news digest | Sep 12, 2023 |
Former MG+BW employees file suit, TikTok Shop’s debut raises red flags and more

This week in design, the White House Situation Room reemerged from a $50 million renovation designed to secure top-secret communications conducted within the facility—though the space also underwent an aesthetic upgrade, complete with color-changing LED lights, walls crafted with sustainably sourced wood and a new White House seal etched into a marble slab sourced from a Virginia quarry. Stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches, events, recommended reading and more.

Business News
Two former employees of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams filed a class action lawsuit against the company following its abrupt closure last week, Home News Now reports. The plaintiffs, Gail Dillon and Tenisha Rodgers, allege that MG+BW violated federal and state laws by not providing enough notice of closure (60 days according to U.S. laws and 90 days according to New York state laws for eligible employees). The case marks the second class action lawsuit filed against the company, in addition to a similar case filed by two employees on behalf of MG+BW’s former 533-person North Carolina workforce.

Noble House Home Furnishings—a furniture supplier for big-name brands like Amazon, Wayfair and Target—has filed for bankruptcy, citing inflation and dampened consumer spending for its financial troubles. As Bloomberg reports, the company listed assets and liabilities of at least $100 million each in its bankruptcy petition, and plans to remain in operation as it works to become acquired by GigaCloud Technology (which has agreed to buy the company’s assets, setting the bar for further offers) or another bidder by an October 31 closing date. Founded in 1992, the California-based Noble House was the distributor, manufacturer and retailer of brands like Christopher Knight Home, LePouf and OkiOki.

WeWork’s interim CEO David Tolley announced plans to renegotiate nearly all of the company’s leases for underperforming locations, CNBC reports, just weeks after warning of bankruptcy risks due to mounting losses. Since WeWork’s failed initial public offering in 2019, the company has been on the decline despite investments from principal owner SoftBank. Its market cap today sits at $200 million, down from a private market peak of $47 billion, due in part to the mass vacancies in office buildings post-pandemic.

When the current owners of Marilyn Monroe’s former Los Angeles home acquired a demolition permit for the property last week, the news prompted an outpouring of protest from around the world, LAist reports. In response, the Los Angeles City Council passed a motion saving the house from demolition by beginning the process to declare it a historic cultural monument. The city’s Cultural Heritage Commission now has 75 days to approve the property’s protected status. “Our city’s history is sadly strewn with cultural and architectural masterpieces that have been lost to the wrecking ball, profit and short-sightedness,” said council member Traci Park in a statement. “And once we lose that history, we can never get it back.”

The National Retail Federation acquired the Reverse Logistics Association—a global trade organization that manages the collecting, sorting, repair and refurbishment of products for resale and recycling, Furniture Today reports. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. According to NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay, the decision was motivated by increased consumer demand for sustainable offerings, with the hope that RLA’s logistics expertise would help the organization’s retailers develop circular practices.

Rock Hill, South Carolina–based textile design services company Springs Creative acquired Frank Cassata Designs, bringing its collection to more than 1 million documents, textiles, fabrics and artistic creations, Furniture Today reports. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Following the purchase, Frank Cassata will join Springs Creative in a consulting role, designing new wallpaper and prints, as well as transitioning his company’s archives to its new home in the Baxter Mill Archive design center in Rock Hill.

TikTok’s Shop marketplace is now live for some users in the U.S., though early reports reveal an abundance of cheap and potentially counterfeit goods on the platform. As Fortune reports, the app’s Shop page displays a scroll of random products ranging from streetwear and home goods to small toys and other items, in a new format that aims to sell $20 billion in merchandise this year. However, according to Fortune, the new feature’s offerings display many of the same signs of counterfeits that have plagued Amazon in the past, including misspelled brand names and implausible prices—the Home & Kitchen section, for example, contains items such as a $16 computer desk and an $8 three-piece polyester satin sheet set. The platform also hosts a number of Chinese brands that were previously banned from Amazon for faking customer reviews.

Left: Anthropologie teamed up with House of Hackney for a new collection featuring wallpaper, bedding, tabletop items and dishware Courtesy of Anthropologie | Right: A bar hutch from the recent collaboration Courtesy of Anthropologie

Launches & Collaborations
Anthropologie teamed up with British design brand House of Hackney for a new collection celebrating the outdoors. The product assortment includes wallpaper, bedding, tabletop items, dishware, case goods and more, all dressed in maximalist motifs designed to bring the outside in through bold prints, colors and fabrics.

The Container Store announced plans to expand into a variety of new product categories over the coming months as part of a new brand campaign called Uncontained. The company will roll out roughly 1,000 new products through the rest of the year, debuting new items in the areas of dining, entertaining, home decor and textiles. As part of the expansion, The Container Store will also carry a variety of outside brands from those categories in its brick-and-mortar stores this fall, including home goods company The Citizenry, kitchenware brand Material and coffee-gear maker Fellow.

Former MG+BW employees file suit, TikTok Shop’s debut raises red flags and more
A kitchen in this year’s Real Simple annual showhouse in BrooklynChristopher Testani/Real Simple

Real Simple debuted its sixth annual showhouse today, tapping a team of top designers to remake a New York apartment. Hosted in a duplex penthouse at Quay Tower in Brooklyn, this year’s 2,789-square-foot space features a rooftop terrace, a formal dining room, a kitchen, a lounging area, two conversation spaces and views of the Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn bridge. The group of designers and influencers chosen to revamp the home include Bobby Berk, Michelle Gage, Linda Hayslett, Megan Hopp, David Quarles IV, and Kim and Scott Vargo.

Flower Magazine will host its 2023 designer showhouse in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, this fall, calling upon 15 Southern designers to re-create the interiors of a luxury Georgian home. Located on the historic Goodwood Estate, the 6,000-square-foot house is complete with walled courtyard, an entryway with a floating stairwell, a gourmet kitchen, a butler’s pantry, a primary suite and dressing room, among other features. The re-imagined space will be open to the public for tours from November 3 to November 26, with proceeds to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The designers chosen to re-create the home include Arianne Bellizaire, Rachel Cannon, Kara Cox, James Farmer, Amanda Smith Fowler, Ashley Gilbreath, Chad Graci, Susan Hable, Will Huff and Heather Dewberry, Benjamin Johnston, Megan Molten, Lisa Palmer, Ware Porter, Laura Roland and Veronica Solomon.

Recommended Reading
In the TV series The Jetsons, the year 2026 promised a gleaming vision of automated home chores, with robotic arms that emerged from the walls to complete the laundry and dry cleaning. Sadly, there are no known plans for such an invention, but as Sophia Benoit writes for The Wall Street Journal, the home appliances industry is making big leaps forward: The past few years have seen a flurry of activity around the future of laundry, ranging from the flashy—like the vacuum-powered laundry chute Laundry Jet or the LG Styler steam closet, which refreshes clothes hung inside—to the more subtly innovative, like energy-efficient heat-pump dryers and washers with antimicrobial coating.

Blowout breakups, romantic reunions, petty grievances—the act of moving tends to conjure strong emotions, and it is often the team of hired movers who take a front-row seat to the most memorable moments in a couple’s relationship. For The New York Times, Gina Cherelus chats with a group of New York movers about their most intense experiences on the front lines—from on-again-off-again couples who forced movers to pack and repack entire houses to spouses who left their partner in secret—along with the moving-out habits that tend to be telltale signs of a relationship’s prognosis.

A rising trend has seen celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker, Drew Barrymore and Gwyneth Paltrow designing their own wallpaper collections—though feedback from fans reveals that their talent doesn’t always translate. As Clio Chang writes for Curbed, the sudden proliferation of A-lister-designed wallcoverings have culminated in a recent crossover moment where a pattern from Parker’s Wallshoppe collaboration made it into Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment in And Just Like That…, garnering renewed attention for the line, though not all positive. “It [definitely] made me think about incorporating wallpaper,” one fan wrote on Reddit. “But not that pattern.”

Cue the Applause
Luxe Interiors + Design announced the honorees on its inaugural Next in Design list, distinguishing the most promising designers across the country who are shaping the future of the industry. The debut cohort is divided into nine categories: artful innovators, colorful connoisseurs, curated collectors, global gurus, mix masters, natural inclined, new traditionalists, pattern players and the sophisticates—with honors going to designers including Sarah Weichel, Ashley Ross and Maria Wu, among others. For the full list, click here.

Call for Entries
Formica Corporation is now accepting entries for its seventh annual Form Student Innovation Competition. The contest invites architecture and design students in the United States, Canada or Mexico to design a piece of furniture for residential or commercial settings that incorporates their interpretation of “newstalgia” and includes three or more Formica or Fenix brand products. To submit an entry before the March 8 deadline, click here.

Homepage image: An office by designer Michelle Gage in Real Simple’s sixth annual showhouse, which tapped a team of top designers to remake a Brooklyn penthouse | Christopher Testani/Real Simple

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