news digest | Jan 31, 2023 |
Millionaire renters on the rise, Marie Kondo has quit tidying up and more

The New York rental market has never been more competitive. Now, one historic building is upping the ante by reviving a decades-old tradition of asking potential residents to audition (any dance number, monologue or comedy set will do) in exchange for an open unit in a performers-only wing of the residence. Stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches, events, recommended reading and more.

Business News

Americans submitted 5 million new small-business applications in 2022, making it the second-most popular year for those seeking business ownership since 2004. As Inc. reports, the boost in entrepreneurship over the past two years can most likely be attributed to increased personal savings following the pandemic stimulus payments, historically low interest rates and the Great Resignation. Last year also marked the continuation of several longer-brewing trends, including a surge of entrepreneurs of color launching their own businesses. Hispanic entrepreneurs in particular started businesses 44 percent faster than their non-Hispanic counterparts over the past decade, according to a meta-analysis conducted by New York–based nonprofit Score.

Dotdash Meredith, the publisher of Better Homes & Gardens, Martha Stewart and Southern Living, announced plans to lay off 274 people, or roughly 7 percent of its staff, Axios reports. According to CEO Neil Vogel, the decision is a response to the recent economic downturn and related challenges faced by the ad industry. In downsizing its staff, the company joins fellow media giants like CNN, The Washington Post, Vox Media and BuzzFeed, which have all announced layoffs in recent weeks.

The share of affluent Americans choosing to live in rental homes has ballooned in recent years according to a new analysis by RentCafe, which found that 2.6 million Americans making more than $150,000 lived in rentals in 2020—a segment that has grown 82 percent since 2015, while renters overall inched up just 3.2 percent in the same time frame. The past few years also saw the rise of a new kind of tenant: the millionaire renter. The share of renter households with incomes exceeding $1 million tripled from 2015 to 2020, growing from 1,068 millionaire renters to 3,381, according to the most recent data from census and population database IPUMS. The shift can likely be attributed to rising housing costs, especially in popular metropolitan areas such as New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, which topped the list as home to the largest share of millionaire renters.

Last year saw e-commerce spending reach the highest levels in history, passing the $1 trillion mark for the first time and marking a 21 percent increase from 2021, according to Comscore’s 2023 “State of Digital Commerce” report. As Furniture Today reports, furniture and appliances represented the fifth-highest spending category, behind grocery, baby and pet; apparel and accessories; computers and consumer electronics.

European smart home energy startup Tado completed a $46 million funding round led by Trill Impact Ventures, TechCrunch reports. Founded in 2011, the Munich-based company produces home heating and cooling systems connected to smart thermostats, which control a home’s temperature based on the number of people in the house and can also alert users about open windows. With the new funding, the startup aims to scale up by incorporating smart energy pricing plans, which reduce energy costs by controlling heat pumps so they do not run at the most expensive times of day.


The 2023 Pasadena Showcase House of Design announced the roster of designers that will re-imagine this year’s property—an 11,000-square-foot American colonial house that served as the program’s 19th showhouse 40 years ago in 1983. For the event’s 58th annual edition, the group of 32 interior and exterior designers chosen to re-create the space include Rydhima Brar, Courtney Thomas and Rachel Duarte, among others.

Millionaire renters on the rise, Marie Kondo has quit tidying up and more
Anthropologie tapped star baker Jerelle Guy for a collection of bakeware and kitchen itemsCourtesy of Anthropologie

Launches & Collaborations

Anthroplogie partnered with Jerrelle Guy, star baker and author of the Black Girl Baking cookbook, for a collection of bakeware and kitchenware. Named after the eldest of Guy’s grandmother’s sisters, the Madea Collection includes a variety of kitchen items ranging from dessert plates and prep bowls to an apron and a dessert stand, with each piece rendered in vibrant hues and intricate floral patterns.

Pottery Barn Teen partnered with the Surfrider Foundation, an environmental nonprofit focused on ocean preservation, for a collection of eco-friendly decor items. The collaboration includes blue-toned bedding, decor, rugs, wall murals and bedroom furniture, featuring pieces crafted from responsibly harvested wood and recycled fishing nets.

Ikea appointed renowned American photographer Annie Leibovitz as the brand’s artist in residence in 2023. The decision to partner with Leibovitz came after the January release of Ikea’s 9th annual “Life at Home Report,” which revealed that almost half of people globally do not see their home reflected in the media. During Leibovitz’s tenure, she will travel around the world photographing people in their homes in seven different countries—Japan, the U.S., Germany, Italy, India, Sweden and England—to create a series of 25 portraits depicting life at home.

Sandow Design Group’s Surround podcast network announced a new slate of shows joining its programming this year. The additions include Clever, hosted by designer and television personality Amy Devers; Inhabit, sponsored by architecture firm Perkins&Will; Architecture 5 10 20, sponsored by FXCollaborative; Ask the Appliance Experts, from AjMadison Pro; and The Design Board, sponsored by UpSpring. “I’m hoping that we’re on the precipice of really exploding what podcasting can be for our industry,” says Bobby Bonett, Sandow Design Group’s executive vice president of digital and strategic growth. “Maybe a year from now, we’ll all be a bit more of a podcast super fan than we are right now.”

Recommended Reading

The rise of the post-pandemic hybrid office has ushered in a new kind of workplace—one that is often staffed at partial capacity and, as a result, features a new auditory environment characterized by one-sided Zoom conversations, the echo of fewer voices in a large space and small sounds (like clicking heels or whirring coffee makers) that travel longer distances. For Fast Company, Nate Berg profiles a company that i’s seeking to counter too-quiet office environments by developing sound models of physical spaces in order to help architects and designers incorporate noise-buffering furnishings into workplaces.

Marie Kondo built an organizing empire based on her ability to keep her home tidy—and, crucially, devoid of anything that fails to spark joy. Since welcoming her third child in 2021, that goal has changed a bit. As Jura Koncius writes for The Washington Post, Kondo’s latest book marks a departure from the strict tactics of her previous tomes and television shows, instead opting for a strategy that focuses on incorporating small calm-inducing moments and objects into life’s day-to-day chaos. “Up until now, I was a professional tidier, so I did my best to keep my home tidy at all times,” Kondo said at a recent webinar. “I have kind of given up on that in a good way for me. Now I realize what is important to me is enjoying spending time with my children at home.”

The global supply chain has yet to fully recover from the most dire days of the pandemic, with many new homebuyers wary of moving into houses that are completely empty as they wait for a new sofa or dining room table to be delivered. As Katherine Clarke writes for The Wall Street Journal, the situation has prompted a growing number of new homeowners to purchase their properties completely furnished, even going so far as to make unsolicited offers to home stagers or previous owners if the design is in keeping with their own taste.

Cue the Applause

London’s Design Museum announced Marco Campardo as the second recipient of The Ralph Saltzman Prize. The annual award honors emerging product designers, with the winner receiving a cash prize as well as an exhibit of their work. Compardo, a locally based designer and maker, creates objects, exhibitions and site-specific installs with a focus on manufacturing and material experimentation.

Homepage image: Pottery Barn Teen and the Surfrider Foundation have partnered for an eco-friendly decor collection. | Courtesy of Pottery Barn

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