news digest | Nov 28, 2023 |
Remembering Brooke Gomez, a French furniture scandal heads to trial and more

The term Christmas creep used to refer to holiday decor that went up well before the big event—now, it has extended to other occasions, like Halloween, Easter and Pride Month, putting some homes and stores into seasonal festive overdrive. Stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches, events, recommended reading and more.

Business News

As employers increasingly move back to in-person office policies, employees’ home-buying decisions no longer reflect the geographic freedom of the remote-work era, The Wall Street Journal reports. According to a recent report by Redfin, roughly 10 percent of homesellers in the U.S. are looking to move because of return-to-work policies. The shift comes as major corporations like Apple, Walt Disney and Tesla have begun requiring workers to report to the office again—Google is going so far as to announce that it will consider office attendance in performance reviews. Some metropolitan areas are already seeing the early effects of the return-to-office impact on real estate, namely, a boost in an otherwise stalled housing market.

The global luxury market is projected to reach $1.6 trillion in 2023—an increase of 8 to 10 percent from last year, according to a new report by consultancy Bain & Company and Altagamma, the Italian luxury goods manufacturers’ association. Much of that success was concentrated outside the U.S. While Europe and Saudi Arabia fared well—thanks to a boost in tourism and an influx of luxury brands, respectively—the Americas saw a deceleration throughout the year, with an 8 percent drop in performance that the report credits to widespread economic uncertainty.

Rochester, New York–based home furnishings retailer Ruby-Gordon filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week, Furniture Today reports. In the filing, the third-generation-owned company listed an estimated $1 million to $10 million in total assets, with $1 million to $10 million in liabilities to an estimated 100 to 199 creditors. Owner and CEO Aaron Ruby told FT that the company has struggled to find its footing in the wake of the pandemic and following the sudden closure of Klaussner earlier this year, and that he hopes the filing will help Ruby-Gordon get back on track.

French antique furniture expert Bill Pallot, renowned antique dealer Laurent Kraemer and cabinetmaker Bruno Desnoues are heading to trial this week on charges of forgery after a seven-year-long investigation found evidence that Pallot and Kraemer sold fake 18th century antiques to high-profile buyers—including the Palace of Versailles and the crown prince of Qatar. As The Art Newspaper reports, the 138-page ruling issued in a French court earlier this week focused on Pallot (once referred to as “Le Père La Chaise,” a play on the Parisian cemetery Père Lachaise using the French word for chair), who allegedly commissioned a dozen gilded faux-historic seats from Desnoues before passing them on to the Kraemer gallery to sell. Now, he and Desnoues face charges of forgery, commercial fraud and money laundering, while Kraemer stands accused of negligence and having fabricated provenances.

During the pandemic, indoor air quality became a high priority in many homes and businesses after Covid-19 was identified as an airborne disease. As The New York Times reports, the need for improved indoor air quality has only increased since then, due to the rising threats of wildfires, increasing global temperatures and air pollution—more and more, simply opening windows doesn’t cut it. As those risks increase, so do those posed to people’s health, as poor air quality contributes to loss of concentration, lethargy, and more serious chronic illnesses like asthma and diabetes. In response, organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers have each put forth new guidelines in recent months on air quality monitors, filters and ventilation systems, for the first time centering the standards around health rather than comfort or energy conservation.

Remembering Brooke Gomez, a French furniture scandal heads to trial and more
Anthropologie tapped visual artist Coco Allred for a festival candle collectionCourtesy of Anthropologie

Launches and Collaborations

Los Angeles–based paint company Portola Paints is celebrating its 25th anniversary by teaming up with top designers to curate their own collections. The brand tapped top talents such as Brigette Romanek, Jake Arnold, Amber Lewis, Leanne Ford and Nickey Kehoe to choose hues that reflect their design styles.

Anthropologie tapped Seattle-based designer and educator Coco Allred to craft a festive three-piece candle collection, available in the scents Fresh Fern Moss, Fresh Orangery, and Fresh Hibiscus & Pink Guava, each of which is outfitted with a corresponding colored glass design. All of the sales from the series will directly benefit the YoungArts foundation, which supports emerging artistic talent.

Recommended Reading

In 2020, Paris-based antiques dealer Alisanne Frew purchased a 19th century Bordeaux-area château. The only catch? Some assembly was required … The historic home was in 5,389 pieces, stacked on pallets and stored in the South of France. For The Wall Street Journal, J.S. Marcus catches up with Frew, now in pursuit of a U.S. buyer for the $7.5 million home (still in pieces). Built in 1890, it was taken apart in 1980 by a master stonemason—which makes it a particularly rare find, as the strict patrimony laws France passed in the early 1990s would otherwise prohibit the export of such structures.

Colorful walls, curated coffee tables, reading nooks with upholstered furniture—the same decor components that make up Instagram-friendly residential settings are now being used by employers to lure workers back to the office with photo-ready spaces. For The New York Times, Emma Goldberg and Anna Kodé take a trip through bygone office eras, tracing the path from cubicle farm to tech utopia up to today’s Instagrammable office for a sense of how changing worker culture affects workplace design.

Call for Entries

Design Within Reach kicked off its 20th annual Champagne Chair Contest in partnership with Champagne Pommery, challenging entrants to create a chair model using the foil, cap, cage, cork and label (everything but the glass) from no more than two bottles of champagne, sparkling wine or sparkling cider. For the chance to win up to $1,000 in prizes, send your submission here before the January 7, 2024, deadline.

In Memoriam

Brooke Gomez, the celebrated interior designer, has passed away. She was 49. Though she had originally intended to pursue a career in law, Gomez—the daughter of Mariette Himes Gomez—took what was intended to be a temporary position at her mother’s firm in the early 2000s and ended up staying on for 17 years. Gomez eventually struck out on her own in 2019, telling Business of Home at the time that she was excited to explore new aesthetic ground and collaborate with new partners. “Everything is an open book now,” she said. “It’s this feeling of, ‘What couldn’t I do?’” After her passing, the design industry took to Instagram to celebrate Gomez’s life, work and spirit. “Heartbreaking news. Brooke was a delight,” wrote design editor Margaret Russell. “High energy, endless creativity and such a generous soul.”

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