year in review | Dec 26, 2022 |
The year’s biggest takeaways from The Business of Home Podcast

52 weeks, 56 guests, one host—that’s a wrap on another year of The Business of Home Podcast. In 2022, the design industry’s movers and shakers hopped on the mic with host Dennis Scully to chat about the issues that matter most, from disruptive technology to shifting economic winds to pricing transparency. Along the way, conversations took a variety of delightfully unpredictable turns—this year we learned how Harry Styles ended up on the cover of Better Homes & Gardens, how bad breakups can lead to great brands, and what the “redneck foam cartel” is.

Here, we’ve collected nine lessons from a year of can’t-miss conversations. And if you’re not already a listener, subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify to get weekly episodes, free of charge.

Don’t believe the HGTV hype
Los Angeles–based designer Orlando Soria was a rising star in the design TV world. Over the pandemic, he hit a wall, and early this year he came on the podcast to share an unfiltered take on what happens when the cameras aren’t rolling. From overworked, underpaid crews to a phony focus on positivity, Soria details the pitfalls of design TV and influencer culture in a raw, thoughtful conversation.

If you can’t be transparent, at least be clear
By day, he’s the owner of beloved boutique fabric brand Castel. By night, Stephane Silverman is a tireless truth-teller and something of a design biz Cassandra. This year he returned to the show to discuss an industry fat on two years of pandemic profits. Aside from a (prescient) warning about not betting on the home boom lasting forever, he issued a passionate cri de coeur in favor of pricing transparency, or at least pricing clarity. “I think this is part of our Achilles heel in the trade—when you look at the retail giants coming in and catering to the trade customer, they’re clear. Everybody knows what price is what, where the markups are and for what reason,” he said. “Everyone is saying RH is luxury. Well, how did they do that? Not because they have a pretty picture and say ‘inquire for price.’ Because there is a price.”

Print isn’t dead
To predict that print shelter magazines will return to their mailbox-busting glory days would be foolish. But to claim that design on paper has no future would be just as wrongheaded. This year, Veranda’s editor in chief Steele Marcoux came on the podcast to share her title’s 35th anniversary redesign, which saw the magazine jump from 98 to 202 pages in a move by publisher Hearst to double down on the magazine’s loyal, affluent following. “This format, this number of pages, this immersive layout, this curation toward a theme rather than a seasonal flash in the pan … At least for luxury print publications, I believe this is the future,” said Marcoux.

Growth is optional
In the world of design influencers, it’s hard to get bigger than Emily Henderson. The former design TV star and longtime blogger has built a huge social media following over the past decade. But this spring, she came on the podcast to talk about a recent pivot toward slowing down and pulling back. “Ultimately, I know I’m better with a small team—less of everything. Less money. Less partnerships. Less staff. Less work,” she said. “If you’re out there thinking, ‘Should I scale up or down?’ not everyone is meant to grow in the way we are told in our society that we should—that we should have more people, more employees, bigger offices. It’s OK to not want that.”

Don’t fight fate
Billy Cotton tried to quit interior design—he even sent out a letter announcing that he was disbanding his firm. But his next step (creative director for Ralph Lauren Home) turned out to not be a fit, and soon Cotton found himself back in the trenches, focused on delivering beautiful homes for clients. He came on the podcast to explain how the step back was one in the right direction. “It’s not really about bigger and more right now,” he said. “It’s about: How do we do what we’re doing the best that we can do it?”

Keep an eye on the future
It’s hard to think of a designer more steeped in design history than Alexa Hampton, who grew up in her father Mark Hampton’s firm and took it over after his untimely death in 1998. Though Hampton has crafted a career in the classic mold—high-end projects, showhouses, licensing deals galore—she’s also embraced forward-looking opportunities that have come across her desk, including an advisory role with Perigold. She came on the show to discuss why her firm’s success is rooted in a mix of old and new: “I actually feel like we’re at a really lucky moment in time,” she says. “When do you ever get to have a say in the whole structure of an industry? This is it! We’re alive at this moment when the internet is booming. Twenty years from now, it’s going to be ossified. The structure is being put in place now, and I’d like to be part of that conversation.”

Embrace the fantasy
A focus on money matters is right there in the title of The Business of Home Podcast, but Apparatus co-founder Gabriel Hendifar brought a refreshing perspective to the show, coming on to share a creative approach that has little to do with finance and everything to do with immersive theater. “It’s about that initial wash of emotion coming over you before you start to dissect: ‘This is a beautiful table. It’s got a rounded edge, and it’s made of burl.’ I want you to be intoxicated,” he said.

Dream big
Lori Weitzner’s career defies easy categorization—how do you succinctly sum up the work of a designer who has created everything from jewelry to wallpaper to an exhibit at the Venice Biennale? Weitzner appeared on the podcast to share her secret: Ask for what you really want, not what you think is possible. In a job interview with the iconic textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen, Weitzner did just that. “I said, ‘Jack, I want to do autonomous collections, I want to travel the country doing trunk shows, I want ads with my name on them, and I want to only work for you three days a week and keep my studio.’ I was going on and on like that. … He just looks at me and says, ‘That sounds fine, Lori,’ and that was it.”

Trust your instincts
In 2011, Athena Calderone was one of many multitalented Brooklynites with a blog. Today, she oversees a growing empire that includes books, brand partnerships and a blockbuster product line with Crate & Barrel. Calderone joined Scully on the show to offer a raw, thoughtful look at both her own insecurities and the self-belief that has carried her through difficult times. “Sometimes I definitely feel like a fraud because I don’t know CAD, I don’t have specific processes in place and I feel like other designers know more than me—all the doubtful things,” she said. “What I do have is my instincts, and I really do lean into those. Sometimes, there’s a lot of creative chaos in my world, but it does seem to magically gel and come together.”

Homepage photo: ©Pixel-Shot/Adobe Stock

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