news digest | Jul 5, 2022 |
RH lowers expectations, armed robbers hit TEFAF and more

For those who want to extend home luxury to their canine companions, Gucci has debuted a new line of sofa-shaped dog beds. Whatever happens next, stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches and events, recommended reading and more.

Business News

Pinterest co-founder and chief executive Ben Silbermann stepped down from his post last week, The New York Times reports. After helming the platform for more than a decade, Silbermann took Pinterest public in 2019 and oversaw its growth to 431 million users and $2.6 billion in revenue last year. While Silbermann moves into the role of executive chairman, Bill Ready, a veteran of PayPal and Google, will become the company’s new chief executive. According to a Pinterest spokeswoman, the change is a response to the company’s goal of improving its action-based features, including shopping, by leveraging Ready’s track record with payments and e-commerce businesses.

Last week, RH lowered its sales expectations for the year, pointing to slowing demand due to a “deteriorating” economy. The company said it expects revenue to decline by between 2 and 5 percent in the fiscal year 2022—an adjustment of its June prediction of revenue growth of up to 2 percent. According to chief executive Gary Friedman, the next several quarters will be a “short-term challenge,” as rising mortgage rates, declining home sales and increasing interest rates curb consumer demand. Following the news, the retailer’s stock fell 9 percent, but has since recovered—though altogether this year RH shares have dropped nearly 39 percent.

San Francisco–based real estate company HomeLight has laid off 19 percent of its workforce, RealTrends reports, just days after announcing the completion of a $115 million Series D fundraising round. A company spokesperson stated that HomeLight had no plans to pivot its business and that the layoffs affected a variety of “functions and levels throughout the company.” Employees speaking under the condition of anonymity placed the number of laid-off workers at around 200. HomeLight joins a growing group of real estate and mortgage companies, including Sundae, Orchard and Knock, to implement layoffs following recently rising interest rates and stalled home demand.

In related news, United Furniture Industries, the parent company of case goods upholstery manufacturer Lane, has reduced its global workforce from more than 3,000 to just over 2,700, Home News Now reports. The company is also shifting its production facility in Amory, Mississippi, to a warehouse operation, closing a plant in High Point and shifting its Winston-Salem, North Carolina upholstery manufacturing plant to an East Coast distribution center. In a statement, CEO Todd Evans attributed the restructuring to slowing consumer demand, leading to high inventory levels and a low influx of new orders. A similar predicament also prompted a recent round of layoffs at Southern Motion and Fusion Furniture.

The union contract for dockworkers along the West Coast is in continued negotiations after Friday’s expiration of its former agreement, with an outcome that will affect the global supply chains at large. As The New York Times reports, negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union—which represents 22,000 workers at 29 ports from San Diego to Seattle—and the shipping terminals’ Pacific Maritime Association have focused largely on whether to increase wages for unionized workers and the possibilities of expanding automation to speed up production. In case of protracted negotiations, some retailers began pushing up their timetables months ago and utilizing East and Gulf Coast ports, while President Biden has already intervened to urge negotiators to reach a swift agreement—factors that experts hope will prevent severe backlogs.

Former president Barack Obama called out liberal NIMBYs—an acronym for Not In My Backyard, referring to residents who oppose new developments such as affordable housing in their communities—during his keynote talk at this year’s American Institute of Architects Conference. As Curbed reports, Obama pointed to “resistance to affordable, energy-sustainable mixed-use and mixed-income communities” as a contributing factor in the nation’s ongoing housing crisis. His remarks echo a critique that’s been emerging among progressive politicians lately, most notably with representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez this year launching a PAC to support candidates who pledge to enact policy changes allowing multifamily housing in affluent neighborhoods for the creation of permanent affordable housing.

Armed robbers broke into the art fair TEFAF Maastricht in the Netherlands last week—the first in-person edition of the event since 2020—prompting an investigation by the Dutch police, ArtNews reports. Though the fair was briefly evacuated after the incident, no one was hurt and no objects (the event is known for offering antiquities and old master paintings) were stolen. A video of the attempt was posted to social media, documenting a chaotic scene in which multiple men swarmed a glass display case as one attempted to break it.

Launches & Collaborations

British interior and furniture designer Ilse Crawford has introduced a new cookware collection for Ikea—the latest debut from the two longtime collaborators. As House Beautiful reports, the Finmat line features four copper pots and pans imbued with Crawford’s signature Scandi style.

Recommended Reading

According to recent data, the global population is steadily getting older. Although U.S. life expectancy has dipped since the pandemic, it’s still trending upward in the long term, with one report finding that half of all 5-year-olds currently living in the U.S. can expect to make it to their 100s. As Nate Berg reports for Fast Company, senior housing developers are beginning to anticipate how such demographic shifts will affect their business by designing their newest facilities for people who may be seniors for more than 40 years—an effort that includes swapping out bingo halls and golf courses for design features promoting healthy and active lifestyles for as long as possible.

As some artists and designers have recently discovered, there’s one kind of interior space that’s often overlooked—the inside of a swimming pool. For Elle Decor’s summer issue, Tim McKeough provides an overview of the design cohort taking advantage of their newfound blank canvases with colorful paints, patterns and tiling—as well as a few pioneering examples that made a splash in the past.

In Memoriam

Marcus Fairs, founder, CEO and editor in chief of global design magazine Dezeen, passed away last week at age 54. As Dezeen reports, Fairs launched the magazine out of his spare bedroom in 2006 and oversaw its growth into one of the most influential publications covering architecture, interiors and design, further securing its future by facilitating last year’s acquisition of the company by Danish media giant JP/Politiken Media Group. Fairs is survived by his wife and fellow Dezeen director, Rupinder Bhogal; his children, Jordi and Millie Fairs; his parents, David Fairs and Georgina Ledward; and his sister, Elly Fairs. “Tragically, our leader and mentor is no longer with us,” says chief content officer Benedict Hobson. “But the entire Dezeen team is committed to continuing what Marcus started and ensuring that his legacy stands the test of time.”

Homepage photo: TEFAF Maastricht 2022 | Courtesy of TEFAF

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