Open most home décor magazines and you find a double-page advertisement on Restoration Hardware’ s Spring 2012 collection. You see a chair whose upholstery was seemingly never finished… with visible tacking nails, hand-stitched seams and burlap sections attached to a beat-up, worm-holed wood frame.
I felt uninspired and, in fact, to be blunt I felt put off by this style. I hope this is not “new” cool in home design!
It was only last summer that we named Restoration Hardware a trendsetter in home décor. To work through my conflicting sentiments I polled some of my affluent friends including several who rank in the coveted “top 1%” of income bracket. This admittedly empirical and totally unscientific research reveals uniform rejection of this new collection.
The company calls it “deconstructed” and goes on to describe “…character belies comfort…this is furniture for the ages.”
Webster defines deconstruction as “…a critical method, which asserts that meanings, metaphysical constructs, and hierarchical oppositions…are always rendered unstable by their dependence on ultimately arbitrary signifiers…”
In other words, the very notion of deconstruction does not jibe with the enduring quality of “furniture for the ages”.
In the world of art, architecture & design deconstructionism established itself as an effort to strip away the representational or decorative side of painting and sculpture. Artists like Frank Stella come to mind. When looking at a Stella artwork one feels the artist assembling the pieces. “Metaphysics of presence”, a term coined by the French philosopher Jacques Derrida was indeed on Stella’s mind. The same simply does not hold up on production or mass produced items like chairs and sofas.
Deconstructionism in architecture refers to the rejection of conventional building confines like rectangular shapes. Yet, Restoration Hardware’s line never questions the fundamental shape of a chair or chaise – changes are all within the realm of the decorative.
Furniture purchases are usually motivated by a desire to create beautiful surroundings. Yet this “broken down” look flies in its face. Also, Restoration Hardware furniture is not inexpensive. Spending money on this type of shabby furniture carries a distain for money, quality and value. Sentiments like “…what does it matter anyway…?! We’ll toss it when something else comes along” come to mind – the opposite of keepsake furniture.
Restoration Hardware’s tagline of “There are pieces that furnish a home and those that define it” is quite correct. I hope consumers will ask themselves what the imbedded messages of this furniture’s look and style really are. This attitude toward money and lifestyle is regrettable.
Design is the art of creating and celebrating beautiful spaces. Imagine a chair or chaise of this Spring Collection in your living room. How would you feel about it? What would it say about you? Love to hear your opinion! Here is another example of Restoration Hardware’s Spring collection.