news digest | Jun 4, 2024 |
Airbnb hosts fight back, Parachute debuts textile recycling, and more

This week in design, Chicago-area movie lovers might want to act fast—the Home Alone house has hit the market for the first time in more than a decade. Stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches, events, recommended reading and more.

Business News
Co-living startup Common has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and is now beginning the liquidation process, The Real Deal reports. According to the filing, the company’s assets are up to $10 million, against liabilities up to $50 million. Since its founding in 2015, it has raised more than $100 million in venture capital backing to fund the creation of a housing concept where tenants live in suites with roommates while sharing communal spaces, kitchens and bathrooms—sometimes derided as “dorms for grown-ups.” Last year, the company merged with German co-living provider Habyt Group, which became its parent organization. According to Habyt CEO Luca Bovone, the key factors behind Common’s bankruptcy filing were rising interest rates and growing overhead costs.

The saga that’s seen billionaire real estate mogul Charles Cohen embroiled in a $534 million lawsuit on defaulted loans since late March may be coming to a head after lender Fortress Capital filed what some sources say is the largest Uniform Commercial Code foreclosure ever, The Real Deal reports. The filing has set in motion an auction scheduled for July 1, which will put Cohen’s equity in a number of properties up for sale—including his interest in the Design Center of the Americas in South Florida, along with the Le Méridien hotel in Dania Beach, a New York office building, a Westchester redevelopment site, and 50 indie theaters across the U.S. and U.K. The Real Deal also reports that Cohen attempted to pledge the D&D Building at 979 Third Avenue as collateral in an attempt to stall foreclosure but was told by Fortress that he needed better buildings to back the loan. The property, according to internal financial records, reported a $4.3 million loss after debt service last June.

As cities across the country aim to implement restrictions on short-term rentals, Airbnb hosts are stepping into the forefront of opposition groups—and in some states, influencing the outcome of legislation. As The Wall Street Journal reports, hosts are rallying fellow short-term rental owners for community meetings, letter-writing campaigns and trips to statehouses, and their efforts have succeeded in striking down would-be bills in Vermont and Colorado. But the movement isn’t entirely grassroots: Hosts are often scouted directly by a platform, like Airbnb, or by groups offering financial and organizational backing, like Rent Responsibly, a national network for short-term rental host groups funded in part by Vrbo owner Expedia Group. The newfound political power of hosts may be due in part to their growing numbers—up 35 percent since the start of the pandemic.

Sotheby’s is preparing to lay off around 50 employees from its London workforce, with more job cuts expected across its New York and European locations, The Art Newspaper reports. Last year, the auction house reported a 24 percent drop in profits from 2021 to 2022—it cited factors ranging from Brexit to the health of the art market—though a Sotheby’s spokesperson later said the data was “incomplete” and did not represent the company’s full financial view.

The remaining assets of textile-to-textile recycling company Renewcell have been acquired by Swedish private equity firm Altor Equity Partners, Business of Fashion reports. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Renewcell declared bankruptcy in February—a shock at the time, as the company had spent the decade prior raising funding from major players like H&M and signing brand deals with the likes of Reformation and Ganni. A statement from Altor says that following the acquisition, Renewcell will operate as a new company under the name Circulose.

In a post that has captured the attention of the online design community, Seattle designer Heidi Caillier took to Instagram to shed light on an incident with home goods retailer World Market. In a carousel post, Caillier compares a product listing on World Market’s site to a photo from her own design portfolio, shot by photographer Haris Kenjar. The two images are nearly identical, with small alterations: Both feature similar patterned-tile backsplashes, pink wall tiling, sink materials, hardware and lighting fixtures. The post sparked a discourse about the need for designers to constantly post their work publicly on social media—a system that also leaves images vulnerable to theft, without clear avenues for legal recourse.

Launches & Collaborations
Parachute has debuted a textile recycling program in partnership with reverse logistics platform SuperCircle. Through the initiative, the brand will accept sheets, towels, pillows and robes—in any condition, and from any brand—at each of its 26 stores nationwide. The items are sorted, recycled and donated for a variety of purposes, ranging from new textiles to furniture insulation and padding, and in return, customers receive discounts toward future purchases.

Airbnb hosts fight back, Parachute debuts textile recycling, and more
Lowe’s Style Studio for Apple Vision Pro is heading to select storesCourtesy of Lowes

Lowe’s has launched a new service that uses the Apple Vision Pro AR/VR headset to help shoppers design and plan their kitchen remodeling projects. The pilot program will initially roll out in three test markets—North Carolina, California and New Jersey—where customers will use the 3D technology to customize their kitchen-design visualization through a selection of materials, fixtures and appliances from the retailer’s inventory.

Online design platform The Invisible Collection has announced a new partnership with AI-powered art recommendation app Docent to display new works in its international galleries. For the first installment of the collaboration, Docent’s algorithm selected the works of artists Talita Zaragoza, Jenna Bitar and Elisa Bertaglia, which shared similar themes to the current exhibition in The Invisible Collection’s New York gallery.

Recommended Reading
A combination of elevated borrowing rates, a shortage of housing inventory and a surge in home prices—which hit an all-time median high at $434,000 last month—is keeping a wave of homeowners stuck in their starter homes, The New York Times reports. Even though the average price for entry-level homes has nearly tripled over the last 20 years, the cost of properties at the next level has lifted with the same tide—and with the added expenses associated with rising interest rates, starter-home owners don’t have enough equity to trade up.

The latest trend in backyard pool design is marking a return to nature—fish, plants, algae and all. For The New York Times, Lia Picard explores the growing number of homeowners opting for ponds and natural pools over concrete-and-chlorine water holes, in search of a more sustainable swimming option that’s better integrated into its outdoor environment.

In the New York real estate world, a building’s address carries the most cache: Fifth Avenue, Central Park South, Riverside Drive. In Miami—where foreign buyers and new developments rule the market—those status signifiers involve increasingly luxury touch points that appeal to a broader audience: Porsche, Fendi, Missoni, Dolce & Gabbana. For Curbed, Kim Velsey dives into the city’s growing number of branded residences, which have quickly spiraled into a local phenomenon.

Cue the Applause
Janus et Cie announced the five finalists of its annual Student Design Competition, which this year called for furniture design submissions centered around the theme of “Placemaking.” The 2024 honorees include Lijie Liu of the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, Emmett Lockridge and JC Stewart of Kansas State University, Chloe Stanley of University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Camille Ferreira of the Istituto Marangoni in Milan.

Jamie Stern Furniture has selected the winners of its second annual Furniture Design Contest. For the western U.S. region, Loic Arsac’s Ditto chair earned the top prize, while Lexie Armand’s Balance chair won for the eastern region. Each finalist will receive a fully upholstered prototype of their design.

In Memoriam
Sanford L. Smith—founder of management and production company Sanford L. Smith + Associates—passed away last week at the age of 84. Over the last 40 years, Smith has cultivated a company that operates a variety of art, design and cultural fairs, including Salon Art + Design, the ABAA New York International Antiquarian Book Fair and The Art Dealers Association of America Art Show. “Sandy was the master showman, and nothing delighted him more than finding a niche in the art and design world and filling it with an unexpected new event,” says Jill Bokor, Smith’s wife and longtime business partner. “Many attendees of the fairs will remember Sandy sitting out front watching the people come in. It thrilled him.”

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.