Freak show furniture

What are they smoking at Restoration Hardware these days?

Bullock and I are thinking about some new furniture for our new house, especially in the bedroom, where we’ve got a mish-mash of stuff from our early 20s and even childhood. So I’ve been browsing the web sites of the chain stores just to get some ideas. I generally don’t like all the fake wood and fake finishes they have on their furniture, but I’m trying to put together images of general design I like, so that I can show it to Bullock, and so we can come to some sort of consensus on what we want in terms of style.

Anywho, I came across this at Restoration Hardware:

Are you freakin' kidding me?!

OK, I get the whole “hide the home office” concept, but…in a giant trunk???? I blame steam punk for this — after all, that’s a giant *steamer* trunk.  Meanwhile, this is kind of nutty, too, but I also kind of like it (not that I could afford it, though):

It's called Foucault's Twin-Orb Chandelier. I assume it's named after the Foucault of the pendulum fame, but it's got a kind of panopticon quality to it, too -- like the all-seeing orb thingy in Lord of the Rings.

Seriously, what’s in the water in their design center over there? And who is buying this stuff?  I see that the Foucault Orb + Classic Chandelier freak show is actually no longer available.  (Go check it out.  It’s like the end-game of steam punk.) Did it sell out? Really?

Who buys this stuff?  It all reminds me of that episode of Friends where Phoebe mocked Rachel for the apothecary’s cabinet.

ETA/Update: You know what the antidote to the current steampunk nightmare of RH is?  Room and Board.  Ahhhhh, much better (well, if, like us, you like sleek and modern — I realize that’s not everyone’s taste).  And they tell you where in the US everything was built, and by whom. And the wood is real, through and through. I think what I hate most about the major chain stores is that they’ve gone to cheaper and faker materials even as they jack up the mark-up.

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12 thoughts on “Freak show furniture

  1. I made the mistake of going into an RH store the other day. It was like some pickled-wood steampunk nightmare. They have totally jumped the shark. And they used to have such lovely things!

  2. Back when I was an undergrad I loved Restoration Hardware, because it had all this gorgeous mission style stuff … that of course I could not afford. Now not only do they have tons of ugly stuff, but have you been inside a store lately? They have resized everything to fit in, I don’t know, ginormous faux-manor-hall style rooms. The stuff is huge and looks like you need a 20-foot ceiling and Marie Antoinette to make it work. Bleah. Also, they had that pickled-wood finish everywhere in the southwest back in the 80s. We don’t need to go back there.

    Ok, I see they have changed a lot of merch since I was last in socal but this chair is so huge it swallowed me up:
    http://www.restorationhardware.com/catalog/product/product.jsp?productId=prod1679277&categoryId=cat1701068

  3. NicoleandMaggie — If I were a famous author on a book tour, maybe I would get that! It also actually kind of reminds me of the 1950s Barbie cases, which were trunks for their clothes *and* them, but also their closets/boudoirs.

    Everyone – Yes, RH is a *disaster* at the moment. We don’t have one here, but we get the catalog, and the whole thing is a sepia-toned, pickled, steampunk, oversized nightmare. Bleh!

    Susie — That chair is hideous. What the hell?

    On a positive note, their towels are still very nice. And I *love* the “foot duvets” — so toasty warm and soft! And right before Christmas, they’re always on sale for $10 — great gifts!

  4. So Bullock pointed out that there’s still some normal stuff in the bedroom section (which is what I went to look at first and then got distracted by all the weirdness). That’s some relief. But then I made the mistake of looking at the “occasional tables” section. OMG, go look at it. Nothing but steampunk weirdness. I’m sorry, if I’m going to use a scissor lift or a furniture factory cart for a coffee table, I’ll get it cheap from an actual going-out-business factory, thank you very much.

  5. Eeewww…about having a desk on wheels…why? It would roll away on me when I sighed in desperation about something that I’m working and I want to hit my head on it as heu mihi has rightly pointed out.

  6. clearly authors channelling their inner Victorian preeee-de-cessors, who are off on the Grand Tour yet must still complete MS. I shall be, I believe, E. M. Forster

  7. My father actually had such a trunk, which went round the world with him a few times while he was in the Navy. It still exists, in my mother’s attic, with most of my childhood model railway packed in it. There’s two important points about it I want to make: one, it is about half the size of that monster, and yet served to run a man’s life out of for four years or so. Two, it is absolutely impossible to handle alone. Its very design assumes porters. Even unloaded it’s a two-person lift. Making the thing *bigger* is just missing so many aspects of the original that I really don’t see what they think they’re getting at with the reference…

  8. Jonathan – Yeah, the size is monstrous, isn’t it? But now I want an actual, authentic antique one! Thanks for the story of your fathers’ portable desk. I can completely see a military man having one of these (of half the size, that is).

  9. With all the pickling and the linen (I am the only one on the planet who really likes linen sheets so not a huge market) my thoughts were of French country gone wrong. But I can see the steam punk theme, too. Whatever, they are nuts!

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