Restoration Hardware is going out on a limb for spring with a line that speaks to modern minimalism.
Meander into Restoration Hardware’s highly architectural, bare bones showroom at the San Francisco Design Center, and you will be puzzled by what has been added as well as subtracted as the retailer keeps devising new algorithms for tweaking and modernizing its line.
The spring inventory is almost unrecognizable, the company having tossed out most vestiges of its former traditional self in a reinvention of what it is calling “furniture for the ages.”
In this case, what is being restored are deconstructed old world Queen Ann and Napoleonic reproductions impersonating timeworn naked frames awaiting fabric and welting in the upholsterer’s workroom. They are at once sadly barren and perversely fetching. And in many ways, these tactile statements reflect an impulse to shed the excess that binds us.
As described by the maker: Inspired by the unadorned beauty of their grandfather’s 19th Century wing chair- limited from its velvety upholstery and the frame exposed – the Van Thiels replicated the old world artistry of its inner workings. Character belies comfort. A distressed walnut frame accented with nailheads is complimented by the texture of burlap and antiqued cotton.
Exposed: The Deconstructed Collection is the latest attempt to head into a new direction. Chairman Gary Friedman and his management team of function-forward retailers strive to become the fastest growing luxury line in the home furnishings market. Apparently, there is also a goal of being the most fabulous and that can be left to the eyes of the beholder.
Earlier, they set the minimalist stage with fabric and leather seating taking their cue from classics, such as the tufted and rolled armed Kensington sofa and armless fabric and leather seating. Elongated like the best low slung Mid-Century collectibles, a reductionist profile is achieved in the intentional scale, density and no- frills textile options.
Grand Kensington Rolled Arm sofa
Plush and low Soho recalling tufted Chesterfields of turn-of-the-century men’s clubs
Chelsea, inspired by 1970s English sofas
The jury is still out on how clients will take to the new direction, but then again, retailers everywhere are trying to capture an upscale market of trendsetters seeking these neutral statements for dynamic primary and second homes.
This is apparent in the Big Style/Small Spaces line, unveiled with a nod to the recognition that “the world is getting smaller” and Restoration is fitting in with furnishings and accessories for seven settings: the Paris Pied-a-Terre, the San Francisco Victorian, the Napa Farmhouse, the London Townhouse, the New York Loft, the Boston Brownstone and the LA Bungalow. The pared-down upholstery follows the design rule that understated classics as part of an overall scheme allow other embellishments to stand out.
But in this case, most of the new vanilla classics for the ages are paired with other understated elements, resulting in a high brow beige-on-beige wash, accented with deep metals which help define the otherwise neutral canvases. Good deconstructionists have long appreciated the marriage of important period pieces with simple, clean cottons and linens, which brings them more current.
Still, buyers who have been fed rich velvets, and mohair and washable linens by vendors like Restoration, Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel, might find the the hot deconstructionist direction leaves them a tad bit cold once it leaves the stylized design center showroom and comes home.
Image: Restoration Hardware