news digest | Nov 21, 2023 |
Airbnb bets $200 million on AI, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams inventory is headed for The Dump and more

This week in design, a TikTok user has attracted the internet’s ire after giving her boyfriend’s apartment an interior transformation of the “sad beige” variety. Stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches, events, recommended reading and more.

Business News

Home Depot entered into an agreement to acquire International Designs Group (IDG)—a construction materials conglomerate that includes UMI, Construction Resources (CR), Marva, European Granite & Marble Group, and Cancos Tile & Stone—from private equity firm Mill Point Capital. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Through the purchase, the company hopes to capture a larger share of the $475 billion professional contractor market IDG serves. Expected to close by the end of 2023, the acquisition will also allow Home Depot to tap into CR’s showrooms across the East Coast and Southeast, offering the retailer a new direct line to professionals.

CNBC reports that Airbnb has acquired AI startup GamePlanner.AI in a nearly $200 million deal—the platform’s first acquisition since 2019. Founded in 2020 by Siamak Hodjat and Adam Cheyer (who co-launched Siri), the 12-person company has kept completely out of the public eye since its inception, to the degree that GamePlanner.AI’s main purpose and function are still not immediately clear. In an interview with Dezeen, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky encouraged designers to begin adapting their skills to incorporate AI and avoid risking a repeat of the industry’s infamously slow adoption of digital technology.

Virginia-based furniture outlet chain The Dump and its parent company Haynes Furniture has acquired the unsold inventory from 30 Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams stores and its national warehouse. The merchandise—which includes furniture, rugs, lighting and decor—will be sold at discounted prices in both Haynes and The Dump locations across the country as soon as Black Friday. The news comes just a week after Surya announced its acquisition of the MG+BW brand.

Minnesota-based Rosenthal Contemporary Interiors has closed after 128 years in operation, Furniture Today reports. Founded in 1895 by Aaron and Rose Rosenthal, the furniture store has passed down through four generations of the family, most recently with the couple’s great-granddaughter Rosie Rosenthal at the helm. As she announced her retirement earlier this month, she also began a total liquidation of the business, which will continue until inventory runs out at the company’s two retail locations in Minneapolis and Minnetonka.

Another family-owned business, Massachusetts-based Barclay Furniture Associates, has announced its closure, concluding a 73-year run, Furniture Today reports. Since its founding in 1950, the company has manufactured sofas, dining chairs and vanity chairs, serving a primary clientele of interior designers. Barclay owners and brothers Michael and Ronald Hyek cited a lack of skilled labor, particularly in the high-end upholstery segment, for the company’s closure. Despite employing 37 craftspeople at its founding, the manufacturer’s workforce has dwindled to just a few workers.

Launches & Collaborations

Italian accessories brand Il Bisonte tapped New York interior designer Shawn Henderson for a capsule collection of leather homeware. Called There’s a Home for Everything, the assortment of leather-covered furniture and accessories draws inspiration from midcentury French designer Jacques Adnet and incorporates hand-crafted wooden frames.

Designer Adam Charlap Hyman collaborated with tableware brand Sprezz for a new line of hand-blown glassware. Working alongside artist Pilar Almon, Hyman created the Zodiac-themed Astrología glasses and the whimsical Ribbon plates, designed with motifs inspired by prints of citrus fruits made in the 17th and early 18th centuries.

Airbnb bets $200 million on AI, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams inventory is headed for The Dump and more
The Ribbon plates by Adam Charlap Hyman and Pilar Almon for SprezzCourtesy of Sprezz

English heritage pottery brand Burleigh and U.K.-based wallpaper and fabric studio Barneby Gates teamed up to launch a contemporary wallpaper collection featuring Burleigh’s 1862 Asiatic Pheasants and 1968 Blue Calico patterns. The collection is printed by and designed in-house at Barneby Gates.

Recommended Reading

It’s not an uncommon opinion to hate overhead lighting—particularly for its unflattering, often artificial glow. On a recent viral TikTok video decrying the feature, one comment summed up the general consensus particularly well: “Big light has no vibe.” For The Guardian, Madeleine Aggeler surveys interior designers and medical professionals in an effort to understand concretely why overhead lighting is so universally disliked.

Thanks to the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (a loan not found in most other countries), the U.S. housing market exists in a state of haves and have-nots, forcing would-be homeowners to face a crushing combination of steep costs and fewer options when rates are high. For The New York Times, Ben Casselman unpacks the history of the 30-year fixed mortgage—a “historical accident” that benefits individual buyers even as it creates a market mired in an affordability crisis that’s only getting worse.

Cue the Applause

Garden & Gun announced the winners of its 2023 Made in the South Awards, which honor the craftsmanship and ingenuity of Southern makers. Waleska, Georgia–based Talking Wood Studio took home the top prize in the Home category for its hand-crafted wooden bowls. Runners-up included Birmingham, Alabama–based Samuel Fisher Woodworker; Raleigh, North Carolina–based Rail & Stile; and Franklin, Tennessee–based Hartmann Fine Furniture. For the full list of winners, click here.

In Memoriam

Michael K. Dugan, former president and CEO of Henredon Furniture Industries and co-founder of Jamestown Sterling, passed away on November 11. After starting his career in marketing for several industry brands, Dugan launched Jamestown Sterling in 1981, building the company for six years before being tapped to lead Hendredon—a position he held for 17 years. Throughout his nearly four-decade-long tenure in the furniture field, Dugan witnessed the industry’s shift from domestic manufacturing to import sourcing, a period he analyzed in his book The Furniture Wars: How America Lost a Fifty Billion Dollar Industry. Upon retirement in 2004, he joined the faculty of Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina to teach courses in leadership and marketing, and was eventually named chair of the business school (to which he quipped, “I can see the headline now: ‘Furniture-Man Retires, Becomes Chair.”). Family, friends and colleagues remember him for his warmth, wit and ability to serve as a voice for the industry at every stage of his career.

Barbara Knight, co-founder of Just Got 2 Have It, passed away last week after a battle with leukemia. Knight launched the multiline gift and decorative accessories agency in 2000 alongside partner Michelle Ruby Morgan, and the pair went on to secure several outstanding industry awards, developing a reputation in the design community for their relentless passion and innovation. After receiving her diagnosis in 2021, Knight’s compassion for her fellow patients inspired her to create the Barbara Knight Foundation to promote awareness of acute myeloid leukemia and provide financial and emotional support to those battling it. “Barbara’s philanthropy, entrepreneurship, leadership and visioneering are outpaced only by the love and care she embodied for all,” read a statement from her loved ones. “For the one who taught us how much a great gift means, we are missing one of the greatest gifts today: Barbara Knight.”

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