Behind the Scenes with Gary Friedman on the Launch of RH ModernAuthor:Lindsey Shook
Global design powerhouse, Restoration Hardware continues to impress us with their ever-evolving design offering and flourishing brand. Once again, they have us intrigued with the launch of RH Modern, a robust collection of pieces representing a harmonious collaboration of the past and present. We sat down with their pioneering CEO, Gary Friedman, to get his perspective on this expansive enterprise.
RH is recognized for its high quality, transitional style, why the departure to modern? We saw a void in a highly fragmented marketplace to curate one of world’s most comprehensive collections of modern furnishings, lighting and decor under one brand. This is the first time in history that multiple modern trends are converging at once. From antiques to architecture, from the environments we work in to the devices we work with, there is a modern sensibility that is influencing what we see and how we live in the world. While the market for modern furniture has always been somewhat small, we believe the convergence of these trends creates an opportunity to develop a much larger market.
You mention RH Modern is your “finest work to date”, can you explain why? We believe that the collaboration and integration of people, products, ideas and inspiration into a comprehensive collection of this magnitude, has never been done before. No one has ever launched a business of this scale, inclusive of the 540-page Source Book, dedicated website, and the freestanding store in Los Angeles and dedicated 10,000-15,000 square foot full floors in our New York, Chicago, Denver, Tampa, Austin and Atlanta galleries. RH Modern has its own identity, signature style, aesthetic, sensibility and spirit. From its early conception, so many talented artists, artisans, art directors, architects, designers, photographers, merchants and manufacturers contributed their own unique gift to RH Modern. Fabien Baron, specifically, helped us create a revolutionary voice for our brand across our Source Book, website and advertising campaign.
How has California inspired the new collection and overall brand? Both Los Angeles and San Francisco are two of the creative capitals of our world today. Los Angeles from an entertainment, arts and fashion focus and San Francisco from an innovation, technology and creative culinary leadership standpoint. Both cities represent a spirit of the indoors and outdoors. Because we live here and we are here, they influence the way we see the world.
Can you share any highlights of the retail concept? Similar to the collections, we wanted our first-ever freestanding RH Modern Gallery to be unlike anything people had seen before. Because it’s Los Angeles, we tried to amplify the blend of interiors and exteriors, completely reimagining our existing gallery on Beverly Boulevard into a contemporary structure reflecting the design vernacular of this new business.
The Gallery’s features range from a modern sculpture garden for our outdoor furniture collections with soaring palm trees, stretched canvas, and an 18 -foot -wide and 16 -foot -tall wall of water inspired by the famous fountain in New York City’s Paley Park, to artistic installations that reflect the new brand’s stylistic point of view with a two-story lobby and monolithic modern staircase.
RH Contemporary Art, which has been integrated into RH Modern, will also be spotlighted with a bright and minimalistic space that allows us to create the feeling of both a home and a gallery, where we can bring the art we love to a greater audience. The debut of our first RH Modern Gallery also coincides with the launch of Rain Room, which we commissioned and is arguably one of the most famous works of art in the last decade. We first exhibited the piece at MoMA in New York in 2013 and will be loaning Rain Room to LACMA in conjunction with their 50th anniversary from November 1 – March 6.
Our RH Design Atelier allows guests to work with our own design team or their interior designers and architects to conceptualize highly personalized, inspiring spaces. A vast library of fabrics, leathers and furniture finishes offered with the latest technology and capabilities all support an unprecedented level of design services.
“We are also proud of the many collections by California-based designers including new furniture collections from Thomas Bina; lighting from Jonathan Browning; modern rugs by Ben Soleimani; and outdoor offerings from Leo Marmol and Ron Radziner.”
“RH represents the new modern standard for me: Serious, clean, and sexy, made from the best materials, and executed to the highest quality standard. It doesn’t get better than that in my world of product design. Working with Gary and his team is a joy.” – Jonathan Browning
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