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July, 2020

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At-home Bars And Wipe-clean Furniture: How The Coronavirus Pandemic Will Impact Interior Design Trends

Our homes have played a pivotal role during the coronavirus crisis. No longer just a place to rest our weary heads at the end of a long day, since lockdown began they have transformed into makeshift offices, gyms and even classrooms.

But, with so many different activities taking place under one roof, cramped apartments and family townhouses alike have been forced to adapt to new functionality, and the way we look at these spaces is changing, too.

“For many people the start of lockdown was the first time they saw their homes during the [working] day and really had to spend time interacting with their decor choices,” explains Kate Watson-Smyth, founder of interiors blog Mad About The House and author of 101 Interior Design Answers.Download the new Independent Premium app

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“Aside from the obvious point of having to make space to work from home, we also had to try and find ways to create rooms where work wasn’t present – tricky when the coffee table was the new desk.”

While the strict stay-at-home orders have gradually lifted, the past few months have changed the way we collectively understand the concept of home and it is likely they will also impact how we design spaces in the future.

From the need for distinct zones with different decor to help create delineation between work and play, to materials that are easy to keep clean and mitigate the spread of disease, the future of interior design looks set to reflect a world that has been forever changed by the coronavirus.

Here, we speak to interior experts about the lessons that have been learned during lockdown and how the way we style our homes will evolve post-Covid.Flexible spaces

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The last few months have taught us that our homes not only have to look good but have the ability to wear several hats and morph from more social spaces, to productive home offices and home-schooling environments.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 70 per cent of Brits had never worked from home before the coronavirus but, fast forward to present day and an estimated 20 million people have swapped crowded offices for makeshift workspaces in their own homes.

While lockdown restrictions are beginning to ease, with schools, bars and gyms all reopening, many businesses are considering allowing their employees to work from home for the foreseeable, including Twitter, which recently announced it will allow some of its workforce to continue doing so “forever” if they choose.

So, what is the best way to make sure a room can be used for different functions? Lucy St George, co-founder of homeware emporium Rockett St George, says the key is to work with what you have and make the most of every inch of space with clever storage that ensures your home feels both chic and organised and can provide each family member the opportunity to bring out what they need at different times of the day and then hide it all away once the day is complete, so family life can resume.

Justin recently built a garden studio to create a designated office space (Justin Coakley)

“When it comes to storage, there are so many incredible options available for all price ranges. For example, bench seating with hidden storage is a great way to add more storage space to your home and fold-out workstations or ladder shelves with built-in desks provide a handy, space-saving solution that can be styled to blend in with the rest of your home,” she explains. “Working from a laptop is brilliant too as it provides you with the flexibility to work just about anywhere but, above all, it’s time to get creative with space and design your home around the new demands of everyday life.”

Ruth Wassermann, design director of furniture and homeware brand MADE, adds that this flexibility also has to extend to bridging the gap between a personal home and a professional home – as more of us give our colleagues a window into our living room through Zoom calls – meaning we feel pressure to curate (and keep clutter-free).

Ruth Wassermann, design director of furniture and homeware brand MADE, adds that people are even starting to design their homes for Zoom calls.

“I’ve noticed a lot of my colleagues choosing plants like monstera, because they’re particularly good as a backdrop on video calls. I’ve been a lifelong fan of houseplants, and large-scale ones like cheese plants, or rubber plants create a real jungle vibe as well as helping with video decor,” she says.

If you don’t have space for this, Wassermann recommends choosing smaller plants on elevated planters.Home is where the hygiene is

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Throughout the pandemic, hygiene has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds and this is something that Kelly Hoppen, interior designer and former-Dragon’s Den panellist, predicts will become a priority for people when designing their homes.

This, she says, will bring many interesting changes inside our homes, including a move towards germ-resistant materials, smart technology and easy-to-clean hard surfaces.

“We have to learn to live alongside this virus now and so I think we will continue to find ways to make homes more sanitised. Whether it’s making big changes like using materials which have antibacterial properties or surfaces which are easy to clean,” she explains, adding that people are also likely to incorporate more stylish bins and luxurious hand sanitiser containers to help such new necessities “feel integrated and not too clinical or out of place”.

“In guest bathrooms, soap dispensers that are sensor-activated rather than with touch will be more present and at the very high end, we are already looking at different ways to design to meet the demands of our clients who want a solution in their homes to the pandemic,” Hoppen says, explaining that some people are already requesting adaptations to their homes such as extra hand wash basins and outdoor areas to remove clothing like boots or outer layers that may be contaminated.

Watson-Smyth agrees, adding that she too has heard talk of people redesigning their spaces to include special “boot rooms” and porches to provide an area where outside shoes and coats can be removed and stored away from the main part of the house.Be our guest

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With impromptu meals out and trips to the cinema on hold for the time being, our homes are having to work extra hard,” says Goodger who predicts a surge in at-home entertaining.

After weeks of sheltering in place, the idea that home is a safe space has been cemented and, as such, people will look to create living environments that allow their lifestyles complete self-sufficiency with larger televisions, bars, and cosy seating areas all becoming significant factors, rather than unnecessary add-ons.

Duncan Campbell and Charlotte Rey, founders of design partnership and creative consultancy Campbell-Rey, suggest that the dining area is also likely to become a big focus for many people in the coming months. “The art of hosting was having a bit of a renaissance even before the pandemic and we believe this will only increase now,” they say, recommending people to invest in larger dining tables with multiple chairs placed around the room, decorative napkins, crockery, glassware and a well-stocked drinks cabinet.

As the weather gets warmer, patio get-togethers will also provide a safe way to enjoy the company of others in a private setting, with more people extending their living quarters outside.

“Home entertaining has become a really important factor for us to consider,” Coakley says. “It has been refreshing to see people take a keen interest in their gardens and create the ultimate outdoor entertaining spaces complete with home cinemas.

“The garden is now, more so than ever, being seen as an extension of the home and a hub for the family and friends to meet and enjoy one another company in a socially distant manner.”

St George agrees, adding that people can make their outside spaces feel more homely by treating it as they would any other room in the house with rugs, throws, cosy cushions and plenty of candles.The power of colour

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

It is often suggested that wellbeing and interiors go hand-in-hand, and even as we begin to venture outside more, many experts predict that people will be taking a closer look at their homes and how they can transform them into sanctuaries during these uncertain times.

For many, this starts with colour, says Lyndsey Goodger, founder of homeware boutique Rose & Grey. “It is important to create spaces that provide us with what we need as individuals,” she says. “Whether that be calming rooms with neutral tones and lots of natural materials to help relaxation, or bright and airy places that inspire productivity for home-working.”

If you’re looking to create a space that will inspire a peaceful mood and promote clear thinking, Justin Coakley, an interior designer and stylist, recommends opting for a muted colour-scheme and a move towards minimalism that won’t clutter the mind.

“There will be a big move towards cleaner looking interiors with more neutral colours and white being a big trend in interiors and one I see emerging out of the pandemic,” he says. “White has also traditionally been associated with cleanliness and hygiene so it only makes sense that in design we are drawn to it again in a rise to keep our spaces cleaner and better sanitised.”

Alternatively, if you want a room to energise you throughout the day, bright colours are the way to go.

“Much like a fresh application of red lipstick, the colour on our walls has the power to change how we feel,” a spokesperson for designer paint company Lick says. “The pandemic has been very tough and as a result we’ve noticed more and more people opting for brighter colours, such as yellows and blues to lift their mood and help keep spirits up. Particularly in communal spaces, where the whole family can benefit from a little lift. It’s amazing what a bright colour can do.”Bringing the outside in

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

With lockdown making it harder for many people to enjoy some of their favourite outdoor spaces, there has been an uptick in the need to bring the outside in.

“We’ve noticed a new care for plant life during the pandemic,” says Sheena Murphy, founder interior design studio Nune. “Plants have a huge impact in a room and how we feel, and with so many people spending more time at home, extra care is being paid and there seems to be a growing appreciation for the act of enabling life and growth.”

Coakley aggrees, adding that at a time of such uncertainty more people are beginning to bring nature closer.

“It’s the one thing that we can rely on and makes us feel at ease and improves our wellbeing,” he says.

There has been a rise in people wanting to utilise their outdoor spaces during the pandemic (Justin Coakley)

“I have noticed a big move towards organic shapes and an re-introduction of earthy elements in the home. People are bringing the outside in and feel more connected to nature with greenery and plants in their immediate space.

“There has a also been a rise in people wanting to utilise their outdoor spaces more and incorporate garden studios or outdoor rooms that can double up as a workspace as well.”

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Medifast, Inc. Names Jim Maloney As Chief Financial Officer

BALTIMORE, July 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Medifast, Inc. (NYSE: MED), the company behind one of the fastest-growing health and wellness communities, OPTAVIA®, today announced that it has appointed James (Jim) Maloney as Chief Financial Officer, effective July 20, 2020. In his role, Mr. Maloney will be responsible for leading the finance function including all aspects of financial planning and analysis, setting Medifast’s financial and capital allocation strategies, and managing investor relations. He will serve as a member of the company’s leadership team and report directly to Chief Executive Officer Dan Chard.

“We are pleased to welcome Jim to the Medifast team as we continue on our mission to offer the world lifelong transformation, one healthy habit at a time,” said Chard. “Jim brings deep public company experience, a strong focus on capital allocation and an ability to manage the finance function of a fast-growing, dynamic and complex business. He has been responsible for managing large operations for global companies to support business objectives and growth. He also has a history of building value, which will be important as we aim to deliver long-term sustainable growth through our differentiated approach to health and wellness.”

“I am thrilled to join the team at Medifast. The company’s unique business model, collaborative culture and OPTAVIA’s robust and inspiring community provides the opportunity to drive significant value for stockholders,” said Maloney.

Mr. Maloney most recently served as Senior Vice President Chief Financial Officer of L.B. Foster Company, a publicly held global manufacturer and distributor of products and services for transportation and energy infrastructure.  Prior to L.B. Foster Company, he served as Chief Financial Officer of First Insight, Inc., a privately held company providing consumer data to leading retailers and brands, where he continues to serve as a Board Advisor. Before joining First Insight, Mr. Maloney held roles at the H.J. Heinz Company (“Heinz”), including Vice President of Global Financial Planning and Supply Chain Finance, Director of Finance for Supply Chain for Heinz North America, and Controller of Heinz North America.  He also held multiple roles in the U.S. And Europe at Ernst & Young LLP, including Senior Manager of the Assurance Practice. Mr. Maloney holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Clarion University and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Pittsburgh and is a Certified Public Accountant.

About Medifast: Medifast (NYSE: MED) is the company behind one of the fastest-growing health and wellness communities, OPTAVIA®, which offers Lifelong Transformation, One Healthy Habit at a Time®. Based on nearly 40 years of experience, Medifast has redefined direct selling by combining the best aspects of the model. Its community of thousands of independent OPTAVIA Coaches teach Clients to develop holistic healthy habits through products and clinically proven plans, the Habits of Health® Transformational System and comprehensive support from a community of like-minded people. In 2019, Medifast expanded the OPTAVIA movement globally, beginning with the Asia-Pacific region. Medifast is traded on the New York Stock Exchange and was named to Fortune’s 100 Fastest-Growing Companies list in 2019 and Forbes’ 100 Most Trustworthy Companies in America list in 2016 and 2017. For more information, visit www.MedifastInc.Com or www.OPTAVIA.Com.

Forward Looking Statements This release contains “forward-looking” statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.  These “forward-looking” statements are based on present circumstances and on Medifast’s predictions with respect to events that have not occurred, that may not occur, or that may occur with different consequences and timing than those now assumed or anticipated. 

Such forward-looking statements, including any statement of the plans and objectives of management for future operations and forecasts of future growth and value, are not guarantees of future performance or results and involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from the events or results described in the forward-looking statements.  Such forward-looking statements are made only as of the date of this release and Medifast assumes no obligation to update forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.  Readers should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements.

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In South Korea, No More Gangnam Style For Some As Top Officials Sell Apartments Amid Property Price Furore

SEOUL (Reuters) – As Seoul property prices soar, there’s a new apartment on sale this month: for the best part of an estimated $1 million, you could buy a piece of future Gangnam glitz from reluctant seller Noh Young-min – the chief of staff of President Moon Jae-in.

Noh is one of a group of senior government officials facing a public backlash over multiple home ownership in one of the world’s hottest property markets, where median apartment prices have rocketed more than 50% in three years, KB Bank data shows.

His move to sell his Gangnam crib, the size of about three parking spaces but worth about 1.1 billion won ($915,000) by current market prices, came just ahead of Friday’s government announcement that South Korea will further tighten property rules and impose heavier taxes on multiple homeowners in its latest effort to calm the market.

But more than 20 rounds of cooling measures in the past three years have failed to stop runaway prices. Effective or not, the new steps announced by finance minister Hong Nam-ki – including raising real estate taxes on multiple home-owners to up to 6% per year – will keep public focus an issue that is wiping out a surge in President Moon’s approval ratings from the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

His approval rating dropped to 47%, a Gallup Korea survey showed on Friday, down from last week’s 50% – the lowest in four months. In early May, Moon’s approval rating hovered around a lofty 70% after the ruling Democratic Party won an absolute majority in a parliamentary election.

“Today’s measures will not have much effect on stabilising the property market as the real estate tax hike will not be applied immediately,” said Kwon Dae-jung, real estate professor at Myongji University.

“The sale of high-ranking officials’ houses is them doing the right thing morally, but that will not directly contribute to stabilising the property market. It can indirectly affect the market by hinting that the government will strengthen its regulations but that’s about it – just giving signals.”

Anger over the failure to calm runaway home prices has extended to government officials with multiple residences, under pressure to sell second homes to show they are committed to policy focused on imposing heavier tax penalties and mortgage curbs for multiple home owners.

For some voters, frustration has already turned to resignation.

Park Byung-jin, a 40-year-old office worker in Incheon, west of Seoul, says he has lost hope in Moon’s policies.

“I’m not even angry. They have been keeping all the good homes, and telling us not to buy anything is extremely unconvincing,” he said.

‘DEEPLY ASHAMED’

Chief of staff Noh has found himself at the centre of the controversy, because he hadn’t sold his Gangnam apartment – small at about 46 square metres in size, but in an ageing building with huge development potential – some six months after instructing senior government officials to unload second homes.

Noh, who didn’t immediately answer calls seeking comment, announced the sale in a Facebook post on Wednesday. “With this opportunity, I will try to look back on myself and treat myself strictly going forward,” he wrote.

His statement came the day before Finance Minister Hong – announcer of Friday’s new taxes – himself committed to selling a second property.

“As a cabinet member, I’m deeply ashamed of myself in front of fellow citizens, and my acquaintances, amid controversy over multiple homes owned by public servants,” Hong said in a Facebook post.

Of 64 senior government officials required disclose their assets, some 18, or 28%, owned more than one property as of June this year, according to data analysed by the Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice, a civic group.

Apart from Noh, at least five other officials in top government posts own homes in Gangnam and other expensive districts, according to the group.

The sales announced by Noh and Hong this week came after a stark warning by Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun on Wednesday, ordering government ministries to look into homeownership status among senior officials.

“Our policies won’t win people’s trust if senior officials own multiple properties,” Chung told a meeting of top government officials.

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Drogheda Social Housing Scheme Wins National Architecture Award

A social housing development for families and elderly people in Drogheda, Co Louth has been named the winner of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland’s (RIAI) 2020 public choice award.

Designed by Drogheda-based architecture practice McKevitt King on the site of a former fire station, the Tooting Meadow social housing development consists of 15 homes and was commissioned by the north and east housing association.

It is located on Scarlet Street and is named after Tooting Tower, which formed part of the nearby walls of Drogheda.

Kylemore Abbey interpretation project in Connemara, Co Galway designed by Axo Architects.

 Kylemore Abbey interpretation project in Connemara, Co Galway designed by Axo Architects.

RIAI president Ciaran O’Connor described the development as “the perfect example” of quality housing which “addresses the country’s changing demographics while also creating sustainable neighbourhoods in our towns and villages”.

Tooting Meadow “transformed a derelict site in the town centre into a mixed-unit development with community at its core,” said Mr O’Connor.

Tooting Meadow was one of 33 projects completed in 2019 and designed by RIAI-registered architects to be shortlisted for the public choice award.

Scoil Mhuire National School in Monivea, Co Galway, designed by SJK architects.

 Scoil Mhuire National School in Monivea, Co Galway, designed by SJK architects.

Kylemore Abbey interpretation project in Connemara, designed by Axo Architects, was awarded second place followed by Scoil Mhuire National School in Monivea, Co Galway, designed by SJK architects, in third.

RKD architects received the fourth place award for Roe and Co Distillery – the former Guinness Power House – in Dublin 8. Buildings across Ireland and abroad were shortlisted for the award with projects in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Tyrone, London and France considered for the prize.

An RIAI statement said the public choice award helped build awareness of the “important role that architecture plays in delivering Ireland’s societal and economic infrastructure”.

Roe and Co Distillery. Designed by RKD architects, at the former Guinness Power House in Dublin 8.

 Roe and Co Distillery. Designed by RKD architects, at the former Guinness Power House in Dublin 8.

The RIAI distributes architecture awards across a range of categories including sustainability, cultural/public buildings, learning environments, public spaces, urban design and innovation. The full list of award winners will be announced in the autumn.

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