news digest | Feb 14, 2023 |
Elon Musk gets into urban planning, the dark side of home organizing and more

This week in design, the sofa of the future may not be a sofa at all: Thanks to a collaboration between Samsung and a Stockholm-based design firm, the at-home TV-watching experience may soon center around a configurable indoor hammock. Stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches, events, recommended reading and more.

Business News

When a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Turkey last week, killing more than 31,000 people and collapsing roughly 3,450 structures, many were shocked that some buildings constructed to newer, stricter seismic standards had been flattened—while others nearby, including some built before the updated rules, remained standing. According to The New York Times, the inconsistency of the destruction may have to do with a failure to implement and enforce new building regulations. In the days following last week’s earthquake, the Turkish authorities have detained or arrested more than 10 contractors accused of violating building regulations, and the Ministry of Justice has ordered local officials to set up special units to investigate “earthquake crimes” that may have allowed some structures to be more vulnerable than others.

New homes are shrinking, according to recent data from the National Association of Home Builders, which reported that the median size of new family homes dipped to 2,276 square feet in November—marking a relatively steady decline from a peak of nearly 2,800 square feet in 2015, and the smallest average square footage since roughly 2011. According to The New York Times, experts predict that metric will continue to drop in the coming months, as high interest rates cut into construction budgets. In response, developers, architects and builders are reducing the square footage of primary residences, sometimes by 10 to 15 percent. Homebuyers appear to be amenable to smaller spaces: When asked about compromises they would make to afford a home, the leading answer was living in a smaller house, according to a recent NAHB survey.

Bed Bath & Beyond is closing more than 400 stores—the majority of its nearly 760 total units—in an effort to avoid bankruptcy, CNN reports. The news comes in the wake of the company’s announcement last week that it planned to complete a more than $1 billion stock offering to continue operating and begin paying down its debt. Moving forward, the company plans to shift its focus toward national brands (following an ill-fated pivot toward private label products in 2019) and e-commerce, along with buzzy collaborations to make up for its smaller retail footprint.

Elon Musk has partnered with real estate developer Lennar to construct a neighborhood in Texas called Project Amazing—a 110-home subdivision located on former farmland in the exurban Bastrop County, situated outside Austin. According to Curbed, construction is underway for a new SpaceX facility across the street from the planned residential community, which could possibly contain 3D-printed homes similar to those built in Lennar’s nearby Wolf Ranch neighborhood. While the properties are being billed as workforce housing, the company has not released details yet on employees’ benefits or project timing.

Tuesday Morning filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Furniture Today reports, citing “exceedingly burdensome debt.” Having secured $51.5 million of debtor-in-possession financing from Invictus Global Management, the company plans to use the funds to support operations during the proceedings. Beyond that, Tuesday Morning’s strategy moving forward includes closing stores in low-traffic regions and obtaining fresh capital, along with reducing its outstanding liabilities, estimated between $100 million to $500 million. The move marks the retailer’s second Chapter 11 filing after entering bankruptcy in May 2020 and emerging in January 2021.

The pandemic gave rise to a niche crop of businesses known as “power buyers”—including companies like Ribbon, Homeward and Orchard—that aim to help homebuyers gain an edge by purchasing a new home before securing a mortgage. According to The Wall Street Journal, those same businesses now face a glut of homes after customers backed away from the market following last year’s surge in mortgage rates. Ribbon, for example, is sitting on nearly 400 homes purchased for homebuyers who have since backed out, and the market’s correction has forced the company to slash 85 percent of its staff. For similar companies, it may be difficult to weather the downturn, as venture investment in the proptech sector dropped 21 percent in 2022 compared to 2021.

Launches & Collaborations

Daniel House Club, the Portland, Oregon–based company offering an online sourcing marketplace for designers, has launched a crowdfunding campaign on the Wefunder platform. The company is seeking $800,000 to support its path to growth over the next 18 months, and is accepting investments ranging from $100 to more than $100,000, with the first $299,999 of investments priced at 64 cents per share at a $6.956 million valuation. Daniel House Club plans to use the funds to reduce its current backlog of new vendors and products waiting to go on its platform, along with building out its software and internal sales division to better support customers.

Elon Musk gets into urban planning, the dark side of home organizing and more
Located in Williamsburg, the mural commissioned by BADG celebrates Black History MonthCourtesy of BADG

The Black Artists + Designers Guild has partnered with Lamar, an outdoor advertising company, for a hand-painted mural on a wallscape in Brooklyn in celebration of Black History Month. Located on the corner of Berry Street and North 12th in Williamsburg, the mural incorporates BADG’s signature colors—which represent common vegetal dyes in African textiles—and features the organization’s manifesto: “We are liberatory, celebratory, collaborative, community, active, activists.” Along with the original hand-painted mural, the artwork will also be displayed on digital billboards across the country throughout the month of February.

Elon Musk gets into urban planning, the dark side of home organizing and more
CW Stockwell has partnered with Mark & Graham to bring the Martinique pattern to a variety of items and accessoriesCourtesy of CW Stockwell

CW Stockwell partnered with Mark & Graham—Williams-Sonoma’s personalized gift brand—on a collection of accessories featuring the iconic Martinique pattern. The product assortment includes tote bags, lacquer trays, ice buckets and travel pouches, all emblazoned with the legacy wallpaper and textile company’s original banana leaf pattern.

Furniture and accessory brand Society Social launched a new furniture collection alongside The Colony Palm Beach Hotel, with 11 pieces designed to suit commercial and residential settings alike. The assortment includes everything from whimsical headboards to rattan dressers, as well as a modern take on vintage wicker chairs—all of which are featured in The Colony’s redesigned guest suites in honor of the hotel’s 75th anniversary.

Recommended Reading

While home organizing experts like Marie Kondo and The Home Edit’s Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin have risen to stardom in recent years, a national focus on decluttering has led to some strange places, including the recent social media “decanting” fad, in which users simply film themselves pouring items from one container to another (Kondo, for example, sells a pack of 90 labels, including ones for bread crumbs, chia seeds and food coloring). For The Guardian, Amelia Tait argues that the decanting craze points to an irony of organizing culture. “The solution to overconsumption has become yet another form of consumption: if you have too many clothes and devices, simply buy somewhere to store them,” writes Tait. “Decluttering, perversely, now involves acquiring more stuff—an abundance of bins, boxes, labels.”

In recent years, American second-home seekers have turned their attention to the market in Spain, with sales from U.S. buyers up 76 percent in the first half of 2022 compared with the year before. The majority have been drawn to Andalusia (the region that includes the vacation hot spots Seville, Marbella and Málaga), and as J.S. Marcus writes for The Wall Street Journal, the rising tide includes an influx of Americans seeking to live there permanently. Many are either drawn by Spain’s Golden Visa program—which rewards real-estate purchases of at least 500,000 euros (or roughly $536,000) with residency permits for the entire family—or simply in search of a respite from political discord in the U.S.

A growing number of Chinese furniture producers have chosen Mexico as a prime location to expand their manufacturing footprint globally. As Brian Carroll writes for Home News Now, the strategy can be traced back to Donald Trump’s presidency, when tariffs on a wide variety of Chinese-made goods (including most furniture categories) pushed companies to set up a presence beyond the southern border, where trade agreements between the two countries allow a more streamlined flow of goods. Still, the spot is not without its challenges: For all the trade benefits Chinese producers enjoy, they are also coming up against intense competition for local labor, rising real estate costs for industrial spaces and the need for improvements to roadways and basic infrastructure.

Cue the Applause

The National Association of Home Builders held its annual Nationals Awards Gala late last month in conjunction with the International Builders’ Show, honoring the country’s best in construction and design projects, along with giving accolades for sales and marketing; professional expertise; and community efforts. Among the winners: South Jordan, Utah–based Trio Design won the top prize for Best Community Amenity; Denver-based Kimberly Timmons Interiors won the top prize for Best Interiors of a Custom Home; and Costa Mesa, California–based Brandon Architects won the top prize for Best One-of-a-Kind Custom or Spec Home. For the full list of winners, click here.

Homepage image: A glimpse at the new Society Social collection for The Colony Palm Beach Hotel | Carmel Brantley

Want to stay informed? Sign up for our newsletter, which recaps the week’s stories, and get in-depth industry news and analysis each quarter by subscribing to our print magazine. Join BOH Insider for discounts, workshops and access to special events such as the Future of Home conference.