Dwell on Design Conference: Dispatch from Day One


Turn your wall into a white board with IdeaPaint. Photos by RCruger.

Gorgeous green homewares, scintillating sustainability forums, abfab prefab displays, green designs and architecture are the focus at "dwell on design," dwell magazine's fourth festival of modern design and it's second in LA (where its biggest chunk of subscribers dwell). With lots of exhibitions, panels, interviews, home tours, films, innovative environmental ideas, and enticing events, the first jam-packed day kicked off the weekend show in green style. With so many enticing speakers, I tried to be in a few places at once, and managed to catch a batch of illustrious designers and forward thinkers. Here's some highlights:


Capital ideas without caps: fuseproject's Yves Behar at dwell on design.

Yves Behar, founder of fuseproject, which worked on One Laptop Per Child and the Nature Conservancy Rainforest Cocoa projects, spoke of his holistic approach to design. Slides of his amazing work flashed by as he discussed a design for Herman Miller, the elegant and energy efficient LED Leaf Lamp. In response to complaints about the quality of LED lighting, his company improved output while still using 40 percent less energy than CFLs, getting a patent for the technology. "New designs can bring solutions to sustainability and low energy consumption," he said defending the need for new products. Next, he's developing a cell phone made of paper to deal with the problem of their disposability.


Landscape architect Peter Walker converses with Sam Grawe, dwell's editor.

Award-winning landscape architect Peter Walker, from the "Landscape as Art" movement, detailed his project with renowned Renzo Piano on a Dallas sculpture park and museum. Walker is creating the National 9/11 Memorial with architect Michael Arad. The plaza and cascading reflective pools inside the World Trade Towers footprints will feature green principles, harvesting rainwater for the 400 trees, pursuing LEED certification, among other initiatives.

Design Boom's Birgit Lohmann showed off the dazzling display of winning selections from her design competition for the "Kitchen Ecology: Recipes for Good Design" exhibit (check in tomorrow for more on these scrumptious ideas for the ideal kitchen, like solar leaves that snag both wind and sun energy). We want "convenience, comfort, cleanliness, the latest technology" in kitchens yet demand less energy consumption, water usage, and waste. Modify our habits, "tweak the ingredients and rethink the future of food," she said.

Solar is Phat: "Energy isn't the problem. It's how we use it."

And there's more: the "Off the Grid" panel addressed public, nonprofit and entrepreneurial sectors with the NRDC, Phat Energy and city of LA. Also, designer Jeremy Levine spoke to green building, presenting a renovation with passive energy sources at his Three Trees Project that harvests breezes, light and geothermal (with a simple wall of rocks). Then landscaper Nicholas Staddon disclosed hot new low-maintenance and drought resistant plants and tips for edible gardens, like pittosporum tenuifolium a/k/a the Golf Ball.

Starbuck's President Arthur Rubinfeld spoke of the coffee giant's upcoming green initiatives and redesigns of stores. Instead of the "cookie cutter" look of the last decade, there will be Artisan, Heritage, and Regional Modern designs, driven locally with ninety percent of the materials recycled.

Product designer Peter Jon Pearce presented his stunning Ecohouse, a solar-paneled spread being built with green and prefab construction, net-zero energy, and emulating the hexagonal structures of nature. "Going solar is a moral imperative," he said. It's not about breaking even.


"We need an upgrade to Motivation 3.0," says author Daniel Pink.

The dizzying first day ended on a high note with keynote speaker, Daniel Pink, on "The Surprising Science of Motivation and Creativity." In a rousing presentation to a rapt audience, he said, it's time to upgrade from the old school carrot stick system. Referencing breakthrough studies and material from his upcoming book, Drive, Pink explained how purpose, mastery and autonomy - as opposed to monetary rewards and punishments — is what really triggers open-ended creative solutions.


Inscription on Pink's inspiring best-seller "A Whole New Mind."

Pink says his 12-3/4 years old daughter is a treehugger fan and has been creating purses out of old magazines. So, will Sophia be presenting at a future dwell on design conference?

The show's open to the public Saturday and Sunday. Stay tuned for more.

Tags: Alternative Energy | Appropriate Technology | Architecture | Designers | Green Building | Los Angeles

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