23 February 2011

One more reason to avoid Anthropologie. Make that three.

A while back, an intrepid member of the K&RD Community (it was Sharon) sent me an alert to another offense being perpetrated by the craven minds at Anthropologie. Tell me, in what universe is this an attractive and desirable sofa?


What would possess someone to produce a sofa like this and then have the gall to charge $6000 for it? Look at these charming details.


This one's even worse than the green one.


I suppose it's some kind of Haunted House chic.

Even worse than the sofas is this chaise.


Let's zoom in on the quality construction. Remember, this thing sells for nearly four grand.


These pieces were designed by Clarke and Reilly, a London-based husband and wife design team. Apparently, Clarke and Reilly bring their moth-eaten sensibilities to everything they touch. The copy traveling through the internet alongside these pieces is full of the usual, meaningless buzzwords. "Organic," "vintage," "natural," they're all here and they're harnessed craftily to disguise the fact that these are some ugly pieces of furniture.

Look, I get it that there's room for everybody's sensibilities in the world and I understand being provocative. However, when I see something like this, I think what's really going on is a cynical worldview at work. It's almost as if people design things that are purposely ugly and expensive just to see how gullible people really are. I get it too that I may be completely out to lunch here but you tell me. Would you allow any of these pieces near your home?

41 comments:

  1. I'd need a lot more unraveling thread on these things before I would even consider them. Since I am not particularly fond of the colors, maybe a stain or coffee-ring on the fabric would bring it all home for me.

    Well played Clarke and Reilly (if that really is your names...)

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  2. I like the idea of adding a coffee ring or two. It would add to the authenticity of these pieces. Talk about aging in place.

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  3. Yikes! The colors alone are awful - so bland. I think the first picture would qualify as the shade "puke green." Why, oh why would anyone buy a couch that is already falling apart?

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  4. I call it furniture malfeasance.

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  5. Anthropologie - the thrift store for rich hobos. All of the fun, none of the stink.

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  6. Well it would be the last sofa you'd ever buy, because if it started out looking like that, how would you ever know when you needed to replace it?

    PS Welcome back and congrats on the new gig.

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  7. But...but..but...I like their stu...oh hell, never mind...you guys have convinced me never to shop there (and you've made me laugh out loud.)

    Great post - GREAT comments!

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  8. Guess someone decided hobo art should have also encompassed furniture design.

    When they say 'organic' do they mean from the compost?

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  9. My fugly Arne Norell Scirocco chair is way nicer!

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  10. The idea of "instant character" has always fascinated me. It's like buying pre-torn jeans. Remember the old Levi's ads where a well-aged pair of jeans was a reflection of the life lived by its owners? You can now buy that character without having to live it. Awesome ... not.

    I have a word for the furniture: Fugly.

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  11. Thank you for detailing why you hate (and like) things -- for amateurs, very helpful and interesting. These have the cost of custom, the look of dyi. Bizarre.

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  12. I'm out to lunch with you too. Maybe they were aiming for shabby chic except they totally missed being chic.

    Shabby!

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  13. I think it's the price that kills me about Anthropologie.
    I've been known to buy a purse here or some sunglasses there at Anthro. but they have to be on the clearance table!
    If you are going to get a couch like this I think it should be CHEAP! Especially considering the genre that likes this style/store. My 24 year old hipster brother would love the green couch in his college apartment, but could only pay $100.00 for it tops.

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  14. Those are very unfortunate pieces, color, styling, details and price, they don't win on any level. Wondering why anyone thought those were design wins?

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  15. Gee, I wouldn't pick either of those up off the side of the road, much less pay $6000 for one! There is just no accounting for taste, apparently! I am with Emily W, that first one looks like puke green to me, too!

    Brenda Lynn

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  16. Well… when you’re right, you’re right! I had to do a Google search, not having heard of this company before, and by gosh, there they are. And the very couch you’ve described here is offered for $5998, plus $300 extra for the shipping costs! This is how they describe their gem: “Created by London-based design team Clarke & Reilly, this overstuffed two-seater is a stunning amalgam of beauty and sustainability. Covered in swathes of vintage linen that have been colored with all-natural dye, the fabric will fade slightly over time, which only adds to the character of the piece.”

    Which is to say that not only does the couch start ugly, it gets uglier as the fabric fades!

    However, I do agree with one word they used in their product description: “stunning.” Really, looking at this Good Will project and then taking a gander at the price, I feel as though I’ve just walked into a door. I’m stunned!

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  17. I was taught if you can't say anything nice...

    So I will just say, at least they didn't choose to clad these "stunning" offerings in the hide of the elusive wild Naugha-beast.

    ... These little beauties, unlike that Gaggeneau range can just STAY across the pond

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  18. I obviously don't have enough to do today - have just 'internet stalked' Clarke and Reilly to find their website (which, incidentally, goes nowhere) and, for those of you familiar with the 'London-based' side of the pond, their blurb would sit proudly amongst the best that Private Eye's Pseuds Corner has to offer.

    Have enjoyed this post immensely - rarely do design blogs make me laugh out loud.

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  19. Thanks everybody and I'm sorry I missed out on these great comments when they were coming in. Writing these "I am shocked and appalled" posts is a blast but the real fun comes when you guys start commenting. Great comments, all of you!

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  20. This post made me laugh. "Haunted House chic" - genius!!! Yes those couches are absolutely hideous, but I must admit that I really love the clothing and accessories that Anthropolgie offers. But I think I'll stick to Crate & Barrel for furniture shopping.

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  21. Two things come to mind. Firstly, designers don't always have control over the quality of production and so, for all we know they could be quietly furious about this because their brand name is all over the page. Secondly, having checked out the UK site (it wont let me search US site for some annoying reason), it states that the furniture has "Eight-way hand-tied seat construction" - this is really important. Any piece of furniture made with serpentine springs or worse - those nets or elastic bands, is money down the drain: they don't last longer than 3-5 years.

    I thought this was quite nice: http://www.anthropologie.eu/furniture/lunet-chair/invt/7592466580004/

    If these sofas are made with hand tied coil springs then at very least, it's going to offer long term support. Although, I agree, the upholstery is appalling and to be selling them at that price -with that finish is a show of contempt for their customers.

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  22. I agree, hand-tied coils are really important when looking for a sofa, but why spend the money on that level of construction and then upholster something that looks this bad? I'm sure these things are hand-upholstered too but still, they're just awful looking.

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  23. I agree. Anthropologie are so ridiculously overpriced that I don;t even both looking at their site when researching products for clients - I don't want my clients to think I'm mad!

    I do think post like this are very, very important. There's a lot at stake (environmentally) and all designers, producers and retailers should be crucified from using natural resources to effectively produce CRAP. So, please, continue...

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  24. it is irresponsible and thanks for checking in from London. Sustainability is up to all of us.

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  25. Yeah I agree these are horrid, but if people buy the crap they'll keep doing it. The again, one could find a similar piece at the side of the road, so if the style catches steam, maybe it IS being responsible. Great post.

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  26. Its not even Shabby Chic, just creepy, like you said Paul, in a 'Coraline' meets Beetle Juice's kind of way. If you want something with 'spirit'suck it up, do the work, and shop resale!

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  27. That's certainly another way to look at it Ann. I wonder if this stuff from Anthropologie has an authentic funky smell to go along with its aesthetics.

    Megs: Coraline and Beetle Juice had a lightness to their brutality, this stuff's just brutal. It's cruelty embodied in a sofa.

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  28. I am so glad to hear that everyone is not squealing in delight! Sounds like springs and down feathers in the cushions are all these have going for them.

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  29. Well at this point it's a pile on Christine. No one would dare defend this stuff.

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  30. Paul, The couch is both bloated and shapeless. Wasn't that chaise inspired by an Ed Kienholz piece?

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  31. If it has anything in common with a Kienholz installation I'm sure it's sheer coincidence. That would imply some serious thought on the part of the designers and an almost unthinkable degree of cynicism when you consider the price tag.

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  32. If you can stand another comment...they do carry fabulous shoes on their website and I own more than one pair. They're one of the few affordable places that sell good quality shoes and I really like a lot of their clothing, but the quality of it is terrible. I use them as a basis for the things I make - I've make many many garments that are Anthro rip-offs without getting taken to the cleaners. They charge outrageous prices for the most poorly made things. I can't imagine buying furniture from them. Based on their clothing, you just know you're getting ripped off.

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  33. Bleh, what a perfectly horrible waste of vintage linen! My god, to think of all the costume pieces I could have made out of that fabric. Gah. :(

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  34. More comments are always welcome. I don't understand the concept of buying something new that's been made to look like it's old. Shortcuts to character and history just rub me the wrong way.

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  35. Having just got back yesterday from Anthropoligie on Regents Street, London - these sofas are the tip of the iceberg. I took my husband in there - he is a design FREAK & honestly, I thought there was about to be a defenestration or sorts. I had to drag him out the store.

    The entire place is offensive - the mock mexican serving ware, the 'shabby chic' cookbooks, the ugly door handles. Where is the appeal? WHERE?!

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  36. I just don't get it either, but clearly someone's buying the stuff.

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  37. You know, I once bought a couch and matching loveseat that were a lot like that couch. They had a solid hard-wood construction with 8-way hand-tied springs, covered with faded, frayed upholstery. They looked (and stank) like they belonged in a thrift shop.

    But, you see, I paid $150 for both pieces on Craig's List. Then, I had the upholsterer's truck pick them up directly for me. Then I paid somewhere around 2 grand to get them stripped to the well-made frames and re-upholstered. Then, when I was done, I had two pieces of lovely, well-made antique furniture for less than the cost of the anthro sofa BEFORE you get it reupholstered.

    There's some kind of lesson here.

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  38. Oh there's all kinds of lessons there. Thanks for the good story, it's one that needs to be repeated.

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  39. The deconstructed, "I bought it at a french or English Antique store and haven't recovered yet" is very in. It's part of the whole Boho-chic movement. Now I see that you live in St. Peterburg Florida which I did visit once. I will dare go out on a limb and guess that you aren't exposed to much past trailer park design. Most of Florida is a design wasteland period. All over the world this look your criticizing is massive and one of the freshest and foremost interior stylists in the world, Sibella Court has had smashing success designing interiors and producing books on the style. You really should learn that there is a world out there, a very sophisticated one but it does require getting a passport and into an airplane. Of course, houses that are held up with wheels need design tips as well so maybe your fine right where you are.

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  40. Sign your goddamn name you fucking coward.

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