When JC Penney rebranded a little over a year ago, I was skeptical—and I don’t think I was alone in that regard. Despite a shiny new logo and a refreshed store design, the trend of mass-market retailers suddenly promising a “high end” look has become incredibly prevalent in today’s market. Department stores like Macy’s and Sears have made attempts to capture a more design-focused clientele over the years and have witnessed varying degrees of success. JC Penney, however, had always seemed doomed to be associated with deep discounts and flash sales—not anything resembling “high” design. This is why, when JCP unveiled its new in-store design shops (with names like Martha Stewart, Jonathan Adler, Michael Graves, and Terence Conran attached), I was absolutely floored. As far as offering beautiful home designs at affordable prices, these little pop-up shops have gone above and beyond—I’m converted!
The Design By Conran shop, headed by the legendary British designer and author Sir Terence Conran, is particularly amazing. With an emphasis on soothing, monochrome palettes and natural materials, the objects in the collection defy the status quo of typical department store wares—they are simple yet considered, affordable yet beautifully crafted. I’m especially in love with the products that meld wood and white elements— like the Beep Table Lamp, the Pearl Accent Lamp, and the marble-topped Console Table. “Within the collection for JC Penney,” says Jill Webb, Conran’s design director, “we’ve tried to use materials that get better with age.” In a world where mass-market usually means flimsy, sticker-coated MDF, this comes as welcome, extremely refreshing news. As strange as it feels saying this—I gotta get me to JC Penney STAT. For more photos of this fabulous line of products, continue after the jump!—Max