Dwell on Design


The isolated space station that is the Los Angeles Convention Center took on the guise of a well-appointed luxury home over the weekend during the Dwell on Design festival. The San Francisco-based magazine Dwell came to life with three days of home tours, panel discussions and a massive exhibition. Products advertised in the high-end modern design publication filled the cavernous floor of the hall with all manner of impossible chairs, replica vintage lamps, cantilevered faucets, and ceramic tile priced at exactly one hundred times the value of the Congoleum on my kitchen floor. Booths also offered eco-cooking demonstrations and stylish water reclamation techniques. The bladeless Dyson air multiplier fan stood out as an iconic design object sure to place future period films in 2010. We saw attendees posing for pictures in front of a wall of the rotating metallic rings. 

One of the longest lines of the weekend was to sample organic strawberries inside a dee-luxe shotgun shack made from century-old reclaimed oak and pine. The glamorous prefab could be plopped down anywhere and sold for $75,000 on eBay with proceeds benefiting Habitat For Humanity. Southern California Edison, Los Angeles Conservancy and California Greywater Corps were also on hand to show us how to make L.A. a better place.

The meat in this extraordinarily stylish sandwich was definitely the continuous series of panel discussions on two stages explaining the outrageous panoply of related topics. This has got to be the only place where the Los Angeles River, Mad Men, electric vehicles, craft beer, terrariums, shipping container architecture, the Watts Towers and Buckminster Fuller could all be discussed in the same room.

Los Angeles magazine editor-in-chief Mary Melton moderated a panel on Modern families with Thomas Hines, I hosted a group discussing restaurant design, and dine editor Lesley Bargar Suter spent the better part of Sunday discussing food with KCRW’s Evan Kleinman and a colorful bunch including chef Ludo Lefebvre and cheese monger Alex Brown. 

At closing time on Sunday, I found myself so deep in discussion (about Bosnian immigration policy and Slav potatoes) with a new friend that I didn’t realize the show had ended. I watched the choreographed disintegration dumbfounded as the carpets were ripped up all around me, trees wheeled out the barn doors and the lights came down on this epic show of good design.