news digest | Mar 5, 2024 |
Clinton Smith heads to HC&G, remembering Iris Apfel, and more

This week in design, Indonesia may hold the record as the second biggest plastic polluter in the world, but a newly launched company is tackling the issue by salvaging waste from the country’s rivers and turning it into new furniture. Stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches, events, recommended reading and more.

Business News
Ashley Home has agreed to acquire Resident Home Inc., a digital retailer and wholesaler in the mattress and bedding accessory space. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. As Furniture Today reports, Resident Home co-founders and co-CEOs Eric Hutchinson and Ran Reske will remain in their positions following the purchase, which they hope will fuel growth in the company’s DTC and wholesale businesses.

The Container Store laid off about 100 employees last week, which accounts for roughly 2.5 percent of its total workforce, Retail Dive reports. According to the company, the layoffs were implemented in response to a trend of declining sales for the brand, which last month lowered its full-year net sales predictions from between $870 million and $885 million to between $842 million and $847 million. Today, S&P Global Ratings downgraded the company’s credit rating from a B to a B-minus.

Richmond, Virginia–based outdoor decor company Evergreen Enterprises announced that it is reducing its direct-to-consumer footprint by restructuring its home retail brand Plow & Hearth, laying off 107 employees in the process. As Home Textiles Today reports, the job cuts will mainly take place within the company’s Madison County distribution center, which will be shuttered as the company winds down Plow & Hearth’s direct sales operations, including its mail-order catalog and website. According to Evergreen Enterprises CEO John Toler, several factors went into the decision, including postage costs, freight expenses, competition from e-commerce giants like Amazon, and the effects of rising inflation. Moving forward, the company will continue to sell Plow & Hearth products via the brand’s wholesale business and retail marketplaces like Wayfair. Still, the company’s reductions aren’t over yet: Toler told HTT that Evergreen is currently in negotiations to sell its two other direct-sales brands—Wind & Weather and VivaTerra—and expects to close that transaction within the next 30 days.

Between 2021 and 2023, more than 2,900 buildings each encompassing at least 200 apartment units were built across the U.S.—17 percent more than the number built in the two years prior, and the highest amount since the 1980s. As The Wall Street Journal reports, the ongoing housing market freeze is keeping high earners in rentals longer, and developers are relying on height to make their margins: High-rises made up 14 percent of new apartment supply in 2022, up from just 2 percent in the 1990s. The increasing cost of construction and a lack of available land have led developers to pack taller buildings with smaller-than-average apartment units, facilitated by cities altering zoning and building codes to allow the large-scale construction.

The Material Innovation Initiative released its 2023 State of the Industry report on next-gen materials, finding that the industry saw a 10 percent increase in investment funding last year—even as global venture capital funding fell 42 percent in the same period. Elsewhere, the report found that the total number of next-gen material companies stayed flat at 144 in 2023, with no new ventures publicly announced last year. Overall, just over $500 million was raised by 36 companies, spelling out a slight rebound for the sector amid the overall economic slowdown of the past two years.

Industry veteran Clinton Smith has been appointed editor in chief of Hamptons Cottages & Gardens and New York Cottages & Gardens, both part of C&G Media Group. Smith has extensive experience as a leader in the shelter magazine arena, with past roles as editor in chief of Veranda, editor of Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles, and editor at large for publications like New England Home. Beyond the world of publishing, he also served as president of design consultancy Arcadian Projects and Clinton Smith Studio, where he designed residential interiors.

Clinton Smith heads to HC&G, remembering Iris Apfel, and more
The "spot-on" tile from the Michelle Gerson x Artistic Tile collaborationCourtesy of Artistic Tile

Launches & Collaborations
Artistic Tile tapped Michelle Gerson for a collaboration inspired by the New York designer’s bold approach to classic designs. The resulting collection—titled Game On—features four customizable designs available in both neutral colorways and organic pastel tones.

British interior and furniture designer Ilse Crawford and heritage leather brand Edelman teamed up for an ongoing collaboration. The partnership will kick off with the recoloring of three classic Edelman leathers—Dream Cow, Luv-A-Bull and Stella—reimagined as Helm, Oath and Poem, each of which will be rereleased in a variety of new hues, from muted earth tones to bold pops of color.

Ikea has revealed a new limited-edition collection, created in partnership with Dutch design studio Raw Color. The Tesammans line includes 18 different pieces of furniture and textiles rendered in playful color combinations.

Together with Chango, the New York–based residential design studio led by Susana Simonpietri, Chasing Paper has debuted a new wallpaper collection with a focus on versatility. Comprising eight prints, each available in multiple colorways, the assortment aims to offer a pattern and hue for every area of the home—bedrooms, playrooms, dining rooms, powder rooms and nurseries alike.

Recommended Reading
At 25, Stephanie Douglass was an elementary school teacher struggling to pay her rent. At 35, she now owns 19 houses—and she’s on a mission to recruit other first-time female buyers to do the same. For The New York Times, Debra Kamin follows the duo behind Texas-based brokerage Open House Austin, which has leveraged a dedicated social media following based on the message that women don’t need to wait for a partner before building equity through homeownership.

It’s clear that the trend cycle is churning faster and faster in recent years—but in the case of newly renovated buildings, why do some spaces now look dated as soon as they hit the market? For Curbed, Kim Velsey investigates the phenomenon, including how the industry’s response to quickening trend cycles causes them to burn out even faster, and what it all says about our changing relationship to the home in the post-pandemic era.

Call for Entries
The International Furnishings and Design Association’s Educational Foundation is now seeking applicants for its 2024 Design Student Scholarships. This year, the organization is offering nine different scholarships totaling $20,500 in funding. Applicants must be currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program, and are not eligible to apply if their graduation date is in the spring or summer of 2024. For more information, click here.

In Memoriam
Interior designer and fashion icon Iris Apfel passed away last week at the age of 102. As The New York Times reports, Apfel’s interior design practice began in the 1950s with high-profile clients like Greta Garbo and Estée Lauder. Around the same time, she launched textile company Old World Weavers alongside her husband, Carl Apfel, and together the pair supplied textiles for the White House interiors of nine U.S. presidents, including Harry Truman and Bill Clinton. While the pair sold their company and retired in 1992, Apfel’s status as a style icon took on new heights following a 2005 Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition showcasing her extensive wardrobe, which led to countless magazine spreads, ad campaigns and media appearances that she kept up well into her later years. As Apfel told the NYT in 2011: “When you don’t dress like everybody else, you don’t have to think like everybody else.”

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