Remember the thwack of the Yellow Pages in the driveway? Once a year, a new phone book, thick as a dictionary (another relic) would show up. As far as I know, as long as you paid your phone bill, or had a phone number, you got a phone book. Once the Internet took hold, of course, those books went straight from the driveway to the nearby curb for recycling. They don’t come anymore, so it was a surprise nearly a month ago to hear the familiar thud on my front porch. When I went to retrieve the thick tome, I found an even thicker, shrink wrapped bundle of what appeared to be the latest Restoration Hardware catalogs.
Weighing in at 17 pounds, and having arrived over a month ago, I have yet to break the seal of the wrap. I didn’t order these “Source Books” (RH speak for Catalog), but I can’t say I wouldn’t care to peruse them at some point. I’ve purchased from the specialty retailer several times over the years for both myself and my Design clients. They have a “to the trade” program for Designers that offers a discount, and at first I thought maybe these particular source books were for trade eyes only, but no. A quick survey of my friends revealed many had received the same thud on their front stoops.
Restoration Hardware began as an upscale Hardware Store – it was as if Manhattan based Gracious Home, Home Depot, and a Vintage Store in the Hudson Valley had a baby. If you owned an old home in the 90’s, you were all too familiar with their wall of knobs, showcasing historically accurate drawer pulls and house doohickeys with which you could lovingly restore your home. They’ve since abandoned much of their Hardware origins, choosing to offer (mostly gray, mostly leather) furniture and “Curiosities” — objects d’art that have been curated thoughtfully by their talented buyers. (Disclaimer: some of my favorite people on earth happen to work for the company).
Just as their catalogs are source books, their stores are no longer stores, but rather Galleries. Grand in scale and typically housed in Historic buildings, the RH experience bridges Museum visit, Mansion tour, and Design Showroom. Capturing this luxe of an assortment in just 30 or 40 pages in a “catalog” simply wouldn’t do. An email that coincided with the arrival of the Source Books was sent that outlined reduced carbon footprints and recycling efforts –“Heavier Load, Lighter Footprint”. One would assume this was sent to allay any fears that perhaps this enormous volume of paper that may or may not have been solicited will actually have less of an ecological effect than the hourly catalogs mailings of, say, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Bed & Bath (really?), Pottery Barn Teen, and Pottery Barn Kids.
All I need to do now is open the thing. It sits in my foyer, where the mail goes, and taunts me. Filled with curiosities and foot duvets, each day I walk by it and think, “I just don’t have it in me today.” Maybe tomorrow. In the meanwhile, it makes a nice perch for the dog.