Berkus Creates LNT Line

Carole Sloan, June 27, 2005

Clifton, N.J. — In a dramatic departure from its normal classification merchandising, Linens ’n Things will launch its first lifestyle design statement in September featuring its exclusive home furnishings collection by designer Nate Berkus.

The all-encompassing collection of 600-plus skus focuses on six bed ensembles with both duvet covers and comforters, sheets, throws, decorative pillows, towels and rugs. Tabletop, lamps, decorative accessories, and a wide range of fragrance-based candles are major players in the balance of the collection.

The overall look that will be projected in the approximately 1,000 square feet of lifestyle presentation in the stores is contemporary with classic inspirations. “We have never had a contemporary brand, and this is an important move for us,” said Norman Axelrod, chairman and CEO of LNT.

The collection also marks a major effort for the home furnishings specialty retailer in its move “to become the store of first choice” for customers, according to Jack Moore, president and chief operating officer. “Today, every retailer needs to have exclusive brands, and home enthusiasts like to shop at retailers that

offer interesting fashion merchandise.”

“This collection represents our commitment to great product content and brands,” he continued.

The alliance with Nate Berkus began more than 18 months after an extensive search for an appropriate design partner, Moore related. “We both asked a lot of ‘whys,’ and we accepted his creativity.”

The collection is the first of its kind for Berkus, whose career began as an auctioneer, which was the beginning of the shaping of his design eye. He launched his design firm in 1995 at the age of 24, and has become the featured design expert for “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” and a regular contributor to O at Home magazine. His design work includes contract furniture and this is his latest step.

The collection boasts an array of natural fibers from 300-count cotton sateen and herringbone weaves for sheets, to bulky hand-knitted cotton throws, and linen and wool challis for window coverings.

The top-of-the-bed programs features six designs in both duvet covers and comforters. Each bed has unique layering and assembling of unmatched elements, explained Taran Chernin, vice president, product development.

Within each bed ensemble and across the entire product spectrum, Berkus uses a link motif as his signature. It appears as a subtle design element on sheets and as a more demonstrative motif on decorative pillows and throws.

The extensive window program is oversized with 50-inch wide panels offered in both 84-inch and 95-inch lengths.

Reflecting the global influences on Berkus are the names of the six bed ensembles” — Indochine, Kenya, Milano, Wilshire, Lincoln Park and Tuilieres — all incorporating elements of design from their respective areas.

The collection was produced both through U.S. importers “but also a lot of factory direct by us,” Chernin said.

The core sheet is a yarn dyed jacquard at $99 for the queen set. The 300-count cotton sateen has a deep pocket fitted bottom sheet.

The ringspun cotton towel is featured in 12 colors and will retail for $11.99.

The packaging is consumer friendly, Moore related, with most products featuring open packaging.

Comforter packages have swatches attached as well as notes from Berkus to customers so they can match colors and learn why the item was designed.

In non-textiles products, dinnerware is featured in fourpiece sets with reactive glazes; lamps are glass, metal and pierced ceramic, and accessory items include a range of picture frames and candle holders.

LNT plans to update the program four times a year with Phase 2 focusing on “materials and lots of white,” Moore noted. “We’re not throwing everything out, but layering in new.”

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