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Restoration Hardware CEO Talks New Minimalist Modern Line

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Pieces from the new RH Modern line, including the Italia Taper Arm Sectional, the Shagreen Cube Rectangular Coffee Table, and the Fortuny Studio 76 Floor Lamp.
Pieces from the new RH Modern line, including the Italia Taper Arm Sectional, the Shagreen Cube Rectangular Coffee Table, and the Fortuny Studio 76 Floor Lamp.

Anybody familiar with the Restoration Hardware catalog also appreciates the effort the postal service puts into delivering the brand's signature, hefty catalogs. This fall, however, the colossal, 540-page sourcebook that arrived on doorsteps with a resounding thud contains more than just new products. The delivery served notice of the brand's new RH Modern line, a streamlined collection filled with crisp angles, modernist sensibilities and warm brass and bronze. Produced with Fabien Baron, the new sourcebook showcases newly commissioned work from designers such as Anthony Cox and Mariano Fortuny, as well as reissues from Milo Baughman, a play towards the modern lifestyle market and an evolution for a brand more associated with antique styles. The new standalone RH Modern showcase in Los Angeles, a gleaming, minimalist white temple in West Hollywood with a double-height lobby and sculpture garden, puts a physical face on the company's turn towards new aesthetic territory (there are also showrooms open in New York, Chicago, Denver and Tampa Bay). In an email interview with Restoration Hardware CEO Gary Friedman, Curbed spoke to the man behind the expansion about his vision for the line, how he sees it developing, and why the launch of the new platform is akin to Apple.

What are the inspirations and design concepts informing the RH Modern line?
"From antiques to architecture, from the environments we work in to the devices we work with, there is a modern sensibility that is influencing what we see and how we live in the world. This is the first time in history that multiple modern trends are converging at once. Historically, the market for modern furnishings has been somewhat small and some would say insignificant. We believe the convergence of these trends sets up an opportunity to create a much larger modern market. We have curated the most comprehensive collection of modern furnishings, lighting and décor under one brand in the world."

How do the new pieces represent an evolution for the line, and how are they staying with the central focus of the RH brand?
"RH Modern has its own identity, aesthetic, and spirit. With distinctive collections spanning nearly every facet of the home—living rooms to dining rooms, bedrooms to bathrooms, home theaters to home offices, and pools to patios—RH Modern represents clean lines and a minimalist aesthetic, but with the comfort and quality that define the RH brand. Similar to our main RH brand, we've also carefully curated renowned global designers and artisans to collaborate on RH Modern, each bringing their craftsmanship and unique point of view to our collections."

How does the introduction of RH Modern reflect the changing furniture industry, as well as a change in RH customers?
"We believe that the collaboration and integration of people, products, ideas and inspiration into a comprehensive collection of this magnitude has never been done before. No one has ever launched a business of this size and scale, inclusive of a 540-page Source Book, a dedicated website, and significant retail presence, including a freestanding Gallery in the West Hollywood Design District in Los Angeles, and and 10,000-15,000 square-foot full floors dedicated to RH Modern in our New York, Chicago, Denver, Tampa, Austin and Atlanta design galleries. As I mentioned, RH Modern has the opportunity to create an entirely new market."

Gary Friedman. Photo by Ian Hanson.

How would you describe the style and design of RH Modern?
"RH Modern is defined by a minimalist aesthetic and maximum comfort. It's a study of trying to achieve the perfect proportions, combined with clean lines that both looks and feels comfortable to live in and with."

Is there room in the modern furnishing marketplace for RH Modern goods? How does it stand apart from its competition?
"There is always an opportunity to redefine a new and much larger market with compelling product. That's happened to the music industry with the iPod, the cell phone industry with the iPhone and is happening in the electric car market with the Tesla."

How were the participating designers chosen?
"We chose each other. We are trying to build the best platform for luxury home furnishings in the world, and by doing so, we attract the best designers, artisans, and manufactures who want their product on our platform, as it renders both the product and the people more valuable. It's not too different to what Apple has done, by building the best technology platform, they attract the best developers in the world, who design applications for the Apple platform. We are building the best luxury home platform in the world, and attracting the best designers, artisans and manufactures to develop product for ours."

How do you foresee the line evolving over time -- different pieces, new inspirations, new store locations?
"Despite the size and scope of the launch, trust me when I say we are just warming up. We think this is a big opportunity."

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