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Wednesday, September 22

Welcome to the Neighborhood!

The design center district in San Francisco is just about to welcome a new neighbor.

Restoration Hardware is launching its latest (and greatest) location in the former Ed Hardy antiques showroom.

Many people recall the space that Ed Hardy sold some of the greatest treasures for years to designers around the world (and how could we forget all of the parties too!)

The architecture of the building (Palladian in style) was what really drew Chairman and CEO, Gary Friedman to the space. In sitting down with him this afternoon to discuss the space, he recalled driving by the space one afternoon and noticing a For Sale sign on the building. This is how it all started just a few months ago.

I was so thrilled to walk around the new space with Gary and the rest of the PR and marketing team.
What the team has put together will knock your socks off. It is like nothing I have seen before.
Gary Friedmans new vision is filled with antiques and finds from all around the world (think Paris, London, Brussels) and so many pieces from the companies recent "new look". Overall, I think that visitors will be impressed with the exquisite visual creations. Gary explained that he thought of the space as a gallery not a store.

It's a new day for the design center in San Francisco. This is bringing a "retail" chain to the area. I can vision clients and designers finding great pieces in this new location.

I think that overall the design community has been struck with the financial crisis of the last years. This can only be a positive to bring more people to the design center and I hope that it will bring more work and sales to everyone. Change can be hard for some people and I know that in talking to people, some have not been happy for this new venture.

I think that we need to think that change can be a good thing and we need to embrace the new direction that the world is going.

Tonight launches the opening party of the new location. Sadly, I will be missing the party as I am traveling in Connecticut for a few days (but will have lots of great things to share next week from my trip). Hundreds are expected (as in 800 people on the guest list). This will be a party not to miss!

Here are a few shots from the new location and it's set-up. I wish that I had more photos to share. But the team wanted everything to be just perfect. You might notice that the exterior color has changed from it's sandy stone color to grey.

I say- Congratulations to Restoration Hardware and all of your work and creative teams putting together a beautiful space.

Welcome to the Neighborhood!


ArchitectDesign™ said...

I must say, that this store looks 100% better than my local one here in Georgetown which they redid (pretty awfully). I miss the old restoration hardware! That said, I love this concept of theirs of mixing in antiques with their own collection! I hope they start doing this in other locations as well (hint hint). It may be the thing that saves them! Much like anthropology brings in vintage items to 'spice' up the store.

Anonymous said...

I always love your back stories on everything.
How in the world to you get to see and meet and do all of these things?

I want to come back and be Grant K. Gibson in my next life.

Thank you so much for sharing. The space looks beautiful. I am sure that it will be a huge success.

Karena said...

Grant thanks for the before peak and I have now seen images of the interior! Fabulous. It is a definate Wow!

Art by Karena

mary said...

I am definitely going. The new location is just around the corner from my friend Heather (of Heather and Company). It looks like business is picking up.

Grant K. Gibson said...

Love Heather and Co. Heather is a doll. One of my favorite places for great finds.
Work is picking up for people. Hope that it will keep up for everyone!

Anonymous said...

Sad that we will not get more photos from you on this. But can't wait to see your travel photos. They make my day as I sit in this cubicle.

Anonymous said...

Now I have the Mister Rodgers song in my head. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

There goes the neighborhood is what I say.

Brillante Interiors said...

The renovated store in Vancouver is totally different from before,merchandise, layout, much darker and I should say a bit too much of one style. I believe they should not be stuck in just the Belgian look, which is gorgeous but needs some juxtaposition to really look alive.

Unknown said...


What a great experience to see a restoration reinvention. We need change, jobs, new visions, excitement about design potential. I wish them all the best because what goes around comes around full circle every time. Life is good and great post!


Cristin // Simplified Bee said...

I can't wait to drop by!!!

Missed you in NY.


Michelle H. said...

I think it's great such a large, marketed company coming to the design center, as it might bring some "umph" to the neighborhood, but it's so weird to me that people in our trade in this town would be so supportive of a company that has the shortsighted ideals that are hurting our very industry. They make everything in China, literally everything, their $3200 sofas included. We see mills, manufacturers, tradespeople, upholsterers, go out of business every month, if not every week not only in our country, but all over Europe, due to the high competition of Asian imports, and we are directly effected as people in the trade. I personally have decided not to shop for me or my clients at Restoration Hardware until they stop producing, at the very least, their upholstered goods in China.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Michelle. I believe that domination of design and craftsmanship by a handful of companies - especially those who manufacture in China is bad for the economy, the environment, and for maintaining design quality itself.

It's also bad for interior designers themselves. In the worst case scenario - why should a client use one when they can just go to a showroom where they have access to material as well as designers - and a prepackaged look is already there for them? Ebanista already does this. Why wouldn't others?

There is a profound difference between individual style and a pre-packaged one, but I wonder if people even care about this anymore?

I think we directly participate in the direction we are going by being compliant or looking at only the 'good side' to 'change'. There is always the long-term cost to weigh in.

While it may bring some added foot-traffic to the area, the vast majority of their clients, I imagine, will stick with their pre-packaged look. At that point, you have to wonder who really benefits from their association with the design district.

shiree segerstrom said...

Grant you put a positive slant on the topic and that is important to do. Change whether good, bad, or indifferent is inevitable. It is best to move with the tide rather than against.

That said, I've always loved the Ed Hardy building and was sad to see it go. Best wishes to RH and the team! Looking very much forward to seeing their reincarnation! Shiree'

Grant K. Gibson said...


I think that your concerns are SO valid.
I think that we DO need to think about the local vendors SO much. That is so important.

It is sad that so much is made in China.
It sort of leaves me feeling helpless.
What do you think?

What do we do?

Things are changing- I am open to change- and I want to support this venture- as I think that it will bring more.
What do you think?

Grant K. Gibson said...

To Anon-

I agree with you as well.
Your post made me really question things. It made me think.

If you want me to be honest with you- THIS IS WHY I want to have a blog- I want people to talk about things.
What I want is for people to have a view. I think that these forums are a great thing and way to discuss things.

I am concerned about how this will be effect the designers. But I think that the world is changing so much. A new direction. I am not sure if we can stop thing. How do we stop things?

The environmental issues are huge- I agree.

I actually don't use Restoration Hardware much at all. I can't tell yo the last time that I have ordered from them. I am thinking that at least it's location will bring others to the store and then to MAYBE other stores too. Mixing it up.

So many of these new pieces in the collection are very oversized and will not work in SF interiors at all.

I think that they are trying to stay afloat as well in this economy as well. As we all are.
Somedays- I just don't know what to say. Things are still up and down. Things are uncertain.

What I will say- PACKAGED STYLE!
Oh my. I can't picture a whole house in all Restoration Hardware. It reminds me of a few years ago (90's) when you shuttered to have your house look like Pottery Barn.

I think that there will always be a need for designers. There has to be an expert to deal with scale and design. Or it will all look like it came from the same place.

Design is a process not a product. I say that all of the time.

I thank you SO much for your email and comments.
Thank you to Michelle as well.
Again, this is why I blog- I want peoples point of view. I want to discuss.
We should do more of this. Soon.


Anonymous said...

I know it's a difficult time for people in the industry.... In my heart I can only wonder if the decisions which are made for us purely by economics are the right ones.

I too wish that there was some way to protect those things which we truly love.

Thanks for not freaking out on us naysayers. And thank god for the anon-feature....:)

Anonymous said...

I don't think that customers who are after packaged looks are those who would seek designers in any case. It feeds a whole different mind set, people who have means but no earthly idea what design, creativity, and individuality is all about. I don't think designers should be concerned about them, they would not have had their business anyhow. I have seen this happen with art collecting as well, buying without the love, understanding or knowledge.

Anonymous said...

They are and will always be, a mall store

Michelle H. said...

Hi Friend!

I question the people who say "this is the way it's going, we may as well join the global economy", because they are probably benefiting from the industry that is devouring the local trades in some way or another.

I don't think Asian imports are going to be the cheapest way for us much longer, and we will be the last ones laughing when the tides turn, and we have no resources (knowledge, skilled tradespeople) left to keep us up to speed in a competitive global economy. And it's a bit frightening to me that someone (Shiree) would say that it's better to go with the tide than against. Isn't that what being an artist, an avant-garde, a designer is all about... so pave the way? If we think Restoration Hardware-type companies are really on the leading edge, we are all wrong, my dear friends. I think they have a great style team behind them, and I think they are on the pulse of what pop culture is demanding at this time, but it's by no means innovative to have everything made in China. Why do you think all of the Silicon Valley people are scrambling to get their green energy/solar/ alternative resource companies off the ground aside from making money? It's because they know we need to rebuild our own economy by creating, protecting jobs here; and rebuilding our economy also means protecting our small industries. I am not being old-fashioned, I am being a realist.

If we drop all of our knowledge in the trade, loose our manufacturing, we will have nothing to sell to foreigners when cheap imports are no longer the norm or available. It is avant-garde to protect our small local industry, not to jump on the band-wagon and abandon quality craftsmanship for machine made/ quick skill/ environment polluting/ child laboring manufacturing.

I'm sorry, I felt like I needed to say something because it was like the big white elephant in the room... we are all tradespeople here, supporting a company that doesn't support us. Maybe RH can have a vintage line, or when they claim they are selling quality craftsmanship, perhaps source out the work to quality craftspeople that would be innovative.


Author said...

I love Michelle!

We lose the things we love by letting them slip away.

Grant K. Gibson said...

We all love Michelle!

Lynne Rutter said...

i've always adored that building and the current RH look seems to go nicely in it.

Kay said...

I totally agree with what Anonymous (at 8:55 PM) said. I am the type likely would never seek designers for my house, not only do I not have the means; also I regard myself quite creative and take pride in putting things together myself. Therefore the professional designers would not have lost my business to RH in the first place. I never “swallow” any showroom’s prepackaged setups/displays; I take what suite my style and put the assortment together.

BTW, not all RH merchandise is made in China, their bath linens are from Turkey and a lot of bed linens are from Italy, some materials are from Belgium and finished products are made in Portage. I bet most designers furnish only these European high end bath and bed linens in their clients’ homes, yet never have second thoughts that they are not using American made towels or bed sheets. Yes, there is Matteo in LA, but their collections are still quite limited. Unfortunately, the quality and workmanship of imported merchandise from China seem to be catching up fast, whether furniture or German made valves then assembled in china bathware. I know, because my newly renovated bathroom used RH sink and tub faucets which I purchased when they were on sale this summer, my plumber marveled at how excellent the quality was.

Kay said...

Made in Portugal, pardon me – I must have been too tired from portaging my canoe…

Anonymous said...

The main points, however, are just how much domination by larger corporate interests can any industry absorb in terms of reproductions. All of the makers and dealers in real material are now compromised. Quality will continue to suffer.

Is it wise to continue to rely on primarily one country for our products to begin with - particularly one which undermines pricing structures, and has no environmental or worker-rights regulations to contend with.

We are basically decorating our homes on slave labor and continue to further undermine the environment. We continue to consume far more than we produce.

It's as though - if it's not immediately in front of us in our own back yards - we don't care. But it is in our backyards - loss of businesses, jobs, quality, etc. I don't feel comfortable with that and am surprised at the trade's easy acceptance of this.

Anonymous said...

The United States has lost approximately 42,400 factories since 2001. Approximately 75 percent of those factories employed over 500 workers while they were still in operation.

An economy without a manufacturing base does not have a bright long-term future. Yet our politicians have allowed our manufacturing base to be systematically dismantled.

As of the end of 2009, less than 12 million Americans worked in manufacturing. The last time that less than 12 million Americans were employed in manufacturing was in 1941.

How is the United States supposed to have a bright economic future if it consumes everything in sight and yet makes very little?

In 1959, manufacturing represented 28 percent of all U.S. economic output. In 2008, it represented only 11.5 percent and it continues to fall. Needless to say, millions of blue collar workers now find themselves unable to find jobs. Today, 28% of all U.S. households have at least one person that is looking for a full-time job and there is no sign that things are going to improve much any time soon.

Long-Term Trend #2: The Exploding U.S. Trade Deficit

Each month, tens of billions more dollars go out of the United States than come into it. In other words, every single month the United States gets poorer.

Recently, the U.S. trade deficit has been coming in at around 40 to 50 billion dollars a month. About half of that is with communist China.

Between 2000 and 2009, America's trade deficit with China increased nearly 300 percent. Sadly, things are getting even worse.

As of the end of July, the U.S. trade deficit with China had risen 18 percent compared to the same time period a year ago. There is a reason why China has been able to loan the U.S. government nearly a trillion dollars. They have literally been bleeding us dry.

The United States spends approximately $3.90 on Chinese goods for every $1 that the Chinese spend on goods from the United States.

Source -

Anonymous said...

I hope that all of you who are writing against this drive AMERICAN cars? Do you? I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

Does there exist a purely American car anymore? I don't think so. Think about Detroit and the ramifications.

Anonymous said...

It really is THAT important.

Anonymous said...

Restoration Hardware gives people an affordable choice. They are raising the bar in the industry and causing worry for those who charge too much for their service in the first place. there are those of you who choose not to shop at Retstoration Hardware...but for every one of you, there are ten more who will. There are those who say that all their products are made in China. That couldn't be further from the truth. Linen from Belgium, silk from Thailand, bed linens from Italy...China does provide products for the company, but it's not ALL from China. I wish people would get their facts straight before making blanketed statements like that. I shop there for clients all the time....I don't do entire houses from one resource...but you have to admit....their new looks is taking off and the company, from what I've heard is doing extremely well...everyone is they must be doing something right.

Anonymous said...

People are speaking of the loss of quality. People who pay Restoration Hardware prices will not buy there if the quality wasn't excellent. Granted, there are products at every level that don't meet the standard....and those products and businesses rarely last very long. And like it's been stated before, what's happening at Restoration Hardware will hardly affect people who hire designers. They offer a decent product to people who can not afford to hire a designer. Why not make good quality products affordable to everyone? Not just a chosen few.


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