THE WEEK’S BEST: Design, architecture, and technology

What I wrote last week:

The massive risk of selling a $157M Modigliani

The two pieces were guaranteed by Sotheby’s, who had to pay a fixed price to the sellers no matter what they went for at auction. This means that one or two underwhelming sales can throw an entire quarter’s results askew. 

This is sort of a warning about inequality for auction houses. The prices of the superstar pieces that come to the market have surged far ahead of bottom 99.9% of the market. This means the auction houses can reap massive rewards, if they price it right. But if they price it wrong? That hurts. A lot. Especially since the auction houses are becoming so reliant on these pieces with giant expected price tags.

What I shot last week:

Design, architecture, and technology digest:

Architecture and Design: Cities

How Tariffs Could Make That New Apartment More Expensive — New York Times

Higher prices might not hurt a mega-developer with deep pockets and the ability to get a discount through bulk purchases. But a smaller, less-capitalized player with thinner profit margins may have no choice but to pass the increases along to buyers.

What’s the Right Number of Taxis (or Uber or Lyft Cars) in a City? — New York Times

Mr. Henao’s analysis suggests the optimal target, at least in Austin, occurs when drivers average 3.4 trip requests per hour. That translates to having about 30 drivers for every 100 trip requests there. Beyond that point, adding more trips per driver doesn’t save drivers — or the city — much in empty miles traveled with no passenger in the back. And beyond that point, the system would most likely have too many passengers and not enough drivers, and passenger wait times would increase.

Architecture and Design: Style

Overworked? For $375 a Month, This Private Club Offers Stress Cure — Bloomberg

This sort of wellness-obsessed workaholic is a relatively recent phenomenon—along with Juice Press, Barry’s Bootcamp, and Mndfl meditation studios, it’s a product of the past decade. But the trend is reaching fever pitch. According to the 2018 annual report from the Global Wellness Summit, consumers now see holistic habits as a way to “open up a wealth of ‘super’ powers” that include “thinking ‘better, faster, and smarter.’ ” It’s estimated to be a $3.7 trillion industry (and not without its detractors).

How Brooklyn Changed the Neighborhood Restaurant — Bloomberg

“Brooklyn deserves enormous credit for the reinstitution of the neighborhood restaurant,” says Danny Meyer, whose Union Square Hospitality Group includes neighborhood-building places such as Union Square Café and Gramercy Tavern. “If you lived nearby, you would feel like the value of your apartment was enhanced, or the value of your office was enhanced.”


The Flourishing Business of Fake YouTube Views — New York Times

“The only way YouTube could eliminate this is if they removed the view counter altogether,” said Mr. Vassilev, the fake-view seller. “But that would defeat the purpose of YouTube.”