A Feast for the Senses

Gary Friedman opens the doors to his new Silicon Valley design galleries and rooftop restaurant at Stanford Shopping Center

 

Words by CATHERINE BIGELOW
Photography courtesy of DREW ALTIZER PHOTOGRAPHY

 

 

Amid the often rough-and-tumble world of high-end home design, Gary Friedman, chairman and CEO of the publicly traded RH empire, is a retail phoenix.

The San Francisco native, who was raised in Sonoma, embarked on his career as a stock boy for The GAP, Inc. During a stellar stint as Williams-Sonoma president and CEO, he elevated Pottery Barn into a $1 billion brand. In 2001, as the independently owned Restoration Hardware firm was on the verge of bankruptcy, Friedman came to the rescue, reimagining the Corte Madera–based company (which he rebranded as RH) into a global luxury concept that encompasses design galleries, culinary experiences, boutique lodging, and even private charters aboard a bespoke yacht and two Gulfstream jets.

Friedman, a thought leader and billionaire tastemaker, is soaring the skies yet again — especially on May 29, when he hosted a glamorous opening for RH Palo Alto, the Gallery at Stanford.

While store opening celebrations have faltered in a post-COVID world, Friedman and his wife, Bella Hunter, reinvigorated the concept with a sexy sizzle and philanthropy, benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of The Peninsula.

 

 

A stunning 1,000 guests — including tech titans (Marissa Meyer, Juliet de Baubigny, and Aileen Lee), sports poobahs (Warriors chairman and CEO Joe Lacob and SF Giants president and CEO Larry Baer), athletes (former Giants slugger Hunter Pence, figure skating Olympians Kristi Yamaguchi and Brian Boitano), arts patrons (Komal Shah and Gaurav Garg), philanthropists (Jay and Mikey Hoag), and fashionistas (former Project Runway producer Desiree Gruber, model Jasmine Tookes) — clamored to this custom-built, 60,000-square-foot neoclassical-inspired contemporary retail monument awash in a signature RH hue of parchment griege.

Glass-and-steel French doors open into a soaring main atrium, illuminated by natural light emanating from a skylight three floors above, which comprises room-size galleries brimming with furnishing, lighting, and decor collections, as well rare antiques sourced from Friedman’s world travels. A floating double staircase flanked by copious chandeliers ascends to the second floor, where more galleries and the RH Design Studio are located. A Rooftop Park crowns the third floor, dotted with RH Outdoor lounge terraces punctuated by 100-year-old heritage olive trees and lush views of the nearby Kings Mountain range. Adjacent to that green space is the glass-domed RH Restaurant, accented with a burbling Biancone limestone fountain (and more olive trees), where shoppers or diners will savor curated Napa Valley sips and what Friedman calls “the best fried chicken sandwich in America.”

Furniture ogling aside, the RH fête also featured gourmet Componere Fine Catering bites accompanied by Cipriani Bellinis, a carved caviar ice bar and, in a sweet nod to Friedman’s hometown, mugs of Ghirardelli hot chocolate. But despite the soothing cocoa, guests blasted past the 10 p.m. curfew to continue grooving to Australian DJ Kaz James.

“RH Palo Alto reflects our commitment to creating architecturally inspiring and immersive spaces that blur the lines between residential and retail, indoors and outdoors, home and hospitality. Spaces that activate all our senses, and spaces that cannot be replicated online,” Friedman said. “We are thrilled to be part of the energy and invention that continues to define the Silicon Valley community, and we are proud to add this Gallery to our hometown portfolio.” RH Palo Alto, 180 El Camino Real, Palo Alto.

 

Joe Lacob, Bella Hunter, Nicole Lacob, and Gary Friedman.

 

Jordan Paroubeck and Christine Alftin.

 

Komal Shah and Gaurav Garg.

 

Arianna Friedman, Jasmine Tookes, and Alexis Friedman.

 

LEFT: Tim Stannard, Kendra Stannard, Cori Bates, and Tony Bates. RIGHT: Juliet de Baubigny and Marissa Mayer.

 

Brian Boitano, Kristi Yamaguchi, and Franc D’Ambrosio.

 

LEFT: Jenny Obiaya and Karolis Balciunas. RIGHT: Larry Baer, Alexis Pence, and Hunter Pence.

 

 

June 10, 2024

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