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A consumer craving for classical comfort

two nelson daughters dancingOk, this isn’t yoga news at all, but if you want to see a picture of my daughters in the Chronicle, click through the article’s gallery. ┬áAlso, featured is Randall Koll, interior designer and long-time YGSF student.

A consumer craving for classical comfort
Anh-Minh Le, Special to The Chronicle
Saturday, July 3, 2010

via A consumer craving for classical comfort at SF Gate.

When Corte Madera’s Restoration Hardware revamped its look last year, designers and consumers alike instantly took note. After previewing the collection, Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, the founder of design blog Apartment Therapy, posted that “the store is virtually unrecognizable from what it was.”

In his opinion, that was a good thing. A company that was perhaps best known for its towels and drawer pulls was rebranding itself with furniture heavily influenced by antiques and European design: The Versailles chair stands out with its dramatic dome, the Sealight floor lamp resembles something 19th century British sailors may have seen and the mirrors are a nod to classic architectural windows.

Apartment Therapy readers had mixed feelings: Some lamented the promotion of “fake old,” while others applauded the timeless style. Regardless of which side you fall on, the collection seemed to signal a shift in decorating.

“We’re coming out of a very modern, minimalist moment in design into a period where people are really responding to a mix of historic periods and classical references,” said Restoration Hardware CEO Gary Friedman. “There is also a true appreciation of the quality, craftsmanship and patina.”

This change in aesthetic preferences prompted Restoration Hardware to bring on internationally renowned antiques dealer Ed Hardy of San Francisco as a curator for the company (see “Restoration Hardware’s landmark move” Page L6).

But the shift also appears to reflect a larger change in consumer consciousness. The idea of collapsing into a well-worn leather Chesterfield sofa after a long day of work (or looking for work) has its appeal. As does tucking into a familiar old club chair with a good book.

“People are gravitating toward things that serve the dual purpose of making them feel comfortable and at ease, while also making a statement,” said Darin Geise. His San Francisco showroom, Coup d’Etat, specializes in antiques that often have a rustic or industrial bent, that aren’t too formal or stuffy. “Vanity is not so in vogue these days, so people are moving away from diamonds and pearls and into more utilitarian antiques.”

Style with substance

Indeed, consumers are shying away from disposable furniture – the kind you buy one year and throw out the next because it falls out of fashion or falls apart (or both). Witness the swelling crowds at the monthly Alameda Point Antiques and Collectibles Faire. From a design standpoint, the past has found its place in the present. And it’s a testament to the increasing confidence of homeowners in their ability to infuse antiques – whether authentic or reproduced – into their interiors.

When San Francisco husband-and-wife Marisa Toriggino and David Nelson moved to the Presidio in the fall, they were faced with a common predicament: Their existing furniture didn’t fit well in their new place, which once served as an officer’s residence. They enlisted the help of good friend and interior designer Randall Koll, who suggested looking at Restoration Hardware to outfit the L-shaped living and dining area.

more at the original article via SF Gate.