news digest | May 2, 2023 |
The D&D’s water bill drama, gas stoves are in the news again and more

This week in design, rising prices and increased competition in the world of Pyrex collection has driven up the resale cost for pieces of the midcentury-era dishware—with one bowl selling for a record $22,100. Stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches, events, recommended reading and more.

Business News

After the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s January announcement that it is considering a nationwide ban on the installation of new gas stoves due to the pollutants they release, more communities are taking it upon themselves to enact similar restrictions. Eugene, Oregon, passed an ordinance in February that banned natural gas hookups in new low-rise construction, a move that was celebrated by local environmental groups. Now, that law is on the chopping block as regional gas companies have launched a million-dollar campaign to put the ordinance on the ballot in November, allowing voters to have the final word, Bloomberg reports. The move is likely a precursor to a slew of gas industry lobbying efforts that will seek to thwart municipal gas bans.

Though Florida has long been a popular destination for retirees, an increasing number of homebuyers are now seeking to spend their retirement years in Alabama, The Wall Street Journal reports—specifically, in coastal communities within the state’s Baldwin County. The area was the fastest-growing county in the state between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and saw its population increase by 3 percent in 2022—eclipsing the 1 percent growth during the same period in Fort Lauderdale’s Broward County (a similarly hot retirement destination). According to real estate experts, the Alabama boom is largely driven by a population shift in South Florida, where a rise in young professionals are pricing older Americans out of the region.

Iowa is the latest state to pass legislation concerning the interior design profession with the passage of Senate File 135, following in the footsteps of Wisconsin, Illinois, Virginia and, just last month, New Mexico. Introduced and sponsored by Iowa senator Chris Cournoyer and representative Cindy Golding, the bill allows designers new permitting privileges for interior construction plans. Senate File 135’s passage was partly the result of an ongoing campaign by the American Society of Interior Designers to expand interior designers’ practice rights in the U.S., and the bill’s language reflects input from the Council for Interior Design Qualification and the local Iowa chapter of the International Interior Design Association.

Inflation hit the home maintenance sector this year, The New York Times reports, with the national average annual maintenance cost of single-family homes during the first quarter of 2023 hitting $6,409—up roughly 9 percent compared to the same period last year. According to a new report by Thumbtack, an online platform connecting homeowners to contractors and handymen, average costs were also up for town house owners (4 percent) and condo owners (2 percent). Plus, costs rose significantly in areas where extreme weather conditions often heighten maintenance budgets, with Orlando experiencing a 32 percent increase, while Miami saw a 39 percent jump.

The High Point Market Authority is seeking $9 million in funding from the state of North Carolina for the development of the showroom area along South Main Street, Designers Today reports. HPMA’s request for the one-time appropriation was included in the state budget and already passed by the North Carolina House of Representatives, with only the Senate’s approval and the N.C. governor’s signature pending. According to Doug Bassett, president of Vaughan-Bassett Furniture and head of governmental affairs for the HPMA board, the funds will be used for local beautification efforts, including upgraded sidewalks and buried power lines.

New Yorkers currently owe the city $800 million in unpaid water bills, NBC New York reports, prompting Mayor Eric Adams’s administration to take action against the city’s worst offenders—including the Decoration & Design building. Adams instructed the city’s Department of Environmental Protection to target those who owe the most among the nearly 200,000 addresses with late water bills, with the D&D Building on Third Avenue topping the list at more than $424,000 in unpaid bills. After plastering notices on the building’s front door and spray painting a “shut tap warning” on the street outside the building, the DEP commissioner announced this morning that the building’s management has finally responded to requests for payment. Representatives from the D&D Building told BOH that the issue was related to an administrative error that’s since been resolved.

Launches & Collaborations

West Elm partnered with Marimekko to launch a new collection of outdoor decor items. The collaboration revives several archival Marimekko prints from the 1960s and ’70s—including the floral, gold-and-red Primavera and Kaivo patterns—for an assortment of pillows, cushions, lounge chairs, sofas, rugs and a beanbag.

Italian porcelain maker Ginori 1735 tapped actor Jake Gyllenhaal as the new face of its brand, Curbed reports. Gyllenhaal’s debut as a high-end homewares ambassador was marked with the release of an ad for Ginori’s new Oriente Italian line—introduced in a video showing the actor traversing a teacup factory and serving friends a meal on the brand’s porcelain plates.

Recommended Reading

An exhibit displayed during this year’s Milan Design Week drew backlash after presenting a series of antique glass figures depicting stereotyped caricatures of Black, Asian, Middle-Eastern and Indigenous people—prompting designer Stephen Burks, curators Wava Carpenter and Anna Carnick, and publicist Jenny Nguyen to publish a collective statement on Instagram identifying the pieces as racist and prompting the items’ removal from the show. For Elle Decor, Camille Okhio examines the exhibit organizers’ response to the criticism, pointing out that industry conversations about race, equity and inclusion in recent years have failed to translate into a measurably more inclusive, aware and safe environment—in other words, the design industry is not walking its talk. “Why are Black, Brown, and Asian people required to endlessly defend and explain their humanity with patience and eloquence, when no results or change are being proffered by their white counterparts?” writes Okhio. “I wonder when we will move past dialogue to concrete change.”

In the age of e-readers and screen ubiquity, old-fashioned books have become an increasingly whimsical and coveted piece of interior decor—leading some brands to offer tomes by the foot with spines specially curated to create the perfect Zoom background. As Anna Kodé writes for The New York Times, certain design-oriented booksellers have decided to do away with their props’ pages entirely by selling spines only, hollowed-out books or even faux facades made to look like a row of books—pieces that can serve as a place to stash valuables, hide storage in plain sight or even conceal secret doors.

In Orlando’s upscale Golden Oak neighborhood, Disney superfans—sometimes called “Disney adults” online—happily spend millions on properties that boast close proximity to the amusement parks. For Curbed, an anonymous Orlando real estate broker dishes on the perks that entice buyers to splash out on a Disney-adjacent luxury residence, ranging from homes with hidden Mickey Mouse architectural motifs to private luxury suites at the Four Seasons residences.

Homepage image: West Elm debuted a new outdoor line in partnership with Marimekko | Sam Youkilis

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