news digest | May 7, 2024 |
A Met Gala cameo from Boll & Branch, luxury real estate turbulence and more

This week in design, influencer Dani Klarić designed a Skittles-themed studio apartment on the east side of Manhattan to promote the launch of Skittles Littles. The winner of a drawing will receive a free yearlong stay in the 353-square-foot space, complete with Skittle-tiled flooring and wall art and a multicolored kitchen. Stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches, events, recommended reading and more.

Business News
In spite of the recent price dip across some pockets of the luxury home market, others are experiencing inventory shortages, The Wall Street Journal reports. Many cities across the country are seeing a limited supply of luxury homes due in part to high mortgage rates and homebuilders failing to keep up with population growth because of increased construction costs and scarce buildable land. According to Redfin, as of January 31, the St. Louis metro area had a three-month rolling average of 1.73 months of luxury supply, well below the roughly five months that is considered to be a healthy market. Meanwhile, in Oakland and San Jose, California, 0.8 percent of luxury housing stock was listed, compared to the 2.56 percent average in the 50 most populous metro areas.

Capital-gains tax has begun to affect more home sellers, The Wall Street Journal reports. Due to the increase in property values since the pandemic, about 8 percent of 2023 home sales brought profits over the $500,000 exemption limit—more than double the percentage from 2019, according to real estate data firm CoreLogic. The tax hit even harder in states with high home values, like California, where almost a third of sales exceeded the threshold. The possibility of a big tax bill is giving potential sellers one more reason to hold on to their homes.

President Joe Biden announced that his administration will forgive $6.1 billion in debt owed by 317,000 former students of The Art Institutes, the private, for-profit school system that shut down last year after having operated about 50 campuses at its peak, according to ARTnews. Students who were enrolled at any branch from January 1, 2004, through October 16, 2017, are eligible for debt forgiveness. The Department of Education found that during this period, The Art Institutes misrepresented postgraduation statistics to prospective students. For example, according to the school, more than 80 percent of graduates found employment in an industry related to their degree within six months after graduation, when it was actually closer to 57 percent.

Airbnb has launched a new feature called Icons that lets users book a stay in locations with pop culture value. The 11 locations include the balloon house from Pixar’s Up, Prince’s Purple Rain house in Minneapolis, and a re-creation of Marvel’s X-Mansion from X-Men ’97. Icons has its own category on the homepage, and all the listings are priced under $100 per guest.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a recall of children’s dressers sold at Rooms To Go because they violated the STURDY (Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth) Act, Furniture Today reports. The recall involves the Mill Valley Jr. youth dressers—about 200 were sold between December 2023 and January 2024. No injuries have been reported. This recall marks the first violation of the law, which passed last April and went into effect in September.

According to a new study, households with a gas or propane stove increase people’s exposure to unhealthy levels of nitrogen dioxide, reports Stanford News. The study found pollutant concentrations reach unhealthy benchmarks in bedrooms within an hour of gas stove use and remain for hours after the stove is turned off. Negative effects of NO2 include intensified asthma attacks and a decrease in lung development in children.

The National Council of Textile Organizations is pressing the government to close a tariff loophole, Home Textiles Today reports. According to the association, an estimated 4 million packages a day are entering the country duty-free, about half of which are textile and apparel goods. The exemption allows shipments valued at $800 or less to come into the country with minimal to no inspection. China is cited as the largest beneficiary of this loophole, as it attempts to dominate the global textile supply. Meanwhile, in the past few months, at least 14 U.S. textile factories have permanently shut down.

Launches & Collaborations
Planner 5D has launched an AI home repair estimator. The home design software company says its service can analyze inspection reports and give users tailor-made costs based on the location of the project, helping prospective buyers plan their renovation budgets.

A Met Gala cameo from Boll & Branch, luxury real estate turbulence and more
Maria Sharapova in a gown by Prabal Gurung in partnership with bedding brand Boll & BranchGetty Images

Tempaper & Co., the peel-and-stick wallpaper company, has teamed up with textile brand She She for a new collection called La Vie Fleurie. The collaboration, their second, will offer traditional florals with an antique charm and a modern aesthetic.

Barber Osgerby, the London-based industrial design studio, has launched its first paint collection with Scandinavian brand Blēo. The Still Life collection consists of 18 colors, including the lively green Celadon and Ochre, a dusty yellow.

Fashion designer Prabal Gurung partnered with bedding brand Boll & Branch for the Met Gala red-carpet look worn by tennis player Maria Sharapova. This year’s exhibit theme was “Sleeping Beauties,” so Gurung tapped the linen brand for its sustainable, luxury, organic cotton. The daffodil yellow gown used about 20 yards of Boll & Branch fabric and took over 300 hours to make. This wasn't the only design industry cameo at the event: Journalist Deborah Roberts wore a dress made from Sheila Bridges’s Harlem Toile fabric, her 2021 collaboration with Mark Ingram Bride.

Recommended Reading
After Chris Pratt demolished the midcentury modern Zimmerman House, a 1950 Craig Ellwood project, to build a 15,000-square-foot “modern farmhouse,” it sparked a debate online about the trend of tearing down historic homes and replacing them with McMansions. For The Washington Post, Kriston Capps consults preservationists to find out what this recent demolition means for historic homes across the country.

A prospective TikTok ban could be catastrophic for content creators who rely on the app for income, NPR reports. The social media app will be banned in less than a year unless its owner, ByteDance, sells the company or the law signed by President Biden is blocked by the courts. Tens of thousands of people earn a living on the app, and Goldman Sachs has calculated that the creator economy could double to a nearly $500 billion industry by 2027. As a backup plan, many content creators are trying to build their following on other social media apps, like YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels and Snapchat, which is no easy feat. James Nord, the chief executive of New York–based creator marketing company Fohr, told NPR: “For many people, this will be an extinction-level event for their careers.”

A high school in the Memphis neighborhood of Orange Mound, the first subdivision in America built for Black homebuyers, is getting a new life. Closed since 1979, the three-story brick building is becoming a combination public library, Black genealogy center, community space and 28-unit senior housing facility. For Fast Company, Nate Berg takes a deep dive into this project, part of a $200 million bond package investment in the city, and what it means for the future of Memphis.

Cue the Applause
The Architectural League of New York announced the winners of the 43rd iteration of the Architectural League Prize, according to The Architect’s Newspaper. This year’s theme was “Dirty”—designers were invited to find ways in which practice, objects and nature could be less sanitized. The winners include University of Utah professor Leah Wulfman; Lola Ben-Alon of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation; Erik Carranza of Anonima, a studio based in Mexico City and Oaxaca City; Strat Coffman, a recent Taubman Fellow; Chase Galis, Christina Moushoul, and Sonia Sobrino Ralston, co-founders of international research and design collective Office Party; and Partners of Place (POP) co-founders Rayshad Dorsey, Joseph James, Diego Zubizarreta Otero, Julian Owens and Michael Urueta. Starting June 13, the winners will showcase their work through a virtual lecture series and online exhibition.

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