Dwell on Design


L.A. Convention Center – Los Angeles, CA
Live Review: 6/25 to 6/27/10

From June 25-27 the amazing home design show, Dwell on Design, took place at the L.A. Convention Center, drawing 18,000 visitors and more than 250 companies. The show boasted an abundance of welcoming spaces, with individual exhibitors like Kohler, Method and Hewlett-Packard delighting attendees with beautifully designed and spacious booths that made you linger awhile.

(Top) Kohler. (Bottom) Method Laundry Detergent. Copyright 2010, Sharon Zhen.

The HP Bloggers Lounge. From HP PC on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons.

Photos copyright 2010, Sharon Zhen.

The Dwell Outdoors area was the pinnacle of this smorgasbord of great design, where attendees found themselves moving from one invitingly verdant space to another, all of it created using exhibitor products.

All photos; Dwell Outdoors. Copyright 2010, Sunil Rampersad.

DoD 2010 was also all about living sustainably, with a prevalence of ‘green’ everywhere, and I’m not just talking solar. There was recycled water (Greywater), shipping containers recycled as pre-fab home modules (IQHaus), recycled lumber used to resurface a new house (Ecofabulous) and Root Pouches made of recycled soda containers as well as tiles made from old CRT tubes. It seemed like everything either was made from recycled materials or allowed you to conserve water or energy. (For details see, Highlights from Dwell on Design).

The Ecofabulous, Modern Living house. Photo copyright 2010, Peter Williams.

Photo copyright 2010, Sunil Rampersad.

I surprised myself by being at the show all three days (well actually only two hours on the first day, a stop-off on my way to a friend’s birthday party at Las Perlas). Yet I still did not see or do it all. How is that possible?

Well, part of the answer can be found in what Rose Apodaca of A+R said; she and her husband focus on bringing new items to DoD to wow the group of early adopters they’ll inevitably be talking to. I was being wowed at every turn, and spent lots of time talking with exhibitors about their products. In fact I recall spending up to forty-five minutes with one.

Peter Williams

Ceramic Tiles of Italy. Photo copyright 2010, Sunil Rampersad.

Photo copyright 2010, Sharon Zhen.

The other part of the answer is Dwell’s mastery at engaging its audience through contests and over 80 presentations running continuously on two stages.

My favorite contest was the Coolcapitals contest, which kicked off at DoD and runs till August 9th. Using Cintiqs, contestants had 30 minutes to design an iPhone case representative of the capital cities of CoolCapitals. Each day’s Grand Prize winner walked away with a Wacom Intuos 4. I probably spent at least two hours hanging around that booth alone, cheering on designer friends or watching others bring amazing designs to life. (The contest is still on with the prize; two tickets to the CoolCapital of choice!)

Friday’s CoolCapitals competition winner and winning design. Photos copyright 2010, Sunil Rampersad.

Most contests, however, had been running in Dwell magazine with winners announced at DoD, like the
AIA Los Angeles Restaurant Design Awards, whose winners were announced at the end of Friday. (The bar I was going to for my friend’s birthday, Las Perlas, was actually one of the nominees!)

Other contests included: Kohler’s Water Wise competition to find ways to make water hogs conserve water; The Sliding Door Company’s Do More With Your Door competition which challenged people to make innovative use of their products; and Design East of La Brea’s cocktail naming competition for cocktails to be served at their City Listening II event which took place Saturday 26th June.

In between checking out exhibits I found myself hurrying to one or other of the two stages where presentations on all manner of design-related subjects were addressed, from Alissa Walker (of GelatoBaby)’s talk about ways to improve public transit to a discussion about sustainable lives by Ed Begley Jr., undisputed king of Eco World.

A slew of presentations on Sunday (hosted by KCRW’s Evan Kleiman) focused on one of my favorite topics, food, and talked about such things as the craft beer movement and eco-friendly cheese production.

Photos from various panels held on Saturday and Sunday. Copyright 2010, Sunil Rampersad.

Dwell’s partnerships with other groups, and probably a huge part of DoD’s success, was evident not just in the contests but also in the coordination of both DoD and MOBIUS LA (the annual design conference of the AIA | LA) to coincide almost exactly. And in addition to the AIA | LA Restaurant Design Awards held on the first day, for the first time AIA | LA’s annual2x8 Student Exhibit & Scholarship Program entries were displayed on the DoD expo floor.

The AIA / LA Annual 2×8 Student Exhibit & Scholarship Program entries. Photos copyright 2010, Sharon Zhen.

One thing about a show like DoD is that it gets on everyone in the design community’s ‘to-do’ list, with the result that you run into many people you know – I actually lost count. This in itself gives the show a wonderful feel as you finally catch up with that person you hadn’t spoken to in months or meet someone outside the professional setting you’re used to seeing them in.

These shows would not be complete without the ever-popular home tours. And to make it a fully balanced offering there was both an Eastside and Westside tour. But undoubtedly the star of the event was the tour of the iconic Stahl House, also known as Case Study House 22, which has achieved mythic status in LA.

Photo copyright 2010, Peter Williams.

Copyright 2010 Stahl House, Inc. – Nickolas Loftus Photographer.

I could not end an article about DoD 2010 without mentioning CA Boom. Last year the design community held its breath in anticipation of the showdown to come when both shows were scheduled on the exact same days. CA Boom probably saw DoD as the new kid in town who was now trying to take over – it was CA Boom’s turf! But dismal attendance at last year’s CA Boom show sealed its fate; the two design giants had rumbled and CA Boom lay dead, conspicuously absent from this year’s design calendar. And this year I got to see why.

Photo copyright 2010, Sunil Rampersad.

I also got to catch a glimpse of what goes into putting on a show during Sunday. Huge loading bay doors at the rear of the convention center opened up, letting in the bright light of reality shatter any illusion you had somehow found your way to designer heaven. On cue, a small army of workers began ripping up the carpet and loading out trees, oblivious to all else. It was as LA Magazine’s Chris Nichols put it, a scene of “choreographed disintegration.”

Photo copyright 2010, Sunil Rampersad.

via , 27 July 2010 3:47am |