Wayfair Enters Digital Design Service Game, RH Names New President, and More News This Week

Between collection launches, architecture announcements, museum openings, and more, it’s hard to keep on top of all the news in the design world. Enter the Weekly Roundup, AD PRO’s regular callout of developing, overheard, and confirmed news that’s worth noting. Consider it our way of keeping you even more in the know.

Wayfair Launches Design Services

Watch out, Homepolish and Decorist: There’s a new player in the digital design service game. Today, e-commerce behemoth Wayfair announced its foray into digital design services, joining the many startups that have entered the space over the past few years. Wayfair’s model will be two-tiered: The “Lite” package offers a design concept with two revisions, shopping list, style tips, and 30 minutes of phone time and unlimited messaging with a designer of your choice for $79. The “Classic” option offers the above plus 30 additional phone minutes, a custom floor plan, and a 2-D room design. For a company that already owns a large market share in online furniture sales, the service offers a new way to entice buyers—and truly brings designers to the masses. The program will be helmed by Blair Kenary, a four-year Wayfair veteran and Harvard Business School graduate who previously worked in the design department at Sothebys. Designers interested in signing up through the service can find more information and submit an application here.

RH Names New President

RH has looked outside the design industry for its new president: Ryno Blignaut, whose appointment was announced on Tuesday, replaces current president Karen Boone. Blignaut comes most recently from Wheels Up, a private aviation company, and before that served as Chief Financial Risk Officer at Xoom (which was acquired by PayPal during his tenure). The selection indicates a more tech-centric push for the Code Madera, California–based furniture company. “We are extremely pleased to have Ryno join the RH leadership team,” said RH Chairman and CEO Gary Friedman in a statement. “Ryno’s financial leadership and experience in working with innovative, high-growth businesses makes him an excellent fit for RH during the next phase of our growth as we continue our pursuit of becoming one of the most innovative and admired brands in the world.”

Renderings of the Cooper Hewitt’s “Face Values” installation for the London Design Biennial.

Photo: Courtesy of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Cooper Hewitt Will Represent U.S. at London Design Biennale

The U.S. participation at London’s Design Biennale (running from September 4 through 23) will be spearheaded by the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Senior curator of contemporary design Ellen Lupton will curate a show titled “Face Values,” which will modern facial-recognition technology in a manner that bridges art and machine learning and raises questions at our acceptance of the latter. “In representing the United States at the London Design Biennale, Cooper Hewitt will be furthering the Smithsonian’s goal of catalyzing new conversations around issues of global importance while underscoring design’s purpose to address complex challenges and advance empowering solutions,” said museum director Caroline Baumann in an announcement. “Illuminating the potential of facial recognition technology to quantify, read and control our moods and movements, ‘Face Values’ encourages participants to consider the vast capabilities and unforeseen consequences of this rapidly evolving field of digital design.”

High Point Market Announces Speakers

Time to start getting your High Point schedules ready. This week, the High Point Market Authority released the subjects and speakers for the Viewpoints series at October’s market, with subjects running the gamut from business to technology to wellness. On Saturday, October 13, is “The Interior Design Industry: The New Business as Usual”; Sunday’s subject is “Tech Tools: Reviews from the Designers Who Use Them”; Monday’s is “Wellness in the Home: How to Sell Healthy Design.” Participants include Homepolish CEO and founder Noa Santos, and designers Young Huh, Justina Blaneney, and Richard Ouellette, to name just a few. For more details visit highpointmarket.org.

Fantini Names Design Awards Winners

Fantini USA has announced the winners of its second annual Fantini Design Awards. The picks include six completed projects and one in the works. Winning firms and architects are Andrew Pollock, SMD Interiors, Eric Petschek LLC, La Firma, Reunion goods & Services with Fogarty Finger, David Jameson Architect, and AKA Architecture + Design. A representative from each winning firm will travel to the Fantini headquarters in Pella, Italy, in September to tour the company’s Piero Lissoni-designed campus and the nearby Casa Fantini resort.