Recently, John-Richard Furniture & Accessories engaged me to reposition, re-conceive, and re-merchandise their flagship showroom in the New York Design Center at 200 Lexington Avenue.
The process started with a trip to 200 Lex to assess the situation. The existing space was chockablock with pieces: It gave the impression of a tag sale. The walls were smothered in artwork; there was a lot of traditional furniture, most of which was covered in a mélange of over-exuberant fabrics; and a generous quantity of silk botanical arrangements added to the visual noise. It was too much of too much.
After poring over the John-Richard catalog and website, it was clear that the company has a wide array of pieces, many of them quite good on their own. The challenge was to re-engage members of the New York design community and help them to actually see what strong offerings John-Richards has in their current lines.
The strategy I put forth was to highlight and focus on the strongest designs most appropriate for the New York market and then let the pieces speak for themselves. This meant curating and editing with a disciplined, merciless eye, while removing any distracting visual chatter. The selected pieces were to be shown in an uncluttered setting, and grouped in an inspiring, relatable, visually digestible way.
Though John-Richard has a large selection of fabrics, our merchandising strategy was to show all of the upholstered pieces in natural-color linens and leathers. This allows the eye to see the design of each piece–and its full potential–without distraction.
We started by identifying the strongest sellers and strongest designs in absolute terms. Then we began clearing the underbrush. Next, a master floor plan was conceived, placing furniture in combinations that complemented, but did not distract from, the tasteful design of each individual piece. Vignettes incorporating a combination of modern, transitional, and traditional styles were created, similar to how most designers would use pieces in their own work.
Accent pieces and colors were kept to a tasteful minimum: pillows with a pop of coral, some quiet celadon items, and a few animal prints (nature’s own neutral).
The majority of the showroom walls were repainted in sophisticated taupe. In order to add warmth, create a sense of place with dimension, and provide visual relief, a muted coral and darker taupe/grey were used in two of the interior rooms.
We unveiled the finished showroom at a launch party for Susanna Salk’s book, Decorate Fearlessly! (Rizzoli New York). The New York designer community turned out to see the results, including Charlotte Moss, Stephanie Odegard, Jim Druckman, and Glenn Gissler, among many others.
The response has been exactly what we set out to achieve: Designers who have shopped John-Richard before are amazed at the transformation. Now they are immediately and easily discovering pieces for current projects, pleasantly surprised and inspired by the quality and sophistication of the company’s offerings. Other designers think that a new showroom has moved into 200 Lexington: John-Richard is is a fresh resource they will return to again.
Some favorite reactions to the unveiling were shared by the New York showroom manager, Christi Stevens:
“The showroom looks AMAAAAAZZING! You have revolutionized the look. The neutral fabrics, the paint colors, it’s spectacular.”
–Teles & Adams
“Wow, you have really changed the look. It’s unbelievable. The entire company should go in this direction. I love it.”
–Jeff Einhorn, St. James Design
“Can I stay here and work? It’s s so peaceful and serene.”
“I love your selection of pieces. I would have picked the same things.”
–Fred M. Kentop
Since the repositioning and redesign, the John-Richard New York showroom has experienced a significant increase in the number of quotes, as well as sales. As Jack Dorsey, Twitter co-founder says, “Make every detail perfect and limit the number of details to perfect.”