news digest | Mar 26, 2024 |
NAR conspiracy lawsuit fallout continues, remembering Jeffrey Beers and more

This week in design, Gen Z is demonstrating its undying love for Tiffany lamps with the time-honored tradition of getting tattoos to honor the object of their affection. Stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches, events, recommended reading and more.

Business News
Real estate firm Compass has agreed to pay a $57.5 million settlement over allegations that it conspired to keep real estate commissions high—the same set of claims that led to recent multimillion-dollar settlements from brokerages like Keller Williams Realty, Re/Max Holdings and Anywhere Real Estate, along with the National Association of Realtors. As The Wall Street Journal reports, Compass has also agreed to adjust several of its business practices, including requiring its brokerages and their agents to disclose to clients that commissions are negotiable and that its agents’ services are not free. So far, the combined cost of the industry’s settlements related to the antitrust claims have totaled $684 million.

Wayfair debuted its first-ever line of brick-and-mortar stores for specialty furniture brand Birch Lane last week, debuting storefronts across three Florida locations: Sarasota, Boca Raton and Tampa. As local news channel WTSP reports, the new locations will feature furnishings and decor the brand offers online, along with free design services by appointment. The company already operates storefronts for its AllModern and Joss & Main brands in the Boston area, and plans to debut a flagship Wayfair store in Illinois this year.

A majority of voters in Chicago struck down Mayor Brandon Johnson’s “mansion tax” referendum last week, which would have increased taxes on real estate transactions of $1 million or more, Bloomberg reports. Roughly 53 percent of voters opposed the measure, which aimed to fund efforts to combat homelessness by raising up to $100 million a year. In the months leading up to the vote, the referendum faced challenges from real estate trade organizations, which filed a lawsuit earlier this year targeting the language issued in the ballot question; and fiscal watchdog group Civic Federation, which raised concerns about the measure’s lack of detail. Last year, Los Angeles passed a similar measure, requiring a 4 percent tax on residential and commercial real estate deals above $5 million, and a 5.5 percent tax on sales above $10 million, with funds allocated toward affordable housing and emergency rental assistance.

Soho House is expanding its reach into India with plans to launch two new outposts in New Delhi and South Mumbai in the coming years, building off the success of its Soho House Mumbai debut more than five years ago, Hotelier India reports. The club also announced that it is rolling out its Cities Without Houses membership in six cities across India, offering curated programming for members in locations where the brand doesn’t have a central location. As Surface reports, the announcement builds off a period of far-reaching expansion for Soho House, which unveiled new locations in Mexico City, Nashville and São Paulo over the past year, along with an outpost in Portland, Oregon, just last week.

Intellectual property advisory firm Hilco Streambank is seeking offers to acquire Klaussner’s brand assets, including the home furnishings company’s trademarks, domain name, product catalog, wholesale customer list and vendor list. According to Furniture Today, the firm is accepting expressions of interest until March 28. Before Klaussner’s abrupt closure last year, it was one of the largest privately owned furniture companies in the country, offering a variety of products and operating with a network of wholesale partners, including Wayfair and Mattress Firm.

Italian Design Brands has changed its name to Dexelance—a combination of the words design and excellence, Women’s Wear Daily reports. According to the company, the rebranding marks a push toward accelerating international growth. While Dexelance currently owns 11 Italian companies and 14 Italian brands (including Gervasoni, Saba Italia and Meridiani), it began a long-term expansion plan last year with the debut of its first U.S. headquarters in New York. At the time, the company also announced that it would seek to expand its presence in cities like Chicago, Miami, Dallas, Boston, and Washington, D.C. Earlier this month, CEO Andrea Sasso told WWD that the company is in talks to acquire additional companies.

Launches & Collaborations
Philip Stein, founder of the New York–based Philip Stein Design Collective, launched a new luxury rug company called Postcard. Rooted in global craftsmanship, the brand’s offerings are entirely hand-made by artisan communities in Nepal, Turkey, India, Morocco and Peru, and can be shopped in Philip Stein Design Collective’s Manhattan showroom and in a new flagship Postcard showroom debuting in Chicago next month.

Selections from the new luxury rug company, Postcard
Selections from Postcard, a new luxury rug brandCourtesy of Postcard

Actress Deepika Padukone teamed up with Pottery Barn for a collection inspired by her Indian heritage. The home furnishings assortment includes a range of embroidered pillows, decorative accessories and rugs imbued with neutral hues and soft textures, designed to create a refuge at home.

U.K.–based homeware brand Joseph Joseph has debuted its first cookware pieces with the introduction of the Space collection. The 13-piece assortment merges functionality with design for a variety of pots, pans and accessories—all of which are made with a nontoxic, nonstick ceramic coating free of PFAS.

Recommended Reading
The search for a Birkin bag is notoriously difficult. So difficult, in fact, that French luxury brand Hermès no longer even maintains waitlists, shrouding the purchasing process in mystery—and creating a growing desperation among sidelined buyers. Last week, two such shoppers filed a class action lawsuit against the company, accusing it of violating antitrust law by selling bags only to its highest-spending customers. For The New York Times, Jacob Bernstein unpacks the case’s potential implications for the world of ultraluxury design.

White walls, sleeping pods, Pierre Jeanneret furniture—these are just a few of the commonalities uncovered among the creative sanctuaries of today’s leading artists, whose houses often reflect the aesthetic qualities expressed in their own work. T: The New York Times Style Magazine’s March design issue peeks inside the homes of creatives from across the world to reveal how they’ve curated a space to “rest, work and dream.”

With home prices up roughly 40 percent since before the pandemic, house flippers are targeting owners who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments, The Wall Street Journal reports. While the number of annual foreclosures remains far below where it was during the financial crisis, lenders are now filing more foreclosure starts compared to the last few years, and a growing number of homeowners are pulling funds from their 401(k)s to catch up on payments. In response, individual investors are using searchable databases to target homeowners who have received default notices with the goal of making a purchase before the home reaches foreclosure.

The 2024 Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Southeastern Designer Showhouse will take place this year at a 10,000-square-foot, newly constructed home in the Buckhead area of Atlanta. The residence, located in the city’s Tuxedo Park neighborhood, includes a cedar-shake roof, painted brick exterior and oval pool, along with six bedrooms and six bathrooms—all of which will be re-imagined by a group 18 designers, including Melanie Turner, Cheryl Luckett and Jessica Davis. The space will be open to the public for tours from April 18 through May 12, with proceeds to benefit local nonprofit organization Camp Twin Lakes.

The Kips Bay Decorator Show House New York has announced the list of designers and architects chosen for this year’s showhouse, located at 125 East 65th Street. The group includes Beth Diana Smith, Kit Kemp, Mikel Welch and more. The transformed space will be open to the public from May 2 to May 28, with proceeds benefiting the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club.

In Memoriam
Jeffrey Beers, founder and CEO of architecture, design and planning studio Jeffrey Beers International, passed away earlier this month at age 67 after a long battle with cancer. As The Architect’s Newspaper reports, Beers began his career under the tutelage of some of the industry’s greatest minds: When he was an architecture student at RISD, he studied glassblowing with artist Dale Chihuly, and then earned a Fulbright Scholarship to study with architect Oscar Niemeyer in Brazil. After returning to New York, he worked for architect I.M. Pei for several years before founding his eponymous company in 1986, at the age of 30. In the years to follow, Beers built up an impressive clientele that included Jay-Z, The Ritz-Carlton, and renowned chefs Gordon Ramsay and Daniel Boulud, leaving behind a legacy for creating some of New York’s most memorable spaces. “Our team, past and present, mourns the loss of our visionary leader, mentor and dear friend,” read a statement from JBI’s social media.

Artist, architect and designer Caroline Beaupère passed away last week at the age of 50. Born in Paris and raised in Provence, Beaupère came to the U.S. in 1997, where she worked on high-end commercial and residential projects for nearly a decade before launching her own design studio in 2005. Since then, her creativity has flourished across multiple mediums, ranging from design projects on Brooklyn brownstones, Parisian mansions, and spaces in iconic buildings like The Ritz-Carlton and Grand Hyatt, to woodwork and furniture design—including the Dune collection of dimensional bathtubs and washbasins, which won a Best of Year award from Metropolis and Interior Design magazines. “Still a newlywed, she was a loving wife to her husband Terence, a devoted daughter to her parents Michel and Joelle, a caring sister to her brother Sebastien, a doting aunt to her nephew Victor and niece Violette, and an affectionate stepmother to her sons Brendan and Aidan—and a deeply cherished friend to countless others,” reads her obituary. “She brought light to this world.”

The Magazine Antiques editor Gregory Cerio has passed away, according to a statement posted on the publication’s Instagram. Cerio’s career as a journalist began at magazines like People, House & Garden, and Modern, where he was founding editor. In 2016, he became editor of Antiques, and three years later he acquired the title alongside publisher Don Sparacin and established it as an independent company. “Greg’s overarching goal was ‘to tell good stories.’ Whether publishing—or writing—articles about eighteenth-century furniture, mid-century stylings, or the strange and fascinating output of folk artists and artisans, he did so unfailingly,” the statement reads. “He will be deeply missed.”

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