Recently, Restoration Hardware sent me their Interiors catalog. At 666 pages, it is nearly 2.5 centimeters tall—by far the thickest catalog I’ve ever received. The cover is stunning.
Bleeding from the top, the R and H hang like the drapes and chandelier. The transparent effect creates a sense of depth and texture to the image, so that the letters resemble the panels of the chandelier. The extreme contrasts in line thickness add drama and elegance, and the serifs add a formality and sense of stability, with the verticals of the R and H mirroring the strong lines of the drapes.
Inside, the first full spread, appearing immediately after the CEO’s letter, is simply breathtaking.
An airy, bare room, full of light and possibility. The text “IMAGINE” spans both pages, evoking a sense of expansiveness, spaciousness, and grandeur. The smaller text, “YOURSELF HERE” is tucked away, as if stepping aside to let us dwell in the possibilities first. The designer wisely did not risk centering that text over the gutter of the (very thick) catalog.
Turn the page…
The space is transformed. The word “IMAGINE” remains, a clue that the room is a made-over version of the barren room from the preceding page. Now transparent, the word floats in front of the environment, suggesting how imagination and reality are closer than you’d think—that what you imagine is nearly tangible.
The right side of the page holds compelling copy beautifully aligned with the thin vertical of the N in “IMAGINE,” creating a dynamic, edgy layout.
Judging by this layout, its placement in the catalog, and the content of the copy, it seems that the purpose of this spread is to inspire the shopper. Yet, the typographic choices of the copy do anything but reinforce that.
Small white text on a dark background, especially on glossy paper, already compromise legibility. But to make matters even more challenging, a large block of tiny text is set in all caps. The copy is lyrically written but with these typographic decisions, this section will be glanced over, not read thoughtfully. Such a pity!
What might be a more effective alternative? How might you feature all of that copy on the same page, if you were not allowed to place it elsewhere?
“All you have to do is imagine.”
You can view catalogs online (or request a print one) from Restoration Hardware over here. You can also subscribe to their email newsletter, in which they’ve shared this delightful GIF: