Moving to San Francisco in 1989, he pursued a degree in small business management at SF State. After graduating Magna cum Laud he spent the next 10 years working as a bartender. While doing time at a number of Mission nightlife destinations including Dr. Bombay’s, Casa Nova and Kilowatt, his resolute nature allowed him to focus on starting Paxton Gate at its original site in 1992. Both the store and the design/build business were relocated to their current and more spacious Valencia Street digs in 1999.

Having designed several retail spaces over the years and dabbled in interiors, in 2009 Quigley and team branched out into restaurant design when they designed and helped to build one of San Francisco’s most popular and critically acclaimed restaurants, Flour + Water. Since then they’re portfolio has grown to include Central Kitchen, Les Marais Bakery, The Third Rail as well as numerous other exciting projects.

Sean lives in the Mission District of San Francisco with his wife, daughter, cat, and an unkempt garden overflowing with all manner of bromeliads, succulents and other plants that he collects. “The cobbler’s children go without shoes,” says Quigley. “I’ll get to my garden someday!”


Michael Santi grew up in suburban Philadelphia spending as much time as possible outdoors, playing in the snow, the woods, building with dirt and following stream courses as far as he could before dinner. Growing older, an all-encompassing love of skateboarding pulled him into the city, exposing him to art, culture, design, and community. From 1994 to 1998 he felt completely secure in his place and purpose. As Santi’s awareness broadened, he began to feel a need to shed his provincial identity. It was a difficult time, but in the end his love of art and expression culminated in a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emerson College in Boston. Then, yearning for real and raw experience, he hit the road.

“I reached a point where staying put was no longer an option. I felt I could continue writing songs and short stories angrily or else become the hero of my own story.”

He headed west, eventually settling in San Francisco where he found friendly people and the freedom to do and be anything amid stunning surroundings. For three years he sailed almost daily, maintaining the fleet and running the sailing school at Spinnaker Sailing. He volunteered in the Presidio Native Plant Nursery helping to collect and breed local species of Carex by watershed. He worked a harvest at White Rock Vineyards in Napa as a crush and cellar hand. In 2008, he pursued an opportunity with Sacred Space Gardens as a construction laborer. “A career in Landscape Design and Construction was the perfect synthesis of my need to be outside and my goal to become a respected craftsman in a storied, mindful pursuit.” After four years with Sacred Space, where he rose to the level of Construction Lead, Santi was ready for the next phase of his career.

“I’d been aware of the work RareField was doing for a while. I was frankly in awe of the thoughtfulness of their designs, of the skill of their team, and of the combined thrust of their efforts as both modernists and craftspeople.” Now, as a member of the team since 2012, Santi feels it is a great honor to work toward collective goals and to push the boundaries of essentially ancient materials together. “It is a humbling experience to be accepted by your superiors and treated as a one of a team of equals, and a great privilege to be asked to do your work well.”

Santi lives with his young family in Glen Park where they enjoy hiking, swimming and making art and music together.


Joining the RareField team in 2015 as a Designer and Project Manager, Cory embraced and excelled in his role. After several years working at large, design-only firms, working in design-build has been a breath of fresh air. “Working at RareField has several distinct advantages: a talented build crew, fantastic clients, and a strong design philosophy, all which set the foundation for great projects to arise. We try to remove the obstacles that can derail a good design, and support each other to create the best spaces we can.”

Having lived in San Francisco since 2005, Cory still finds inspiration in the City. “Being able to look forward while still embracing the past, not being afraid to stand apart, and a strong link to the beauty of nature define San Francisco for me. I’m not sure that there is a more appropriate description of what I’m aiming for when I design.”

Before coming to San Francisco to study Landscape Architecture at the UC Berkeley Extension program, Cory lived in Santa Cruz where he received his BA from UC Santa Cruz. Additionally, Cory is a Licensed Landscape Architect, LEED AP, and a Bay Friendly Qualified Professional. He grew up in Boulder, Colorado and was on skis seemingly right after he could walk. These days Cory enjoys backpacking with his lively terrier, and watching the Giants with his cat at his home in the Mission District.


Alfonso grew up in San Diego where he began dabbling in carpentry while working with his uncle and taking on the occasional odd job. Drawn to the thriving art scene in mid-90s San Francisco, he made his way north where he continued his gig-work as well as forays into painting and drawing.

In 2014 Alfonso found himself working in an almost gig fashion at RareField where he excelled with his astute attention to detail. Yet he wasn’t wholly ready to make the full-time leap to construction. On one hand, the flexible schedule of the artist beckoned him whereas consistent work and the realization that he liked building things that bring joy to people’s lives also brought him pride and happiness. About a year later, he could no longer ignore his calling and signed on as a full-time builder with the firm. Alfonso has found his niche at RareField and in addition to leading crews and projects he’s also our go-to builder for projects requiring a singular focus and special touch. He’s an expert of interpreting designer intent and in finding ways to execute it in real space.

Alfonso lives in San Francisco’s Mission district and as much as possible spends his time off camping, traveling, cooking, gardening, and endlessly tinkering.


Eric grew up in Chicago, IL where he spent most of his time outdoors playing soccer, riding bikes, skateboarding, practicing martial arts and skiing whenever possible. He went to college in Durango, CO earning his BA in Sociology. Shortly after graduation—following his love of skiing—he moved to Lake Tahoe, CA where he focused on turning pro. After six years of competing and struggling with injuries, Eric left the mountains to start a new chapter in the Bay Area where he opened and operated a small teak furniture restoration business with a friend. “The business grew quickly during those seven years but the nature of the work was very repetitive and lacked any kind of creativity.” This led Eric to classes in horticulture and landscape construction. Simultaneously, he discovered a job opportunity at RareField and was hired in 2011. Over the years Eric developed his skills as a landscaper and carpenter and was promoted to Construction Lead in 2014.

“After three years with RareField I feel incredibly fortunate that I work outside everyday helping build the amazing spaces our talented design team creates.”

Eric currently lives in Cole Valley in San Francisco.


Sara got her start in construction in 2001. She was fresh out of college when a builder friend told her she had “carpenter juice” and offered her a job. Despite never having used a power tool—or knowing what carpenter juice was—she jumped in as a laborer with a small East Bay crew remodeling homes and restaurants, learning as she went.

After a five-year break from building, during which she was a newspaper reporter, a magazine editor, and an amateur boxer, Sara joined RareField in 2011 and immediately fell in love with building gardens.

For Sara, the best parts of her job are being outside, building challenging and creative projects with natural materials, and knowing that she’s helping create special places for people to connect with their homes and the outdoors.

When she’s not working, Sara spends her time puttering in her own garden, going for very long walks, and dreaming of tiny houses and deserts. She lives in the Mission with a black cat named Clyde.


Surrounded by design and construction at a young age, Jasper learned the foundations of the design-build process from his father who designed and built homes in Michigan and the Bay Area. Within the family business, Jasper received hands on experience in carpentry, woodwork, and the full scope of creating tailored home solutions for his clients.

After several years, an opportunity to travel the world gave him a whole new perspective on life and art. With this life altering experience, Jasper decided to expand his skills in the artistic element of design and received his AS degree in Graphic Communications at City College of San Francisco and trained in welding.

From that point on, Jasper began creating art, furniture and specialized lighting designs for clients and businesses integrating natural elements with his graphics arts. His creations utilize natural or repurposed materials such as reclaimed wood, metal, and personal items of the clients to create the desired emotional effect. He also continued to work on finished carpentry and metal work projects for custom homes and commercial spaces. Jasper joined Rarefield in 2017 inspired by the Rarefield culture and their vision to embrace all facets of design and to work with a team of highly skilled and openminded craftsmen and women.

Jasper is still an avid traveler with his wife and family and enjoys learning from the natural world and exploration. When there is a spare moment, he often is exploring the Bay Area woods, creeks and all the microclimates this incredible region has to offer.