• Jennifer Marks

Restoration Hardware Unveils Gallery Concept

Restoration Hardware's new Gallery concept aims to bring "best on planet" products to the discerning shopper.

The new Gallery store, opened last Wednesday in Manhattan on Broadway and 22nd St., follows the recent opening of the inaugural Gallery in the San Francisco market. The idea is to bring "best on planet" products to the discerning shopper, according to Restoration Hardware ceo Gary Friedman.

The 75 artisan reproductions of antique and rare home furnishings are the stars of the show. Restoration Hardware's in-line bedding, bath and soft accessories are merchandised on and around the pieces.

The company decided to go with a decidedly high-end formula last year despite the sinking economy because, said Friedman, "when most people turn left, it's probably a good idea to turn right." The retail industry's shift toward value served as the turn left. "Better value is a code word for cheaper goods," he said.

Not that value isn't part of the equation at Gallery. Friedman pointed to a large, convex clock mirror, a reproduction of a $15,000 piece in his personal collection. The Gallery piece retails for $2,400.

Gallery isn't targeting a specific demographic as much as it is "a customer who appreciates good taste and good design," said Friedman, who led a team around the world to explore products, meet with craftsmen and develop the collection. "We circled the globe five times in six months," he said. "If we fail, we will fail beautifully."

The 11,500-square-foot Gallery replaces an 11-year-old Restoration Hardware store at the same location here in the Flatiron district.

The concept is expected to be expanded with similar stores in other cities.

Among the craftsmen contributing to the collection are: Timothy Oulton and Geoffrey Hawkes, both antique dealers and reproductionists in England; Rudi Nijssen and Mark Sage, founders of BoBo ("bourgeois bohemian") Intriguing Objects in Belgium; and Luay Al-Rawi, an artisan/entrepreneur in The Netherlands.

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