From significant business changes to noteworthy product launches, there’s always something new happening in the world of design. In this weekly roundup, AD PRO has everything you need to know.
J.C. Penney: Struggling Department Store…and Burgeoning Real Estate Company?
J.C. Penney delivered some surprising news this week by announcing the divestiture of its real estate assets. As such, it plans to form a “publicly traded real estate investment trust.” The move will hopefully help improve the financial situation of the department store, which recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Home Depot Sees Coronavirus-Fueled Sales Increase
Elsewhere in the land of retail, Home Depot released its first-quarter results this week. The home improvement store, which has been named an essential business throughout the country during the pandemic, saw sales rise 7.1% in the first quarter of its fiscal year. At the same time, the average sale size was up 11% over last year, according to Home Textiles Today. While net earnings were down to $2.2 billion from $2.5 billion in the same period last year, the surge of recent sales comes as a piece of good news for the retailer.
New E-Comm Platform Delivers a Palm Springs Aesthetic
Palm Springs interior designer and brick-and-mortar shop owner Christopher Kennedy, known for his Modernism Week show house, is launching an e-commerce platform this week. “We are always fielding requests to shop online when our visitors return home,” Christopher Kennedy, the shop owner and lead designer, said in a statement. “Our clientele lives all over the U.S. and looks forward to their yearly escapes. At the start of the new decade, I committed myself to launching e-commerce as an extension of our brand, and the ability to launch in four quick months was largely made possible due to COVID-19 and my sudden lack of scheduled commitments. We’re now shipping a slice of sunshine and happiness to the clients and visitors we miss so much.” Among the goods: decor, furniture, lighting, artwork (including Kennedy’s line with Wendover Art Group), and more. His boutique plans to reopen in the summer.
Offsight Online Debuts
This week, online design destination Sight Unseen took its fan-favorite fair, Offsite, totally online for the first time ever. Running May 18 through June 12, the digital design fair features new furniture and objects from 57 designers and brands, from AD-dubbed “Ones to Watch” like Soft Geometry and Tantuvi to other exciting newcomers including Winston Cuevas and Elise McMahon. Digital presentations feature images of each designers’ work, a written description of the pieces, and an audio clip from the designer, explaining their process and inspirations. All works will be for sale via 1stdibs, adding a commercial element to the show that we can only imagine is much appreciated in these uncertain times. For the next four weeks, Sight Unseen editors will post related content programming on their site and social channels, as well as on Dezeen’s Virtual Design Fair to expand the depth of their offerings.
High Point Expands Fall Dates in Response to COVID-19
High Point Market will now take place over nine days, October 13–21, in an effort to address the impact of COVID-19 by “spread[ing] out attendance and account[ing] for expected reduced capacity requirements for showrooms and buildings,” the High Point Market Authority announced in a statement this week. Industry professionals and buyers will be required to select one of three three-day periods during the market as their “primary attendance dates” during online registration; other measures include ramped-up sanitation and cleaning efforts, social distancing, and increased medical services.
“We anticipate less restrictive guidelines for large gatherings this fall, but the need for increased safety measures will still exist. Although we have over 11 million square feet spread over 13 city blocks, likely allowing us to have upwards of 50,000 attendees on any given day, we want to be overly cautious and stay below that maximum each day so all guests feel safe and comfortable attending and visiting their favorite showrooms,” said Tom Conley, president and CEO of HPMA, in the statement.
Frieze Proves Coronavirus Won’t Freeze Its Business
Frieze’s first virtual fair has wrapped, with some surprisingly positive results. As reported by the New York Times, the event may have felt subdued, but nevertheless it brought in some steady figures. (Of particular note was a George Condo painting that Hauser & Wirth sold for $2 million.) While some regular participants missed the usual buzz and the chance to mingle, others found that there were clear benefits: Gallerists could reach a geographically wider audience while saving booth-installation costs. And instead of being pulled in a million directions, they could communicate to potential buyers from the comfort of their own homes. “It’s the most civilized way to hold an art fair ever,” Boris Vervoordt, a gallerist and son of AD100 designer Axel Vervoordt, commented to the Times. “You’re home. There’s a nice thing about the slowness of it. You create an intimacy you never get at a fair. It’s very calm in that way.”
Bed Bath & Beyond to Make Donation Worth $10 Million to Support COVID-19 Relief
Bed Bath & Beyond is stepping up to donate $10 million worth of products to communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The program, titled “Bringing Home Everywhere,” has been created in response to the fact that reportedly half of all nonprofits are currently in search of home goods. The retailer will deliver home products, as well as those intended for babies and personal care, to those in need.
DIFFA Is Providing COVID-19 Support To Those With HIV/AIDS
Design Industry Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA) and the ASID Design Impacts Lives Fund are teaming up to help support six organizations—Ali Forney Center, Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, God’s Love We Deliver, GMHC, Hetrick-Martin Institute, and Housing Works (Bailey House)—with emergency funding in light of the COVID-19 crisis. Greg Wersching, director of Project Management of Housing Works, which has developed a telehealth program, as well as two new clinic sites in response to the crisis, explains, “Most people Housing Works serves face co-morbidities—consequently, all are at heightened risk of COVID-19 infection, and those infected are at risk of severe complications or even death. Social distancing measures present challenges for our population, as interruptions to primary care, substance use treatment, and HIV prevention can be just as risky.”
A Fabric and Some New Furniture Make Their Digital Debuts
In product news this week, Eskayel debuted a Hampton’s Toile, called Out East. ( “I’m always interested in taking what’s considered traditional types of patterns and making them more contemporary with my inky style,” Eskayel founder Shanan Campanaro tells AD PRO. “These scenes were painted at my new house in the Springs this past winter, using a small traveling water color set. It was a new medium for me, as I usually use ink and a lot of water in my studio.”) Also of note, Thonet is out with new products, including its Solden Chair and Suzenne Sofa. And last, but not least, Poltrona Frau released its own new offerings, which were previously intended to debut at Salone del Mobile. During a virtual press preview, the company’s CEO explained the new offerings, as well as their enticing color palettes.
Professional Designers Can Apply for These Newly Announced IFDA Grants
The International Furnishings and Design Association, or IFDA, is awarding grants for pros in the industry. “These professional grants meet a variety of important objectives, including helping people expand their horizons and enhance their skills and education,” said Gail Belz, FIFDA, chairman of the Board of the Educational Foundation of IFDA, in a statement. Open to professionals working in the interior design or furnishings-related fields, the grants will open for applications starting June 1. There are five total and include concentrations in historic preservation, universal design, and other interests and areas of continued study. There are also grants available for IFDA chapters, to support educational programming, such as webinars, as well as communications and marketing projects.
Mark Ferguson Named to University Architecture Post
Mark Ferguson, founder of AD100 Ferguson & Shamamian Architects, has been named head of the Catholic University of America’s Architecture and Planning School. The architect, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Carnegie-Mellon and a master’s in architecture from Princeton, oversees a firm of 90 focused on private residence design. He has previously served as a visiting critic at the University of Miami and has taught at the Rhode Island School of Design. “As a practitioner, I have had the privilege of coaching many young architects, helping them grow into mature professionals, key members of our business organization, and valued contributors to the communities we serve,” Ferguson said in a statement. “With the support of a university community driven by a clear sense of purpose, the school will provide a solid foundation, second to none, for young architects to make the world a more humane and beautiful place.”
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest