news digest | Feb 28, 2023 |
Houzz study points to industry slowdown, Sheila Bridges remakes the VP’s residence and more

This week in design, an 800-square-foot trailer in the Hamptons hit a new record after selling for $3.75 million—its luxe amenities include a grill and an outdoor shower. Stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches, events, recommended reading and more.

Business News

Houzz released its 2023 “U.S. Houzz State of the Industry” report, surveying more than 2,000 professionals. The report found that in 2022, the average annual rate of revenue growth for interior designers declined to 2.9 percent after reaching a four-year high of 11.9 percent in 2021 (which itself marked a spike from 2019’s 5.1 percent). Profits also took a hit last year, with 38 percent of firms reporting an increase in 2022 compared to 59 percent in 2021. Despite some flattening off of growth, designers remain optimistic. Compared with seven other industry groups polled by Houzz, including architects and contractors, designers had the brightest outlook for 2023, with 56 percent anticipating a “good or very good year.”

Interior designer Sheila Bridges completed her yearlong design project on the official vice president’s residence for Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff, The Washington Post reports. Located on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory, the 33-room Victorian home was re-imagined by Bridges with furnishings primarily sourced from American brands and makers. According to Bridges, her vision for the space nods to Harris’s Californian sensibilities, along with cultural references to the vice president’s Indian and African heritage. This is not Bridges’s first project for a top politician—in 2001, she designed a Harlem office for former President Bill Clinton.

TikTok owner ByteDance launched a new app called Lemon8—a picture-based platform with a main feed divided into Following and For You pages in a similar format to TikTok, Insider reports. The app initially launched in Japan in 2020 and has recently expanded to Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, the U.S. and the U.K., among other countries. As Reuters previously reported, Lemon8 may be an attempt from ByteDance to re-create the success of Xiaohongshu, a popular shopping and lifestyle app in China.

Online home decor brand Plank Hardware has been awarded B Corp Certification, making it the first company in the hardware 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, Plank Hardware implemented processes like switching designs from brass to aluminum or stainless steel for a lesser carbon footprint.

Dalton, Ohio–based company Treecraft Furniture acquired local solid wood case goods manufacturer Canal Dover Furniture for an undisclosed sum, Home News Now reports. Following the acquisition, Treecraft sold its 12,000-square-foot shop in Dalton and plans to move into Canal Dover’s 70,000-square-foot manufacturing space in Holmes County, Ohio. Both businesses will operate under unified leadership moving forward (Canal Dover owner Nick Pickrel has departed the company), though the brands will remain distinct, with Canal Dover remaining on the residential side of the industry and Treecraft focused on commercial and hospitality furniture.

California retailer Wickmans Furniture is closing its doors after 67 years in business, Home News Now reports. Founded in 1956 by Bernie Wickman and his wife, Maxwell, the venture began with a furniture store in downtown Los Angeles and has since expanded to six different locations along the California coast. The furniture provider is now shutting down in conjunction with the pair’s planned retirement and will be liquidating its entire inventory at the company’s Agoura Hills showroom location.

Houzz study points to industry slowdown, Sheila Bridges remakes the VP’s residence and more
Pieces from the newly expanded Plank collection, the first outdoor debut from Skagerak by Fritz HansenCourtesy of Fritz Hansen

Launches & Collaborations

Fritz Hansen debuted its first-ever collection of outdoor furniture under Skagerak by Fritz Hansen, releasing the newly expanded Plank collection and the Banco bench. The former includes the addition of a chair and table alongside the brand’s Plank bench piece—debuted by Skagerak before its 2021 acquisition by Fritz Hansen—and features pieces crafted from FSC-certified teak and conceived by designer Aurélien Barbry. The Banco bench, originally designed by Hugo Passos for a site-specific exhibition in Finland, allows for single-sided or double-facing configurations.

Houzz study points to industry slowdown, Sheila Bridges remakes the VP’s residence and more
Bill Ceglia reimagined this space within the 2023 Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse in Palm BeachCourtesy of the Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse


The Kips Bay Decorator Show House Palm Beach opened to the public last week, debuting a property in the Northwood Shores neighborhood that has been re-imagined by 21 designers and architects—including Billy Ceglia, Katie Ridder, Delia Kenza and Eneia White, among others. Open through March 19, a portion of the event’s proceeds will benefit the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club and Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County. Veranda’s recent roundup offers a first peek inside the lavish 9,000-square-foot space, where designers re-imagined rooms in the style of far-off places, drawing influence from Italian palazzos, the French Riviera, the African art scene and more.

Recommended Reading

As a rising wave of tech companies including Twitter, Dropbox and WeWork move to shrink their office footprints in response to the remote work shift and the recent economic slowdown, they are leaving behind a treasure trove of designer furnishings, The New York Times reports. Characteristic of the design style popular among young tech companies, favoring bright social-media-friendly colors and midcentury modern shapes, their assortments have included everything from Arne Jacobsen Egg chairs to height-adjustable Knoll desks. In its wake, the tech office exodus is now inspiring a new cottage industry of furniture liquidators and resellers, which specialize in appraising and reselling the collections to interior designers and high-end homeowners. Companies like Enliven Mart, Reclamation and One Workplace have all taken the opportunity to scale up operations—and with the out-of-office migration increasing in certain areas (like San Francisco, where commercial vacancy rates reached 28 percent last year, up from 4 percent in 2019), the niche resale industry may be on track to continue its upward trajectory.

Content creators often find themselves on the receiving end of perks and compensation from platforms, brands and followers, who send everything from lavish gifts to one-off checks and tips—and come tax season, the recipients owe money on all of it. As Lora Kelley reports for The New York Times, a growing number of online influencers are navigating the complex process of filing taxes for the first time (one TurboTax CPA reports a 207 percent increase in users who are creators or influencers between 2018 and 2020), and in turn, a subindustry of accountants and experts are cropping up, offering special expertise in helping creators file taxes for their various forms of social-media-generated income.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine last year, the ensuing war has waged untold destruction on the country’s urban areas, producing about 1.4 billion tons of waste in total. As Elissaveta M. Brandon reports for Fast Company, one company has found a way to reuse the demolition rubble in new construction materials, with plans to convert about 93 percent of concrete waste in the city of Hostomel into six new buildings and 450 new apartments—though the process involves a thorny path to discern which rubble is toxic (and potentially radioactive, as the city is less than 100 miles from Chernobyl) and which has a chance for a new life.

Cue the Applause

The Women in Retail Leadership Circle, which honors powerful female executives making an impact in the retail industry, recognized two home world figures in its 2023 “Top Women in Retail” report. Alongside leaders from other top brands, the organization named Bob’s Discount Furniture chief merchandising officer and executive vice president Carol Glaser and Anthropologie Global CEO Tricia Smith as honorees, set to be acknowledged at the Women in Retail Leadership Summit in Phoenix in April.

Homepage image: Honey Collins Interiors reimagined this space in the Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse Palm Beach | Courtesy of the Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse

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