news digest | May 30, 2023 |
LVMH takes employees to sustainability school, warehouse costs are rising and more

This week in design, it’s the start of a new era in some corners of the industry as former Bed Bath & Beyond locations begin their second lives as pickleball courts. Stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches, events, recommended reading and more.

Business News

According to a new study, more than a quarter of American homeowners are “house poor”—meaning they spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs. As The New York Times reports, a product research company for real estate agents and entrepreneurs called ​​Chamber of Commerce conducted an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau housing data, finding that 27.4 percent of all homeowners are “cost-burdened,” with Miami, Los Angeles and New York counting the highest number of “house poor” residents. While the percentage of U.S. homeowners who fall under this category declined from 2015 to 2019—falling from 29.4 percent to 26.6 percent—a combination of rising mortgage interest rates, inflation and stagnated earnings have since driven up housing costs, placing more pressure on renters and homeowners alike.

French luxury conglomerate LVMH is rolling out a new sustainability staff training program, Women’s Wear Daily reports, with plans to instruct all of its 200,000-person workforce in “environmental fundamentals” by 2026. The initiative has kicked off with the unveiling of a five-year partnership between LVMH and the Vallée de la Millière conservation center, which will host the training. According to LVMH environmental development director Hélène Valade, the new program’s curriculum will be tailored to specific employee functions—for example, allowing procurement specialists to evaluate sustainable suppliers of raw materials, priming sales associates on how to respond to customer inquiries about a product’s environmental footprint, and informing logistics providers on how to determine eco-friendly modes of transportation.

New York is sinking under the weight of its buildings, Dezeen reports, contributing to receding shorelines and ultimately increasing the city’s flood risk. A new study from the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Rhode Island found that the city’s mass of buildings is causing it to descend at an average rate of 1 to 2 millimeters per year currently—depending on underlying types of soil and building foundations, the city could sink as much as 600 millimeters, or nearly two feet, in future years. The study’s authors warned that the weight of high-rise buildings heightens existing flood risk factors like rising sea levels and increasing storm intensity, and that such issues could apply to all coastal cities with similarly dense development.

Target recalled 4.9 million candles in glass jars after more than a hundred customers filed reports of the items cracking or breaking, causing burns and lacerations, The Wall Street Journal reports. According to a notice from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the recall applies to candles within the retailer’s Threshold home-products line, which includes candles of varying scents and sizes that can now be returned to any Target store or by mail for a full refund.

Target also made headlines last week after removing Pride Month merchandise from some stores in response to conservative backlash, The New York Times reports. The retailer’s collection of seasonal items included rainbow-striped apparel, books and home items—such as pillows, throw rugs and tableware—which angered some customers, leading to in-store altercations. In response, Target removed some items from its shelves and moved other displays to the back of certain store locations, citing the need to protect the safety of its workers. In response, equal rights advocates claim that the move has alienated the store’s LGBTQ customers.

Warehousing rents could rise as much as 10 percent this year, Furniture Today reports. Due to a drop in construction starts fueled by increased costs and a lack of financing, rents already rose 4.4 percent in the first quarter and are expected to continue increasing throughout the year. According to a new forecast from logistics developer Prologis, the rising rates also stem from an ongoing lack of supply—vacancy rates hit a historic low of 3.2 percent last year and are expected to remain in the slightly elevated 4 percent range in the coming year.

Global investment firm Regent acquired direct-to-consumer fashion, decor, toy and gift brand Zulily from Qurate Retail Inc., Home Textiles Today reports. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Along with its most recent purchase of the 23-year-old Zulily, Regent has acquired more than 30 businesses across the retail, media and technology sectors since 2015, including brands like Club Monaco, DIM Paris and Escada. Qurate Retail president and CEO David Rawlinson told HTT that the sale will allow the company to focus on its video assets—which include QVC and HSN—while preserving its liquidity.

Launches & Collaborations

Airbnb tapped Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent to become hosts on the platform this summer, offering guests the opportunity to stay at the couple’s beach home in Montauk, New York. The pair designed the 1970s-era home with casual luxury in mind, and it sits within reach of nearby beaches, a nature preserve and a variety of canal-side shops. Available for a one-night stay for two guests on June 10, bookings will open at 1 p.m. EST on May 31.

LVMH takes employees to sustainability school, warehouse costs are rising and more
West Elm tapped women-owned fashion and lifestyle brand Rhode to introduce a joint collectionCourtesy of West Elm

West Elm teamed up with women-owned fashion and lifestyle brand Rhode for the launch of a joint collection of decorative home accessories, tabletop items and colorful textiles. Founded in 2014 by former college roommates Purna Khatau and Phoebe Vickers, Rhode’s aesthetic strikes a balance between the pair’s far-flung travels and eye for everyday beauty with bold colors and time-honored silhouettes. The collaboration is Rhode’s first foray into the home category, with its signature prints applied to pillows, bedding and dinnerware.

Houston designer Katie Davis partnered with Massachusetts-based vintage rug company New England Loom to debut an assortment of 30 vintage Persian carpets. The collection features soft antique-washed colors, distressed textures and intricate motifs—plus, in a nod to Davis’s home state, each piece takes on a Texas-inspired name, like Rodeo, Alamo and Marfa.

Showroom Representation

Digital multiline showroom Somerselle now represents wallpaper designer Victoria Larson in the New York tri-state area. Since launching her studio in 2010, Larson has focused on creating hand-painted textile and pattern designs that draw upon the seaside atmosphere of her native Chesapeake Bay.

Recommended Reading

In 2017, Swedish artist Margareta Magnusson wrote a how-to guide for “döstädning”—the practice of getting rid of material possessions at the end of your life. The process sounds grim, but for Magnusson and a fast-growing group of disciples around the world, the focus instead falls on auditing home items well in advance of mortality and keeping only the most meaningful and functional. As Chavie Lieber writes for The Wall Street Journal, the recent debut of a Peacock show drawn from the book, called The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, has inspired homeowners to revisit their material possessions with a new perspective.

While bachelorette parties used to center around wild nights out and party-store decorations, a new trend has emerged, Yelena Alpert writes for House Beautiful, with the groups now seeking spaces decked out with high-end furnishings and photo-op-worthy vignettes like Nashville’s Dolly House or The Pink Palm Tree in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. For real estate investors and Airbnb hosts, the new niche is lucrative, too: Rather than one family paying a rental fee for all involved, groups of women split the cost and spend individually, allowing hosts to charge premium prices and pour the excess profit into over-the-top interiors.

Cue the Applause

The New York School of Interior Design announced its honorary doctorate recipients for the class of 2023, selecting interior design leader Kate Kelly Smith and design author, editor and former NYSID trustee Newell Turner. Both were honored for their extensive contributions to the field—Smith as executive vice president and managing director of Luxe Interiors + Design with more than four decades of design media experience, and Turner with more than 35 years of experience in interior design and lifestyle magazine publishing.

Homepage image: Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent listed their Hamptons home on Airbnb. | Marc McAndrews

Want to stay informed? Sign up for our newsletter, which recaps the week’s stories, and get in-depth industry news and analysis each quarter by subscribing to our print magazine. Join BOH Insider for discounts, workshops and access to special events such as the Future of Home conference.