news digest | Apr 16, 2024 |
Major brands opt out of Salone, Jenna Lyons tries ceramics, and more

This week in design, a concept called “bed rotting”—the act of spending long periods during the day in bed—has taken off on social media. Some say it benefits their sleep, mental health and even (remote work) productivity. Doctors remain unconvinced. Stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches, events, recommended reading and more.

Business News

Last week, a new government report revealed that stubbornly high inflation ticked upward in March, dashing the hopes of prospective homebuyers who were waiting for lower interest rates—and lower monthly mortgage payments—before making a purchase. As The Wall Street Journal reports, affordability remains a key issue in the housing market: While a median-income household could afford to buy a house for up to $561,000 three years ago, today the same buyers could only manage to finance a $416,000 home. That discrepancy has created a “lock-in effect” among potential buyers and sellers, The New York Times reports, resulting in roughly 1.3 million fewer home sales from early 2022 through the end of 2023—a trend expected to continue until the Federal Reserve cuts rates. Meanwhile, a January survey of 2,000 renters found that 20 percent don’t expect to ever own a home, a 33 percent increase from 2021.

According to The Wall Street Journal, homeownership is getting increasingly expensive as property taxes, insurance premiums and home maintenance costs are climbing across the country. Data from home-improvement tech company Thumbtack revealed that home maintenance expenses related to services like lawn care, roof repair and gutter cleaning cost an average of $6,663 a year in 2023—an increase of 8.3 percent from 2022. Elsewhere, the average property tax rate for single-family homes leapt 4.1 percent from 2022 to 2023, while some major metro areas saw an even larger increase, including 19 percent in Indianapolis and 31.5 percent in Charlotte. But surging home insurance costs have had the largest impact on the affordability of homeownership: Premiums went up roughly 20 percent between 2021 and 2023, with another 6 percent increase projected in the coming year.

If there are any beneficiaries of today’s housing market, it’s the baby boomers: The generation aged 60 to 78 owns the largest share of U.S. homes with three bedrooms or more, according to a Redfin analysis of 2022 census data. And as The Wall Street Journal reports, that’s not likely to change anytime soon. A recent Fannie Mae survey found that most Americans aged 60 and older don’t intend to ever move. The financial incentives for boomers to stay in their homes are significant—more than half have paid off their mortgages, with the age group now owning half of all of the $32 trillion in home equity in the country. While past predictions assumed they would sell off their properties en masse, many are now deterred by high interest rates, while also seeking to enter an active retirement rather than immediately settling into senior living communities.

Salone del Mobile has kicked off its 62nd edition, and some of the industry’s major players will not be returning to the Milan-based design fair. As Women’s Wear Daily reports, Design Holding’s Maxalto, French design house Roche Bobois, and Luxury Living brands Luxence and Versace Home have all decided to host their design presentations at their Milan showrooms and stores rather than within the fairgrounds. In an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Salone president Maria Porro said that lower exhibitor numbers (the fair expects to host 1,900, down from last year’s 2,000) reflected the organization’s desire to be “selective to maintain the quality of the exhibitors.” The fair’s spokespeople could not be reached when contacted by WWD.

Two new design industry brands have achieved B Corp Certification: Rosendahl Design Group and Humanscale. The former, a Danish homeware conglomerate, earned third-party certifications like the Forest Stewardship Council, Global Organic Textile Standard and OEKO-TEX to obtain B Corp status. The latter, an office furniture designer and manufacturer, achieved FSC, the Living Product Challenge and Declare credentials, along with ensuring that its factories divert at least 90 percent of waste away from landfills, the environment and incineration, in keeping with True Zero Waste standards.

While the short-term rental industry boomed during the pandemic, three consecutive years of declining occupancy rates have pushed platforms and hosts to scramble for new ways to stand out among the competition. As The New York Times reports, Airbnb has announced a ban on indoor security cameras and a new guest cancellation policy that offers refunds in the event of extreme weather, while Vrbo is instating stricter penalties for hosts who cancel on guests. Meanwhile, rather than listing their properties as is, hosts are looking to shape their homes around guests’ preferences—with spaces geared toward bachelorette parties and spa enthusiasts. The extra effort is needed to corner the market: Short-term rental supply grew 24 percent in 2022 and 12 percent in 2023, and it’s up 10 percent this year so far. Meanwhile, prices fell an average of 1.3 percent last year, and are down 1.6 percent so far in 2024.

Illustrator Tim Lahan has accused Ikea of copying his work in the branding for the retailer’s new Saluhall food court in San Francisco. As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, the image in question—a sketch of an eye, nose, ear and mouth pushed together—resembles Lahan’s work, and could be found on neon signs, aprons and other materials in Saluhall at its grand opening last week. Lahan told the SF Chronicle that he began producing similar imagery more than a decade ago, and it has appeared in illustrations; on the cover of his first children’s book, The Nosyhood; and in the The New Yorker. Though Lahan hasn’t formally registered copyrights to protect this work, he said New Yorker publisher Condé Nast has some “legal right” to the images and plans to pursue legal action. In response to the SF Chronicle’s request for comment, a Saluhall spokesperson said, “This matter was just brought to our attention and we are looking into it.”

Launches & Collaborations

Creative Accents chose San Diego–based interdisciplinary artist Parker Heath for its latest designer collaboration. The partnership has produced a new rug collection called Modern Primitive—five hand-tufted designs featuring a combination of painted or hand-drawn illustrations with the bold, contrasting patterns emblematic of Heath’s work.

Connecticut-based ceramics studio Dumais Made teamed up with style icon Jenna Lyons to debut three new home accessories. The pieces—a vase, a candlestick and an incense holder—borrow their shape from the pomegranate, merging function with whimsical form.

The Pomegranate Candle Holder from the Dumais Made x Jenna Lyons collaboration
The Pomegranate candleholder from the Dumais Made x Jenna Lyons collaboration Courtesy of Dumais Made

Italian furniture company Kartell is bringing the world of high-end design to Barbie’s Dreamhouse through a new partnership with toy manufacturer Mattel. As Fast Company reports, the collaboration is re-imagining five of the brand’s iconic chairs in miniature versions, including the Louis Ghost chair, the Masters chair, and the Ero|S| swivel chair.


The 45th edition of the San Francisco Decorator Showcase debuts this month, featuring a historic 11,155-square-foot Dutch Colonial mansion in Pacific Heights. The space will be re-imagined by 28 of the West Coast’s top design and landscaping professionals, including Suzanne Tucker, Jay Jeffers and Nancy Evars. The space will be open to the public from April 27 to May 27, with proceeds benefiting the San Francisco University High School financial aid program.

Recommended Reading

Over the course of his lifetime, Ralph Lauren has found inspiration in many settings. Safaris, seaside estates, city living … all have factored into his work. For Women’s Wear Daily, Lisa Lockwood sits down with the lifestyle mogul for a wide-ranging conversation, including an inside look at his latest love affair—priceless vintage cars—and a corresponding home collection, set to debut during Milan Design Week.

For a new generation of homeowners, sleeping apart—in dual primary bedrooms rebranded as “snore rooms”—is the start of a new, well-rested era. The Wall Street Journal’s Robyn A. Friedman talks to couples who have adapted their luxury homes for this setup, finding that embracing a “sleep divorce” often lends new life to their marriage.

A home’s front yard says a lot about its inhabitants, who may choose to clutter the space with garden gnomes, lawn chairs and Little Free Libraries—or put up fences and hedges to keep the rest of the world at arm’s length. For Fast Company, University at Buffalo professors Conrad Kickert and Kelly Gregg traveled to nearby Elmwood Village—once named one of the “10 Great Neighborhoods in America”—and surveyed about a thousand front yards to examine the crucial role they play in cultivating the community’s sense of place.

Cue the Applause

The Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club hosted its annual President’s Dinner last week, granting the annual Lifetime Achievement Award to interior designer Ellie Cullman. The New York design icon was honored for her contributions to the design industry and for her philanthropic work, including as a member of the Kips Bay board of trustees.

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