Whoa! Is this really Jonathan Adler and Terence Conran at JC Penney's?

Flipping through the May issue of Real Simple last night, I saw the humongous lookbook/ad for JC Penney's new home collections. I vaguely remembered hearing all the fuss about Martha Stewart's home collection going to JCP and that Jonathan Adler was going to have a few things there too, but when I saw Terence Conran's name I did a literal double-take.

How did I miss hearing about this? Sir Terence Conran and JC Penney in the same sentence sounds like a Mad Lib right?

Like a lot of people, I've watched Penney's capsize like the Titanic over the last year under the watch of now ousted CEO Ron Johnson, but only because I thought he was a genius that was going to revolutionize the whole retail industry. (Can't wait to read the inevitable book about it.)

I immediately jumped on the JCP website expecting to be underwhelmed, or merely whelmed at best... But I was shocked. They've managed to put together a pretty good collection of home furnishings, accessories, and bedding. Who'da thunk it?

I mean, it's not exactly setting the design world on fire, but for a product line aimed squarely at the average person's design sensibilities, it ain't bad.

I'm all for these designer/mass retailer collaborations, but great looking design and affordability with a superstar name attached to it is kind of meaningless to me if the quality is horrible. I'm one of the suckers that drools all over every designer collaboration that Target pushes out. And when I rush to the stores like a lemming to see it all, I'm inevitably, 100% of the time disappointed at how shoddy and cheap it all looks (I'm talking to you Nate Berkus and Thomas O'Brien).

And that's one of the things that's intriguing about JC Penney's new designer collections - The price points are higher than what I would have expected, but still a lot lower than other collections that Adler, Conran, and Graves have done on their own. Penney's seems like they may have found a nice sweet spot between affordability, design, and quality (Yeah, yeah, I know, affordability is definitely a relative thing).

Want. Now.

So far, most of the product reviews on the JCP site are glowing, but there aren't too many of them yet. Hopefully this isn't another Target/Neiman Marcus fiasco, where the higher prices were completely out of line with the quality of the products themselves. Now the big question for JC Penney's is whether they can lure in a new customer base with higher quality designer items like these or if they're still barking up the wrong tree. The jury's out.

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