news digest | May 14, 2024 |
Article recalls thousands of chairs, an uptick in U.S. home foreclosures and more

This week in design, the debate surrounding the demolition of historic homes continues, with the new owners of Marilyn Monroe’s final home suing the city of Los Angeles, The New York Times reports. The owners are seeking permission to tear down the house, accusing the city of violating its own codes by orchestrating “backroom machinations” to declare the property a historical landmark. Stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches, events, recommended reading and more.

Business News
Online marketplace 1stDibs has reported financial results from its first quarter. Net revenue was slightly up at $22.1 million, and gross profits of $16 million reflected a modest 7 percent year-over-year increase. The company still lost money, but less than last year—a shortfall of $3.3 million as opposed to $8.1 million in the first quarter of 2023. Wall Street liked the numbers, and at press time, shares in the online marketplace are trading at just over $6, a 52-week high. “We are pleased to report that we have continued to make progress against our key goals, with demand metrics recovering across the board,” said CEO David Rosenblatt.

Arhaus also released its Q1 report. The Ohio-based retailer had a net revenue of $295.2 million—3.1 percent lower than in the same quarter last year. Net income was $15.1 million, down 55.7 percent from the year prior. Despite the declines, Arhaus roundly beat analysts’ expectations, and traders sent the company’s stock shooting up to an all-time high of almost $17 a share.

Upholsterer Grant Trick inked a partnership with Design Furniture Holdings, the High Point, North Carolina–based group that owns Ferrell Mittman, Avery Boardman and Carlyle. Under the arrangement, he will act as DFH’s creative director, while his eponymous company will come under the group’s umbrella of brands. As part of the deal, he will continue to oversee the custom side of his business, and the Grant Trick Collection will be distributed through DFH’s corporate showrooms (and select partner showrooms) across the country. “It feels like a homecoming. A return to the days before we grew so fast, when I was intimately involved with every detail of each piece we made,” Trick said in a statement. “I’ll be part of a team of the best leaders rather than trying to fill all those roles myself. I get to be fully immersed in design and production, and I can’t wait to see what I can accomplish with all of my focus on the areas where my skill set is best matched.”

More than 90 percent of U.S. metro markets have seen an increase in home prices this year. According to the National Association of Realtors, the national median single-family home price spiked to $389,400, up 5 percent from a year ago. The price surge is part of a bigger story. Recent jumps have far outpaced the increases seen in the 1990s and 2010s, Business Insider reports. Prices have jumped 47 percent since 2020, coinciding with millennial-fueled demand growth and relatively low mortgage rates for much of the period.

A new U.S. home foreclosure report found that the number of foreclosures shot up 8 percent in February compared to the same period in 2023. According to Home News Now, real estate data company Attom reports a total of 32,938 properties with foreclosure filings that month, amounting to one in every 4,279 housing units. States with the highest rates were South Carolina (one in every 2,248 housing units), Delaware (one in every 2,428) and Florida (one in every 2,632). According to Business Insider, Attom also reported that since the previous quarter, the percentage of American homes that are “seriously underwater” rose from 2.6 percent to 2.7 percent—meaning that one in every 37 mortgages are 25 percent more than the property’s fair market value. The South and Midwest accounted for nine of the 10 states with the highest share of these negative-equity homes.

Online contemporary furniture retailer Article has recalled 4,640 upholstered Spin swivel chairs that are a fall hazard, Home News Now reports. No injuries have been reported, but the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has received 190 reports of the chair breaking, so this recall aims to warn the manufacturers of potential construction issues.

Beyond Inc., the company formerly known as Bed Bath & Beyond, is suing Hudson Bay Capital Management and HBC Investments for $300 million, Retail Dive reports. The company claims in court documents that Hudson Bay’s pre-bankruptcy purchases of its equity securities—which it sold to raise cash to avoid bankruptcy—were sold for a higher price by the hedge fund in what’s called a “short-swing” profit. A Hudson Bay spokesperson denied the allegations in a statement to the publication.

Despite weathering a cyberattack last week, Christie’s has said its Spring Marquee Week sales will go on as planned, The New York Times reports. Guillaume Cerutti, the company’s chief executive, confirmed all live auctions would go on as scheduled, with bidding in person and by phone, after last Thursday’s “technology security issue” took the website offline. This is the second time in less than a year that the auction house has had a breach.

Creditors are closing in on Charles Cohen’s 750 Lex, The Real Deal reports. Cohen—whose portfolio of holdings includes design centers in New York, Houston, Los Angeles and Dania Beach, Florida—is looking at another foreclosure filing, his second in two weeks. The action was filed by the special servicer on $130 million in debt backed by 750 Lexington Avenue after Cohen Brothers Realty fell behind on payments last summer. The 28-story building, completed in 1986, is a legacy asset for the company, acquired for redevelopment in the early 1980s when Cohen’s father, Sherman, was still at the helm of the business. The news comes less than two weeks after Fortress Investment Group moved to foreclose on the equity interests in a $548 million Cohen portfolio, among the largest foreclosure filings of its kind ever.

Launches & Collaborations
Outdoor furniture company Stone Yard Inc. has teamed up with interior designer Roger Thomas on a collection. The hand-crafted line features an array of durable yet lightweight planters and cocktail tables. Thomas and company founder and lead designer Mitch Brean have been close friends for many years, and this marks the next step in their collaboration.

Recommended Reading
The Federal Trade Commission recently moved to ban noncompete clauses and block employers from enforcing current ones. Several lawsuits have already been filed against the ban. For Furniture Today, Bobby Dalheim asks four furniture executives—Pat Watson of Martin Svensson, Jeff Schwall of Porter Designs, Doug Townsend of Parker House and Micah Swick of Bernards Furniture—for their take on the new rule.

The Brownstone Boys have a lot of experience restoring town homes in Brooklyn, so redoing a chair was piece of cake for the professional home renovators. Tim McKeough of The New York Times sat down with Jordan Slocum and Barry Bordelon, the duo behind the famed Instagram account, who talked about why it’s easier than it seems to restore your own furniture and shared a step-by-step approach.

Cue the Applause
To celebrate the best in animal-free home goods, PETA announced the winners of its inaugural Vegan Homeware Awards, recognizing trailblazers in the home decor and furnishings industry. Goop x CB2 won for best vegan accent chair, Williams-Sonoma was awarded best down-free bedding, and Kelly Clarkson Home took the prize for best wool-free runner. The full list of winners can be found here.

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