news digest | Jan 4, 2022 |
The Container Store makes an acquisition, the return of Murano glass, and more

The housing market remains tight, but the design industry continues to come up with innovative workarounds—in Britain, that means giving historical water towers a second life as luxury homes. Stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches and events, recommended reading, and more.

Business News

Efforts to relocate factories to the U.S. from manufacturing hubs in Asia—a process often called onshoring or reshoring—have surged since the pandemic began, largely in response to mounting challenges posed by a strained global supply chain. According to the New York Times, companies like General Motors, Toyota and memory chip manufacturer Micron Technology have either considered or announced plans to open domestic production plants in recent months, which experts point to as the first moves in a growing trend that could boost employment in the sector. Also picking up speed is the process of near-shoring, or moving manufacturing to nearby northern Mexico, which could also provide a solution to current supply chain issues.

The Container Store has announced the acquisition of Chicago-based home storage solutions and closet organization company Closet Works in a $21.5 million deal, Home Accents Today reports. Closet Works’s previous owner, Tom Happ, will stay on as president and assist in the transition. The sale will allow The Container Store to expand its manufacturing capabilities and wood-based product offerings with access to the closet company’s equipment and facilities in the U.S.

The construction industry had a banner year in 2021, recovering 80 percent of the one million jobs lost during the pandemic as the volume of new structures rose drastically across every category, including institutional, health care, housing and manufacturing, Metropolis reports. While a large number of projects ground to a halt during 2020’s lockdown, last year’s reopening allowed for the completion of countless new and renovated cultural venues, commercial developments and public buildings. The trend is expected to continue in 2022 thanks to the Biden administration’s $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which this year is predicted to push the volume of government-funded construction past the $400 billion mark for the first time ever.

Biomaterial companies also had a great 2021 as architects, designers and manufacturers sought new routes to low-carbon construction, Dezeen reports. Companies like Allbirds, which uses a sugarcane bioplastic sneaker foam, and Pyratex, a bio-based textile manufacturer, have reported explosive growth, with the latter nearly doubling its sales and clients since 2020. In one case, Dutch design studio Biobased Creations created a prototype home constructed using 100 different biomaterials. “Biomaterials are going from trend to reality,” Biobased Creations co-founder Lucas De Man told Dezeen. “It’s going to be the fourth economic revolution.”

Despite having the income to purchase a home, high-earning millennials are instead turning to the rental market in response to an increasingly competitive housing market, The New York Times reports. A recent study by online property listing service RentCafe found that millennials with an annual income above $50,000 submitted 39 percent of all rental apartment applications in 2021. That number marks the group’s largest share in five years, with 20 percent growth from last year compared to the 7 percent and 12 percent growth of Gen Xers and baby boomers, respectively.

Habitat for Humanity has constructed its first completed and owner-occupied 3D-printed home, the first of many planned for the coming years, Architectural Digest reports. Located in Virginia, the 1,200-square-foot structure was built to withstand hurricanes and tornadoes and its exterior walls were printed in just 28 hours using technology from 3D-printing company Alquist. Along with the new house, homeowner April Stringfield has also received her own personal 3D printer, which will allow her to print furnishings like electrical outlet covers and cabinet knobs.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation and Mayor’s Office of Climate Resiliency have announced a new plan to protect a one-mile section of the Lower Manhattan waterfront from rising sea levels and coastal storms brought on by climate change, The Architect’s Newspaper reports. The Financial District and Seaport Climate Resilience Master Plan is estimated to cost between $5 and $7 billion over the course of 15 to 20 years and will extend the East River shoreline by up to 200 feet with a floodwall system that doubles as a public space. Climate resiliency has increasingly been at the forefront of urban development projects in recent months. Most notably, the Biden administration’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill that passed in November marked the largest federal investment in protecting communities against the effects of climate-change-induced extreme weather.

In response to the rapid spread of the COVID omicron variant, Messe Frankfurt has canceled its Ambiente fair, originally scheduled to take place next month, Home Furnishings News reports. The organizer also canceled three other events slated for next month—Christmasworld, Paperworld and Creativeworld—and has no plans for rescheduling the February Ambiente, joining fellow German fairs IMM Cologne, Heimtextil and Domotex in forgoing this year’s event. “Since the trend-oriented order cycles of the international consumer goods industry require an annual event at the beginning of the year, a shift to the second half of the year would not meet the needs of the exhibiting companies and visitors,” Messe Frankfurt executive board member Detlef Braun said in a statement.

Launches and Collaborations

Video app TikTok is opening a nationwide series of delivery-only restaurants, where it will serve a revolving menu featuring items trending on the app—including baked feta pasta, corn ribs, pasta chips and “nature’s cereal,” TechCrunch reports. In partnership with Virtual Dining Concepts, the initiative will launch with 300 locations nationwide, with plans to expand to 1,000 by the end of 2022.

Recommended Reading

Much like how sparkling white wines are only considered Champagne if they’re made in the corresponding region in France, true Murano glass only hails from a tiny island north of Venice, Italy, where glassmakers have been perfecting their craft since the late 1200s. Recently, however, designers around the world have put their own spin on colored glass, as the practice experiences a resurgence in popularity, Hilary Reid reports for The New York Times. “The world of fashion is getting used to glass again, and there is a whole new generation of people who want to learn to do the work,” artist Gennaro Pepe told NYT.

Color leaders and trend forecasters dependably emerge around the end of the year to announce their predictions for the next one—notably, Pantone’s choice of Very Peri as its 2022 Color of the Year—but where they’re taking their cues from may be changing. For Women’s Wear Daily, Tara Donaldson explains the shift, pointing to social media influences as a new source of trend origination, which was formerly dominated by fashion.

Homeowners and interior designers have an abundance of options when it comes to home decor shopping—but where are priests and nuns supposed to shop for items to adorn their churches? For The New York Times, John Freeman Gill explores the Staten Island warehouse operated by the Archdiocese of New York, where church leaders around the world can browse altars, statuary and other relics to decorate their spaces.

In Memoriam

British American journalist and editor Beverly Russell, whose legacy includes advocating for women in the media and design sphere, has died at the age of 87, The New York Times reports. Russell served as editor in chief of the trade magazine Interiors in the 1980s, leading the coverage of articles geared toward industry insiders, publishing profiles of design world icons, in-depth product reviews and features highlighting little-known corners of the industry. She went on to publish several books championing women in design and architecture, served as editorial director of Architecture magazine, and founded the creative consulting firm Beverly Russell Enterprises before retiring in 2006.

Homepage image: ©Unkas Photo/AdobeStock

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