news digest | Nov 23, 2021 |
The rise of cluttercore, Ikea is ditching plastic and more

Turkey Day is just around the corner, and the 95-year-old Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has become the latest target for the NFT craze—10 of its iconic balloons will be auctioned off as digital images. Another 9,500 NFTs will go for free to the first people who visit the retailer’s website Thursday morning. Stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches and events, recommended reading, and more.

Business News

The American Society of Landscape Architects has released the results of its national survey on climate change, with responses from more than 500 U.S. landscape architects, designers and industry educators. The survey found that 77 percent of respondents expect a 10 percent increase in client demand for climate change-based solutions compared to 2020—and over the past year already, 38 percent reported experiencing a more than 50 percent increase. Chief concerns among clients include the increased duration and intensity of heat waves, storms and inland flooding, along with the loss of pollinators and “weird weather” in general.

Ikea has taken the first step toward providing plastic-free packaging for all new products by 2025 with the debut of a new collection of LED light bulbs that come in paper boxes, Fast Company reports. In line with the furniture giant’s larger goal of transitioning to become a fully circular company, the retailer plans to package all existing products without plastic by 2028. Along with using paper for new packaging materials, the company is exploring alternatives like mushroom-based packaging to replace Styrofoam and waste from its own production used as textile packaging.

The competitive quality of homebuying once specific to a select few U.S. markets—San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles among them—has become standard in the country’s small- and medium-size cities. Median home prices in those metropolitan areas are rising dramatically to match this year’s record-tight housing market—by 46 percent in Boise, Idaho; 36 percent in Phoenix; 35 percent in Austin; 33 percent in Salt Lake City; and 28 percent in Sacramento, The New York Times reports. Buyer behavior, too, has changed accordingly, with 63 percent of homebuyers in 2020 making at least one offer on a home they’d never actually stepped foot in.

The Parsons School of Design, University of California at Irvine, Deakin University and University of Kentucky have been awarded a $1.6 million grant from The Wallace Foundation to study the long-term effects of participating in extracurricular arts programs. The project will unfold over the course of three years, examining how community arts programs influence the career and life trajectories of participants, particularly the experiences of marginalized youth.

The American Institute of Architects has announced that Lakisha Woods will be the organization’s 15th executive vice president, assuming the new role on January 31, 2022, in place of current EVP/CEO Robert Ivy, who served in the position since 2011. According to Architectural Record, Woods is currently the president and CEO of the National Institute of Building Sciences as well as an accomplished executive in the design and construction industry, and will become the first Black woman to serve in the leadership role.

Meg Touborg, co-founder of The Leaders of Design Council, has announced that she is stepping away from active management of the organization to take on a new professional opportunity at the College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Colorado Denver. As Touborg steps out of the position, Holly Hunt president Marc Szafran will step into the role in January 2022 alongside co-founder Keith Granet, while director of operations Dana Colla will continue in her current role with expanded responsibilities.

Podium, a communication and payments platform for local businesses, has announced the completion of a $201 million Series D funding round led by YC Continuity, bringing its total valuation to more than $3 billion. According to Furniture Today, the company aids local businesses in facilitating interactions with consumers via text messaging, website chat, marketing campaigns and payment and transactions, and plans to use the new funds to reach more local businesses and build out its existing services.

Online furniture buying and rental platform ZZ Driggs has received its B Corp certification after working for two years toward the distinction. In the process, the company transitioned from an LLC to a Public Benefit Corporation, created a carbon auditing system to offset emissions, extended and enhanced benefits to part-time employees, and avoided taking investment from venture capital funds where revenue was the chief concern, among other achievements.

Scientists have created a living microbial ink that can be 3D-printed into various shapes—though still in development, they say it holds potential as a renewable building material that could be used to create sustainable homes. As The New York Times reports, the living substance is produced entirely from genetically engineered E. coli bacteria and mixed with a protein polymer to form a firm, weight-bearing material. Though the material must still be engineered to withstand weather conditions and become strong enough to serve as the basis for home construction, researchers say microbial homes could be a reality within our lifetime, with existing products composed of similar materials including perfumes, vitamins and biodegradable plastics.

Launches and Collaborations

Though the #StopAsianHate hashtag has become less prominent on social media since its inception last spring in response to COVID-related racism, the attacks against Asian Americans have not, with a recent NPR poll reporting that 25 percent of Asian households feared physical attacks or threats in the past few months. To amplify AAPI stories and spread awareness, a group of prominent creative women entrepreneurs in New York’s AAPI community have banded together to launch an Instagram fundraising effort hosted on the @joynothate_ page. The project offers an online store stocked with art, home decor, jewelry and apparel by women-owned creative brands, with funds going toward the organization Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

Showroom Representation

Starting January 1, 2022, Fabricut will be the exclusive distributor of The Vale London for the North American market. Founded in 2017 by artist and designer Melinda Marquardt, the boutique textile and wallcovering studio will hand off its sales, sampling and customer service to Fabricut to handle in the new market, while focusing on the release of an upcoming fourth collection also debuting in January, alongside the brand at Paris Déco Off.


The Kips Bay Decorator Show House Palm Beach has announced the location of its fifth annual showhouse, set to debut to the public on March 5, 2022. Located at 3001 Spruce Avenue in West Palm Beach, the “Mansion of Northwood” contains four bedrooms, three and a half baths, two primary suites, a chef’s kitchen and multiple living areas. The 20,000-square-foot estate was originally built in 1923 by Orrin Randolph, and features Italian Renaissance architecture and extensive gardens.

Recommended Reading

This week, one of our own is in the news. BOH founder and president Julia Noran Johnston joined The Rebooting Show to chat with host Brian Morrissey about building a new media business from the ground up. In the episode, Johnston shares her journey from journalism and marketing roles with top magazine publishers to leading an enterprise, and explains the importance of accessing untapped communities to tell great stories.

Clutter typically calls for clearing, but in recent months, a semi-organized, stylistic version of messiness has found fame as a trend on TikTok. For Domino, Edith Rousselot dissects the home decor trend that has taken off in the last year, with more than 20 million of the app’s users posting #Cluttercore content consisting of walls of assorted tack-up ephemera, segmented shelving and small mismatched storage containers.

When Hurricane Ida traveled up the East Coast in September, the rising water levels that followed caused a gas stove to dislodge from one single-family home in New Jersey—resulting in an explosion that reverberated across the surrounding community. While shocking, such incidents are a known phenomenon, as natural gas explosions kill 15 people on average each year and release tons of greenhouse gas emissions along the way. For Architectural Digest, John Gendall provides an overview of the alternative—the growing movement toward “electrification,” an energy alternative powered by renewable sources.

A number of economic and global factors created the perfect storm for the supply chain’s persisting rut over the past year and a half. Early indicators, however, might be pointing to an end in sight—with shipping costs trending downward and port backlogs down from record highs, it’s a possibility that at last, the worst may be over, Intelligencer reports.

Call for Entries

Cosentino has announced the 16th edition of the International Cosentino Design Challenge. This year’s themes are split into the two categories of design and architecture, with additional criteria for elements such as environmental friendliness, conceptual and technical quality, and creativity and innovation. To submit before the June 1, 2022 deadline or for more information, click here.

Homepage image: Chifa La | Courtesy of @joynotehate_

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