RESTORING RESTORATION: The party celebrating Restoration Hardware’s new Design Gallery store in Houston was a collection of co-chairman and chief executive officer Gary Friedman’s favorite things. Bellinis hand-mixed by a Cipriani bartender? Yes, please. Curated bites by Michael Chiarello? Of course. An intimate concert by one of Friedman’s favorite performers, Lykke Li? Why not?

The 25,000-square-foot space felt more like a lush and airy home, rather than a retail giant, and the prerecession-style blowout wound through each of the store’s four floors, bites and beverages served at each stop. “This is a personal expression of what we love. The concept of a gallery allows expression. Everything we do here comes from the heart,” Friedman said.

This story first appeared in the November 16, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

There was certainly no detail left undone for the company’s second introduction of the new store concept, which includes the International Design Bibliotheque, organic tea atelier by Bellocq, floral boutique by David Brown, baby and child design showroom and European garden conservatory. Restoration Hardware launched the concept in San Francisco, and bringing it to Houston was the next logical expansion step.

The crush of 1,500 guests may not have had antiqued doorknobs or stonewashed Belgian linen on their minds, especially after ascending to the rooftop garden, where seating, greenery, flickering candlelight and views greeted them. Instantaneous buzz broke out about the space and the desire to rent it for private events.

Four stories below, Friedman stood on the curving stairwell, greeting guests and singing along to Li and her band.

“She sang “I Follow Rivers,” Friedman said. “I love that song.”

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