news digest | Jan 30, 2024 |
Why Bobby Berk quit Queer Eye, a Beverly Hills renovation ban and more

The so-called laundry chair is usually not a conscious design choice, but as it turns out, some designers think it has a place in the home. Stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches, events, recommended reading and more.

Business News
A Los Angeles County judge issued a ban last month on building permit requests for home renovations in Beverly Hills, penalizing the wealthy enclave for its inability to produce sufficient plans for affordable housing, the L.A. Times reports. City officials are continuing to process permits as usual as they work to appeal the decision—though should the appeal fail, all non–new housing permits will face an indefinite ban. Population growth in Beverly Hills has decreased slightly from 1970, falling from 33,400 to 32,400, even as California’s total population has doubled over the same period. While state officials have long overlooked the town as a target for affordable housing, new research around better economic and health outcomes for low-income families that move to wealthier areas and an increasingly dire housing shortage in the state have prompted them to push for new development in recent years.

The American Society of Interior Designers released its 2024 Trends Outlook—a research report highlighting key cultural shifts impacting interior design in the coming year. This year’s report identifies four top overarching trends: an interest in quiet luxury; intersections between sustainability and wellness; blurred lines between live, work and play; and consumers’ continued desire for connection. The study also uncovered a variety of design choices utilized to support those trends, including aging-in-place solutions, “eatertainment” spaces at home and modifications designed to improve indoor air quality and natural light. Elsewhere, the report examines additional factors predicted to impact the design community in 2024, such as the growing prevalence of AI, which is used more frequently among young designers to generate materials such as floor plans, energy models and construction documents, or to allow occupants to customize their own designs.

Maryland-based delivery service Need It Now Delivers has filed a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware in hopes of gaining approval to deliver furniture to Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams customers who have been waiting to receive their items since the company’s Chapter 11 filing last September, Home News Now reports. The motion, filed on January 17, would allow the company to deliver furniture to customers who have paid for their goods but not received a refund, with roughly 1,400 pieces already assigned to customers. The court has scheduled a hearing for the motion on January 31, which will determine whether Need It Now Delivers will be able to proceed.

Market research firm YipitData released its fourth-quarter 2023 Home Goods Market Share Index, analyzing top performers in the industry as well as year-over-year changes. The rankings placed Wayfair at the top with a 15.2 percent market share, up 0.6 percent from the same quarter the year before, with HomeGoods, Big Lots, Ikea and Pottery Barn coming in as the remaining top five, respectively. Overall, HomeGoods recorded the largest year-over-year market share increase, up by 1.9 percent, while Williams Sonoma recorded some of the strongest year-over-year sales growth in the fourth quarter, representing a 14 percent increase in gross merchandise value from the same period in 2022. RH saw the largest year-over-year decrease, down 0.8 percent.

Wurkwel Ventures, a Chicago-based sustainable office-furniture solutions and services provider, has acquired pre-owned office furniture marketplace FurnitureFinders. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. As the company’s new lead investor and principal owner, Wurkwel plans to expand FurnitureFinders’ range of product offerings and advance its digital capabilities, while also introducing new sustainability practices to its entire portfolio of brands, including new tracking metrics and a plan to map out business interactions to reduce industry waste.

MIT researchers have developed a new technique for 3D-printing furniture and large-scale objects using liquid metal, Designboom reports, in a process that can be completed in a matter of minutes. The new printing method is 10 times faster than comparable metal manufacturing processes, and researchers say it also has the potential to be more efficient due to its ability to utilize recycled scrap metal. Still, the group that designed the process say they have to solve for quality control issues and consistency before the technique can be applied to mass-market metal manufacturing.

Why Bobby Berk quit Queer Eye, a Beverly Hills renovation ban and more
The Pottery Barn Kids x Aerin collectionCourtesy of Pottery Barn Kids

Launches and Collaborations
Pottery Barn Kids and luxury lifestyle brand Aerin have teamed up on a collection of decor, textiles, furniture and baby gifts designed in the brand’s modern-traditional style. The resulting product assortment features an antique carousel design complete with whimsical motifs such as illustrated animals, with inspiration drawn from founder Aerin Lauder’s experience of raising her two sons.

Recommended Reading
When Bobby Berk announced he was leaving Queer Eye after starring as the show’s interior design expert for eight seasons, the decision sparked plenty of intrigue among fans. In a new interview with Vanity Fair’s Paul Chi, Berk finally sheds light on the decision, explaining his departure amid the news of the show’s unexpected renewal and clearing up rumors of his feud with co-star Tan France.

When Samantha Lotti purchased a Frank Lloyd Wright–designed home originally built in 1911, she entered a space that had been lovingly preserved by previous owners over the years. Unfortunately, the house also retained the energy inefficiency of its age, including a poorly insulated ceiling and walls, plus 49 single-paned windows that made the home nearly impossible to heat and cool. For The Wall Street Journal, Fred A. Bernstein documents Lotti’s long and winding road to bringing the home closer to net-zero emissions—a journey that’s since been hailed by fellow Wright fanatics as “a model for environmentally conscious historic preservation.”

In a recent trend that’s been noted everywhere from TikTok to The New York Times, uncovered windows have become the latest signifier of wealth at home—in one study, Americans who earn more than $150,000 were almost twice as likely to leave windows uncovered as those making significantly less. For The Atlantic, Michael Waters probes why the upper classes are more inclined to leave their windows uncovered, delving into the history behind windows, curtains and shades, while exploring why such design choices may project a sense of privilege to the outside world.

When Kvadrat CEO Anders Byriel set out to reduce the company’s emissions in 2019, he assumed the operation was already nearly net-zero. The reality was far from it: The brand actually produced 2,364 tons of carbon dioxide each year—and to make matters more complicated, 98 percent of those emissions occurred outside of its direct control. In an interview with Dezeen’s Christina Yao, Byriel discusses the Danish textile producer’s long road to reducing its emissions, including tactics such as switching the company cars to an electric fleet, incorporating hydropower into wool-production processes, and spending 80 percent of its investment over the next five years on sustainability-related projects like material innovations and machines that aid in recycling.

Cue the Applause
Chicago-based nonprofit United States Artists has announced the 2024 recipients of its annual fellowship program, which awards $50,000 to each of 50 fellows across the country. As Architectural Record reports, this year’s cohort includes five architecture and design fellows: Ifeoma Ebo, a Nigerian-American architect and planner and head of design and planning consultancy Creative Urban Alchemy; Selina Martinez, co-founder and lead instructor of youth nonprofit Design Empowerment Phoenix; Maya Bird-Murphy, designer, educator and founder of design nonprofit Mobile Makers; DK Osseo-Asare, co-founder and principal of architecture studio Low Design Office; and Emanuel Admassu and Jen Wood, founders of art and architecture studio AD-WO.

The International Interior Design Association’s New York Chapter has announced the winners of its third annual Hazel Siegel Scholarship, honoring three interior design students who demonstrate excellence in their communities. This year’s winners are Dohee Kim from the Fashion Institute of Technology, Giuliana Grosso from the New York Institute of Technology, and Autumn Howard from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

In Memoriam
Artist and designer Lisa Hunt, a founding member of the Black Artists + Designers Guild, passed away last week at the age of 55 after a battle with leiomyosarcoma. Hunt studied graphic design at Pratt Institute before embarking on a 20-year career in publishing, during which time she served as creative director at Essence magazine. In 2014, Hunt stepped away from the publishing world to develop her emerging art practice, centered on a groundbreaking technique that utilizes gold leaf in screen printing. In the years since, she became a leading voice in the field of printmaking, leading to collaborations with brands like Ann Sacks and Lori Weitzner, special projects for Macy’s Herald Square and St. Regis Hotel, and contributions to both BADG and the Female Design Council. “Her personality and spirit shined as bright as her signature gold leaf and left an indelible mark on everyone whose life she touched,” read an obituary written by Hunt’s husband, Kyle Goen, and sisters Tracy Hunt, Monifa Hunt, Gracelline Hun, and Lisa Pinceloup.

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.