Forget any idea you have of places that sell the things that fill a house. You know those generic department stores with windowless showrooms filled with sofas and bedrooms.
Fashion Island has an eye-catching furniture store that is 11 times the size of the current chain store in the Coastal Mall.
The company formerly known as Restoration Hardware and now a high-end home furnishings retailer will be building one of its most popular concepts, a “design gallery” at the Irvine Co. outdoor mall in Newport Beach.
“RH Newport Beach, The Gallery at Fashion Island” is a first for Orange County. It will have four floors with nearly 80,000 square feet of airy, indoor and outdoor space with “an expanse of glass and steel French doors that open onto lush garden courtyards and terraces.”
Oh, and did I mention a wine bar and a glass walled rooftop restaurant overlooking the Pacific?
“RH Newport Beach reflects our vision to create inspiring and immersive architectural spaces that blur the lines between residential and retail, interior and exterior, home and hospitality,” said CEO Gary Friedman de RH, based in Corte Madre. Its collection of these chic department stores includes locations in West Hollywood and Los Angeles.
The store will be located on the coastal side of Fashion Island, taking the place of a former Forever 21 clothing store that closed two years ago. Galerie RH is slated to open in spring 2024, selling everything from trendy furniture and sofas and beds to fabrics and design services. The mall’s 7,300 square foot HR store will remain open.
The addition of the chic RH store is a boost to Fashion Island, which is in an ongoing battle for luxury merchants and sales dollars with Costa Mesa’s South Coast Plaza. And what sales tax-conscious city would complain about a new store that sells a sofa bed for over $ 10,000?
“Few communities in the country are fortunate enough to be chosen for an HR Design Gallery, and this is a major victory,” said Brad Avery, Mayor of Newport Beach.
Much like malls have done, individual retailers are now looking to transform shopping from a simple transaction into a more “experience” for the consumer.
This is to increase the chances of a sales opportunity. Go to the gallery restaurant for dinner or sip some wine and maybe a coffee table will grab your attention (and your wallet) before you get to the fourth floor.
If the Newport Beach Rectory looks like a similar RH gallery I visited this summer in Portland, it is more of a well-appointed furniture museum than a sales platform. It’s part of a retail trend towards flashier, more comfortable stores.
In Oregon, I got to see the RH Gallery concept in all its spacious glory – and I’ll note that the store is about half the size of what’s planned for Orange County.
It looks more like the home of a European monarch than the wares of a furniture dealer, inside and out. From the street, you would think it is a local landmark due to its richly sculpted edifice. Inside, large bay windows project natural light onto generously uncluttered commercial spaces. The fourth floor outdoor retail space was perfect for showcasing outdoor furniture and taking in panoramic views.
If you’re still curious, allow CEO Friedman to describe the thinking behind these galleries, as he did to Wall Street analysts:
“I think it’s a combination of us creating a new market because people see products they’ve never seen before presented in a way they’ve never seen before in an inspiring environment and interactive and full of light and fresh air and theatrical presentation. We call them galleries because we say it’s a nifty abstraction of home furnishings in a gallery setting, isn’t it. So we don’t just market our stores. We create kinds of artistic installations of home furnishings.
Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be contacted at [email protected]