news digest | Feb 20, 2024 |
Bed Bath & Beyond has a new CEO, air quality’s rising impact on real estate, and more

This week in design, the latest in home innovations includes the launch of robots capable of making beds and unloading dishwashers—all for the low price of $24,950. Stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches, events, recommended reading and more.

Business News
Real estate brokerage Redfin launched a new feature last week that allows users to view air quality data alongside each home listing, The Washington Post reports. Now, under the Climate tab (which, since 2021, has provided information on environmental risks such as fire, heat, drought and storms), users can see how many days a year, on average, an area will experience poor air quality and how that metric is projected to change over time. The addition follows a recent analysis from the brokerage, which found that from 2021 to 2022, 1.2 million people moved out of areas with a higher risk of poor air quality—more than double the number from each of the two previous years.

Danish shipping giant Maersk—the second-largest global ocean carrier—is warning customers that the Red Sea transit troubles are far from over. Charles van der Steene, regional president for Maersk North America, told CNBC that shipping delays could last through the second and third quarter of this year due to attacks on commercial vessels by the Houthi militia, who say they will “continue until the aggression against Gaza stops.” Despite a U.S.–led counteroperation, the instability in the area has forced ships to take a much longer route around the Cape of Good Hope, increasing both the time and cost of transit.

Three months after former CEO Jonathan Johnson left the company, Bed Bath & Beyond has a new name at the top: Chandra Holt, formerly the CEO and president of Conn’s. The news was accompanied by two additional C-suite appointments for the online retailer. Dave Nielsen, a company veteran, will take over the Overstock.com nameplate, while Adrianne Lee, the former CFO, will take on an expanded role as chief financial and administrative officer. Holt’s appointment comes less than a year after Overstock.com purchased the Bed Bath & Beyond brand for $21.5 million and renamed itself Beyond Inc.

More than a year after the derailment of a freight train carrying hazardous materials led to a community health crisis in East Palestine, Ohio, nonprofit organization Toxic-Free Future has released a research report on the risks of rail transport of vinyl chloride, a harmful substance used to make PVC plastic. The group found that the shipment of vinyl chloride puts communities spanning from Texas to New Jersey at an increased risk and that more than 3 million people live within one mile of the major train routes that transport the substance. The findings also put the onus on the home industry: As vinyl chloride is used to manufacture PVC building products sold by retailers like The Home Depot, Toxic-Free Future is urging them to phase out the sale of PVC in favor of safer alternatives.

After last year’s landmark $1.8 billion ruling against the National Association of Realtors, the organization has been in a state of constant crisis. The Wall Street Journal reports that NAR membership declined in January for the third straight month and the organization is projecting an 8 percent decline in revenue for the year. Some analysts predict that a weaker NAR and a shakeup of the status quo around buying and selling real estate—in which buyer’s and seller’s agents split a 5 to 6 percent commission—will ultimately benefit homebuyers, who collectively sink billions every year into real-estate transaction fees.

Bed Bath & Beyond has a new CEO, air quality’s rising impact on real estate, and more
“Flowing Dragon,” the limited-edition sculpture collaboration between Christofle and artist Zheng LuCourtesy of Christofle

Launches & Collaborations
French silverware maker Christofle tapped Chinese artist Zheng Lu for a limited-edition sculpture. The piece, called Flowing Dragon, depicts an abstract interpretation of the mythical creature, sculpted in clay by Lu and hand-rendered in silver by Christofle’s Haute Orfèvrerie atelier.

Showroom Representation
Paolo Moschino Ltd. is now the exclusive distributor of Bunny Williams Home in the U.K. and Europe. Initially launched by Bunny Williams in 2008, the collection now includes furniture, lighting, wall decor and accessories, which draw inspiration from the legendary designer’s oeuvre.

The seventh annual Real Simple Home is set to take place in an 1890s brownstone in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. The designers and firms tapped by the magazine to reimagine the four-level home include Barry Bordelon and Jordan Slocum of the Brownstone Boys, Jessica Davis, Amber Guyton, Hema Persad, Jasmine Roth, Mikel Welch, rooftop farming provider Brooklyn Grange, and Marissa Hagmeyer and Ashley Murphy of home organizing firm Neat Method. The space will be open to the public for tours starting in late September.

Recommended Reading
When it comes to setting a romantic scene at home, roses and candles are a good start. But for those looking to take it to the next level, an unlikely group of experts has a few ideas. For The Washington Post, Rachel Kurzius spoke to romance novelists about their tips on designing homes that inspire a love connection.

The best way to liven up a boring space? On TikTok, users recommend applying the “unexpected red” theory: The notion that adding a bold touch of crimson to a room where it doesn’t otherwise belong will elevate a space. In The New York Times, Madison Malone Kircher explores the origin of the principle, which began with Brooklyn designer Taylor Migliazzo Simon and quickly went viral.

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