May 29, 2013
Restoration Hardware: A distinct, opinionated design and influence
Retailers of housewares and furnishings clearly have an enormous impact on the ever-changing design aesthetic. What people buy is, in large part, the vision of a designer—and the combination of decisions they make regarding functionality, materials, textures, color, and so on. People see a vision they like and adopt it as their own—and I believe graphic design is much the same.
I thought about the importance of such influences when I received the 2013 Restoration Hardware Catalog(s)—five parts, 1300-plus pages, roughly 8 lbs of highly opinionated design. Unlike some mass marketers, RH is not shy about asserting its vision, so much so that I suspect most who see it are either for it or against it.
I don't love it all, but I like lots of it. What intrigues me most about its most recent offerings is the "Objects of Curiosity" catalog. An eclectic collection of accent pieces, sculptures, and such. I don't recall ever seeing anything like it.
Stephen Gordon founded Restoration Hardware in 1979, "...I put together photocopied catalogues of fittings and fixtures, hung a sign advertising, 'Restoration Hardware,' outside my house, and invited people in to look at binders and order things."...
In 2001 Gary Friedman joined the company and, by at least one account, saved the company from bankruptcy. It would appear that Friedman was the one to cast RH's current creative vision...A profile of Friedman from the Wall Street Journal...