RH Modern: But So Much More Too

November 05, 2015

RH: Modern… But So Much More Too

With the opening of a new Chicago gallery, the introduction of physical versions of Modern and Teen and the coming debut of its first freestanding RH Modern unit, the retailer continues to push the envelope
Posted on November 5, 2015 by Warren Shoulberg

By Warren Shoulberg

RH Modern ChicagoThe store is located in the historic Three Arts Club
To anyone who ever said RH was a one-trick pony, well, welcome to the stable.


With the debut of its RH Modern and RH Teen in-store presentations, another RH Kids and even a restaurant and bar with some of the best doughnuts on the planet, the retailer is clearly signaling it has the horsepower to take itself to the next level.

Over the past two months RH–you may still call it Restoration Hardware even if CEO Gary Friedman prefers the new name–has opened its latest high profile gallery in Chicago and reopened its Manhattan store–both containing dedicated Modern departments–while setting the stage for its first free-standing Modern store on the West Side of Los Angeles, opening in mid-November.

There is also a separate RH Modern catalog, a 540-page iconic piece that dropped last month. And Modern will be rolled out to additional locations—old and new—over the next year.

“It’s a real business,” Friedman told HFN in speaking about the Modern launch as the Chicago store in the Gold Coast neighborhood was just opening, “and we see it bringing in both new customers to the brand and appealing to our existing ones as well.

“The original plan was to do a 120-page Source Book, there was no plan for 540 pages or free-standing stores,” he said. “But as we focused on it, we realized there was no fully-assorted retail business out there.”

Friedman, who has led the reinvention of the retailer from its kitschy, item-oriented and mall-based origins to its current status as perhaps the most followed home furnishings retailer in the country, didn’t just adapt modern as a business concept. “I’d say 25 percent of my own home is going to change because of RH Modern. It’s going to make it fresh and up to date.”


RH Modern ChicagoRH Modern debuted here, 11,000 square feet of contemporary furnishings and art; a Design Atelier is a working space for turning concepts into reality; and RH Teen also gets its first physical manifestation in the new Gold Coast location.
The new Chicago gallery, located in the historic but long-closed Three Arts Club school, features Modern on one of the six floors of its 70,000 square feet. The 1914 structure has been carefully restored, but also replenished with a restaurant and bar in its now-glass-topped courtyard, a rooftop conservatory and garden and many of the RH signature design cues: open and airy interiors, a grand staircase and dramatic merchandise presentations throughout.


Modern occupies 11,000 square feet and also encompasses RH Contemporary Art, which had previously only been shown in a freestanding New York City location.

Also in-store for the first time is RH Teen, accompanied by RH Baby & Child. The store also features a 3,000-square-foot Atelier working design area, as well as a Ben Soleimani rug gallery.

And then there’s the restaurant, another RH first. Created by Chicago restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff, it is being described as more of a café and wine bar, a place for customers to seamlessly move in and out of during their shopping experience. Sodikoff includes a generous assortment of sweets from his locally famous Doughnut Vault, a menu item the self-described doughnut-loving Friedman was especially pleased with.

Some of this same integrated merchandising strategy is on display at RH’s Flatiron store, which has been redone to reflect the Modern assortment. The store is scheduled to be replaced by another full-sized Gallery in 2017 in New York’s Meat Packing District, so while it is decidedly smaller than the retailer’s new scale, it does work to include many of the signature elements.

RH Modern will get its first true freestanding debut this month when the Beverly Boulevard location reopens. The location was the site of an older format RH store that was supplanted earlier this year by a new Gallery on Melrose, near the Pacific Design Center.

But for now, Chicago represents the truest manifestation of what RH is all about. “Chicago,” said Friedman, “connects all the dots.”