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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.
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.
The show boasted two retrofitted Airstream campers, further underscoring Modernism's firm hold on the Dwell aesthetic.
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.
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:
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.
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).
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.
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
I hope you all enjoyed my Dwell On Design recap yesterday... Stay tuned for more Dwell fun from Annie and Brent! But first, I just had to show you a little more from the home featured on the Dwell July/August cover, designed by Linda Taalman. I feel like a bit of a design geek showing off my autographed copy of the issue, which you can see in my recap post.
The A-frame mid-century home uses just enough mixed materials in a very simple way. The smart architecture paired with modern seating is enough for any design enthusiast to get excited.
Zuo Draper White Lounge Chair
The colorful walls are very uncomplicated, yet full of style. This image (below) is a great shot to illustrate the open floor plan and how the color of one wall coordinates so well with the other wall and together they reflect beautifully through the large window wall. The texture of these walls adds depth and interest. There's no need for a lot of artwork, furniture or accessories, the interior architecture owns all the personality in this home.
I just love this open kitchen full of windows and clean counter space. The linear light fixture is a great contrast to the round table and curvy chairs, but works brilliantly with the booth seating and linear kitchen design.
This Possini light fixture is a great way to get this look.
Possini Euro Parallel Chandelier
While at the event, I chatted with one of Taalman's partners and learned that much of what they do is research in off-site fabricated building technologies. Apparently, this mid-century home was just an extremely successful departure....
Images: Taalman Koch
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."
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!
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?!
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!
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!
If you missed Dwell on Design this year, don't worry we have more recaps throughout the week, so stay tuned...
Images: Huf Haus, Potted, Urbio
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
Water conservation and harvesting will be completely integrated into the design.
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
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