news digest | Dec 12, 2023 |
Ralph Lauren Home has a new partner, the AD100 is announced and more

This week in design, the latest in sustainable home innovations has seen a Milan-based furniture manufacturer successfully turn fruit peels, orange seeds and spent coffee grounds into new creations—including stools, bookends, clocks, bowls and lamps. Stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches, events, recommended reading and more.

Business News
An investor group made a $5.8 million offer to buy Macy’s and take the department store chain private, The Wall Street Journal reports. The offer came from real-estate-focused investing firm Arkhouse and global asset manager Brigade Capital, which submitted a proposal to acquire the remainder of the company’s stock for $21 a share. Though the offer represents a 32 percent premium over last week’s closing price of $17.39, it still illustrates the tumble Macy’s has taken in recent years, having traded at $70 a share in 2015 before facing stiff competition from rising digital retailers. The store’s board has reportedly met to discuss the offer, though it has issued no public statement about it.

Apartment Therapy released its annual “State of Home Design” report, which surveyed more than 100 design experts on what’s to come in 2024. Designers predicted a trend toward homes that feel expressive of their inhabitants, with a focus on maximalism, personalized design, comfort and vintage wares (especially lighting, mirrors, glassware and artwork). They also made predictions for palettes that will reign supreme in 2024, with chocolate brown, camel and beige, burgundy, and forest green winning out—plus, 74 percent of the respondents said colorful cabinetry and bolder appliances and countertops will make a comeback.

Meanwhile, Pinterest took a different tack with its own report, utilizing search data from its user base of 482 million to invent potential microtrends of the future. In 2024, the report says, prepare to embrace out-there aesthetics like Hot Metals—a mix of gloopy chrome metallics and cool silver tones (searches for “aluminum furniture” are up 45 percent). Elsewhere, the report expects boomers and Gen Z to find common ground with Western Gothic, a decor style mixing Americana saloon with moody touches (searches for “Western bedding ideas” are up 310 percent”).

North Carolina–based upholstery manufacturer Newton Coley is closing its doors. Launched in 2021 by Lee Industries founder Bill Coley, the company had served dealers across the country, operating an 80,000-square-foot plant and a nearby workshop in the town of Newton, as well as a showroom in High Point’s Market Square Tower, Home News Now reports. In a letter to clients last week, Coley shared the news that weakened sales have forced the company to close after its three-year tenure. The statement also noted that payments made on incomplete orders will be refunded, and that Newton Coley plans to assist its workforce in finding new careers, keeping them on the health care plan until they are employed.

Grand Rapids, Michigan–based private equity firm Blackford Capital acquired LTD Online Stores—a patio-furniture e-commerce business and wholesale distributor based in San Diego, Casual News Now reports. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. The purchase marks another step toward Blackford Capital’s goal of consolidating its portfolio of patio brands into a one-stop outdoor furniture provider, following its recent acquisitions of Artificial Turf Supply and outdoor decor supplier Starfire Direct. LTD president of wholesale and retail Ben Harvey, and LTD Online president Todd Harmon will remain in their current roles following the acquisition.

Democratic legislators have introduced new bills seeking to block hedge funds from buying and owning single-family homes, The New York Times reports. Introduced in the Senate, the End Hedge Fund Control of American Homes Act of 2023 would require hedge funds to sell off all the single-family homes they own over a 10-year period. Another bill, introduced in the House, would require corporate owners of more than 75 single-family homes to pay an annual $10,000 fee per dwelling, with funds going toward down payment assistance for families. Though the bills likely won’t pass due to a divided Congress, backers say they were meant to draw attention to a growing issue: As corporate investors scoop up moderately priced homes in all-cash deals and convert them into rentals, they price out individual buyers and reduce the overall inventory of houses available to own, placing even more pressure on an already tight market. The practice began in 2008 in the wake of the housing crisis, but saw a sharp uptick in the last few years, with institutional investors owning 3 percent of all single-family rentals nationwide in 2022. In more affordable markets, that market share is greater—in Charlotte, North Carolina, for example, they own 20 percent.

As recently as last year, renters in the U.S. were competing in bidding wars to secure a place to live, even as rents had increased by 30 percent or more in most cities over a three-year period. The Wall Street Journal reports the market is beginning to see a reversal of that trend, with a surge of new building supply prompting landlords to reduce rental costs and offer a host of other creative incentives. In suburban Atlanta, landlords are offering free lawn care or housekeeping, while in Chicago, some tenants can spin a wheel to win gift cards to local businesses. According to Zillow, roughly one-third of apartment and home rental listings included some type of markdown—the highest rate since February 2021—and three times more apartment-rental buildings offered concessions this October compared with the same month two years ago.

Portland, Maine–based startup Simply Homes has secured a $22 million funding round led by Gutter Capital and Watchung Capital, TechCrunch reports. Founded in 2020, the company aims to address the affordable housing crisis by buying single-family homes in blighted areas in order to renovate them and rent them out to low-income families, older adults and people with disabilities. With the new capital, the startup plans to expand into new markets (it currently operates in Pittsburgh and Cleveland) and develop AI-powered virtual analysts to interpret data to inform acquisitions.

Launches and Collaborations
Pantone revealed that Peach Fuzz—a muted tone somewhere between pink and orange—is the color authority’s 2024 Color of the Year, chosen for its ability to exude comfort, inspire compassion and bring people together. “Peach Fuzz brings belonging, inspires recalibration and an opportunity for nurturing,” Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, wrote in the news release. “Drawing comfort from Pantone 13-1023 Peach Fuzz, we can find peace from within, impacting our well-being.”

Ralph Lauren Corporation announced a new partnership with luxury furniture provider Haworth Lifestyle Design. Set to launch on April 1, 2024, the collaboration will expand the production and distribution of Ralph Lauren’s Italian-made luxury furniture offerings, with Haworth producing the majority of the brand’s pieces in Italy on a made-to-order basis. It will also assume post-order customer service and white glove delivery for Ralph Lauren’s e-commerce and its worldwide stores. In addition, the partnership will facilitate a new network of freestanding Ralph Lauren Home stores operated by Haworth, which will be responsible for product development, sourcing and manufacturing, and marketing, as well as wholesale account management.

The 200-year-old whiskey brand Mortlach named French industrial designer and architect Philippe Starck as the brand’s first-ever creative director. The partnership will include the debut of a Mortlach x Starck collection, set to be unveiled in spring 2024.

Ralph Lauren Home has a new partner, the AD100 is announced and more
The trace heavyweight bedcover and repose cushion in flaxCourtesy of Cultiver x Colin King

Luxury linen brand Cultiver teamed up with interior stylist and artistic director Colin King for a capsule collection. The collaboration, inspired by King’s search for the perfect foundation bedding in his styling practice, features bedcovers, cushions and throws, all produced in Portugal and available in a palette of neutral earthy tones.

Recommended Reading
Bunk beds have long been a fixture of summer camps, hostels, childhood bedrooms—what about luxury homes? For The New York Times, Tim McKeough talks to designers who are adapting the style for their high-end clientele, favoring the feature for its space-saving and comfort-enhancing qualities.

As second-home buyers in Europe become accustomed to turnkey villas—where everything from light fixtures to cutlery is ready-made for move-in—developers are now upping the ante with a new amenity: fully operational vineyards and wineries. For The Wall Street Journal, J.S. Marcus surveys the growing prevalence of developers in Italy’s and Spain’s wine regions offering buyers the chance to oversee their own vineyard, cultivate their own private-label wine, and sometimes even have a hand in the winemaking process.

Cue the Applause
Architectural Digest announced the honorees on its 2024 AD100 list of the industry’s most influential architects and designers. This year’s list includes seven designers making their debut in the AD100 Hall of Fame: 2022 Pritzker prize–winning architect Francis Kéré, David Rockwell, Victoria Hagan, Jeffrey Bilhuber, Waldo Fernandez, Veere Grenney and Tino Zervudachi. The cohort also features 16 design and architecture talents making their debut on the list this year, including San Francisco Bay Area interior designer Lauren Geremia, New York–based interior designer Sara Story, and Los Angeles interior and product designers Todd Nickey and Amy Kehoe.

Want to stay informed? Sign up for our newsletter, which recaps the week’s stories, and get in-depth industry news and analysis each quarter by subscribing to our print magazine. Join BOH Insider for discounts, workshops and access to special events such as the Future of Home conference.