‘Buy now, pay later’ puts Gen Z into debt, furniture giant settles with EPA and more

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While fashion trends often travel downstream to the home realm, one influencer is going viral for taking things in the opposite direction – creating maximalist outfits from a variety of household items (from door hinges to electrical outlets). Stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches, events, recommended reading and more.

Economic news
For the first time in two decades, mortgage rates exceeded 7%, NPR reports, with the weekly average for a 30-year fixed rate loan at 7.08%, the highest level since April 2002. According to mortgage giant Freddie Mac, soaring rates (which have more than doubled since the start of the year) are contributing to the stagnation of the housing market, with sales falling steadily for eight months. Still, most analysts believe that a lingering housing shortage, along with the fact that most homeowners are currently locked into fixed-rate loans, will shield the market from a bigger crash.

Made has ended its formal sales process, Dezeen reports. The UK-based online furniture and homewares retailer was unable to find a buyer after inviting a number of businesses to submit bids by the end of October, and said at the end of last week he had no reasonable prospects. The news comes just over a year after Made announced record results in the first half of 2021, when revenue grew 61%. Just a year later, the company’s success had taken a turn as it saw a “significant reduction in demand” in the first half of 2022. Along with last week’s announcement, the company said it plans to release a new update if needed, and in the meantime has stopped taking new orders. According Tech Crunchthe company hired New York-based consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers as administrators to prepare for insolvency.

Online real estate market Zillow has laid off around 300 employees, Tech Crunch reports, citing an internal shift to tech-related positions. The Seattle-based company broke the news to employees early last week, with the job cuts affecting Zillow Offers advisors, trade association sales and senior staff at Zillow Home Loans and Zillow Closing Services, as well as other teams. Although this decision will not have as much impact as Zillow’s decision to lay off a quarter of its staff last year, it is estimated that the new round will affect around 5% of employees.

Buy-it-now, pay-later providers surged in popularity at the start of the pandemic as consumers were drawn to an interest-free, low-to-no-fee, short-term lending system. Now, Bloomberg reports, many of these businesses are facing higher default rates as inflation curbs spending habits — and young borrowers in particular are faced with balances they can’t repay. According to a report by the Federal Reserve, 18% of consumers aged 18-29 fell behind with their payments in 2021, with some users saying BNPL targets borrowers who are new to managing their own finances. While major companies Afterpay, Klarna and Affirm have said it all Bloomberg that they offer more guarantees to consumers than credit cards, it is also true that BNPL companies have reached out to Gen Z consumers, especially by partnering with social media influencers and offering BNPL services at online checkouts.

Furniture giant Flexsteel Industries has agreed to pay a $9.8 million settlement at the Lane Street groundwater contamination Superfund site in Elkhart, Indiana, where a district court ruled the former factory of manufacture of the company responsible for having contributed to the contamination of the site. As Furniture today reports, the payment will also reimburse the Environmental Protection Agency for some of its past costs incurred at the site, where around 65 acres of residential and industrial properties were affected when a plume of groundwater was contaminated by solvents and degreasers from Flexsteel and allegedly two more from the evenings. Flexsteel refused Furniture todaybut said it plans to make its position public in an upcoming Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Amazon has recalled 11,400 executive office chairs after receiving more than a dozen complaints about chair legs breaking under the weight of users, Home News now reports. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission issued the recall last week, which involved the Amazon Basics executive office chair. The commission advised consumers to immediately stop using the product and contact Amazon for disposal instructions and a full refund.

Launches & Collaborations
Lulu and Georgia tapped LA interior designer Jake Arnold for a new collection of rugs. Presented in nine different styles, the pieces in the selection, available in neutral earth tones, are designed to be layered in a space, taking note of Arnold’s interior style.

Luxury online marketplace Chairish has announced a new partnership with The Kairos Collection, a UK-based platform for vintage and antique furniture and art. The move will bring a new group of UK and European stockists to the Chairish retail community, whose merchandise will now be accessible via Chairish’s Pamono site.

Designers Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent have teamed up with PetSmart for a new collection of pet habitats and decor, not aimed at cats and dogs, but rather at the overlooked category of small pets such as fish. , reptiles and rodents, fast company reports. The new collaboration will feature items such as mini faux leather sofas for guinea pigs, stone water bowls for reptiles, and aquatic ornaments to place inside aquariums.

recommended reading
Americans have gone on a furniture-buying spree during the pandemic, boosting sales of desks, chairs and patio equipment by more than $4 billion from 2019 to 2021, even though much of that new items will end up in a landfill in just a few years. As Debra Kamin writes for The New York Timesmany decor and furnishing pieces produced by brands like Ikea and Wayfair were designed to last only around five years, ushering in an era of “fast furniture” that has dangerous implications for the environment.

Victorian homes have come to take a prominent role in many horror films, serving as a central location for spooky activity in everything from The Addams Family at psychology– but why exactly is the 19th century style so often labeled as a haunted house? For The Washington PostRachel Kurzius explains the architectural and historical factors – including the labyrinthine rooms, dark drapes, and cultural influences of the time – that contribute to an overall sense of strangeness inside these properties.

Cue the applause
The Black Artists + Designers Guild kicked off its first awards ceremony, BADG of Honor, last week, presenting five awards to black creatives in art and design. The Collective Circle Award, which recognizes organizations that provide space for black artists and designers, went to Mashonda Tifrere, the founder of ArtLeadHer, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit that provides opportunities for women in the arts visuals; the Founder Award went to landscape designer Walter Hood of Oakland, Calif., Hood Design Studio; the Education Award went to Dori Tunstall, Dean of Design at the Ontario College of Art & Design University; the Legacy Award went to Franklin Sirmans, the director of the Perez Art Museum Miami; and the final prize, the BADG Maker Award, went to Jomo Tariku. The organization also plans to commission a different manufacturer each year to design and create the awards themselves. This year’s maker was glass artist Leo Tecosky, who made five unique glass sculptures for each winner, with an additional piece also awarded. to Tiffany Farney for her contribution to the organization and realization of the event.

Thermador announced the winners of the fourth annual Kitchen Design Challenge, which invites designers, builders, architects and students to submit designs in exchange for cash prizes totaling $110,000. Winners were selected in the categories of Outstanding Kitchen Design, Compact Kitchen Package, Original/Out-of-the-Box Innovative Space, Concept Student Kitchen and more. For the full list of winners, click here.

Homepage Image: Lulu and Georgia’s New Collaboration with LA Interior Designer Jake Arnold | Courtesy of Lulu and Georgia

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