In Brief: IKEA to Launch Hotel Chain, Restoration Hardware CEO Resigns, Fab Teams with Blu Dot

Blu Dot’s Real Good Chair, Medium Strut Table, and Perimeter Light, part of a custom color collaboration with Fab.

• Perhaps envisioning the day when the globe will be saturated by Ektorp sofas, IKEA is diversifying. The company’s real estate development arm is building an IKEA village, “Strand East,” on 26 acres in London. Expect underground parking and plenty of meatballs. Meanwhile, those who can’t score one of the 1,200 new homes in IKEAville will soon be able to spend the night in an IKEA-owned hotel. The company plans to build 100 hotels across Europe, according to a Reuters report. Rather mysteriously, the budget chain will contain no IKEA furniture. The first hotel is expected to open in Germany in 2014.

• And if those room vignettes in the IKEA catalog appear more alien than usual these days, you’re not losing your Ekenäs. In a move to cut costs and get more bang for its Boksel, the company is increasingly using 3-D graphics to fill its pages. “This year 12% of IKEA’s content for the Web, catalog, and brochures were rendered virtually,” notes Jens Hansegard in the Wall Street Journal. “That number will increase to 25% next year.” The army of photographers, carpenters, and set designers that produce the IKEA catalog (in 62 different versions in 43 countries) are being retrained to apply their skills to spaces that do not exist.

• Just when Restoration Hardware was firing on all cylinders with its ersatz Axel Vervoodt vibe, even heeding the call of urban dwellers for chunky armchairs fit for tiny apartments, chairman and co-CEO Gary Friedman has stepped down from his posts after an internal inquiry into an intimate relationship he had with a 26-year-old female employee. Carlos Alberini is now the sole CEO as the company prepares for an IPO. As nonexecutive chairman emeritus, Friedman will continue in an advisory role as he starts a new “incubator” company with ties to Restoration Hardware.

• In cheerier news, our friends at Fab have cooked up a unique partnership. Tomorrow the flash sale site will unveil seven furniture pieces from Blu Dot in exclusive custom colors. “Fab is offering Blu Dot design staples in bright orange, black, gray, and crisp white—that’s right, ladies and gentlemen: we’re one step closer to ridding the world of boring beiges,” noted a post on the company’s blog. Available through September 29, the pieces include a desk, tables, and a loopy floor lamp. We’re partial to the mod seating: shipped flat and folded into sturdy shape along laser-cut lines, Blu Dot’s Real Good Chair ($120) lives up to its name.

• Just when you think a market is maturing, Amazon comes along to shake things up. The e-retail giant is putting everything its got behind MyHabit, a flash sale juggernaut in the making. You know the drill: hefty discounts on brand-name merch for a limited time. The Amazon innovations include a fuss-free interface, integration with your existing Amazon account, and free shipping, at lightning speed. Launched with an impressive assortment of fashion brands, the site is now building up its home and design section. Recent sales have ranged from Lexon rubber radios (at 50 percent off retail) to Eames chair knockoffs.

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