news digest | Feb 15, 2022 |
E-design platforms raise millions, fine china is back on the table and more

This week in design, furniture supply chain woes reached such an extreme, they were immortalized in a New Yorker cartoon. Elsewhere, the industry marches ahead as a new brick building made of recycled waste opens its doors in Manhattan. Whatever happens next, stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches and events, recommended reading, and more

Business News

Last year, Barry Diller’s media group, InterActivCorp, purchased Meredith Corp., the publisher of home titles such as Better Homes & Gardens and Southern Living. Just last week, the company announced it would end print circulation of six magazines picked up in the acquisition—while no shelter titles were cut, the April issues of Entertainment Weekly, InStyle, EatingWell, Health, Parents and People en Español will be each title’s final physical edition. According to the Wall Street Journal, InterActivCorp CEO Neil Vogel issued the news in a company memo last week, explaining the company would focus on shifting publications to digital-only brands, while investing in its remaining 19 print magazines by enhancing paper quality and trimming sizes. Vogel also mentioned the moves would result in about 200 job losses, or less than five percent of Dotdash Meredith’s total staff.

Three leading trade shows for the design and construction industry will take place at the same time in 2023, Hardware Retailing reports, as the National Hardware Show announced it will be held during Design & Construction Week in Las Vegas from January 31 to February 2 alongside the NAHB International Builders’ Show and NBKA’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS). “By hosting the show earlier in the year, it gives buyers an opportunity to kick off the year with discovery and connection, while allowing more time for critical decisions before big buying events,” NHS event vice president Beth Casson told Hardware Retailing.

Design-led e-commerce platform Spacejoy announced the completion of a $4 million pre-series in a funding round led by Accel Partners. Founded in 2019 by Arnab Saharoy and Vinay Indresh, the online marketplace uses 3D and AI technology to help users discover and visualize decor products in their homes. With the new financing, Spacejoy plans to further develop its core platform and strengthen its AI product discovery features.

Livspace, one of the largest omni-channel home interior and renovation platforms in Asia, has announced a $180 million Series F funding round with lead participation from KKR global investment firm, as well as Ingka Group Investments (part of Ikea’s parent company Ingka Group), Jungle Ventures, Venturi Partners and Peugeot Investments, among others. The platform currently operates in Singapore, Malaysia and India, but plans to expand into new markets in the Asia Pacific, North Africa and Australian regions with the recent injection of capital. Other objectives include building out its platform technology and digitally integrated supply chain, and hiring new talent to serve the company’s growth.

Canadian upholstered furniture manufacturer Decor-Rest Furniture acquired two domestic manufacturers, Superstyle Furniture and Trendline Furniture, along with their brands, facilities and operations. The move allows the company’s manufacturing capacity to grow by an additional 35 percent, which president and CEO JR Marzilli says will give Decor-Rest the ability to bypass global supply chain issues and cut down on lengthy lead times. “The Decor-Rest Group of Companies will now be better able to supply products out of the combined facilities with additional employees who are already well-versed in the production of quality upholstered furniture products,” Marzilli said in a release.

Launches and Collaborations

Interior designer Heather Chadduck Hillegas was named the organization’s second designer in residence at Colonial Williamsburg, joining a program that began in 2019, when designer Anthony Baratta was tasked with redesigning the complex’s historic Palmer House In the new role, Hillegas will reimagine the interiors of the historic Nelson-Galt House, the oldest residential building in the community dating back to 1695. For the home’s design, a number of brand sponsors will provide materials and furnishings, including pieces from Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, paint colors from Benjamin Moore’s Williamsburg Paint Color Collection and fabrics from a Williamsburg x Schumacher collection set to debut this spring.

Created to support and showcase the work of international artists without gallery representation, a digital sales platform called TheArtists launched to present an alternative model to traditional art markets. The nonprofit site debuted with three curated selections of artists, selected by German artist Gregor Hildebrandt, art collective Slavs and Tatars and UK–based curator Maya El Khalil. Along with presenting their work on the platform, TheArtists will provide artists with individual consulting and mentoring, including assistance and consultation designed to develop their practice, expand their network, navigate the art world and understand the dynamics of the fast-shifting art market.

Recommended Reading

After spending more meals at home during the pandemic, consumers are increasingly opting for upscale tableware to make dining in a more glamorous event—on Etsy, searches for fine china increased 39 percent in 2021 compared to the year before, while searches for antique and vintage porcelain dinnerware went up 28 percent. As The New York Times reports, demand for pieces by brands like Lenox, Wedgwood and Bernardaud is also up on eBay and wedding registry site The Knot, with designers and collectors pointing to the fact that homeowners increasingly seek out such pieces for everyday meals rather than reserving them for special occasions. “People want to be frivolous in small ways,” Rachel Tashjian, a writer and fashion critic, told NYT. “We’re beginning to put more of a premium on delight.”

TikTok announced plans for a service designed to help small and midsize business owners engage with the app, Inc. reports. The SMB Academy will teach users how to implement best practices and create clear objectives with TikTok campaigns. In the meantime, Inc.’s Hannah Hall touched base with Danielle Johnson, the head of SMB account management for North America at TikTok, for tips on how business owners can grow their following and create lucrative content on the platform.

Trucking companies in the United States recorded a deficit of a record 80,000 drivers last year—a large disruption for an industry that moves 72 percent of American freight. For The New York Times, Peter S. Goodman explains why the deregulation of the industry in the 1980s combined with the rise of big-box retailers resulted in the poor working conditions, diminished pay and exceedingly low retention rates in the profession today.

The home construction industry is facing obstacles on all fronts when it comes to meeting demand—in addition to shortages of skilled laborers like bricklayers and subcontractors, essential materials like lumber and products such as appliances and plumbing fixtures, professionals have now been met with an entirely new hurdle: a shortage of garage doors. This new problem poses a unique challenge to the home completion process, as Emily Badger explains in The New York Times, in some cases doubling the time it takes to get a property ready for move-in.

Cue the Applause

Sir David Adjaye will be the first recipient of the new Charlotte Perriand Award, created in memory of iconic French architect and designer Charlotte Perriand and granted as part of the Créateurs Design Awards. The Ghanaian-British architect was chosen for his role as a trailblazer in the industry, after being knighted for his work in 2018 and becoming the first Black recipient of the Royal Gold Medal in 2021.

The National Kitchen and Bath Association has announced its 30s Choice Award winners for the Class of 2022, unveiled at the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Orlando, Florida. The honorees are professionals working in kitchen and bath design and remodeling under the age of 30, and, once selected for their accomplishments in the industry, are invited to scour the show floor and identify the best products across six performance categories. For the full list of winners, click here.

In Memoriam

Furniture designer John E. Black passed away last month after a long battle with cancer, surrounded by his wife of 48 years, Joyce Lortz Black, and family and friends at his home in Greensboro, North Carolina. Trained in furniture design at the Kendall College of Art and Design, Black went on to serve as Baker Furniture’s director of design and later vice president of design before forming J. Black Design with his wife in 2000—a partnership that resulted in many collections for leading brands like Century, Ethan Allen, Hickory Chair and more. A celebration of Black’s life and career will be held at the Bienenstock Furniture Library in High Point, North Carolina on March 30, where a design scholarship in Black’s name has been established to support the library’s Fall 2022 Future Designers Summit.

Homepage photo: As Colonial Williamsburg’s newest Designer in Residence, Heather Chadduck Hillegas will reimagine the historic Nelson-Galt House. | Courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg

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