This week, it may come as no surprise to the art and design industry that the Collins Dictionary Word of the Year is “NFT” (short for “non-fungible token,” a unique digital), as use of the term increased 11,000% from last year, but savvy readers of this digest are already familiar with the exercise. Stay up to date with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches and events, recommended reading and more.

Economic news

The World Health Organization on Monday identified the new omicron strain of the coronavirus as a “variant of concern”, prompting nearly 30 countries to tighten their borders in order to contain the spread of the virus. A handful of design events in New York have already been canceled, while some in the industry are uncertain about the design fairs at Paris Maison & Objet and Déco Off and the upcoming Heimtextil and Ambiente fairs in Frankfurt, Germany. Stay tuned for news of postponements or cancellations as the situation evolves.

Best Buy has acquired Yardbird, a Minnesota-based outdoor furniture company, and will roll out the brand’s products on its website in the coming months. Casual News Now reports. Yardbird uses environmentally friendly materials such as recycled plastic to produce its sofas, sectional sofas, dining sets and outdoor chairs, and will continue to sell products online and in seven showrooms across the United States during the transition.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Fiesta Tableware’s online sales have more than doubled in the past year, as the West Virginia-based manufacturer added two large accounts and expanded to more than 40 small retailers following an increase of demand during the pandemic. Amid the resumption in popularity, however, the brand is struggling to fill orders due to labor shortages – of its 500 employees, 150 have not returned to work after the initial COVID shutdowns. -19 – and supply chain grunts, which together caused a quarter of the last orders of the month to ship late.

Maximalism is back, and with it a resurgence of fake food as an element of interior design. Over the past three months, Etsy has seen a 36% increase in searches for fake cakes, as well as a 32% increase in searches for food-inspired candles. According to The New York Times, the phenomenon dates back to the style choices of the mid-century, when affordable travel allowed Americans to bring back glass-blown fruit from trips to Europe. The trend quickly evolved into faux fruit made from wax and plastic – a kitschy bias to the original which is now enjoying viral popularity in fake cakes, resin croissants, deli and cheese candles, and Jell-O salad lamps on Instagram and TikTok.

The South Korean city of Busan has signed an agreement to host the world’s first prototype sustainable floating city off its coast, in a project designed by Bjarke Ingels Group and supported by the United Nations Sustainable Urban Development Program, UN -Habitat and a real estate developer. Oceanix. According to Design boom, the concept was conceived in response to natural disasters induced by climate change such as floods, tsunamis and hurricanes. Comprised of a set of hexagonal platforms, the community is designed to be flood proof and produce its own food, energy and fresh water in a zero waste closed loop system.

Around the world, another utopian city could also be on the way: the President of El Salvador Nayib bukele has announced plans to build a “bitcoin city” in the southeastern region of the country. Powered by renewable energy from a nearby volcano, the new urban center’s energy grid will be partially dedicated to cryptocurrency mining and will be funded by $ 1 billion in Bitcoin-backed bonds, Architectural summary reports. The country initially gained attention last June, when it became the first to legalize the acceptance of cryptocurrency as legal tender, and plans to quickly embark on the new project, with construction scheduled to begin on the first. semester 2022.

Launches and collaborations

December 14, Architectural summary will publish its first global magazine issue – the AD100 annual list celebrating the year’s best designers and architects – produced by publishers of its US editions and nine international editions. According to Digiday, the magazine’s global launch follows a strategy implemented at the end of 2020, when the parent company Condé Nast began to consolidate its content strategy by linking its editorial teams across the world. The next issue will also launch a new franchise called the WOW (Works of Wonder) list, naming 20 outstanding projects from architects and designers around the world. As for the coveted AD100, this year’s cohort includes several newbies, including Los Angeles-based David Netto Design, the Boozer Rayman– ran New York-based Apartment 48 and Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary design studio Workstead. For the full list, click here.

Block Renovation, a Brooklyn, New York-based technology platform that enables homeowners and contractors to digitize the home improvement process, has partnered with local textile brand Quiet Town to create a design library featuring textiles. and complementary colors for the redesign of the bathroom. Selected by the co-founders of Quiet Town Lisa and Michael good, the collection emphasizes unique tiling, vibrant colors, texture and geometry, combining the pair’s design philosophy with Block’s materials and renovation tools.

recommended reading

In the 1980s and 1990s, imports from manufacturing centers in China and Southeast Asia took a heavy toll on American manufacturing. , in North Carolina, could have a chance to regain some ground. Write for The New York Times, Jeanne Smialek follows the efforts of domestic producers as they attempt to seize the opportunity despite the nationwide labor shortage, raw material shortage and ever-growing order book.

For The New York Times Magazinetechnology and design problem, Rob walker sheds light on how times of crisis prompt humans to design solutions to adapt. The pandemic, of course, is a prime example of this, producing ultimately useless inventions (the ‘contactless door opener’ quickly obsolete in the face of airborne illness) and others that seem to be here to stay, like face masks and hybrid work.


The very first Soho House Design Prize, awarded to an emerging craftsman for his excellence in creating a one-of-a-kind personalized piece, went to a designer based in Los Angeles. Zach morgan for its Sombra Umbrella, which captures solar energy during the day and lights up at night. Morgan will receive $ 30,000 to bring the idea to life, as well as mentorship from the Soho House design team, who will incorporate their work into one of the brand’s properties in the future.

The Design Futures Council named KPMB Architects founding partner Marianne McKenna the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award this year. McKenna’s victory marks the first time a woman has received this honor. Past recipients include Lord Norman Foster, Robert am stern, and Gensler art, among others. McKenna is an advocate for the use of architecture to foster community and promote sustainability, and has been named an Officer of the Order of Canada for his significant contributions in the field, including projects such as the TELUS Center for Performance and Learning from the Royal Conservatory, the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the Park Hyatt Toronto.

Call for applications

The kitchen design competition hosted by Sub-Zero, Wolf and Cove is now accepting submissions from business professionals with projects in private residential spaces completed between 2019 and 2021, as well as aspiring design students currently enrolled in college or an accredited university. For more information and to submit an application by the January 31 deadline, click here.

In memory

Multi-hyphenated designer, entrepreneur and visionary Virgil Abloh died at the age of 41 on November 28 following a battle with cancer. Founder of streetwear brand Off-White, Abloh began his career studying architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology before becoming one of the most influential voices in the fashion industry, occupying positions of prominent as artistic director of menswear at Louis Vuitton and Kanye westcreative director of, and extends his talents beyond clothing and turntables, sneakers, rugs and furniture, including an Off-White home collection that debuted in 2019.

Personalities from the home world have shared statements on Instagram mourning the loss, including the British architect Sir David Adjaye: “Too soon dear brother…. RIP, ”he wrote in his post. New York designer Daniel Arsham, a friend and collaborator of Abloh, shared, “He was a unique talent, a visionary artist, a friend. I love you Virg. You have left an indelible mark on so many of us. Carpenters Workshop, the gallery that represented Abloh’s works on cast bronze furniture, also posted on the designer’s passing: “Rest in Peace, thanks for everything @virgilabloh. »House guru Martha stewart shared photos with Abloh and wrote: “Inimitable, imaginative and transformative genius Virgil Abloh has passed away, leaving a void in fashion and innovative design. I was fortunate to have spent some time with him discovering the depth of his knowledge and his curiosity. 41 years old is too young to go.

Home page image: a selection from Block Renovation’s collaboration with Quiet Town. | Courtesy of Block Renovation