I’m probably endangering any chance of getting a settlement or at least a free leather couch out of this, but dropping the bundle of nine Restoration Hardware catalogs on my foot was definitely one of the low points of my week.
Picture this: you get home from a long day of work, damp from sweat, hurting because you had to contort yourself to get a spot on a train, ready to just plop down in your living room and not think twice about the day that was. Then you see it — the plastic-wrapped bundle of dead trees and ink you’ve been trying to ignore for the last few days, the package of nine (nine!) catalogs from the luxury brand you don’t recall ever buying anything from or signing up to receive catalogs from.
You think the Maxwell Daybed that starts at $4995 looks nice, and you’d probably hang the Circa 1920 Spanish Torch Lighting chandelier in your living space if the place you called home was a small castle with a moat and not an apartment in the city that has scaffolding covering the entire facade, but nothing about RH encourages the practical or “In my budget” anyway. It’s certainly not the guiding principle behind nine fucking catalogs! The Restoration Hardware catalogs are nice for dreaming, but other than that, you fear that you’d actually have to sleep on the Salvaged Boatwood Dining Table as well as eat on it, and maybe set your television up on it since you’re close to being buried under a pile of books and cat fur already.
The Restoration Hardware catalog (the nine goddamned catalogs) are legion; they are many. If you live in a big city with a lot of people that are 20-30 years old that the media would classify as hipsters, there’s no doubt you’ve seen these catalogs; you’ve accidentally tripped over a pile of these catalogs, you’ve seen these catalogs holding up window air conditioner units, walked through doors being kept open with them, witnessed the Brothers of the Night’s Watch hurling them at wildlings to protect Castle Black, or maybe, just maybe, you’ve received these catalogs and you actually had around three thousand dollars lying around to spend on the Deconstructed Chesterfield Bed.
Whatever your story, the Restoration catalog says more about us as a culture than you as an individual. We live in a time when all we can talk about is how print is dying, and you can buy just about anything on the internet; Restoration Hardware doesn’t care about any of that hogwash. They create new things that look old, and if they didn’t send us these piles of dead trees and plastic that they claim isn’t hurting the environment because all that waste is offset by the fact that their shipping provider is carbon neutral and their paper is “Forest Certified,” then they’d be committing a serious brand faux pas. Ye olde looking furniture in the age of mechanical reproduction requires old style advertising, and no social media guru is going to tell Restoration Hardware’s bigwigs otherwise.
I’m not going to say that sending a catalog doesn’t make much sense. I like catalogs, I like looking at nice things that I will probably never actually buy. With respect to the Restoration Hardware catalog, I sorta enjoy the fact that the company’s chairman and CEO who looks a little like Karl Ove Knausgård is on the inside front cover of the biggest of all the catalogs (the Interiors one), and starts off his little editor’s note with a John Barrymore quote, and signs off with not only “Dream on,” but also “Carpe Diem.”
I like thinking up Restoration Hardware fan fiction; I imagine riding my horse up a hill while Kate Bush’s disembodied voice howls down from the sky. I am very, very handsome. I arrive at my house, decorated with leather and wood that looks like it might have come from an old whaling ship, cabinets that look like they may have sat in some old Rust Belt factory, or rain showerheads that beat the warmest and even mildly floral well water onto my muscled back after a long day of living the sort of modern day existence life I believe the guy in Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer above the sea of fog might live if he lived in 2014.
But alas, I do not live live that life; I live in an apartment — an apartment I love very much, I might add — one that I don’t foresee myself ever needing anything from any one of the nine (Nine. Fucking. Catalogs) Restoration Hardware catalogs. No, I just drop them on my foot while trying to find a little time to relax. All because somehow I ended up on their mailing list. It leaves me to wonder if I did something to deserve to be sent this massive pile of waste wrapped in enough plastic to kill a flock of geese, trying to sell me stuff that I probably wouldn’t be able to buy even if I wanted to. It isn’t about the nine fucking catalogs as much any more; it’s more about me.