According to a study by real estate listing site Redfin, reported at real-estate blog Curbed LA, a middle-class household in Los Angeles can only afford 12 percent of available housing stock. But fear not–the wealthy who can afford the other 88 percent are always in the market for some new furnishings.
And, despite the efforts of some residents of the not-exactly-impoverished L.A.-area community of West Hollywood, Restoration Hardware, which sells high-end furniture and home accessories, will be opening a lavish new showroom aimed primarily at the wholesale market (a.k.a. interior designers, etc.), with some retail business.
As reported at retail blog Racked LA, on Friday, Oct. 24, Restoration Hardware debuts a, 40,000-square-foot store, nicknamed “The Gallery,” at 8564 Melrose Ave., across the street from ultra trendy Urth Caffe. Inspired by a European villa, the building has a 10,000-foot rooftop garden modeled after the Tuileries in France, with mature olive trees shading shoppers who may also be taking a refreshment break.
The store, which naturally has valet parking, also features an indoor courtyard, a double staircase modeled after ones by Venetian architect Carlos Scarpa, and a 10-foot-tall reproduction of the armless and headless Winged Victory of Samothrace, currently at the Louvre in Paris.
The lavish building was first approved in 2009 as a mixed-use residential/retail building, which morphed into a mix of retail and wholesale in 2013, with Restoration Hardware taking over the whole structure and planning to make it the company’s California flagship store.
Some neighbors were concerned that the reported wholesale nature of Restoration Hardware’s business, which doesn’t generate a huge amount of traffic (not that Melrose isn’t often bumper-to-bumper anyway), would actually be more focused on retail, with Bentleys and Beemers flooding in to pick up $2,295 armoires and $11,065 Ben Soleimani rugs.
Incidentally, Beverly Hills resident Soleimani, who was born in Iran and lived in Britain before moving to Southern California, heads BMB Investments Corp., which owns several other properties along that stretch of Melrose Ave. Soleimani is also the “visionary and head designer” behind Mansour Modern, part of his family’s London and L.A.-based luxury-rug company Mansour, which has the royal warrant to supply products to the British royal family.
In the end, in Nov. 2013, the WeHo City Council approved the project with a 3-2 vote, but the Planning Commission did limit events on the rooftop deck to four a year, held only during regular business hours.
The Melrose Ave. location is only one of several of Restoration Hardware’s lavish outlets, which, in addition to product showrooms, feature cafes, art, fountains and wine bars. The Boston location is inside an 1862 building that was the New England Museum of Natural History, and is as much a museum of home décor as a retail space.
Speaking to Racked LA in May 2014, RH CEO Gary Friedman said, “RH is really like a $1.6 billion start-up with all that’s about to come. What’s coming next will be transformative and disruptive to the furniture market.”
It’s a nice life, if you can afford it.