news digest | Dec 7, 2021 |
Pinterest bets on video, furniture shoppers ignore inflation, and more

It’s tempting to make yourself at home while visiting Ikea’s many room displays—this week, several dozen shoppers in Aalborg, Denmark, had no choice in the matter when a snowstorm stranded them in the store overnight. They dined on Swedish meatballs, wandered around the showroom and slept in beds of their choice. Surprise slumber parties aside, read on for Business of Home’s monthly roundup of arrivals and departures in design, manufacturing, media and more.

Business News

Inflation reached its highest point in more than 30 years last month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accompanied by a 6 percent price hike for consumer products over the last year. The furniture sector is one of the most affected consumer categories, with some reports showing price increases of 12 percent or more. Still, a study commissioned by Furniture Today shows that shoppers remain undeterred, as consumer visits to brick-and-mortar retail locations have continued to increase throughout the year—since September, the national average for foot traffic in furniture and mattress stores has increased by 48 percent.

The U.S. housing market may be hot right now, but real estate in the metaverse is even hotter, as investment firms continue to acquire digital land on virtual shared platforms like Sandbox and Decentraland. According to The Wall Street Journal, the virtual real estate world hit a new high last week when metaverse real estate development firm Republic Realm, led by managing director Janine Yorio, paid $4.3 million for land in Sandbox, marking the biggest sale of its kind publicized to date. (At BOH’s Future of Home conference in September, Yorio explained what’s driving the virtual real estate market and why the metaverse is so ripe for investment.) The deal broke a record set just a week before, when a subsidiary of Canadian investment firm Tokens.com Corp. paid $2.5 million for land in Decentraland’s fashion district.

In an effort to bolster its supply chain capabilities, Ashley Furniture has entered into an agreement to purchase the West Coast truck fleet of Springfield, Missouri–based transportation company Wilson Logistics. According to Home News Now, the deal, which is expected to close by year’s end, marks the company’s first logistics-related acquisition and would double the brand’s current fleet of trucks and transportation services.

Pinterest has acquired video-editing app Vochi for an undisclosed sum, TechCrunch reports, bringing in Vochi’s IP, founders and 40-person team to expand its own video-creation tools. The move follows a shift in Pinterest’s offerings over the past year, with a new focus on video content through initiatives like its Idea Pins, Creator Originals, and a video-browsing page called the Watch tab, where the platform encouraged user participation with $20 million in creator awards.

Hometap, a startup that allows homeowners to take on an investor in their property, has announced the completion of a $60 million investment round, reports TechCrunch. Founded in 2017, the company offers users a way to borrow against the equity in their homes without taking on loans—as investors provide cash, they’re given a share of the home’s future value in exchange, and when the house sells or the homeowner settles the investment, Hometap receives a percentage of the sale. The company’s revenue growth has more than tripled this year, and it plans to use the new capital for scaling its staff, programs and partnerships and expanding operations nationwide.

Wayfair has announced plans to open three brick-and-mortar retail stores next year to represent two of the e-commerce home furnishing giant’s specialty retail brands. The new locations will all be in Massachusetts: a Joss & Main in Burlington and an AllModern in Lynnfield and in Dedham. As Home News Now reports, the stores are the first in a series of openings rolling out over the next two years, during which time Wayfair plans to launch additional locations for all five of its brands in “optimal formats, sizes and geographies.”

Launches and Collaborations

Actress and podcast host Busy Philipps has partnered with Amazon Handmade to curate a holiday collection and co-design several items, teaming up with five artisans to create a range of paintings, accessories, home goods, stationery, planters and jewelry. Her collaborators include Austin, Texas–based illustrator KathyPhantastic; Amsha, a home goods company based in Portland, Oregon, and East Africa; Plano, Texas–based stationer Fairmont & Grove Paper Co.; Italy-based knitting resource The Yarn Kitchen; and New Jersey–based jewelry company T. Victoria.

In a collaboration with Danish homeware design company Room Copenhagen, the Lego Group has unveiled a new home goods line inspired by its colorful toy blocks, Furniture Today reports. The collection includes life-sized Legos fashioned into desk drawers, wall hangers, picture frames and book racks, along with stackable storage items crafted from sustainably sourced red oak.

Showroom Representation

Starting during Déco Off in January 2022, de Gournay’s newly redesigned Paris showroom will showcase furnishing brand Fisher Weisman Collection for a yearlong exposition. The partnership will mark the wallcovering brand’s introduction into representation in the European market.

Recommended Reading

Unmade beds, dirty dishes, general clutter—such messes don’t usually find their way into shelter magazines, but when interiors magazine Apartamento made its debut more than 13 years ago, the editorial team set out to expose the stylish yet lived-in side of its subjects’ homes. For Ssense, Sophie Haigney gathers Apartamento’s founders for an oral history of the cult publication they started in their 20s and explains how the project continues to push boundaries today.

Many of the design emblems that came to define the “millennial aesthetic”—namely bubblegum pink, cane furniture and arches—may be on their way out, according to a recent survey from online auction house 1stDibs. Among the 750 interior designers who participated, fewer than 5 percent expect the look to be popular next year. For Curbed, Diana Budds takes a look at the report’s style predictions for the year ahead.

The supply chain is in a prolonged, unprecedented rut, but how did things get so complicated? The New York Times has created an interactive infographic to demonstrate how the pandemic’s effect on consumer spending—an economic slowdown followed by a rapid rise in demand for durable goods—set off a chain reaction that the shipping and export industry has yet to catch up to.

Cue the Applause

The American Society of Interior Designers Foundation has announced the recipients of its 2021 Transform Research Grants, which bring awareness to design practices that aid educational communities. This year’s $70,000 award-winning project is led by Renae Mantooth, an education-sector design researcher leading a study on how moving a predominantly Hispanic school from a dense urban setting to a larger, greener location will impact well-being, academic outcomes and college readiness among at-risk and first-gen students. Additionally, $30,000 has been awarded to a study led by J. Davis Harte, director and faculty of design for human health at Boston Architectural College, who aims to develop an interior-focused, trauma-informed design evaluation for K–12 schools.

Homepage image: The home goods collection created by the Lego Group and Room Copenhagen | Courtesy of the Lego Group

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