news digest | Oct 19, 2021 |
The EPA cracks down on textiles, the Port of Los Angeles goes 24-7, and more

The latest luxury interiors trend has converged with the pandemic-induced pet craze, as high-end custom aquarium tanks are now selling in the six figures. Stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches and events, recommended reading, and more.

Business News

The Port of Los Angeles will now operate around the clock, President Joe Biden announced last week, in response to growing backlogs in the global supply chain stalling the flow of goods into the U.S. Major companies like Walmart, UPS and FedEx have expanded their working hours accordingly, The New York Times reports, as the port’s new hours will nearly double in line with the new operations—a schedule already adopted by international ports in Europe and Asia.

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced plans to regulate certain types of PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) found in drinking water by 2023, The Washington Post reports, due to the fact that the man-made chemical substances have been linked to cancer. As part of the regulations, the agency will set discharge limits for industries including landfills, textile mills and electrical components, targeting those that produce plastics and synthetic fibers, organic chemicals and metal finishing. The EPA could begin issuing test orders by the end of this year.

The New York City Council has approved extensive changes to the building code, allowing a special type of cross-laminated timber—a type of engineered wood made from glued-together panels of lumber—to be permitted in the five boroughs. According to The Real Deal, the material is more sustainable than steel and concrete, and could cut down on construction timelines since it’s prefabricated.

Ahead of next month’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), 40 leading international cement and concrete manufacturers have issued a pledge to reduce the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25 percent by 2030, Dezeen reports. The group represents nearly 80 percent of the industry outside of China; if they succeed in their goal, it could prevent an estimated 5 billion tons of CO2 emissions.

The private equity firm Quad-C Management Inc. has sold its investment in Stanton Carpet to Dunes Point Capital for an undisclosed amount, Inside Nova reports. Headquartered on Long Island, New York, the 40-year-old supplier and designer of soft floor covering products and luxury vinyl plank has concluded a five-year partnership with Quad-C, during which time the company launched its Stanton Street decorative commercial business and developed its first hard surface product offering, along with making two strategic acquisitions.

The Decorative Furnishings Association has announced a new initiative designed to establish actionable items to demonstrate industry leadership among its trade-focused brand members. The DFA Pledge addresses key areas including customer service, ethical business practices, sustainability, transparency, ease of transactions, and data standardization.

An investigation by The Markup found that Amazon frequently places its own products and those exclusive to the site higher up in search results than competing brands—even when competitors have higher customer ratings and more sales. The tech giant told Congress in 2019 that its search results do not take into consideration whether a product is an Amazon-owned brand, though a former employee told The Markup that the company used to engage in the practice and has since stopped. The company operates more than 150 brands, with products ranging from food and vitamins to fashion and furniture.

Jonathan Bass—CEO of PTM Images, Innova Luxury Group and direct-to-consumer furniture brand Whom Home—has announced the expansion of his furnishings manufacturing factory in Sonora, Mexico. The facility’s factory floor has been doubled to 400,000 square feet. The larger footprint was designed to accommodate an increase in both production capacity and craftspeople, as personnel are expected to exceed 40 percent by the end of the year. According to Bass, the expansion gives the company an advantage over offshore producers, allowing it to reduce delivery lead times, freight costs and environmental impact.

Susan Inglis announced at High Point Market that she will be stepping back from her role as executive director of the Sustainable Furnishings Council after serving in the position for 15 years. Inglis will lead the search for a replacement, remaining in the role until the SFC selects a new candidate this January. During her tenure at the organization, Inglis helped build membership to the current level of nearly 400 wholesalers, retailers and designers while continuing the mission of educating the industry on the importance of sustainability.

Launches and Collaborations

CERF+, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting craft artisans with emergency financial assistance, has created a new fund in honor of executive director Cornelia Carey’s 25 years of service with the organization. The Folk & Traditional Arts Fund will support the emergency relief and preparedness needs of folk and traditional artists throughout the U.S. and its territories—a mission in line with Carey’s experience supporting artists in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and contributing leadership services to the Vermont Arts Council, Mass Cultural Council, and National Coalition for Arts’ Preparedness & Emergency Response.

The Good Future Design Alliance has announced its first annual fall conference, set to take place virtually on November 12. The event will tackle the theme of low-waste design and the industry’s role in climate change, featuring a series of panel discussions on topics such as waste, healthy textiles, regenerative practices, and the future of secondhand and low-waste manufacturing. Speakers include a variety of sustainable design executives and designers, such as Sustainable Furnishings Council executive director Susan Inglis, Chairish CEO Anna Brockway and Joy Street Initiative founder Kelly Finley.

The founders of Brooklinen have debuted a new brand centered on one straightforward pillow design. Marlow, which the company has dubbed “the people’s pillow,” was designed for easy adjustability, with a zipper detail allowing consumers to control memory foam firmness rather than adding and removing fluff manually.

Recommended Reading

Certain car collectors treat their most prized automobiles as art, displaying them in well-created spaces that are equal parts garage and gallery. According to design writers Thijs Demeulemeester and Bert Voet, the trend is partially rooted in architectural history, and was set in motion when Frank Lloyd Wright designed Jaguar’s New York showroom in 1955. The designer and car enthusiast owned more than 80 vehicles in his lifetime, and preferred to create “car ports” for clients who were collectors, claiming that “a car is not a horse—it doesn’t need a barn.” The pair explore the concept in their recent book Carchitecture, reviewed by Mark C O’Flaherty for The Financial Times.

In the face of a record-tight housing market, urban planners and housing advocates have increasingly identified “missing middle housing” as a contributing factor to the home shortage. Part of the problem lies in the dearth of homes designed for middle-class buyers, who are often overlooked by nonprofit developers using subsidies for necessary affordable housing and private developers aiming for maximum profitability by building homes for the wealthy. Architects Craig Reschke and Ann Lui are testing out a solution on vacant lots in Chicago by using contemporary design principles to maximize space at a lower cost, Nate Berg reports in Fast Company.

Cue the Applause

WithIt, the women’s leadership development network for the home and furnishings industry, has announced the recipients of the 2021 WOW Awards. This year’s honorees include mentoring award winner Jana Platina Phipps of the Home Couture Collective; future leader award winner Kristen Wo of C.S. Wo & Sons; leadership award winners Patti Carpenter and Amy Lyn Schwartzbard of The Kaleidoscope Project; education award winner Emily Cox of the Onyx Design Collaborative; sales excellence award winner Angela Huff; visionary award winner Violette Forman of Havertys; and president’s award winner Amanda Daubert, director of services for Furniture First.

Call for Entries

Applications are now open for the Female Design Council and Nicole Hollis grant, a $15,000 financial prize to be awarded to a U.S.-based designer of color or interior design or architrecture firm led by women of color. The grant is intended to provide necessary financial support for the expansion of company size or the production of new design collections, and will also include professional mentorship from the Nicole Hollis team. To apply, click here.

Homepage image: The new Marlow pillow, created by the founders of Brooklinen | Courtesy of Marlow

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