Restoration Hardware’s Reinvention


These past few years have seen many big-name home and design retailers bite the dust, and many more come thisclose to suffering the same fate. After a big drop in numbers, Restoration Hardware first closed some stores, then went through a buyout and subsequent restructuring.There have been rumblings for a while about the retail chain’s new brand strategy, but with the recently released fall catalog we finally get a glimpse at what’s changed with the Corte Madera-based furnishings company.

The new look is written all over the pages, and not just figuratively in each piece of stately, rustic-luxe furniture; CEO Gary Friedman actually takes the first page to expound on the company’s new direction. It’s a mission statement of sorts, explaining RH’s reinvention as “no longer mere ‘retailer,'” but as “‘curators’ of the best historical design.”

I’ve got to give an eye roll at the word “curator”, which, in my opinion, is becoming grossly overused, but I do like a lot of what I see furniture-wise. As a privately held company they are able to take more risks, which are apparent in one-off items and uncommon pieces (chairs modeled after a plane cockpit, an antique reproduction sleigh-turned-bench). It’s a pleasant change from most big-box home stores, who rarely get a chance to break the mold. But while the silhouettes grab your interest, the colors–or I should say, lack of them–do not. Each page is awash in browns and beiges, begging the question, does “historical design” mean dusty?

It remains to be seen if RH’s new strategy will be a winning one, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Check out the catalog and let me know below.


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