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  • Brent's Event Recap: Thinking Big at Dwell on Design 2012

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    Installation art at Dwell on Design

    My experience at the 2012 Dwell on Design show at the Los Angeles Convention Center last weekend can be best summed up by a well-worn cliche: what a difference a year makes. Whereas last year's Dwell on Design Show seemed retrenched under the specter of the euro zone crisis (and completely out of step with its tagline "Go Big. Find Design."), the 2012 incarnation was 100% about thinking big.

    Summarizing this year's event, Dwell Media President Michela O’Connor Abrams said, “Without exploration, there would be no innovation. This year at Dwell on Design, we’re exploring beyond the boundaries of expectation to get a first look at the people, products, and ideas that will redefine the very notion of modern.” 

    So what four things did I discover at Dwell on Design 2012?

    1. Modernism is Alive and Well

    If the exhibiting non-profits at the show are any indication, classic Modernism is very much the guiding light of Dwell.

    West Hollywood Library photo by Joyce Fickett

    I was delighted to discover Modcom, the Modern Committee of the Los Angeles Conservancy. Through research, outreach, and action, this group works to preserve L.A.'s post-war architectural treasures.

    Also in attendance were representatives of Palm Springs Modernism Week, the annual symposium of lectures, tours and exhibitions dedicated to Modernism's rich legacy in the Palm Springs area.  

    2. Outdoor Is In

    The outdoor "deck" of the show was larger this year. Plants, prefabs, pods, pots and more graced every corner of the space.

    Modern outdoor designs at Dwell on Design

    The show boasted two retrofitted Airstream campers, further underscoring Modernism's firm hold on the Dwell aesthetic.

    Retrofitted Airstream trailer

    Even the very notion of "outdoor" was expanded. As part of the show's onstage series, Artillery magazine's review editor Carrie Paterson presented "The Road Less Traveled: How Miniature Forests Will Humanize Long-Term Space Missions," in which she detailed the history of agriculture in space exploration, and offered the bonzai tree as a possible human companion in long-term human missions to space. 

    3. Big Design Fits in Small Spaces

    As expected, the latest in modular home design was on display at the event. All three participating designers utilized diminutive floorplans to the fullest, and I caught more than one attendee peering into cabinets, checking under beds, and above appliances in an attempt to visualize how they might downsize their lives into a small, elegant space. 

    The ecofabulous LivingHome was the event darling - it seemed like there was someone pouring juice, wine or champagne at almost every hour outside the space. At their $172 per square foot claim, the LivingHome is budget-fabulous.  

    ecofabulous LivingHome prefab home

    Connect Homes and Sustain Design didn't rival the ecofabulous LivingHome fanfare, but their designs equally inspired. Sustain Design's caliMini prefab packs a high aesthetic into the footprint of a flatbed truck:

    modern prefab design

    All in all, these homes felt a bit, well, mobile. I found it hard to resist the urge to knock on the walls to see how they held up, but seen in a broader context, these structures are quite a feat. Given only a few days of set up time, each of these designers erected and staged a livable home. Who am I to complain?

    4. We Live in a Material World

    My favorite part of the show was that which was perhaps least practical in the most direct sense: a number of sculptural installations were on view that explored the limits of material. As Cori mentioned in her recap of the show earlier this week, Oyler Wu's Screenplay installation utilized 45,000 feet of rope to create a textured wall. 

    Rope installation art at Dwell on Design 2012

    Student Bruce Guan from the Interior Architecture Department at Woodbury University constructed a fabulous curtain from paper airplanes (pictured below and in detail at the top of this post).

    Paper art installation

    Los Angeles based Timeline Wood showcased a line of distressed wood planks. These FSC certified, low VOC treated planks had the appearance of reclaimed wood. The owners, Shelby Keyser and Matt Stroud, perfected the "aging" techniques during stints as furniture restorers and artists.

    distressed wood for construction use

    As evidenced by the event as a whole, design's role in the building of a better future is more important than ever. Nowhere was this more obvious than at the motor court in front of the Convention Center, where Green Car Journal hosted a test drive program showcasing the latest in electric, hybrid and clean diesel cars. A year ago, the electric vehicles on display were concept cars. This time around however, I was able to test drive two production cars: the Coda and Ford Focus (available starting January 2013). 

    When it was time to head home however, I did the green cars one better: I jumped on my bicycle and rode home. Sure, nobody walks in L.A...but they do ride.

    Images: Modcom, Sustain Design

  • Chad Oppenheim Takes Sustainable Architecture to Wadi Rum

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    modern picture window

    I had the incredible opportunity to listen the magnificent architect Chad Oppenheim speak at Sustainability Stage at Dwell on Design this past weekend. I was completely blown away by him and could not get the images of his upcoming project in Wadi Rum out of my head so I had to share it with you!  Is this not one of the most gorgeous experiences you could ever imagine? Chad Oppenheim's competition-winning plan for a new Desert Lodge in Wadi Rum Jordan uses sustainable architecture to give travelers the luxurious opportunity to really be at one with nature. Architecture merges with the pristine setting and sweeping views of the sandstone valley to create accommodations that are both luxurious and elemental.  

    modern architecture

    The lodges are carved directly into the sandstone cliff face, using the existing geometry to create the form. The others structures are comprised of rammed earth and cement, mixed with red sand.  

    framed views

    The architecture is powerful yet minimal and really creates a sense of harmony and balance as it frames the gorgeous views. The power of nature is evident no matter which way you look. Elements of natural stone incorporated into modern landscape lighting or home decor can bring balance and harmony into your home.

    infinity pool

    “We have trained and heightened our senses to see, smell, taste, hear, and touch the mystical beauty of Wadi Rum. We tapped the inherent power of the desert through primal and instinctual design moves, informed by the forces, rhythms and patterns of nature— past, present, and future,” says Oppenheim about his creative process for the project.

    underground house

    Due to the use of natural thermal mass, artificial heating and cooling should be minimized. Utilizing local materials is a key element in sustainable architecture as well as water conservation and harvesting. In this project both of these have been given very special attention.

    cliffside home

    Water conservation and harvesting will be completely integrated into the design.

    geometric architecture

    Completion of the 47 Desert Lodges in Wadi Rum, Jordan is not scheduled until 2014. This project will forever enhance the natural beauty of the pristine landscape. Outdoor lighting is a key element in guiding you through these paths to luxurious harmony.  

    Dwell on Design was an incredible event. Listening to Chad Oppenheim speak was one of my highlights, but we will be sharing many more highlights with you throughout the week!

    Images: Oppenheim Office

      

  • Visionary Landscape Designs for Public Spaces

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    Modern Urban Park Proposals

    Not since the City Beautiful movement of the late 19th century and its most prominent advocates (including landscape designer Frederick Law Olmstead, designer of New York's Central Park) have designers, policy-makers and the public embraced ambitious landscape designs for public spaces. Today, as the world's foremost designers are joining efforts for the task of creating new urban green spaces, a few challenges arise: How to incorporate hardscape with landscape? How to design attractive drought-tolerant landscaping? What are the best practices in outdoor lighting? And with those challenges come solutions that each of us can apply to our own private green spaces. 

    The following six projects represent the vanguard of thinking in outdoor design. The first three are already completed; the second three may never break ground, but represent visionary thinking nonetheless in the greening of public space.

    High Line Park in NYC

    The Elevated Park - High Line Park, New York City

    Manhattan's famous High Line park (above) opened in 2009. It occupies more than one mile of a former elevated rail line. 

    Modern landscape designs

    The Pocket Park - Materials & Applications, Los Angeles

    This small green space in Los Angeles (above) is technically private property, open in the daytime to the public. With a rotating schedule of outdoor design exhibitions, M&A serves as a park space for neighbors and an innovative hardscape studio for designers and architects. Made from a series of interlocking plates, this sunscreen by Benjamin Ball & Gaston Nogues shares its inspiration with modern ceiling lighting designs.

    Modern close to ceiling lightCassini Collection Bronze 16 1/2" Wide Ceiling Light Fixture

    Chicago City Hall Green Roof

    The Rooftop Park - City Hall, Chicago

    Chicago was a leader of urban design 100 years ago with the advent of the skyscraper and it leads again today with rooftop parks popping up across the city. Among them, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Chicago Center for Green Technology and Millennium Park. Perhaps the most prominent sign of Chicago's all-in commitment to forward-thinking urbanization is the rooftop garden atop City Hall (above). 

    Vertical park designs

    The Vertical Park - SkyFarm, Toronto

    The SkyFarm (above) by designer Gordon Graff is a proposal to erect a 58 floor "agri-tower" in Toronto's Theatre District, intended to provide fresh, organic produce to the surrounding city with minimal carbon footprint. 

    Despite boasting some of the world's largest parks located within metropolitan boundaries, the City of Los Angeles ranks far behind other major U.S. cities in parkland per capita... Which leaves designers and developers (as well as this blogger) dreaming of expansive park projects in the horizontal city. 

    visionary urban park designs

    The Flyover park - Park 101, Los Angeles

    A joint project between several different design firms, Park 101 (above) proposes to cover a section of the 101 freeway in downtown Los Angeles with a green lid, uniting the city's civic, cultural, transportation and historic centers with vital green space.

    modern urban parks

    The Reclaimed Park - The Piggy Back Yard, Los Angeles

    The Los Angeles River (yes, there's a river) has long been a target of reclamation projects intent on returning the notorious concrete viaduct to its natural state. The Piggy Back Yard (above) proposal transforms abandoned rail yards near downtown Los Angeles into a drought tolerant park and river flood basin.

    As important as the landscape design is, it's only one step in a functioning outdoor space. Hardscape design and outdoor lighting is key to increasing access and safety. In the July/August 2011 issue of Monocle magazine, Christine Loh, CEO of the Hong Kong based think tank Civic Exchange, explained the need for reasonable lighting in city parks and streets: "Street lighting can obviously make people feel safer but it doesn't have to be bright, bright, bright."  To minimize light pollution, both amateur and pro landscape designers are increasingly turning to dark sky outdoor lighting. The examples below are attractive but unobtrusive by day, and bright but not too bright by night.

    Modern dark sky lighting

    Hinkley Luna Dark Sky 16" High Bronze Outdoor Wall Light

    dark sky craftsman outdoor light

    Hubbardton Forge Lightfall 13 1/2" High CFL Dark Sky Light

    Not everyone is landscaping acres of reclaimed land or rooftops. Despite plot size, home garden or city park, the same general design principles will always apply... Use native and climate-specific flora when possible, let hardscape enhance the space without overpowering it and use lighting modestly for best results day and night.   

    Images: The Architect's NewspaperAether Journal, Archinect, Growing a Greener World, Torontoist,  LAist 

  • Outdoor Chic: Relax in Style

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     outdoor fireplace

    Relaxing on your patio is the perfect way to spend these hot summer nights! Making your outdoors chic is as simple as adding bold pops of color. This ceramic stool is not only a beautiful piece of outdoor decor, but functional too. Lush greens, concrete fireplace, and large planters create a serene backdrop and really allow the colors to pop in this setting. Get the look of color with this sky blue glazed ceramic stool (below).

     

    Sky Blue Glaze Ceramic Decorative Accent Table


     wood slat patio cover

    Other times, staying neutral and even all white is better. The slats covering this patio (above) create a dynamic linear effect while maintaining the natural aesthetic. Simple, modern outdoor furniture keeps any space clean and open. Create your outdoor chic space by choosing monochromatic pairings, like an all white dining set. These modern outdoor chairs (below) add interest, but do not visually take up a lot of space.  

     

    Zuo Gumdrop White Outdoor Dining Chairs


     rooftop patio

    Keeping it all natural is another great way to create your chic outdoor patio. The element of fire in any outdoor space, along with natural modern outdoor lounge chairs creates a very cozy atmosphere. Perched high above the city, you could lounge in these chairs for hours and just take in the views.  

     

    Zuo Modern Cartagena Outdoor Arm Chair

     

    Whether you have a tiny outdoor patio or a huge backyard, designing in style is sure to help you enjoy your Summer!

    Images: COCOZY, Apartment Therapy, JMA

  • Cori's Dwell on Design 2012 Event Recap

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    July/August cover of Dwell

    Over the weekend, I attended Dwell on Design at the L.A. Convention Center. It's an annual event organized by Dwell Magazine and it includes a large showroom with hundreds of artists, vendors, manufacturers, etc. There are also panels discussing topics like sustainable design, innovations in product design and social media, etc. It was pretty awesome and inspiring for anyone who craves modern design. By far, my favorite moment was meeting the architect who designed the home featured on the July/August cover of Dwell (check it out, I got an autograph too).

    Next up, I was awe-struck by the installation that greets you as you enter the main showroom (below). The artistic structure is constructed out of silver polypropylene rope looping around a steel frame. If you're interested, you can read about the process and see how this Oyler Wu Installation was created.

    Jenny Wu describes the project, "Our interest in line-work is three-dimensional and spatial. This begs the question: How does a single line become spatial? Well, the simple answer is—it doesn't. A line only becomes three-dimensional when it becomes part of an aggregation of multiple lines that are not co-planar."

    modern art installation

    There were several architecture booths where I discovered my dream home. Huf Haus is a German based engineering and design firm that focuses on creating energy efficient, luxury homes. There was no way I wasn't going to snag one of their brochures and peruse their website after the show. This A-frame home with windows all the way to the top is magnificent!

    A-frame modern home

    I absolutely loved the outdoor living displays, which included pre-fab homes, campers, outdoor furniture, etc. In the photo below you can see the clear bubble pods that I want for sitting outside in the middle of a rain storm... now, doesn't that sound incredible?! 

    Dwell on Design outdoor living

    In addition to the outdoor living area, there were also several vendors throughout the showroom featuring plant related products. Potted had some truly creative pieces (shown below) that I want to put in my own home. With a shop located in the Los Feliz/Atwater area of Los Angeles, Potted provides an eclectic environment filled with an array of styles, from kitsch to cottage and vintage to modern. I just love this circular piece, which also comes in white!

    modern potted plants

    Urbio was another a booth I spent a little time at. They have these really cool magnetic, modular pieces (shown below) that you can use for just about anything. But no doubt they look best with plants, especially succulents. They're great for using vertical wall space!

    modular plant holder

    If you missed Dwell on Design this year, don't worry we have more recaps throughout the week, so stay tuned...

    Images: Huf HausPotted, Urbio 

June, 2012