news digest | Jan 16, 2024 |
Pottery Barn CEO to retire, how algorithms broke our taste and more

This week in design, Jeremy Allen White recently starred in a Calvin Klein campaign that saw the actor lounging in his underwear on a vintage couch, and now it seems the “hottest seat in town” is up for grabs on Facebook Marketplace. Stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches, events, recommended reading and more.

Business News
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has recalled millions of anti-tip kits from Vietnamese manufacturer NewAge Industries after two reports of the restraints breaking, Home News Now reports. According to the CPSC, the kit’s plastic zip-tie-style restraint can become brittle and break, posing a risk of the furniture tipping over and causing injuries, particularly to small children. The product is utilized by 28 companies, including Ashley Furniture Industries, Bassett Furniture Industries and Hooker Furnishings, all of which are participating in the recall. Those with kits manufactured as of November 2019 can contact Alliance4Safety for a free replacement.

Upholstered furniture manufacturer Our House Designs has acquired custom leather seating manufacturer Leathercraft Furniture, Home News Now reports. The purchase price was not disclosed, but the deal includes Leathercraft’s name and intellectual property, as well as its customer lists and some equipment. It excludes the company’s frame shop and Conover, North Carolina–based production facilities. Operations will move to OHD’s plant in nearby Hickory. Leathercraft CEO Staley Keener, whose father founded the business in 1952, will retire following the acquisition, and OHD will retain about a fifth of Leathercraft’s 45-person workforce. According to HNN, OHD president Parker Maricich said that the purchase allowed Leathercraft to avoid ceasing operations altogether after a separate deal fell through last fall.

Leggett & Platt—a manufacturer of residential, commercial and auto components—has announced a restructuring plan that will see the company close up to 15 production and distribution facilities from its bedding operations, as well as a number of production facilities in its home furniture and flooring products division. As Furniture Today reports, the factory locations and number of employees affected were not disclosed. Leggett president and CEO Mitch Dolloff told FT that the restructuring was implemented to enhance efficiency following a period of “unprecedented change” in the bedding market in recent years.

Italian biomaterials startup Mogu has completed a $12 million Series A funding round with participation from French luxury group Kering, Business of Fashion reports. Founded in 2015, the company specializes in developing mycelium-based leather alternatives for the textile, leather, interior and automotive sectors, currently offering a range of wall, floor and acoustic interior design products. Following the investment, the company plans to change its name to Sqim and open a new production plant.

Direct-to-consumer brands had a tough year in 2023, with many struggling to secure new funding as interest rates reached record highs, but now their future might be looking up. As Business of Fashion reports, retail sales increased 4 percent in November, consumer sentiment rose 14 percent month-over-month in December, and the Federal Reserve plans to cut interest rates this year—if those positive economic indicators continue throughout the year, it could lead to a new wave of funding, acquisitions and IPOs in the DTC sector, even if valuations don’t reach the heights they did in 2021.

Room & Board has been awarded B Corp Certification—a designation given to businesses that meet a certain level of social and environmental standards and commit to long-term, sustainable strategies. To earn the distinction, the company set measurable goals such as a commitment to use 100 percent sustainably sourced wood and recyclable packaging by 2025.

Container shipping rates spiked last week after the U.S. and U.K. launched air strikes on Yemen in retaliation for the country’s Iran-backed Houthi forces attacking ships in the global trade channel, Reuters reports. The conflict has forced major operators like Maersk to reroute ships from the Red Sea and Suez Canal to the longer route around Africa’s southernmost tip—adding roughly 10 days and $1 million in fuel costs for a trip from Asia to Europe—prompting a ripple effect of delays and causing rates on certain routes to double. As a result, importers like Ikea and Tesla are already reporting product shortages or warning customers of delivery delays.

Pottery Barn CEO to retire, how algorithms broke our taste and more
The Betül Tunç Anthropologie collectionCourtesy of Betül Tunç

CEO Marta Benson is retiring from Pottery Barn Brands, planning to officially step down on April 26 after 13 years with Williams-Sonoma Inc., Retail Dive reports. Benson served as president of Pottery Barn for nearly seven years before her role was expanded last January. During her time with the company, she led the acquisition of lighting, home improvement and furniture brand Rejuvenation, and developed personalized gift-giving brand Mark & Graham. Following her departure, Pottery Barn president Monica Bhargava and Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen president Jennifer Kellor will assume Benson’s responsibilities.

Ikea debuted its 10th annual “Life at Home” report, surveying more than 37,000 people across 38 countries about their home habits and design plans. Among respondents, 56 percent are looking to move or renovate their homes within the next two years (with 34 percent planning to move and 22 percent planning to stay and renovate). Elsewhere, the survey found that 72 percent of respondents see a connection between living sustainably and feeling positive about life at home.

Launches & Collaborations
Anthropologie teamed up with content creator Betül Tunç for a homeware collection inspired by the recipe creation and home-made cooking she documents on her Instagram account, @turkuazkitchen. The 25-piece product assortment includes dishware, cooking and baking tools decorated with traditional Iznik patterns, nodding to Tunç’s Turkish roots.

Honolulu-based design studio Averylily launched its inaugural Home Collection, offering an array of bed, bath, art and beach items inspired by Hawaii’s natural surroundings. Along with debuting home essentials, the brand will also begin partnering with local artists and makers, beginning with a collaboration with Honolulu-based Andrew Mau of design, build and retail venture Mau-House.

Pottery Barn CEO to retire, how algorithms broke our taste and more
The Big Island quilt by AverylilyCourtesy of Averylily

Recommended Reading
The “restocking” video genre—in which individuals unpackage goods and place them in personalized containers at home—might have started out as a niche social media trend, but it has since transformed into a robust online world: Content creators are racking up billions of views from their clips, all while earning income from companies that want their products featured in a video. As Amanda Mull writes for The Atlantic, the community’s sudden rise in popularity is not as random as it seems, and might ultimately signal the latest development in the evolution of domestic expectations.

In the age of algorithms, it’s easier than ever to find the things you like—or at least the things people similar to you like—from TV shows to online shopping. But as The New Yorker staff writer Kyle Chayka has written, those same digital processes can also spin us further from strange and unusual options that would otherwise inform our taste as individuals. Chayka joins The Ezra Klein Show to unpack this cultural phenomenon and explore what it means to strengthen your sense of personal taste.

The average national monthly rent is $1,700, according to a recent report by RentCafe—but what exactly will that get you? As Michael Kolomatsky writes for The New York Times, it all comes down to location: While $1,700 leases an average of 944 square feet, the most affordable areas in the U.S. could promise double that amount of space—and in the most expensive areas, finding any rental at that rate is a challenge.

Cue the Applause
WithIt, a women’s leadership development network for the home and furnishings industry, has announced the nominees for the 2024 WOW Awards, recognizing individuals who have demonstrated a significant impact on their companies and the industry at large. Kimberly Joi McDonald, Bill Creekmuir and Ann Reynolds have been nominated for the Mentoring Award; Sarah Galimidi and Debbie Otten for the Leadership Award; Courtney Panther, Jenny Cano and Hillary Frank for the Future Leader Award; and Sylvia Curtis, Karen Glass and Jill Mainwaring for the Sales Excellence Award. Barbara Bradford, the CEO of Visionary Sleep, will receive this year’s Visionary Award—the organization’s highest honor. The finalists will be recognized on January 28 during an event at Winter Las Vegas Market.

Call for Entries
The Sub-Zero, Wolf and Cove Kitchen Design Contest is now accepting entries from trade professionals who completed innovative kitchen design projects in private residential spaces between January 1, 2022, and December 21, 2023. For more information or to submit an entry, click here.

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