news digest | Dec 14, 2021 |
German fairs cancel for COVID, Notre Dame redesign gets a green light and more

Real estate buyers interested in becoming Snoop Dogg’s virtual neighbor should act fast—this week, one savvy NFT collector nabbed a spot next door to the rapper after handing over $450,000 to secure his virtual land in the growing Snoopverse. As the home and design realm continues to evolve, stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches and events, recommended reading, and more.

Business News

The January 2022 edition of the annual German furniture fair IMM Cologne has been canceled in response to a surge in COVID-19 cases across Europe. The decision was made by fair organizer Koelnmesse after consultations with exhibitors, industry representatives and trading partners. As the fair gets nixed for the second year in a row, it joins the growing list of events—including Heimtextil and Domotex—that have either been canceled or postponed due to rising infection rates.

Nabr, the experimental “people-first” real estate venture from architect Bjarke Ingels, former WeWork executive Roni Bahar and former Sidewalk Labs head Nick Chim, has officially launched a waitlist, allowing consumers to express interest in purchasing one of the customizable, lease-to-own units at its inaugural San Jose, California development. “Nabr is initially focused on selling to Bay Area consumers, many of whom—despite having great jobs—still struggle to become homeowners due to exorbitant prices in the region,” says Cara Eckholm, head of product and market development at Nabr. The company plans to expand throughout Silicon Valley in the coming years; for now, its first development, SoFA One, is slated to break ground in the second half of 2022, with occupancy expected by the end of 2023.

The American Institute of Architects has revised its stance on licensure for interior designers. Before, the AIA outright opposed any efforts to enact state legislation that would allow interior designers to go through a certification process and be awarded a government-sanctioned license, citing concerns that such a move would cause confusion in the marketplace over who had responsibility for the safety of a building. Over the years, the subject has been a matter of dispute between architects and designers, occasionally boiling over into heated conflict. But according to a release, the AIA board of directors voted last week to revise its official position, allowing “members to be more flexible and to negotiate and discuss options and remedies with legislators, regulators, and partner groups that best suit their respective state.”

The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Sackler family have jointly agreed to remove the Sackler name from seven exhibition spaces, The New York Times reports, as the family’s role in the opioid crisis continues to garner outrage. The Sacklers have been benefactors of the Met for more than 50 years, along with contributing to other cultural institutions such as the Louvre, which decided to remove their name from a museum wing back in 2019—a move that’s become common in recent years, as trustees and donors sever business ties in response to protests from the public.

The Javits Convention Center in New York City went dark for much of the last two years, serving temporarily as a hospital for COVID-19 patients and only returning to event operations in recent months. With its reopening, the building has gained a new feature in the form of a rooftop farm that grows produce for the convention center’s restaurant operations. More than 50 different crops are currently cultivated by Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm, which oversees the new program. “We really expect it to be a place where we can grow a decent amount of food in an efficient manner for the convention center,” Ben Flanner, Brooklyn Grange co-founder and CEO, told Civil Eats.

New York has passed a mandate requiring that all new buildings below seven stories use electricity-powered heat by 2024, with taller structures on a deadline of 2027, The Real Deal reports. Buildings will be allowed to burn fossil fuels in some instances, though using them for heat or hot water will be prohibited. “The evidence is clear: An immediate shift to requiring gas-free buildings is both feasible and necessary,” a coalition led by NYCC, NYPIRG, WE ACT for Environmental Justice and Food & Water Watch said in a statement.

A redesign of the fire-damaged interior of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris has been approved by France’s National Heritage and Architecture Commission, the Architect’s Newspaper reports, after provoking controversy upon its initial presentation. The overhaul places a renewed emphasis on inclusivity and showcasing public art, which caused outrage from critics who voiced their opinions in France’s conservative-leaning news sources, calling the new space a “Woke Disneyland.” In the refurbished building, new features would include Bible verses projected onto cathedral walls in different languages, along with public art installations on view in the church’s 19th-century confessionals.

Launches and Collaborations

Steinway & Sons pianos will now be available on loan to home sellers, property developers and real estate professionals, thanks to the brand’s new partnership with design and development firm ASH Staging. The instruments will be available to design professionals using ASH’s services in New York and Los Angeles, and soon through the firm’s Furnished Home service, which designs and installs interiors for clientele needing turn-key homes.

Influencer marketing-focused tech company Giden has debuted an app designed to connect home furnishings brands with interior designers and home influencers for collaborations, Casual News Now reports. Through the free program, home brands can search for designers or influencers and find the right match for an influencer marketing campaign by viewing their preferences, hobbies and what they’re best known for in the industry. All messaging takes place on the app, and Giden takes a commission only when designers and brands decide to team up.

Recommended Reading

In HBO’s hit series Succession, lavish Upper East Side penthouses and mansions in the Hamptons are the backdrop to the petty squabbles and power struggles of the show’s ultra-rich characters. For viewers, however, the experience may be providing something closer to a virtual home tour, as four of the properties featured on the show have recently appeared on the market. For Curbed, Kim Velsey asks brokers in the ultra-luxury segment whether a TV cameo can act as a real estate selling point.

While larger retailers have spent months bracing themselves and customers for the container shortages and port delays expected in the holiday season, locally made brands in the U.S. are using in-house manufacturing capabilities to their benefit and directing holiday sales to their direct-to-consumer sites, increasing custom orders and offering limited-edition items. According to Modern Retail, consumers are following suit, with 34 percent of American shoppers reporting that they are prioritizing buying from small businesses during the 2021 holiday season—up from 30 percent last year, according to a survey conducted by CNBC and Momentive.

Cue the Applause

Orlando Diaz-Azcuy has been presented with Interior Design Magazine's 2021 Best of Year Designer: Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the field after serving as a designer for more than 50 years. Diaz-Azcuy was educated at Catholic University and later University of California, Berkeley, though he initially rose to prominence as Gensler’s youngest-ever design principle soon after joining the firm in 1975. In 1987, he established his eponymous firm, where he began crafting a new style of modernism that remains popular today.

Homepage image: A Steinway & Sons piano at the Landmark Penthouse, with interiors staged by ASH Staging. | Courtesy of ASH Staging

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