It’s been an eventful year, full of inspiring design debuts, sparkling technological innovations and dramatic business stories. But surely the biggest takeaway from 2022 is a reality check: The two-year pandemic-inspired spending spree on home goods has petered out. “I feel like it’s late in the game to be calling it a home boom anymore,” says host Dennis Scully on the latest episode of The Business of Home Podcast. “More like a home whimper,” adds BOH executive editor Fred Nicolaus.
This week on the show, Nicolaus and BOH editor in chief Kaitlin Petersen joined Scully to recap the biggest news of the year and to look ahead to the next. Aside from the end of the home boom, the hottest topic was how two companies—RH and Material Bank—are poised to set the tone for the future of the industry. That’s especially true of RH, says Scully. The Corte Madera, California–based retailer’s recent acquisition of Dmitriy and Joseph Jeup, alongside its hiring of former editor in chief of Architectural Digest Margaret Russell to run a media platform, he says, is only the beginning of what could be a major encroachment into the trade.
“If their plan is to make to-the-trade brand acquisitions, and Dmitriy and Jeup are just the beginning … and they’re planning to get in on the antiques side, and they’re planning to do this whole custom and bespoke [service], I think they’re planning to build a machine that is a steamroller to the trade industry,” says Scully. “I just think it’s a monster.”
Tech was also top of mind—but not the much-hyped innovations around NFTs, AR/VR and the metaverse, says Nicolaus. The technology he sees increasingly impacting design is artificial intelligence. “You’re going to see pretty powerful interior design AI tools debut in the next weeks, months, years, for sure,” he says. “Retailers are going to start using AI to show customers what their stuff looks like in their spaces, and a lot of those tools will be integrated into things like SketchUp so it’s easier to make renderings. I think AI will transform the design industry a lot quicker than NFTs will.”
Despite disruptive technology, expansive retailers and economic storm clouds on the horizon, there’s reason to see the light, says Petersen. After two years of endless delays, supply chain chaos and constant stress, 2023 might just be the year to fall back in love with the design business.
“This is actually a really good time for people to right-size their business,” says Petersen. “To get to a comfortable place where workflow makes sense—where the work coming in aligns with the team you have, where you’re in a place to execute comfortably and profitably. Maybe this deceleration in the industry is a silver lining for design firms that have been overworked and could use a little bit of a reset.”
Homepage image: ©tatomm/Adobe Stock