2014 Dwell On Design

Design (and designers for that matter) is often categorized in terms of project size, as either small--a single LED light bulb for instance--or large, such as infrastructure planning for an entire metropolitan region. What's lost in this simplified categorization is the shared goal of all good design for better living, large or small. Namely, the betterment of the way we live.

Starting with a verdant center court (pictured above), this year's weekend-long Dwell on Design event in Los Angeles was filled with exhibits and panels addressing the idea of "living better." 

Better Living

The Georgia Tech College of Architecture exhibited the results of its Micro Interior Design Competition, a student competition that explored the many definitions of "household unit" through interior design. Design entries (pictured above) addressed a range of living situations, from multi-family and multi-generational to single occupant households.

To this multi-foliate definition of household, a panel titled Micro Living, Big Design addressed the changing demographics of the urban core, in which 23% of households are the typical "nuclear family" while 28% are single and 17% are made up of mixed-family adults. 

Sioux Make It Right

Meanwhile, an organization called Make It Right (founded by Brad Pitt in the wake of Hurricane Katrina) exhibited its current project: a housing development for approximately 600 Sioux and Assiniboine tribe members in Ft. Peck, Montana (model pictured above).

Designed to accommodate the social structure of the tribes, this isn't your typical designer-knows-best solution, but instead a careful assessment of the end users it will ultimately serve. 

Dwell On Design 2014 Conference Floor

Most telling of the fair's aspirations are how high it reaches vertically. With countless exhibitor booths reaching up to 30+ feet above the convention center floor, the annual Dwell on Design event appeared to be more robust than in years past.

All in all, the more than 200 participating speakers and 400 exhibitors vigorously peddled left-of-Main-Street design, with everything from shiny new prefabs to sustainable, self-healing kitchen counters on view.

But at its core, Dwell on Design 2014 was about something bigger than design as commodity. At its heart, this event was about design for better living.

Images: Photography by Brent Turner