news digest | Sep 15, 2021 |
A $500 billion American utopia, overseas manufacturing picks up speed, and more

This week, Business of Home peered into the industry’s future with the help of a stellar lineup of designers, changemakers and industry leaders. To get a sense of what’s happening in the world of design right now, read on for our weekly roundup of headlines, launches and events, recommended reading, and more.

Business News

Furniture factories began to resume production in Malaysia this week as a result of improved vaccination rates, Home News Now reports. Factory shutdowns there first took effect in May, when just 3.3 percent of the population was fully vaccinated—now, a reported 53 percent of the population has received both doses of the vaccine, while 66 percent have received at least one dose. Though most facilities have issued only a partial reopening, sources expect shipments to occur more consistently by the end of September or mid-October.

For Ashley Furniture, the reopening of Malaysian facilities may be coming at an opportune time—the retailer has reportedly suspended the production of more than 1,000 SKUs due to recent COVID-19-related shutdowns in manufacturing centers in Malaysia and Vietnam. HNN reports that request dates for new orders on these products have been moved to May 1, 2022, affecting a variety of categories, including bedroom, dining, entertainment, home office and accessories. In the meantime, Ashley will use existing inventory to fill open orders, before pivoting to supply retailers with more of its bestselling items in the interim.

Greek design and art curator, researcher and writer Katerina Papanikolopoulos has announced the inauguration of the Athens Design Forum—a nonprofit organization inviting local and global audiences to experience the city as an epicenter of design through multiformat events and activities. The forum’s first edition will take place September 30 through October 7, offering exhibitions, seminars, workshops and archival studies free and open to the public. Julia Montanez, the former curator of Made, the makers section of the AD Design Show, advised Papanikolopoulos, and her consulting agency, The Design Release, is a presenting partner. “I’m excited to bring an international audience to Athens,” she tells BOH. Highlights will include an exclusive visit to the Papagos House, the private residency and studio of painter Alekos Fassianos; a tour of architect Dionisis Sotovikis’s Kyspeli residence; and the first Greek exhibition of design studio Objects of Common Interest at Carwan Gallery.

Former Walmart executive Marc Lore has announced plans to create a utopian city named Telosa (borrowed from the Greek telos, meaning “higher purpose”), located in either the American Southwest or Appalachian region, Architectural Digest reports. The $500 billion project would eventually house 5 million people over the next 30 years, with the first phase of development expected to be complete by 2030. According to Lore, the society would operate within a “reformed version of capitalism” in which anyone can build and sell homes, while the city retains ownership of the land underneath—with increased land valuation, a community endowment would invest profits in universal health care, education, transportation and schools. Danish architecture firm BIG, led by Bjarke Ingels, has been tapped to design the metropolis, which Lore himself has described as a “moonshot.”

Ikea has announced that it is hosting a free 24-hour festival offering a virtual glimpse into the lives and homes of figures like Virgil Abloh, Masego, Paul Svensson and The Scott Family. On September 16, the Ikea Festival will showcase more than 100 homes in over 50 countries across the world through a series of home tours, performances and discussions streaming live from the company’s site. “We want to spark a conversation on the more sustainable and affordable life at home of tomorrow. And just as with any festival, you can expect a few surprises,” said Erika Intiso, managing director of Ikea Marketing and Communication AB.

Launches and collaborations

Multicategory lifestyle brand Parachute has announced its expansion into furniture, beginning with the launch of a new line of bed frames. Available in three upholstered linen styles—Canyon, Dune and Horizon—the debut draws inspiration from the landscape in Southern California and its surrounding neighborhoods. Building on recent expansions (this is the sixth new category the brand has entered in the last three years, including mattresses, rugs, window coverings, lounge wear and baby items), Parachute plans to unveil additional furniture pieces in early 2022.

HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams has announced its 2022 Color of the Year: Aleutian, an indigo shade selected as an emblem of this year’s much-needed respite from day-to-day life. Available at Lowe’s stores online and nationwide, the hue includes a corresponding palette of 10 complementary colors.


The Hampton Designer Showhouse returns this year September 19 to October 31, featuring honorary design chairs Jamie Drake and Alexa Hampton, along with more than 20 interior designers from across the country who will transform the Wooley House in the Village of Southampton. The historic farmhouse was originally part of the greater Wooley Estate, and will include a replica of its original 1950s front porch design, complete with Italianate brackets and swan spirals.

The Black Interior Designers Network and Architectural Digest have teamed up for their second annual virtual designer showhouse, Iconic Home. This year’s space, debuting online on September 27, focuses on sustainability, and 12 new designers and architects have been tasked with creating spaces centered on making environmental change at home. Set in a digital re-creation of the Hudson Valley, the home will be designed by a cohort that includes Arianne Bellizaire, Danielle Colding, Rasheeda Gray, Elizabeth Graziolo, Joan Goodwin, Andrew Hilton, Breegan Jane, Travis London, DuVäl Reynolds, Alvin Wayne, Mikel Welch and Sara Zewde.

Recommended Reading

Figures like Nate Berkus, Hilary Farr and Sabrina Soto make home renovation and decoration look easy on TV—but everybody has to start somewhere. In the WSJ this week, some of television’s most lauded design stars shared their early home-DIY entries (and mishaps), from an all-denim tween bedroom to a multiroom treehouse built by a team of siblings.

Based on aesthetics alone, it’s sometimes difficult to see the value in NFTs that have hit the market in recent months—a cohort of cartoon apes, for example, have been selling for five figures, while a cadre of illustrated penguins fetch a similar price. But for the Dirt substack newsletter, W. David Marx ignores the question of whether NFTs are good art, and instead asks: Are they good status symbols?

Travelers made their return to the skies this summer, but in response to increased delays and cancellations, many were not on their best behavior. There were more than 4,000 unruly-passenger complaints this year through August, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Can better design offer some solutions? For The New York Times, Elaine Glusac explains how quieter settings, biophilic design, multisensory rooms and views of surrounding scenery can create a gentler airport experience—and potentially cut down on disgruntled flyers.

In related news, Pritzker Prize-winning architect Norman Foster recently criticized fellow architects who refuse airport redesign projects based on air travel’s negative environmental impact. “I do feel passionately that we have to address the infrastructure of mobility,” he told Dezeen. “We have to reduce its carbon footprint, like everything else. We can’t walk away from it. We can’t adopt a hypocritical moral stance.”

Call for Entries

Formica has announced the opening of its fifth annual FORM Student Innovation Competition. Students must create a furniture design for any residential or commercial setting using wood-grain laminate—the top three winners will receive cash prizes and the opportunity to join Formica at NeoCon 2022. To submit an entry before the March 4 deadline, click here.

Cue the Applause

In partnership with the Interior Design Society, Thermador has announced the recipients of its Diversity in Design Pipeline scholarships. The students were selected for their emerging design talents by industry leaders like blogger and lifestyle expert Joy Cho, interior designer and Design Star: Next Gen contestant Justin Q. Williams, House Beautiful market director Carisha Swanson, co-founder of Bauer/Clifton Interiors Jeremy Bauer and founder of Casa Santi Interior Design David Santiago. The winners will receive a $10,000 scholarship package, Interior Design Society membership, access to trade events, and a hand-picked interior design mentor to provide guidance through their final school year. This year‘s winners are Jonathan Martin, Kayla Martin, Aleah Mazyck, Chrystal McLeod and Raquel Rodrigues, and the mentor cohort features interior designers Ami Austin, Kelly Finley, Bria Hammel, Liz MacPhail and Jonathan Savage.

Homepage image: A sneak peek inside this year’s Iconic Home, created entirely by Black architects and designers | Courtesy of The Boundary

Want to stay informed? Sign up for our newsletter, which recaps the week’s stories, and get in-depth industry news and analysis each quarter by subscribing to our print magazine. Join BOH Insider for discounts, workshops and access to special events such as the Future of Home conference.