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Home maintenance expert turns her own home into a testing ground for cutting-edge sustainable design

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Glasshouse home maintenance, Glasshouse, mid-century house, green remodel, green renovation, Piedmont, LEED Platinum-certified house, LEED Platinum certification, recycled building materials, natural building materials, PV film, photovoltaic thin film, solar power, rainwater harvesting

Bloemker preserved much of the original look of the house, built in the style of mid-century modern, while giving it a beautiful modern makeover. She used natural and recycled materials and sent 90 percent of the construction waste from the redesign process to a housing non-profit for reuse.

Related: 5 Tips for a Green Home Remodel from Eco Architect Sarah Susanka

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How Decisive Are You?

By Drue Lawlor, FASID
Director of Coaching, Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting & Design Success University

There is a wonderful quote I found that states:  “Be decisive.  Right or wrong, make a decision.  The road of life is paved with flat squirrels who couldn’t make a decision.” (Author unknown).   How quickly do you make decisions?

Too often we see designers who get so frustrated with clients who can’t make decisions (a quick decision maker might be something to add to your “ideal client profile”!), and yet those same designers may not have stopped to realize that they are not quick decision makers for their own business.  They may be plagued by what we often refer to as “analysis paralysis” – or overanalyzing and over researching the situation.

In an article by John Whittaker, marketing director of information management solutions at Dell Software, he states: “There’s a growing tendency in business today, from seasoned executives and newly minted MBAs alike, to overanalyze things. Because we’re in a digital age where there’s so much information available, we tend to think that, regardless of where we are in the decision-making process, there’s always more information out there that could help us better determine the right course of action ….”.  Does that sound like you?

One way to speed up the process is to do a quick SWOT analysis.  This process is something I learned a number of years ago when first introduced to strategic planning and I have found it one of the most valuable tools to use.  SWOT is the acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.  When using the SWOT analysis, you are identifying your firm’s internal strengths and weaknesses as well as the external opportunities and threats.  Make a quick list for each of the 4 categories.  It will help you focus on your firm’s strengths, minimize threats and take the greatest possible advantage of opportunities available to your firm.

Whether the decision relates to taking on a challenging client/job, restructure your business or make adjustments to your model, expand your business or solidify what you have but increase profits — whatever the decision you are grappling with, calendar the time and then gather the information, do a SWOT analysis and then move forward!

There is so much information available that it’s easy for leaders to get caught up in what we call “analysis paralysis” and become unable to make a decision.  But remember, the most important quality a leader, and CEO of a firm can have is decisiveness.

You can’t be afraid to make a mistake.  After all, you can always make a course correction if needed, but more importantly is the fact that you cannot make up for failing to take action when that action was needed.  So keep reminding yourself that making the wrong decision is not the end of the world and as actress Keri Russell states, “Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.”

So do that SWOT analysis, make that decision, and take action.

Actions prove who someone is.  Words prove who they want to be.

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This Demographic Will Drive Interior Design And Trends In Coming Years

For the first time in the country’s history, in 2030, the number of persons age 65 and older will exceed the number of persons under the age of 18, as the last of the Baby Boom generation turns 65, according to recent U.S. Population Survey projections. Translation: one in every five Americans will be of traditional retirement age. What does this mean for interior designers and home design? How are kitchen and dining rooms going to change to accommodate the needs of different family members?

Last week, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) released their 2019 Outlook and State of Interior Design (OSID) report meant to supply design professionals with essential insights which includes information ranging from a U.S. economic overview, to a deep dive into today’s macro-trends, to future insight from industry thought leaders.

“As our industry and profession continue to experience rapid change in an increasingly globalized world, we must become agile and adaptable to these shifts and apply knowledge in order to thrive,” states Randy Fiser, Hon. FASID, CEO, ASID. “It’s becoming ever-important to reflect on the past and present in order for interior design professionals to adequately prepare for the future. The 2019 ASID Outlook and State of Interior Design report provides resources for designers to inform their next steps, and offers verified insight as to which direction to steer their businesses and careers.”

There are key takeaways from the report but what struck me most what how the aging population will reshape the built environment.

The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) released its 2019 Outlook and State of Interior Design (OSID) report which revealed the number of persons age 65 and older will exceed the number of persons under the age of 18 in 2030. This will affect how interior designers and others in the industry approach design in the coming years.GETTY

New Housing Needs To Accommodate An Older Population

In addition to those 65 plus exceeding the younger set in population, I learned that the homesharing economy is affecting this demographic in a significant way. According to a 2016 Airbnb study, endorsed by AARP, older adults — especially women age 60 and older — make up the largest demographic of its hosts (around 45 percent), according to the report. Whether it’s a form of supplemental income or to offset other expenses, hosts aged 65 and over earned an average of $8,350 in supplemental income annually for a single property and as of April of 2016, U.S. Airbnb hosts over age 60 (more than 320,000 of them) had earned a collective $700 million from sharing their homes since 2011.

Not every senior will want to share their home or room with strangers but as the population grows older. Still, while they may not be sharing their homes with strangers, approximately 12 percent of U.S. parents with one or more children currently living at home are also providing unpaid care for an adult who may or may not be living in the same home, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.

Interior designers and architects will be finding themselves with more projects that focus on how to help seniors either age in place or remodel spaces in homes to accommodate an elder family member who is moving in, either temporarily or permanently.

Among the trends highlighted in the ASID Outlook report is the “traditional family household model is being replaced by more fluid, variable configurations based on lifestyle and social identity.”

Such morphing of lifestyles is transforming spaces. Today’s consumers are breaking down the boundaries of traditional household and lifestyle paradigms, partly due to changing social norms and partly due to economic necessity. Single-occupant housing, shared housing, same-sex households, and single-parent households are all becoming more standard and accepted. Consumers are more open to experimenting with new ways of living, commuting, and consuming. This is having an impact on how they use the spaces in which they live, work, and play, according to another 2019 trendbook released by Schattdecor, an international surface specialist with offices in 27 countries.

Wellness Technology Is Penetrating The Senior Market

Not every mature adult is moving in with their kids or inviting strangers to live in their homes. Many are fine living alone and welcome the solace. Still, savvy technology companies know it’s smart business to develop technologies and devices specifically for the senior market. Those companies are creating tech that ranges from health and wellness (e.g., sensors, monitors, telemedicine) to virtual reality experiences designed to combat the negative effects of limited mobility and isolation. Similar to other areas of life, ‘smart’ versions of common items used to support senior wellness (e.g., beds, canes, clothes, flooring, lights, scales, silverware, toilets, window panes, etc.) will become ubiquitous, according to an article published in Senior Housing News last summer.

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Megy Karydes is a Chicago-based freelance writer who covers food, travel, and sustainability. Her work has appeared in USA Today, Fortune, National Geographic’s The Plat..

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New York City Earns Most Sustainable U.S. City

U.S. cities still trail most major European and Canadian cities in global sustainability

New York City leads the United States for sustainability, according to the Sustainable Cities Index from Arcadis, the leading global design and consultancy for natural and built assets. From the 22 North American cities measured, New York City ranks ahead of Boston (5th), San Francisco (6th) and Seattle (7th) while rounding out the bottom rankings are Indianapolis, Tampa and Detroit. Canadian cities ranked ahead of most U.S. cities, with Vancouver taking the highest spot and Toronto and Montreal ranking in the top five.

With cities home to more than half the world’s population, it’s important for them to seek ways to become an attractive place to live, work and invest, which ultimately makes them more sustainable. The index explores the three pillars of sustainability – People (social), Planet (environmental) and Profit (economic) – to develop an indicative ranking of 100 cities worldwide that represent a cross section of the population. The overall index is an analysis of 32 different indicators such as income inequality, education, crime, affordability (People); energy consumption, drinking water, sanitation, green space (Planet), and transportation, economic development, and employment (Profit).

North America Rankings (with global rank)
1. Vancouver (#23)
2. New York (#26)
3. Montreal (#28)
4. Toronto (#33)
5. Boston (#34)
6. San Francisco (#39)
7. Seattle (#43)
8. Washington, D.C. (#44)
9. Denver (#49)
10. Los Angeles (#50)
11. Philadelphia (#51)
12. Baltimore (#53)
13. Miami (#54)
14. Dallas (#56)
15. Houston (#59)
16. Chicago (#60)
17. New Orleans (#61)
18. Pittsburgh (#62)
19. Atlanta (#63)
20. Indianapolis (#65)
21. Tampa (#68)
22. Detroit (#69)

An interactive summary of the full rankings and findings can be found here: www.arcadis.com/SCI2016

North America peaks in Profit but lags in People and Planet

In North America, 63 percent of cities measured for this index rank in the top 50 for Profit, but this figure falls to 27 percent for the People category and 50 percent for Planet.

Similarly, U.S. cities rank just below most other developed nations in sustainability and are most challenged in two categories: People and Planet. To achieve greater sustainability in the People category, U.S. cities need to improve social factors such as work-life balance, crime, health, and affordability. To improve in the Planet sub-index, U.S. cities need to lower their per-capita greenhouse gas emissions, use less energy, and generate more urban green space.

New York City, with nearly 9 million residents and serving as an international hub for commerce and politics, tops the Profit category and ranks higher than its U.S. counterparts in environmental efforts. However, it falls to #15 in North America and #77 worldwide in the People category, primarily due to the high cost of housing and a high consumer price index. It’s noted that the NYC Mayor’s Office has taken steps to improve poverty and increase minimum wage by 2019 while providing more affordable housing options and better access to early childhood education.

In the Planet sub-index, NYC has worked to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the city has placed additional emphasis on infrastructure expansion and modernization. New York, like Boston and other coastal cities, faces threats from rising sea levels and potential damage from intense storm surge but is making headway with designs for flood protection systems.

West Coast U.S. cities are not far behind NYC with San Francisco and Seattle coming in as the third and fourth highest ranked U.S. cities for sustainability. Both west coast cities have a health-conscious population, low amounts of air pollution, reduced homicide rates, perform well in ease of doing business and enjoy economic vitality. But skyrocketing property prices make it difficult to find affordable housing and the amount of green space per city size is lacking compared to NYC or Washington, D.C.

In the middle of the U.S. rankings is Los Angeles, a highly educated and healthy city rated well for ease of doing business. However, it ranks low due to frequent smog, reduced affordability, and insufficient green space. It also continues to face environmental risks from drought and water scarcity.

The third largest U.S. city, Chicago, ranks #16 out of 22 U.S. cities. Although it features a highly educated workforce, Chicago would need to improve Planet factors such as increased green space and greater limits on greenhouse gas emissions in order to rank higher in sustainability.

In Texas, Houston places higher than Dallas on the People sub-index while Dallas is ahead for environmental and economic sustainability. Miami and Tampa (13th and 21st in the U.S. respectively) are comparable on People and Planet, but Miami edges ahead in economic stability. Denver ranks well in People and Profit and receives high marks for light rail expansion and airport satisfaction. However, the Rocky Mountain city ranks low in green space and affordability.

“As the index indicates, most of North America’s iconic cities produce strong economies with relatively low unemployment, which provides them a path toward sustainability, but environmental risks, rapid urbanization, less focus on green space and lack of work-life balance prevent most U.S. cities from ranking in the top 10 most sustainable cities when compared to other developed nations,” said Joachim Ebert, CEO of Arcadis North America. “However, as our index shows, all cities face unique challenges and none of the cities can claim to have earned the title of being completely sustainable. This index should serve as a guide to city authorities for comparing their competitiveness to similar cities and to learn by example the measures necessary in becoming more sustainable.”

Canadian cities rank higher than U.S. counterparts

In the People category, Vancouver ranks well for its low crime rate, healthy population, affordability, and excellent work-life balance. For Planet, this western Canadian city proves its sustainability with low energy consumption and a focus on renewable energy, minimal air pollution and nominal greenhouse gas emissions. It also gets high marks for its robust wastewater management and recycling programs. In the Profit sub-index, Vancouver fares well for employment but could generate a healthier business climate to further economic development.

Europe tops global index, Zurich #1

European cities dominate the top of the overall ranking making up 16 of the top 20 positions. Zurich, Switzerland, took the number one ranking out of 100 cities due to its strong reputation as a livable, contemporary city known for its focus on environmentalism and fostering its world renowned financial institutions.

Zurich rated most sustainable for its aggressive approach to tackling climate change and resource scarcity, with a goal set to use 2,000 watts of energy per capita. The city is also recognized for investing in energy efficiency and renewable energies, sustainable buildings, and a highly coordinated public transit system. Zurich is also leading the health ranking globally. All of these factors make Zurich an attractive place to live, work and invest, despite being hampered by lack of affordability and work life-balance.

The cities included in this report were selected to provide an overview of the planet’s cities, providing not only wide-ranging geographical coverage, but also varying levels of economic development, expectations of future growth and an assortment of sustainability challenges.

Building on last year’s index, Arcadis has sought to create a more indicative global picture of urban sustainability by including an additional 50 cities to the ranking and incorporating seven new indicators of sustainability to the index. As a result of this, it would be inaccurate to compare the rankings to last year’s.

About Arcadis
Arcadis is the leading global design & consultancy firm for natural and built assets. Applying our deep market sector insights and collective design, consultancy, engineering, project and management services, we work in partnership with our clients to deliver exceptional and sustainable outcomes throughout the lifecycle of their natural and built assets. We are 27,000 people active in over 70 countries that generate more than $3.8B in revenues. We support UN-Habitat with knowledge and expertise to improve the quality of life in rapidly growing cities around the world. For more information, visit www.arcadis.com.

SOURCE: Arcadis

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Interior design is having its moment in healthcare

Continue reading Interior design is having its moment in healthcare

This Demographic Will Drive Interior Design And Trends In Coming Years

For the first time in the country’s history, in 2030, the number of persons age 65 and older will exceed the number of persons under the age of 18, as the last of the Baby Boom generation turns 65, according to recent U.S. Population Survey projections. Translation: one in every five Americans will be of traditional retirement age. What does this mean for interior designers and home design? How are kitchen and dining rooms going to change to accommodate the needs of different family members?

Last week, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) released their 2019 Outlook and State of Interior Design (OSID) report meant to supply design professionals with essential insights which includes information ranging from a U.S. economic overview, to a deep dive into today’s macro-trends, to future insight from industry thought leaders.

“As our industry and profession continue to experience rapid change in an increasingly globalized world, we must become agile and adaptable to these shifts and apply knowledge in order to thrive,” states Randy Fiser, Hon. FASID, CEO, ASID. “It’s becoming ever-important to reflect on the past and present in order for interior design professionals to adequately prepare for the future. The 2019 ASID Outlook and State of Interior Design report provides resources for designers to inform their next steps, and offers verified insight as to which direction to steer their businesses and careers.”

There are key takeaways from the report but what struck me most what how the aging population will reshape the built environment.

The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) released its 2019 Outlook and State of Interior Design (OSID) report which revealed the number of persons age 65 and older will exceed the number of persons under the age of 18 in 2030. This will affect how interior designers and others in the industry approach design in the coming years.GETTY

New Housing Needs To Accommodate An Older Population

In addition to those 65 plus exceeding the younger set in population, I learned that the homesharing economy is affecting this demographic in a significant way. According to a 2016 Airbnb study, endorsed by AARP, older adults — especially women age 60 and older — make up the largest demographic of its hosts (around 45 percent), according to the report. Whether it’s a form of supplemental income or to offset other expenses, hosts aged 65 and over earned an average of $8,350 in supplemental income annually for a single property and as of April of 2016, U.S. Airbnb hosts over age 60 (more than 320,000 of them) had earned a collective $700 million from sharing their homes since 2011.

Not every senior will want to share their home or room with strangers but as the population grows older. Still, while they may not be sharing their homes with strangers, approximately 12 percent of U.S. parents with one or more children currently living at home are also providing unpaid care for an adult who may or may not be living in the same home, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.

Continue reading This Demographic Will Drive Interior Design And Trends In Coming Years

Housing pressures cool luxury home market

Michael J. Berens

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

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Housing pressures cool luxury home market

Many of the same factors that are dampening the housing market overall finally caught up with the luxury home sector during the second half of 2018. Prices and inventories have begun to drop, and sales have slowed. Areas where demand is high are still reporting brisk sales, but in other areas experts predict activity will remain tepid even though conditions now favor buyers.

Luxury properties were being snapped up at a near-record rate in the second quarter. While that brisk pace actually accelerated somewhat in the third quarter, total volume of sales declined, according to Redfin’s latest luxury home report.

One of the reasons for this seeming discrepancy is that in certain parts of the country where available homes for sale are scarce, such as the San Francisco Bay Area/Silicon Valley and the Washington, D.C., metro area, buyers are rushing to close on available properties, especially those at the lower end of the luxury home market.

Another reason for the demand for luxury homes in some areas is that rising prices over the past couple of years have pushed more homes into that traditional lower-end luxury home range.

Kaki Lybbert, chairman of Texas Realtors, for example, recently told Builder magazine, “Statewide, we’re seeing more homes priced in the $1 million-dollar-plus price class,” due to an influx of buyers moving into the state. “Many homes in the metropolitan areas of Texas reached that level due to increased land values,” explained Lybbert.

In other areas, though, activity has begun to cool. Redfin states that luxury home prices increased by just 3.2 percent year-over-year in the third quarter of 2018, the smallest rate of growth since 2016. Inventories also dropped, with the number of homes for sale at or above $2 million down 6 percent from the previous year.

Continuing the softening trend, listings and sales also dropped in October and November, according to the December 2018 Luxury Market Report from the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing. Sales of single-family luxury homes fell 11.7 percent from October to November, and new listings were down 27 percent.

The authors of the report note that “prices have begun to plateau,” especially at the higher-end of the market, homes selling for $8 to $10 million or more. On average, homes were selling for less than the original asking price. Sales of attached luxury homes were up 2.6 percent for the month, mostly in saturated metropolitan markets, and prices were up slightly, 2.3 percent, although on average properties sold for below asking price.

CNBC news recently reported that high-end homebuilder Toll Brothers announced a 13 percent annual drop in the number of signed contracts in the fourth quarter, and a 9.3 percent cancellation rate. Toll CEO Douglas Yearley Jr. blamed the slowdown on rising mortgage interest rates and the negative press about the struggling housing market.

Affordability is also factor, notes the CNBC article, since many potential buyers cannot or will not pay for such high price points, and among those that can, declining prices are making high-end luxury homes less attractive as an investment.

In their report, Redfin points to the recent volatility in the stock market as a major reason why buyers have left the market. They also observe that homeowners in overly heated markets, such as major metro areas in California, are selling their high-priced homes and purchasing more affordable homes in other areas, such as in nearby Nevada.

Since none of these factors are likely to change in the near future, experts predict that the luxury home market will experience a chilly 2019 winter season. That could have repercussions for interior designers, softening demand for services leading up to spring design season.

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About the Author

Michael J. Berens

Michael J. Berens is a freelance researcher and writer with more than 30 years of experience in association communication and management. He can be reached at mjberensresearch@gmail.com.

Continue reading Housing pressures cool luxury home market

Why Italian Modernism Has Remained So Iconic

Giorgio Busnelli, CEO of chic furniture brand B&B Italia, explains the enduring appeal of a favorite style

While it’s said that styles come and go, the midcentury-modern aesthetic has held strong through the years. Collectors still clamor for original pieces at auction, and the influence of the era’s trademark sleek silhouettes is ubiquitous in the collections of brands like West Elm and Room & Board. Though the term encompasses a broad spectrum of design movements throughout Europe, many of the best-recognized (and most enduring) forms have come out of Italy. Case in point: B&B Italia. Since its founding in 1966, the company has produced some of the most distinctive furniture in history. Its designer roster—which includes such luminaries as Ettore Sottsass, Gio Ponti, Renzo Piano, Patricia Urquiola, and Zaha Hadid—reads like a Who’s Who of the 20th-century design canon. Many pieces, including Gaetano Pesce’s playful Up chair, have reached icon status, while others, like Antoni Citterio’s Harry sofa, have been routinely copied, quietly embedding themselves in the DNA of furniture design. As B&B Italia celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, the company has launched of a book, an exhibition, and a documentary film. AD caught up with CEO Giorgio Busnelli (son of founder Piero Ambrogio Busnelli) to hear more about the brand’s storied past and how the company continues to look forward.

B&B Italia CEO Giorgio Busnelli in Gaetano Pesce’s iconic Up chair.

Photo: Iwan Baan

Architectural Digest: How has B&B Italia changed most over the past 50 years?

Giorgio Busnelli: I am proud to say that B&B Italia still relies today on the same principles my father introduced in 1966. He saw a huge opportunity in design, and consequently in new technologies and industrial processes, to reach the highest expression of quality and designers’ creativity, to be exported worldwide—in a moment when classic furniture seemed to be the only possibility. We honor this technical approach by continuing to commit to research and innovation through our internal Research & Development Centre. We also have always had the goal to conquer foreign markets, and today we are a global brand with an export quota of over 80 percent.

AD: How is it that so much of B&B Italia’s furniture can be used in a variety of aesthetic settings?

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GB: B&B Italia has always cultivated the ability to reflect contemporary culture, to respond to changes in taste and living needs, sensing and anticipating trends. Our collections are the result of a unique mix of creativity, innovation, industrial know-how, and excellence. Over the years we have tried to keep evolving in order to offer not only distinctive design products, but also to propose a type of international lifestyle, bringing creativity and personality in any home and living ambience, no matter where the home is and no matter which architectural style it has.

A model perches on an armchair from Afra and Tobia Scarpa’s Coronado collection, designed in 1966.

Photo: Courtesy of B&B Italia

AD: What are your personal favorites from B&B Italia?

GB: It is quite hard to decide among a number of successful pieces, as for many reasons several of them represent important chapters of our life. If I go for the longtime bestseller, it would be the Charles sofa, designed in 1997 by Antonio Citterio. It’s a modular seating system which owes its immense international success to its strong design concept, introducing a new living landscape. One of the main features that made Charles a contemporary classic is its use of inverted L-shaped aluminum feet, which accentuate the light and essential design of the system. In terms of timeless design, I would say the Diesis sofa, a modern classic designed in 1979, still looks amazingly contemporary nowadays. The list is obviously longer, as I consider several projects my babies!

AD: What was it that made the company’s most recognizable pieces so iconic?

GB: In my opinion, a product can be defined as an icon when it is able to express a universal idea that stands the test of time. An icon falls between a design piece and a piece of art. The fact that people across the world and the years buy or aspire to buy a product confirms that it is an icon. In our collection we have several iconic pieces, but I would mention all three armchairs: the Up5_6 designed by Gaetano Pesce (1969), the Grande Papilioby Naoto Fukasawa (2009), and the more recent Almora by Doshi Levien(2014). They are very different in terms of design, material, and comfort, but they all show a timeless design and a unique mix of creativity and innovation; they represent true design statements.

AD: Who are some of your favorite designers who have worked with B&B Italia?

GB: This is a difficult question. We work with so many talents, and it is a huge pleasure to work with them. I will say that Antonio Citterio is the one with the highest knowledge of the company. He’s been with us across three generations, working with my father first, and with me and now my son. He has the extraordinary ability to capture living-style changes, even to anticipate them, and has been able to bring brilliant insights on main trends, beyond products. His ability to capture some important signals of the evolution of the company made him, project after project, our key point of reference. I have great esteem for Antonio.

AD: Where do you see the brand in another 50 years?

GB: B&B Italia has been among the very few companies to understand 50 years ago that design could have a future. We have faced the last five decades with consistency and determination, without accepting any compromise. Today I can say that our mission towards research and innovation will guarantee a strong know-how to face the future. B&B Italia is recognized worldwide as a leader in the contemporary furniture field, a key player in the history of Italian design, and an excellent ambassador of Made in Italy. Basically, we want to remain faithful to our values and roots, being innovative, international, and contemporary, and always at the forefront of design with a forward-thinking attitude.

Continue reading Why Italian Modernism Has Remained So Iconic

Wallpaper is back, and it’s gone from fussy to artsy

As the CEO of Goldman Sachs Canada, Jason Rowe could conceivably have anything he or his wife Krista want on their bedroom walls. But currently, as they redecorate their home in Toronto’s tony Forest Hill neighbourhood, they have chosen to cover the surface behind their bed with a wallpaper called Ombre Basket Weave. Designed by the Toronto studio Moss & Lam as part of its new Canvas collection, it has a crosshatch texture and fades from dark to light up the wall.

There’s no question that wallpaper, which was once synonymous with fussy eras in interior decorating from ornate Victorian rooms to the chintzy spaces of the 1980s, is back. According to the research group IT Strategies, after a decade of decline, wallpaper sales have grown 4 per cent a year since 2012. The big reason for the rebound is that wallpaper is legitimately better these days. The look is lighter and more refined and the application (and take down) has become much easier. The level of craft has also never been higher, with hand-painted designs and evocative patterns elevating wallpaper to visual art.

For the past 30 years, Moss & Lam has created custom wall finishes for some of the world’s top interior designers, such as Yabu Pushelberg, and brands including Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany & Co. With the Canvas collection, it has launched a side business where discerning shoppers such as the Rowes can order hand-painted wall wraps online from a set of predesigned styles.

“We’ve built up a lot of expertise for our design clients,” says Moss & Lam’s co-founder Deborah Moss. “But we thought it was time to offer it to a broader market, starting with seven patterns.” Moss particularly likes the fact that, unlike conventional rolls of printed wallpaper, Canvas treatments can be made to almost any dimension without a seam, so there are never any gaps. “I prefer to see the brush strokes, not the seams,” she says.

Those brush strokes also add a distinctive level of craft. “It’s not like a typical, printed wallpaper,” says the Rowe’s interior designer, Abraham Chan, who runs his own eponymous studio. “It has little imperfections, the way all hand-done things do, but they’re beautiful and add a lot of character.”

At $50 to $80 a square foot, Canvas costs a premium compared with a generic roll of glue-on wallpaper from a hardware store. But Chan believes it’s still good value. “It’s similar to really nice upholstery fabric. But, because it’s hand-painted, it also feels bespoke.”

Canvas isn’t the only recent addition to the marketplace with a more artful aesthetic. London-based de Gournay also offers luxurious wall coverings, including Anemones in Light, a recent collaboration with supermodel Kate Moss, who got into wallpaper after choosing a de Gournay design for her home. The Anemones in Light wallpaper features flowers illuminated with beams of soft sunshine. The price starts at about US$1,500 a wall panel, but is so intricate, and creates such a statement, that it essentially eliminates the need for layering on paintings or framed photographs.

Both Moss & Lam and de Gournay wallpapers are refined, long-term investments. But there are also more affordable and playful options for people interested in shorter-term solutions. New York-based Tempaper, for example, was started by a trio of set designers who needed a fast, easy way to change up Broadway backdrops. They developed a water-based, eco-friendly adhesive that can be stuck on, peeled off, and reapplied to multiple surfaces (shiny walls work best).

Tempaper is particularly popular with apartment dwellers. A big selling point is the price (a highly affordable US$1.40 a square foot) as well as the sheer variety of looks. Recent styles include constellations of stars, delicate flowers, blue-hued burlap and a veined, marble-like pattern. Since it comes off easier than the average wallpaper, renters can retrofit their spaces at will without risking their deposit cheques.

Pattern designer Kate Golding incorporates her surroundings into her creations. Her Great lakes collection includes the Beaver Dam, pictured here.

JOHNNY C.Y. LAM

Pattern designer Kate Golding is happy that painterly wallpaper is making a resurgence. She was raised in England, where she would visit National Trust historic homes, admiring their elaborately patterned walls and curtains. “It was a strong influence, growing up in that environment,” she says. “Ever since I was young, I can remember drawing patterns in repeats.”

But even though Golding’s love of wallpaper is rooted in tradition, her own designs are incredibly fresh. She now lives near the small town of Bath, Ont., and incorporates her surroundings into patterns that are both modern and relatable. A series inspired by nearby Prince Edward County incorporates seemingly mundane elements, such as water towers, turkey vultures and local strawberries. For a series inspired by the Great Lakes, she developed patterns with blue jays and moss.

Evan Nash, who lives in Wellington, Ont., a town in Prince Edward County, decorated his daughter’s bedroom with Golding’s strawberry wallpaper and his entryway with her water-tower motif. “The water-tower paper in particular resonated with me because the Wellington water tower has always been a symbol of the town where I grew up,” he says. “Buying that wallpaper felt like I was buying art.”

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Continue reading Wallpaper is back, and it’s gone from fussy to artsy

2018 International Green Construction Code released

Updated version helps governments streamline code development and adoption.

NOVEMBER 16, 2018 |

Courtesy Pixabay

The 2018 International Green Construction Code (2018 IgCC) has been released.

The 2018 IgCC is a joint initiative of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), International Code Council (ICC), ASHRAE, and the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES). It aligns the technical requirements of ANSI/ASHRAE/ICC/USGBC/IES 189.1-2017-Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low Rise Residential Buildings with ICC’s multi-stakeholder IgCC.

The updated version will help governments streamline code development and adoption, according to an ASHRAE news release. “The 2018 IgCC is now a unified code that emphasizes adoption, ease of use, and enforcement for building projects,” the release says.

 “Our hope is that building professionals and policymakers alike adopt better, greener building strategies that help them better implement LEED and achieve higher performance in sustainability,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO, USGBC.

Continue reading 2018 International Green Construction Code released

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