I was photographing the Charnley-Persky House today, which served as the architectural boxing ring where Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright did battle in 1892. When I finished, I headed over to Restoration Hardware, the high-end furniture store that sells desaturated chairs, couches, sofas, and beds for the modern home. Much of this angular furniture is made of dark ash wood, iron, and steel. I wanted to buy one of the bedroom sets, or least plop down onto the luscious light grey and white sheets and comforters covering the large king-sized bed.
Although one doesn't expect to find a retail store in Chicago's fashionable Gold Coast residential area, RH fits right in at the corner of Dearborn and Goethe. Occupying the red-brick former Three Arts Club building, the 70,000 square foot space includes a ground-floor cafe, wine and expresso bars, a large rooftop space where people lounge and drink wine, and four floors of furniture.
If someone hadn't told me that this was a furniture store, I wouldn't have known it. The space is monastic, offering quiet and solitude. A motion sensor would be able to take a vacation. As I walked around, I occasionally saw a designer with his or her client, but no hoards. In many of the large rooms, walls hold neutral fabric swatches and weaves. In others, works of art were for sale. Be it painting, photographic, or drawing, all the art had a distinct black and white abstract expressionism bent to it. Were those paintings by Clyfford Still, Adolph Gottlieb, Robert Motherwell, or Franz Kline? Unlikely given the price points in the low thousands.
I enjoyed the stairwell connecting the five floors the most. The large mirrors lining the walls created interesting reflections in what became a hall of mirrors. Very geometric.
I spent time on the roof, which is a very nice space, with some interesting views. I have heard that the roasted chicken served in a ground floor atrium (3 Arts Club Cafe) is extraordinary. Lunch is a $20 to $25 proposition sans a glass of Sancerre. I was tempted, but didn't have a reservation. Had I been really hungry, I would have headed a few blocks south to Ralph Lauren's RL (Restaurant at Chicago and Michigan, which serves similarly stylish food.
As for the clientele: Right out of Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities. It may be 30 years later, but the social X-rays are still living swell.
Looking North from RH's Rooftop Terrace