news digest | May 10, 2022 |
Sarah Sherman Samuel collabs with West Elm, $46 million for lab-grown leather and more

Ceramics have become the latest celebrity pastime, with everyone from Seth Rogen to Parker Posey setting up shop behind the pottery wheel in recent months. Whatever comes next, stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches and events, recommended reading and more.

Business News

Lab-grown leather startup VitroLabs has completed a $46 million funding round, with participation from Kering SA, the owner of luxury fashion brands like Gucci and Saint Laurent. The California-based company produces cellular-cultivated leather that mimics the appearance and material structure of animal hides, Bloomberg reports—it’s part of a wave of startups to receive funding for the purpose of developing alternatives to animal products. The total of 95 firms working in the sector (more than half of which have cropped up since 2014) raised a combined $980 million last year, double the amount in 2020.

Tech-driven furniture sourcing startup Geniemode has secured $28 million in a Series B funding round led by Tiger Global—a raise that comes just a few months after the company’s $7 million Series A round, completed in January. As Furniture Today reports, Geniemode was founded in May 2021 to connect the artisan manufacturing base in India and Southeast Asia to retail buyers in the U.S. The company’s plans for the new capital include tapping into higher-end suppliers and providing customers with complete visibility of product flow throughout the supply chain.

Armstrong Flooring Inc. has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Bloomberg reports, citing its inability to raise prices high enough to offset rising supply chain and transportation costs. According to the filing, the company spent months searching for a buyer and negotiating with lenders, and now owes a total of $317.8 million to creditors. CEO Michel Vermette also noted in the filing that the Lancaster, Pennsylvania–based company faced $85 million in additional product and transportation costs last year, and plans to continue working with advisers at Houlihan Lokey Capital to find a buyer.

Communal housing startup Common, which has raised more than $100 million in venture-backed funding, faced controversy this week when a group of current and former tenants spoke to The Daily Beast about their negative experiences residing in the company’s properties. The variety of complaints include numerous roommate disputes, poor corporate communications, extensive maintenance delays and lax security which has allowed nonresidents to enter and sleep in communal areas. When reached for comment by TDB, a company spokesperson said, “Like any other property manager, we take every step to fix the situations we can control in our buildings but we cannot regulate the interpersonal behaviors between our residents … We take every precaution we can to ensure the best living experiences possible.”

Commercial furniture manufacturer Steelcase has acquired Minnesota–based wood furniture designer and manufacturer Halcon for $127.5 million, Woodworking Network reports. Established in 1977, Halcon produces custom wood tables, credenzas and desks for the workplace. The company has seen consistent growth over the past several years that resulted in a $56 million backlog of customer orders as of April 2022. Steelcase’s purchase of Halcon builds upon several previous acquisitions aimed at growing its portfolio and maintaining its top spot in the contract furniture market segment—prior to the Herman Miller acquisition of Knoll in 2021, Steelcase was ranked number one in the sector.

Total home equity for American homeowners increased by more than $6 trillion in the past two years, The New York Times reports, as the short supply and high demand of housing has caused properties to appreciate at a record pace during the pandemic. According to experts, the high value on homeownership along with the housing affordability crisis among renters is the result of a mass wealth creation event previously unseen in U.S. history—as mortgage market analysis company Black Knight estimates, the average homeowner with a mortgage has gained $67,000 in tappable equity.

Launches and Collaborations

Facebook parent company Meta has launched a new suite of digital tools for small business owners on its social media platforms, designed to provide better first-party data, Inc. reports. Available through Meta’s free Business Suite platform, the new features include a quote request option on Instagram, filtering options for finding the most relevant leads and the ability to download leads from Meta Business Suite into a business owner’s own CRM system.

Designer Sarah Sherman Samuel has teamed up with West Elm Kids and Pottery Barn Kids for a line of decor and home furnishings inspired by her own children, Archer and Clover. The 47-piece assortment includes furniture, bedding, lighting, rugs and accessories available in two color palettes—Desert and Forest. The collection features organic, nature-inspired shapes, with a rainbowlike headboard, mushroom-shaped stools and flower sconces.

Interior designer Amy Peltier has launched a new luxury pillow subscription service called Pillow Addict. In exchange for a membership, customers receive a new batch of rented pillow covers every three months (each of which are professionally cleaned in between uses) with collections updated with new designs every season.

Sarah Sherman Samuel collabs with West Elm, $46 million for lab-grown leather and more
Julia Berolzheimer, also known by her handle @GalMeetsGlam, teamed up with Pottery Barn for a decor collection
Courtesy of Pottery Barn

Pottery Barn has debuted its first collaboration in the garden category with the help of tastemaker and influencer Julia Berolzheimer, also known by her handle @GalMeetsGlam. The collection includes items in the decor, textile, tabletop and garden categories, featured in floral patterns and Berolzheimer’s signature green-and-blue–hued aesthetic.

HSN and actress JoAnna Garcia Swisher—star of Netflix’s Sweet Magnolias—have come together for the launch of a new home decor collection called Clover by Jo. Rooted in nature, the product line features everything from floral duvet covers to baskets and lanterns.

Recommended Reading

In honor of Barbra Streisand’s recent 80th birthday, Curbed’s Rachel Handler revisits the iconic performer’s 300-page home design manifesto, which details the construction and decoration of her sprawling estate in Malibu. To best summarize the reading experience, Handler rounded up 30 of the book’s Most Barbra Moments, with topics ranging from oil-drilling robots to Bill Clinton’s presidency—all of which are tied back to Streisand’s ideas on design.

When the first Shakers (a religious group originating in Manchester, England) arrived in Manhattan in 1774, they brought with them an aesthetic dominated by the rejection of adornment, with a focus on utility and craft. Now, the style is experiencing a resurgence in the fields of food, fashion, art and design, as a new group of tastemakers are finding themselves drawn toward Shaker simplicity in a time of post-pandemic upheaval. As Christopher Barnard reports for The New York Times, the trend is emerging in everything from traditionally made furniture and decor to Shaker-inspired restaurants and clothing.

Sadie Stein, an editor at The New York Times Book Review, often receives compliments for her home’s interior design scheme. To the unknowing observer, it appears to be an eclectic, maximalist paradise, but for Elle Decor, she reveals the hidden personal history behind her home’s style—a family legacy of hoarding, starting with her grandfather and passed down through her parents to her own family today. “The stories behind the things might not be what someone imagines at first glance: They are not heirlooms or pieces of commercial value. Maybe I even remember all the bad associations—the public fights, the tears,” writes Stein. “But they sit here, chosen, cared for, and loved. That is family history, too.”

Homepage image: Sarah Sherman Samuel teams up with West Elm Kids and Pottery Barn Kids | Courtesy of West Elm Kids and Pottery Barn Kids

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