1/06/2011

The Downfall of Restoration Hardware?

Does anyone else seem to get an enormous Restoration Hardware catalog every week? I get seriously perturbed with retailers who over-send catalogs. RH isn't doing themselves any favors by mailing me their catalog right now anyway...I've been really disappointed with the overall tone of their merchandise lately (or at least how their catalog portrays their goods). Every page has the same muddled color palette and the concept of contrast is completely disregarded. The contrived, "faux antique" card is played over and over again, and frankly the effect is quite vapid.

Luckily, despite their stylistic overhaul, they kept some of their signature classics like their embroidered Italian Sheeting, bath linens, and nice-looking upholstery. I also noticed that their selection of mirrors was impressive (albeit each was pretty pricey). So, I decided to check out the Wall D├ęcor section of their website and browse the items in a context outside of what the catalog provides. Here are the things I saw and liked...








What's your take on Restoration Hardware's new style? I hate to discredit their whole product offering, because I've always loved RH. Perhaps they just need to hire a new art director for their next catalog.

26 comments:

  1. I'm with you.

    It took me a few months to see the new line in person and when I saw them, I was shocked at the scale. Everything is massive. The floor lamps were taller than most people.

    Perhaps this works for folks in massive, new construction homes, but anyone in a more traditional or historic home would find their spaces dwarfed by the furniture Resto is pushing right now.

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  2. i actually feel the complete opposite. i think so many massive retailers get stuck in their look that they tend to look tired and dated over the years and RH took a huge massive risk. sure they arent going to please everyone, but i totally applaud them.

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  3. I like the new look of RH but I think they're way overdone it. I was in one of the stores last week and it's like: Hello, Belgium! A bit much. I assumed the Belgian look was just one line of several, but it's the entire store. I got the catalog today as well and it was completely one note.

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  4. Holly - I definitely agree with you in applauding them on taking the risk to update their look. I guess I wish they had done the update in a less drastic manner...I feel like whoever took the reigns blatantly disregarded the brand's signature style. I think both West Elm and Wisteria are great examples of retailers who have recently updated their offerings in a more subtle, compelling way. But I guess what RH has done definitely keeps us on our toes!

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  5. The fact is that every catalogue I receive has the same pictures. I just received a very thick one yesterday and I had no desire to really look at it. Everything is monotone and there really hasn't been anything refined from RH since they introduced this new line.

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  6. I completely agree. When I look at their (rather obscenely) large catalog, there isn't anything that really shines through. Everything is pretty monotone in color and style. I do appreciate how classic their pieces are, but they come off as trying too hard. I miss the vintage/retro thing they had going for them a few years ago - I thought that was more unique and special.

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  7. you've been reading my thoughts. i used to totally adore restoration hardware and wanted everything they offered. in the past year we purchased their farmhouse salvaged wood dining table and their maxwell leather sofa. i love both pieces and they look great pulled in with our own accessories. i recently had a credit to their store and couldn't find any accessories within a reasonable price range (pillows, etc) that i liked. it'll be interesting to see if they change their catalog look in the near future. this isn't the first time i've heard your same thoughts (and had them myself). pam

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  8. I've not been a fan of most of their new furniture look. I do still like their paint. And have in the past bought a lot of bathroom hardware and light fixtures from them. After it took the husband two hours each to hang a towel bar and light fixture in a bathroom (he really is handy and does this stuff all the time), I have promised not to purchase those things there anymore.

    I have also been disappointed to see that their once meager offerings in the way of organic cotton linens, has instead of increasing, completely disappeared. Seems to completely ignore the increased market for those items.

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  9. I've had problems with timely delivery. I ordered two parson dining chairs and it took them "forever" to arrive. I got a different story each time I called customer service. Finally, a clerk told me the truth -- they were on backorder and they would do their best to get them here by Halloween, that turned into Thanksgiving and they actually arrived after Christmas last year.

    One thing I did order from them, that arrived on time, were house numbers. love them!

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  10. I have noticed that Pottery Barn over-sends their catalogs. I am really over Pottery Barn!! Always the same look: floral rugs, chunky oversized furniture, and over priced products.

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  11. I do indeed get overwhelmed when their catalogue arrives (frequently). I find it difficult to wade through the seemingly endless ocean of hugely oversized (who can fit half this stuff) products almost all manufactured out of the greyed distressed wood. It's not even that there aren't some terrific things - as you've found here. I just feel like I'm in some gigantic warehouse. Love that planisphere chart - a perfect example of something terrific I totally missed. Maybe I should check out the website as well!

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  12. While I have numerous restoration hardware pieces in my home as a whole I don't love restoration hardware the way I use to. I have to pick pieces carefully. Very upset they discontinued the portman dining collection it was the last piece I felt left of the old style of RH that I loved so much. I do have the kensington sofa in my home and I love it!

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  13. I always say to my clients, once a trend hits the retail catalog arena, it's on it's way out! The Belgian look is beautiful, but the entire catalog looks so monotonous. Mix it up!

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  14. I had to come back and say that I can't get that Planishere chart out of my head.

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  15. While I love neutrals for their ability to create a relaxing environment, RH seems to take it a bit too far. The rooms in the catalog end up looking a little anemic. That said, I do love some of their pieces and think a few scattered about could be a nice addition to a space.

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  16. but i do totally get sick of getting their catalogs!! they just go straight to the recycling bin.

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  17. I agree with the fact that it is "neutral" heavy.....although they were never very colorful. But I do not want to see a whole room of it...or anything else for that matter. Some of the furniture pieces are so large and heavy, especially with the fact that small houses are now in! Yippee for me!

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  18. Don't they have a new CEO? I'm thinking maybe he is behind all the changes. They remodeled our store here in San Diego, and the lighting is really dim and dark and it doesn't look like R.H. anymore. And I just got the thick catalog last week, it also went in the recycle bin.

    Linda

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  19. They have a new head of design....it's all a big yawn. No color, no contrast. Is anyone else sick of "faux antiques" or is it just me??? Everything is wayyyy overpriced and looks as though its made of burlap. BORING!!! Whose house can fit all this oversized stuff anyway???

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  20. I am so glad we're bringing this up! I personally enjoy a lot of neutral only because my house is teeny. But on the other side of that coin, i LOVE color. And I HATE HATE HATE looking at just grey/greige in all of their catalogs. Anonymous above me is so right - who the heck has room for their 90 foot sofas and 50 mile long brickmaker coffee tables? this isnt the mcdonaldsization of design, too!

    and while we're at it - lets discuss the NOT green aspect of their over-sending. each of these catalogs weighs about 5 lbs - and I just trash them (er, recycle...). That's so not environmentally responsible. If you wanna tout reclaimed this and repurposed that, why dont you make some furniture out of your catalogs.

    I love RH as much as the next guy, but I'm so not lusting over them right now. Thanks Kyle, for making light of this :)

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  21. I used to be a buyer for them. They have the same CEO, who leads all the creative and merchandising decisions. Obviously this stuff is selling because it's the only "look" they're going after at this point. I actually like a lot of the pieces, but not the way its put together in the catalog. A few of these items in a room will go a long way. I'm dissapointed with the store remodels though. No more cash and carry product- everything is special ordered and it appears the freight is on Resto. I recently needed two lamp shades and they sent them in two seperate boxes to my home at their expense. Doesn't sound like a good margin business to me anymore.

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  22. Restoration hardware and the ego maniac CEO is the laughing stock of Object Maison in Paris and the whole design world. He thinks he's a creative master...However "a man's character is his destination" so it's just a matter of time that this house of {knock-off} cards comes falling down! Look what he did to Obsolete in Venice Beach ca. The L.A. times did a great article about it and we all should boycott a company that makes everything in China and India. His next move is going public to raise money. This is the same CEO who ran the company into ground and was sued by his stock holders in 2005....this is his last ditch effort.

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  23. Restoration Hardware has done an excellent job of recreating the style of the Plains of Asphodel.....the joyless Greek realm of the dead. It's both classic and joyless, I'm very impressed. I should decorate my whole house in the style just to encourage myself to seize the day!

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  24. Ugh, I just got their huge doorstop, I mean catalog, the other day. I agree with everything said above about the blah-ness and greige-ness, and the lack of cash-and-carry. I walked to a Toronto location after its dark and gloomy remodel, tried to buy some hardware for a cabinet (hardware being their original business, am I right?) and I was told to expect it in 3 business days--wha? I shall shop at my locally-owned business hereafter... it's not even that much more expensive and they have a larger selection.

    My husband personally boycotts them since their furniture "inspired by the cockpits of World War II aircraft". He thinks they're romanticizing a horrific period of history, and you know what? He's right.

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  25. People... The CEO (gary "too orange tanned" freidman just stepped down over a "consensual" relationship). Use your brains, there has got to be more to this story. I guess the board didn't believe the story or they would have supported him (think about it). The company is telling it's staff he is following his "passion" and stepped down to develop a clothing line. You have got to be kidding me!! I can't believe the cultish atmosphere at RH and for one won't buy into the hype. And who is in charge now.. someone who doesn't know what he's doing... Carlos Alberini from the clothing store Guess. Oh right, someone from a clothing store knows how to move RH forward. Again, you have got to be kidding me!! Do not put your money into this company as it goes public.

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  26. I would like the author to write a follow up on this article. Two years and $1.6 billion later...

    Discuss item availability, back orders, quality of deliverable's, and depending on where you are located, go and visit a new Gallery. What's your opinion on that?

    Romanticized view of luxury comfort...

    Kind Regards,

    RH

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