When I first heard that Restoration Hardware was delivering 7 lb. reflections of its founder, I feared that science had finally mastered cloning and was sending us all little Gary Friedman (‘Chairman Emeritus‘) babies. Turns out it’s even worse.
It seems that Restoration Hardware, which owes its success to the retro look, is also committed to retro marketing.
Last week in my mail I received the latest RH catalog – make that catalogs with an ‘s’ –no, scratch that – -make it ‘Source Books’ – all 7 lbs and 1600 pages of it. It is huge, glossy, painfully self-conscious, and utterly uncalled for. Comprising 5 separate parts (‘Interiors’, ‘Outdoor & Garden’, ‘Objects of Curiosity’, ‘Tableware’, and ‘Small Spaces’), it prominently features the heroic, studiously casual, Ralph Lauren-style visage as well as philosophical meanderings of the founder, Mr. Friedman. It also features a sober collection of furniture marketers, as well as such fashion-forward innovations as deconstructed furniture. Yes. You can now have this for your home.
Now, to be fair, I’ve bought things at RH before (although I can’t remember the last time), and among the weirdness they do have some very nice stuff, although it always seemed overpriced. But I can’t figure out why they would invest anywhere from $3 to $18 (depending on who you ask) to send this bulky material to my house. I didn’t ask for this crap! How does this ever pay back the millions invested? New users?
Beyond the RH website, the catalog itself is available online as an iPad/iPhone app, which seems more consistent with how people shop. And sending this enormous bulk of paper, in addition to being highly wasteful, now requires effort on the part of environmentally-conscious recipients – to execute recycling properly. Mine went to the bin right after the photo shoot.
More likely, it is a true ego reflection of the founder – – and reveals his most basic underlying philosophy: size matters. In a final unintended irony, an almost whispered disclaimer on an insert commends itself on sending this catalog ‘twice a year rather than monthly’, and encourages consumers to ‘participate in the recycling programs in their communities’. No kidding.