San Francisco woman turns luxury catalogs into art

Michael Finney Image
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
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Critics are calling a luxury catalog that gets sent to millions across the country a waste of natural resources. Now, one local woman hopes to turn that catalog into something great -- art.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Luxury retailer Restoration Hardware has sent out 17-pound catalogs to millions of people and critics are calling it a waste of natural resources. Now, one local woman hopes to turn that catalog into something great -- a one-woman show with 20 art pieces.

It seemed few bothered to open the large catalog Restoration Hardware dropped on doorsteps across the country, though plenty got upset.

"People know better and know not to waste resources," Mountain View resident Cynthia Marshall said.

Thirteen books contain 3,300 pages and weigh a total of 17 pounds. Protesters marched them back to the store. Others suggested funny ways to use them, such as a footstool, bench press and really bad pillow.

"The table is the Restoration Hardware catalog piece," San Francisco resident and artist Amanda Clare said.

Clare got a bundle on her doorstep too. "My first response was, I have to do something with this. This is an incredible waste of material," she said.

And then, she got the idea to turn all the unwanted material into a work of art. Clare rips out glossy pages of the luxury furniture catalog to make animal pictures. She tears the pages into tiny pieces and glues them in like a mosaic.

"I'm using them as dirt, mountains, trees even, it works well," Clare said.

Pieces of a dresser become a dog's table and words in the catalog form the eyes of a cat.

"You can't really read what it says, but it looks interesting," Clare said.

When Clare posted the dog picture on Facebook, friends sent her their catalogs to make more art.

"I think I could be busy the rest of my life with these bundles," Clare said.

She used only 50 pages to make four pieces. With 3,000 pages in each bundle, she could fill a museum.

"So my goal is to eventually get a show," Clare said.

She plans to create 20 pieces and show them this fall.

7 On Your Side asked Restoration Hardware about customers using the books for everything except buying merchandise, but the company did not respond.

However, CEO Gary Friedman told investors it's too soon to judge the impact of the giant catalog he calls source books saying, "While we are still in the early stages of reading the results of our 2014 source books, we are very pleased with the initial response to our new products and continue to believe that the design and presentation of these new books will be transformative.

Clare knows all about transformative. "Maybe the first 20 may be alike, but maybe I will enjoy this and keep doing it."