Friday, October 2, 2009

Anthropologie, or Rough Luxe

A rusty bicycle piled high with old leather suitcases in the window of the Fifth Avenue store.

I was invited this week to preview a new television series which will follow Keith Johnson, Anthropologie's world-wide shopper. The series will be on the Sundance Channel starting October 7th, and in each episode, Keith will travel to a new country in search of unusual decorative objects, furniture and textiles for all the Anthropologie stores, as well as artists and crafts people to hire. That sounds like a great job! I'm looking forward to this show.

Keith Johnson is the partner of Glen Senk who is the CEO of Urban Outfitters, which is the parent company of Anthropologie. Their apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan is featured in the current issue of Elle Decor magazine. This couple met when they were nine years old. Ok, that must be a record! The end of the article gave me goose bumps.

I'm a big fan of Anthropologie. Although it's a women's clothing store, I love their items for the home and their store displays. They also have a great selection of style and travel books. Their windows and in-store designs often feature a clever use of paper which I think is charming. I guess other shoppers like Anthropologie too: even during the economic downturn Anthropologie is enjoying healthy growth both in terms of retails sales and stores opening across the country. Whenever I'm in the store on Fifth Avenue there is a line at the cash register.

The home merchandise is like a trip to a Paris flea market. Glasses and dishes are piled on wood and iron displays which are also for sale. I love the antique industrial combination of wood and iron.

I recently came across this article on The Wall Street about "Rough Luxe" which celebrates this style. Peeling paint, rusting metal and hewn wood can be romantic when treated luxuriously. The style evokes the past, but in a clean, airy way which is not musty or overstuffed. It's what they do so well at Anthropologie, and it's an inspiration.

This metal painted table in Anthropologie looks like our coffee table which I found at the flea market for $25.

One year at the Jane Street Sale, I spotted this metal lamp shaped like a flower, below. Our next-door neighbor fashion designer Zac Posen asked the seller if he would come down from the $65 price, but it was non-negotiable. I came back later and got it for $40 – sorry Zac! My sister-in-law Tracy who works in retail and knows about these things said I should re-sell it to Anthropologie and they could reproduce it.

But I like it too much.


french-treasures said...

Great photos. The show sounds like it'll be loads of fun.

Errant Aesthete said...

I'm a fan of both Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie and "rough luxe" sounds just about right. I like the distinction, too, of the use of the word “autobiographical” to describe the kind of homes the term connotes—“a reflection of the soul,” and "not what the owner can afford.”

red ticking said...

fabulous post... love your blog... x pam

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...


Loved your earlier ANNA WINTOUR post. Wit!
Yes, love your blog...and love Anthropologie.
(Question...if Restoration Hardware is called Resto by everyone, is Anthropologie called Anthro by all??
Just asking.
Hope to see you at where you are on my blog roll of favorites.

Erin said...

lindsay and i are huge anthropologie fans, too. while i often find their clothes prohibitively expensive (for a teacher), i love their homegoods... particularly their rugs. my mom bought me an area rug when i moved into my studio, which i liked so much, i got another in a different color for my bathroom.
there is a homegoods store near argyle that also features that rough luxe style where i bought a collection of ironcast critters. remind me to take you next time you visit!
see you next week!

Bart Boehlert said...

Erin, I definitely want to go to that store!