Target and Trump: Strange Bedfellows of the Recession

Target unveiled its new spring and summer line in the penthouse of a tony high rise overlooking the river. If this doesn’t signal the end of the “Reign of the I-Bank Moguls,” nothing does.


I’m about to step over the threshold of Penthouse 2, at Trump Place, one of The Donald’s spiffy Costas Kondylis-designed real estate temples overlooking the Hudson on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The lobby was serene, in that expensive  marble and matte-gold-mirror kind of way; the hallway papered in a discreet, tasteful beige. So what’s this loud orange doormat, screaming “Step Into Savings!” doing outside a condo that normally rents for at least $10K a month?


It’s one of those surreal moments that keep happening in this meltdown economy: K-Mart-like sales at Saks, layoffs at Chanel. What’s next? And early-bird special at Per Se?

In flusher times, The Donald would have cringed at the garish budget-range merchandise sullying this shrine to luxury living. In thismarket, he was probably thrilled to snag even a short-term tenant.


The Target goods on display were screamingly sunny–all 1950’s colors–orange, lime green, turquoise. Whether the hues were a nod to the current “Mad Men” and “Revolutionary Road” vogue for the Eisenhower era, or a Pantone-driven attempt to cheer up a dispirited populace no chipper PR wrangler was willing to say.


If you could get beyond the palette, there were some attractive pieces whose prices wouldn’t induce buyer’s remorse once you check your 401(k). I spotted a green suede microfiber armchair for $500, an elegant lucite column lamp, and a set of plastic chairs that wouldn’t have looked out of place at the Milan Furniture Fair. Most of these larger goods are more readily available via the company’s website rather than the stores; there’s usually some deal on shipping that makes shopping online appealing.

One of the more interesting offerings was a line of clothes for infants in green and lilac, perfect for parents who can’t bear the relentlessly pink merch peddled for baby girls at most emporiums. Even more radical — baby sheets and blankets in brown, green and yellow by Dwell Studio.

In February, Target will roll out a line of accessories by British designer Orla Keily, as part of its continuing rotation of celebrity designers. Others will be announced later in year.


About the author

Linda Tischler writes about the intersection of design and business for Fast Company.