The Eclectic Company: Brand Design and Advertising for New Look Interiors

Sometime in the late 1990s, I realized it was time to upgrade my furniture. I wandered through several galleries before discovering New Look Interiors, a sprawling showroom on busy Route 309 in Montgomeryville, PA.

That afternoon was a bit of a surprise: I found more than an overstuffed chair for my living room. I found an adventurous new client.

Over the next decade I art-directed New Look’s photo shoots and wrote and designed their ads, flyers, posters and direct mail. I wrote their press releases and public radio sponsor scripts, and redesigned their logo, business cards, price tags, invoice, stationery, delivery trucks and awning.

Before and After: The client’s original logo, and my update.

Our collaboration successfully raised New Look’s profile as an interior design mecca. New customers routinely arrived with carefully clipped ads – which helped us understand and target our efforts. We even garnered an award for best advertising from NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry).

Every visit to New Look Interiors was an immersive experience. Once inside, the whoosh of traffic faded away. You were in a chateau, a cottage, a cabin, a chalet…. Each room setting had a narrative, and an international flair. Intricately carved hardwood armoires opened to reveal pirate spills of treasure. Tapestries warmed up walls and thick rugs cushioned already plushly carpeted floors. An opulent four-poster bed with elaborate ironwork fittings and finials left nothing to chance: it was fitted with a handsome, turned-down kilim and an attending talavera tile tray, which held two chunky blown glass goblets and a bowl of berries. A gauzy swath of linen swept down from above, draping and tousling around one poster.

Such trappings might appear coy or cliche, if not for the attention to detail: the romantic abandon of it drew me in, and I wasn’t alone. Around the split-level gallery others lingered, lost in the memory or fantasy of some faraway place. A headline came to me quickly: “Come See the World.”

The sales associates kept a respectful distance, like waiters loath to interrupt intimate conversation. Wisely, they let their richly imagined ambiance work its magic.

Advertising’s aim is to stoke desire, and my theme for New Look was travel. Thanks to the owner, Jorgen Henriksen, it was easy work. Most of New Look’s offerings came from boutique makers and couldn’t be sourced elsewhere; which was ideal, since listing brand names, MSRPs, etc. would have only ruined the mood, anyway. Our shoppers were well-heeled, and the sizzle of this steak was its exclusivity. Let Raymour & Flanigan have their next-day delivery. Instant gratification has its appeal, but New Look Interiors already had plenty: nearly every time I stopped in, there was Jorgen chatting with a delighted customer, sharing his stories about life here and abroad. He was the perfect host, always smiling, suave and smartly dressed. I never minded waiting for him to finish. It gave me time to look around…and listen in.

For ads in magazines and newspapers, I leaned on photography. Postcards and direct mail, on the other hand, could be more playful, and I often relied on bold line art from my collection of vintage books and match covers. This suited my client’s budget as well as my own fancy. And given the tight deadlines – I rarely had more than a week to conceive, write, design and send approved files to the small local print shop – it was a great opportunity to produce eye-catching work in just two colors.

New Look Interiors (now closed) was one of those rare clients gained by chance and retained by shared passion and purpose. We were both building distinctive brands in conventional marketplaces, and were willing to place a great deal of trust in each other.

In these days of e-commerce immediacy, I prefer bricks and mortar storefronts more than ever. Independent shops have personality, panache and a personalized approach that can’t be matched by pop-up screens with all their virtual perkiness…and all their algorithmic sincerity.

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