news digest | Mar 28, 2023 |
Gen Z enters the real estate investment game, homebuyers flock to ‘climate-proof’ Duluth and more

This week in design, from native landscaping to extra-wide windows, extreme bird-watchers spare no expense when it comes to outfitting their homes to better welcome the local fauna. Stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches, events, recommended reading and more.

Business News
In 2020, 22-year-old California-based college student Soli Cayetano purchased a two-bedroom home in Cincinnati and began renting it out—nearly three years later, she has spun the purchase into a 36-unit real estate investment portfolio. As Insider reports, members of Gen Z (the generation born between 1997 and 2012) are increasingly embracing real estate investment as an alternative to nine-to-five desk jobs, benefitting from the abundance of online educational resources as well as the newfound ability to conduct the entire process remotely—from purchasing to flipping, and even performing landlord duties. Compared to their millennial counterparts, who bore the brunt of the Great Recession and its housing bust, Gen Z are more optimistic about the housing market: According to a 2020 survey by research firm Gen Z Planet, more Gen Z respondents (87 percent) want to own a home compared to millennials (63 percent), while 68 percent of Gen Zers view homeownership as a way to build wealth versus 60 percent of millennials.

In the face of frequent climate change-induced threats including wildfires and rising sea levels, hundreds of residents who once lived in regions with warm and temperate climates are relocating to cold-weather cities like Duluth, Minnesota—a locale one professor dubbed “climate-proof.” As The New York Times reports, more than 2,494 new residents from out of state (namely states like California, Colorado and New Mexico) moved to the former steel and cement manufacturing town over the past five years, reversing years of population decline in the second half of the 20th century. According to real estate agents in Duluth, nearly every out-of-towner has cited climate conditions for their relocation, further aided by the new possibility of remote work and cash from home sales in more expensive cities and towns. Though local residents have remained welcoming, the migration is driving up real estate costs, and Duluth’s mayor has stated that the city’s infrastructure and sustainability initiatives have a ways to go before it can comfortably take on an influx of new residents.

A luxury real estate sell-off is underway in Los Angeles, as millionaire home sellers attempt to off-load their properties before a new real estate tax goes into effect on April 1, The New York Times reports. Passed by voters in November, Measure ULA (also known as the “mansion tax”) will raise funds for affordable housing projects by imposing a 4 percent tax on property sales above $5 million, and a 5.5 percent tax on properties above $10 million, to be paid by the seller. Top brokers and real estate agents, many of whom have voiced their dissent to the tax, have responded by taking extreme measures to close deals before the upcoming deadline, mainly by offering buyers “jaw-dropping” deals—and in one case, a $1 million bonus to any agent who can secure a buyer for a $28 million Bel Air mansion. Opponents also say Measure ULA will hinder new development, though the tax is likely to affect only about 4 percent of all property sales in Los Angeles and exempts property transfers to nonprofits, community land trusts and housing cooperatives.

Austin-based case goods supplier Home Trends & Design announced its acquisition of GrassRoots Imports, a San Antonio–based manufacturer of hardwood extension dining tables and benches, Furniture Today reports. Following the purchase, GrassRoots will become an exclusive HTD collection, offering tables, benches and sideboards built in small batches at the company’s artisan factory. Bringing the company up to speed with HTD’s sustainability principles, GrassRoots has also committed to reforesting its local population of birch trees in the surrounding area. HTD will debut the GrassRoots collection during High Point Market in April at its showroom on 118 South Wrenn Street.

Gen Z enters the real estate investment game, homebuyers flock to ‘climate-proof’ Duluth and more
Tableware brand Sprezz launched last week, and the Romantic collection was designed by Italian creative director Margherita Rui, including shapes inspired by Qing dynasty teacupsCourtesy of Sprezz

Launches & Collaborations
Tableware brand Sprezz launched last week with two debut collections of hand-made tumblers and glassware, titled Romantic and Whimsical. The brainchild of founder Anam Sadarangani, the New York–based brand draws its name from the Italian concept of “sprezzatura,” meaning “effortless elegance.” Sadarangani also drew inspiration from her childhood in India, where festivals and rituals such as Diwali and Holi often centered around cuisine rooted in culture and heritage. The Whimsical collection, designed by Italian product designer Alessandra Baldereschi, features nautical motifs drawn from the work of Henri Matisse, while the Romantic collection, designed by Italian creative director Margherita Rui, includes shapes inspired by Qing dynasty teacups.

Hooker Furnishings announced that its launching a new modern lifestyle furniture brand called M at the upcoming Spring High Point Market. Led by Crate & Barrel merchandising veteran Becky Weber, the brand will debut an initial assortment of 210 pieces, ranging from upholstered sofas and sectionals to accent chairs, ottomans, dining chairs and beds—all of which are inspired by organic earth tones and a blend of modern and transitional styles.

British heritage wallcovering brand Graham & Brown tapped artist Clarissa Hulse for a luxury wallpaper and mural collaboration. Drawing upon more than 20 years of experience in hand-printing botanical designs, Hulse collected leaves, stems, buds and flowers in the wilds of Wiltshire, England, and brought them back to her London studio to photograph the scenes that formed the basis for the final collection.

Showroom Representation
San Francisco–based design studio Fisher Weisman is now represented in the New York metropolitan area by Holland & Sherry. Located in the Decoration & Design Building, the showroom will now carry Fisher Weisman’s collection of furnishings, including decorative objects and a variety of table lamps, chandeliers and sconces.

Recommended Reading
Whether in food, drink, fashion or television, today’s consumers cannot get enough of mushrooms, and the interior design realm is no exception. Searches for mushroom decor on Etsy have more than tripled in the past 12 months compared to the year prior, while fungi appearances seem to be multiplying across every area of the design industry. As Anna Kodé writes for The New York Times, the mushroom’s versatility—capable of being the motif that forms a pillow, lamp or candlestick, or the natural material that makes up a textile or brick—may be the enduring quality that keeps us coming back.

Growing up, Kate Rheinstein Brodsky stepped right off the school bus and through the doors of Hollyhock, the Los Angeles home store helmed by her mother, design legend Suzanne Rheinstein, who died last week at age 77. For Elle Decor, Rheinstein Brodsky pens a touching tribute to her mother, painting a picture of a childhood awash in the elegance and warmth characteristic of the late designer. “All the stores visited, books read, trips taken, and gardens wandered with my mother as a child left an imprint on me and gave me a point of view that I try to bring to my own shop, KRB,” writes Rheinstein Brodsky. “I aim for unique pieces—both antique and new—informed by history, brought together in unusual ways, hopefully with curiosity and a touch of humor—in so many ways, a love letter to my mother.”

Cue the Applause
Danish kitchen design brand Reform has been awarded B Corp Certification, making it the first company in the kitchen category to achieve the status. B Corps designate businesses that meet a certain level of social and environmental standards and commit to long-term, sustainable strategies. To earn the distinction, the company implemented a four-pillar sustainability strategy for 2021 to 2025, which includes working with FSC-certified and origin-controlled wooden materials toward a more responsible supply chain, striving to reach objectives set forth by the Paris Agreement and the Science Based Targets initiative, and introducing new circular principles during the product development process.

In Memoriam
Harold Whittemore “Buddy” Sherrill—who led Sherrill Furniture Company for 73 years—passed away on March 24. During his time at the company’s helm, Sherrill was known for his steadfast commitment to investing in local craftspeople, maintaining Sherrill Furniture’s manufacturing presence in North Carolina’s Catawba Valley even when other industry giants moved operations to Asia. His son Charles Sherrill, the company’s third-generation owner, plans to carry on his father’s legacy. “One thing my dad made sure I understood is that the responsibility of leading Sherrill Furniture is never just about the money. If it was, he could have sold the company many times,” said Charles Sherrill in a statement. “This company is and will continue to be all about the people and the families who make this industry possible.”

Homepage image: Graham & Brown tapped artist Clarissa Hulse for a luxury wallpaper and mural collaboration | Courtesy of Graham & Brown

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