Kanebridge News
Share Button


After a year of decorating to maximise comfort, homeowners happily spruce up their digs to entertain again.

Wed, Jul 7, 2021 10:29amGrey Clock 5 min

BOOTY’S IS now, finally, open for business.

The bar is not a commercial establishment, though Kiki Dikmen, a logistics executive, would probably be thrilled to see you. With the help of interior designer Lucinda Loya, he built the bar in his Houston home. It has Mediterranean-blue walls, cloudy mirrors and smoke rings painted on the ceiling. The space was a pandemic labour of love that he recently unveiled to friends and family on his birthday.

“We gave everybody who came a gift—monogrammed masks that said ‘Booty’s’,” said Mr. Dikmen.

Just as the pandemic is winding down for most people in the United States, an end-demic is revving up. Interior designers, furniture showrooms and tableware retailers report that after months of isolation, clients and customers can’t wait to welcome family, friends, colleagues—hell, just about anyone—into their homes. “They feel as though they’ve walked through the fire and survived. They want to reward themselves for the sacrifices and, in many cases, profound losses that they’ve experienced over the last year and a half,” said Palm Beach designer Jim Dove.

With gregarious abandon, homeowners are upgrading décor with a “you only live once” verve that some designers say is unprecedented. Hermès-orange vanities. Gold-striped ceilings.

“Warhol-flowered wallpaper? Yes, please!” said San Francisco designer Katie McCaffrey, who recently clad a powder room with the pop artist’s psychedelic hibiscus.

Sean Anderson, an interior designer in Memphis, Tenn., senses a déjà vu: “I keep hearing people refer to the months and years ahead as the Roaring Twenties, and that is absolutely reflected in some choices that are being made right now.”

The Rug Company has seen a 46% increase in online visits to its “Bright Rug” category, a spokesman said. Among those eye-popping carpets: swirling rainbows and blown-out florals by fashion designers Paul Smith and Mary Katrantzou, respectively. Resource Furniture has seen a noticeable uptick in demand for wall beds that convert home offices into guest rooms. At online furniture seller France & Son, sales of extension dining tables and stacking chairs have increased 40% year over year, said owner Kevin Wu. “We’re getting a lot of calls from people who say they need things delivered in time for a holiday. Memorial Day was just crazy.”

As we say goodbye to social distancing and hello to socializing, folks who had already dolled up their outdoor spaces—because that was the only safe place to get together—are now laying plans to welcome guests into the house. Here’s a room-by-room rundown of the joyful upgrades homeowners have in store for their visitors.

‘Downtown’ Dining Rooms

Chicago firm KBS Interiors is kitting out a dining room for a family that had decamped to the suburbs but who, as vaccinations began rolling out, wanted to make the room “a splashy, lively space to make up for lost time,” said Ana Nardi, co-founder of KBS. Plans include sculptural velvet chairs and a gnarly-chic sideboard made of live-edge wood. “They want their homes to feel more like the hotels and restaurants they missed going to.”

Many suddenly social homeowners want to break bread with as big a crowd as they can shoehorn—stylishly—into their homes. Interior designer Cara Fox in Salt Lake City said clients are requesting extra dining room chairs to accommodate hordes. To seat more guests, Greensboro, N.C., couple David and Rachel Lezcano recently bought a vintage midcentury Heywood-Wakefield dining table that expands—it came with two leaves—to seat up to 10 guests. The Lezcanos, who this week hosted their first dinner party in more than a year, seated six with the use of one leaf. “We’re so excited to have people come into our house again and make it feel alive,” he said.

Nontraditional Tabletop

“We are seeing a huge increase in sales of entertaining and tableware pieces, specifically in very large sets of glasses and plates,” said Noel Fahden, vice president of merchandising at online vintage retail site Chairish. Cocktail napkins are flying off the shelves, as are taper candles, “which is interesting, because typically we would see taper candle sales peak in the fall when there’s less daylight—not around the longest day of the year!” said Ms. Fahden.

And though glassware and candlesticks conjure thoughts of meticulous place settings, Dana Wolter, a designer in Mountain Brook, Ala., sees clients having fun with china patterns and textiles. “It’s formal entertaining but with a more organic and casual flair,” she said.

An earthy bestseller at tableware maker Haand in Burlington, N.C., is the brown Burl collection, which has “flecks of golden colour swirled” into the surface of each porcelain plate, said Haand co-founder Mark Warren. “One of our largest recent orders was 56 pieces, which the customer had mailed to a vacation house,” said Mr. Warren.

That customer happened to be Bob Pittman, creator of MTV Networks and a former chairman of AOL.

Reached by phone, Mr. Pittman described how he was recently overtaken by a strong and unusual desire to elevate his dinnerware. “If you had asked me about my dishes two years ago when I was rushing in and out of the house, I would have said I literally haven’t thought about it in 20 years,” he said. “But during quarantine, I realized I’d let a lot of stuff go to hell and I needed to upgrade. So I bought one piece, and then it became an addiction,” said Mr. Pittman. “Now I’ve got cabinets filled with it.”

Floral arrangements, too, are busting loose. “The formal centrepiece is a thing of the past,” said interior designer Heidi Caillier of Seattle. “Now people are jamming together just-picked wildflowers, poppies and peonies that they grew in their quarantine gardens.”

Dressed-Up Guest Rooms

In anticipation of company post-lockdown, Portland, Maine, resident Candace Karu sold her condo a few months ago and upsized to a 1920s Dutch Colonial that has a spacious spare bedroom. Of course, with travel restrictions then in place, Ms. Karu had no idea when she’d actually be able to have her first sleepover.

“I have far-flung friends and was just hoping they would eventually be able to come and stay,” she said.

In an act of hope, she asked her daughter, interior designer Tyler Karu, to transform the guest bedroom into “the most beautiful room of the house.”

They chose luminous green paint for the walls. “It looks like a colour Vermeer would have used,” Candace Karu said, “and there’s a little corner with a comfy chair, and the bed sits very high so it has a beautiful view of the Portland skyline.” The window shade is a boldly striped fabric by local textiles artist Kels Haley, who created the design in homage to the costumes of 1920s flappers who were “dripping in pearls and wearing elaborate headdresses.”

Operation Houseguest officially got under way after travel restrictions ended in May. “I’ve got a full schedule pencilled in for the rest of the summer,” Ms. Karu said.

Showstopping Kitchens

To create a welcoming atmosphere, clients are looking for “unshackled whimsy” in kitchen décor this year, said New York interior designer Nancy Mayerfield, who has been fielding clients’ requests for coloured appliances. “In recent months, we’ve done blue Lacanche ovens and white Bertazzoni ovens,” said interior designer Keren Richter of White Arrow in New York.

Two homeowners also transformed formerly humble kitchens into spaces fit for company. “We just did a kitchen island that seats eight to 10 people,” said Ms. Nardi of Chicago’s KBS. “We put in a very deep kitchen sink, so guests won’t see the mess.”

In Atlanta, homeowner Jaya Krishnaswami last month upgraded her kitchen with a new pantry with sliding storage shelves and cubbies, designed by California Closets. “We’re having a lot of family coming to visit and I wanted to be organized,” she said. This month Ms. Krishnaswami is hosting 10 relatives who are flying in for a family reunion.

Home Saloons

Not all revellers who desire a domestic watering hole are turning to A-list designers to execute their dreams, à la Mr. Dikmen. Some find accoutrements themselves from sources like 1stDibs, a spokeswoman for whom said the site has seen a noticeable increase in demand for bar carts, dry bars, wine coolers and barware in the last three months.

After moving in May to a new apartment in Ontario, Calif., homewares stylist Miranda Rose Farmer created a serve-your-own bar nook in her dining room. Anchoring the alcove is a console table with three shelves floating above. “The aha moment was when I got a Lazy-susan tray for wine bottles. People can just spin it to whatever bottle they want,” she said. She stocked the nook with pale pink wine glasses, a cut-glass cocktail shaker with a rose-gold metal cap and green shot glasses. “I love the decadence of having people over again and I wouldn’t want to spoil that feeling by serving them drinks in plastic Solo cups.”


Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: July 3, 2021


Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

Related Stories
China’s EV Juggernaut Is a Warning for the West
By GREG IP 08/06/2023
How Hackers Can Up Their Game by Using ChatGPT
By Cheryl Winokur Munk 08/06/2023
World Bank Brightens View of Global Growth This Year, Downgrades 2024
By YUKA HAYASHI 07/06/2023
China’s EV Juggernaut Is a Warning for the West

Competitive pressure and creativity have made Chinese-designed and -built electric cars formidable competitors

Thu, Jun 8, 2023 4 min

China rocked the auto world twice this year. First, its electric vehicles stunned Western rivals at the Shanghai auto show with their quality, features and price. Then came reports that in the first quarter of 2023 it dethroned Japan as the world’s largest auto exporter.

How is China in contention to lead the world’s most lucrative and prestigious consumer goods market, one long dominated by American, European, Japanese and South Korean nameplates? The answer is a unique combination of industrial policy, protectionism and homegrown competitive dynamism. Western policy makers and business leaders are better prepared for the first two than the third.

Start with industrial policy—the use of government resources to help favoured sectors. China has practiced industrial policy for decades. While it’s finding increased favour even in the U.S., the concept remains controversial. Governments have a poor record of identifying winning technologies and often end up subsidising inferior and wasteful capacity, including in China.

But in the case of EVs, Chinese industrial policy had a couple of things going for it. First, governments around the world saw climate change as an enduring threat that would require decade-long interventions to transition away from fossil fuels. China bet correctly that in transportation, the transition would favour electric vehicles.

In 2009, China started handing out generous subsidies to buyers of EVs. Public procurement of taxis and buses was targeted to electric vehicles, rechargers were subsidised, and provincial governments stumped up capital for lithium mining and refining for EV batteries. In 2020 NIO, at the time an aspiring challenger to Tesla, avoided bankruptcy thanks to a government-led bailout.

While industrial policy guaranteed a demand for EVs, protectionism ensured those EVs would be made in China, by Chinese companies. To qualify for subsidies, cars had to be domestically made, although foreign brands did qualify. They also had to have batteries made by Chinese companies, giving Chinese national champions like Contemporary Amperex Technology and BYD an advantage over then-market leaders from Japan and South Korea.

To sell in China, foreign automakers had to abide by conditions intended to upgrade the local industry’s skills. State-owned Guangzhou Automobile Group developed the manufacturing know-how necessary to become a player in EVs thanks to joint ventures with Toyota and Honda, said Gregor Sebastian, an analyst at Germany’s Mercator Institute for China Studies.

Despite all that government support, sales of EVs remained weak until 2019, when China let Tesla open a wholly owned factory in Shanghai. “It took this catalyst…to boost interest and increase the level of competitiveness of the local Chinese makers,” said Tu Le, managing director of Sino Auto Insights, a research service specialising in the Chinese auto industry.

Back in 2011 Pony Ma, the founder of Tencent, explained what set Chinese capitalism apart from its American counterpart. “In America, when you bring an idea to market you usually have several months before competition pops up, allowing you to capture significant market share,” he said, according to Fast Company, a technology magazine. “In China, you can have hundreds of competitors within the first hours of going live. Ideas are not important in China—execution is.”

Thanks to that competition and focus on execution, the EV industry went from a niche industrial-policy project to a sprawling ecosystem of predominantly private companies. Much of this happened below the Western radar while China was cut off from the world because of Covid-19 restrictions.

When Western auto executives flew in for April’s Shanghai auto show, “they saw a sea of green plates, a sea of Chinese brands,” said Le, referring to the green license plates assigned to clean-energy vehicles in China. “They hear the sounds of the door closing, sit inside and look at the quality of the materials, the fabric or the plastic on the console, that’s the other holy s— moment—they’ve caught up to us.”

Manufacturers of gasoline cars are product-oriented, whereas EV manufacturers, like tech companies, are user-oriented, Le said. Chinese EVs feature at least two, often three, display screens, one suitable for watching movies from the back seat, multiple lidars (laser-based sensors) for driver assistance, and even a microphone for karaoke (quickly copied by Tesla). Meanwhile, Chinese suppliers such as CATL have gone from laggard to leader.

Chinese dominance of EVs isn’t preordained. The low barriers to entry exploited by Chinese brands also open the door to future non-Chinese competitors. Nor does China’s success in EVs necessarily translate to other sectors where industrial policy matters less and creativity, privacy and deeply woven technological capability—such as software, cloud computing and semiconductors—matter more.

Still, the threat to Western auto market share posed by Chinese EVs is one for which Western policy makers have no obvious answer. “You can shut off your own market and to a certain extent that will shield production for your domestic needs,” said Sebastian. “The question really is, what are you going to do for the global south, countries that are still very happily trading with China?”

Western companies themselves are likely to respond by deepening their presence in China—not to sell cars, but for proximity to the most sophisticated customers and suppliers. Jörg Wuttke, the past president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, calls China a “fitness centre.” Even as conditions there become steadily more difficult, Western multinationals “have to be there. It keeps you fit.”


Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop