Dwell on Design Recap: A Weekend with Modern Design

Dwell on Design Recap: A Weekend with Modern Design

(A collaborative article by Mitch Howard and Tony Ingacio)

The annual Dwell on Design (DoD) conference and exhibition held at the Los Angeles Convention Center on June 21st-June 23rd, was a designer’s paradise and high-end consumer’s extravaganza. It is considered the largest modern design event in the U.S., and for anyone with a modern tilt, it was a must attend event. Buzz on the floor was that the size and scope of this year’s event signaled a momentum of confidence; a strong belief in the solar powered LED at the end of the tunnel. This may be the case for the high-end consumer – we’ll keep our fingers crossed that this confidence translates throughout our industry.

Just a few numbers…300 vendors, 200+ speakers, 21 hours, and 4 stages in 3 days. All this, and architect and designer extraordinaire Michael Graves as keynote speaker, could we have asked for more? In the following days, we will be posting summaries of inspirational talks, the best of the latest products, profiles of forward-thinking firms/companies, and interesting take-aways from this past weekend. But to whet your appetite, here are some quick thoughts.


Dwell Outdoorwhere the landscape literally took center stage



What did we see? What is the next big thing? Below are a couple of trends we noticed over the weekend.


Black Star Projects


Bringing the Outdoors In 

While at DoD, we noticed a couple of trends. Led by the guiding lights of Gill, Neutra, and Schindler among others, one of the most recognizable attributes of modernism as expressed in environmental design has been the blurring of the line between outdoor and indoor space. Yet this transposition across the threshold has more often than not gone in the direction of recreating “rooms” for outside living. Yet once again the retro bug has bitten high design. Just as in the late 60’s and into the 1970’s, we are seeing a reversal of the inside-out. Reclaimed wood planks and boards, and trunks of dead trees have been given a new zombie-like second life. They are coming at us in the form of flooring, interior wall panels (yes, wood paneled walls are back, and we have to admit, looking better than ever), cabinetry, tabletops and bases, and much more. Is this is a good thing? Maybe, but let’s keep in mind that 30 years from now, someone will once again haul that wood paneling and battered countertop to the nearest reclamation center. 


Let’s talk Vertically

Adding to the aforementioned trend, every landscape-centric exhibitor had some element of verticality. From Airplantman Design’s Airplantframe to Urbio’s Wall Garden, companies wanted people to grow food and plants on their walls. We know as landscape professionals that growing plants on walls can have many benefits. Now that affluent urban dwellers see the light, we may see every project requiring tomato-lined walls.




Airplantman Designs

Urbio Garden Wall


Below is a quick list of some vendors and exhibitors that we will highlight in the next few days.


Restoration Timber/Stikwood; reclaimed wood applications

TerraTrellis; a collection of smartly designed and damn good-looking contemporary garden vining structures


AD Applications; interior and exterior lime based washes, paints and plasters, and protective coatings



Inspirational landscape talks ranging from Landscaping the Classics and Born to ‘Rewild’ to the Dwell-specific seminars such as Greening Your Home and Designing for the New Affluent filled the weekend solid. Here is a glimpse of the ones we thought you might enjoy. We will also provide more in-depth interviews with the speakers in the next few days.

Keynote Address; Michael Graves

Native Plants and California Landscapes; FORMLA and Mountain States

Talks we will highlight:

Keynote Address; Michael Graves, architect and “home product designer for the masses” discussed his two years at the American Academy as the Prix de Rome Fellowship recipient, and the influence that award has had on his life and work.

Landscaping the Classics; Bernard Trainor and Ive Haugeland shared their views and experiences on re-interpreting the mid-century landscapes of progressive real estate developer Joseph Eichler and others.  

Kinetic Energy: The plan behind the lights at LAX; Paul Tzanetopoulos recounted the history behind his installation of LAX Gateway Pylon Project.  

Born to ‘Rewild’: Green City Schemes; Margie Ruddick, promotes the “naturalization” of our urban parks and smaller gardens to reconnect the users with a more authentic landscape experience.  

Native Plants and California Landscapes; FORMLA and Mountain States -Wholesale Nursery; Cassy Aoyagi and Wendy Proud of Mountain States Wholesale Nursery discussed the beauty, appropriateness, and water-wisdom of installing California native plants into the residential landscape.

Can Disaster Spur Innovation; Architecture for Humanity’s Kate Stohr and Sherry-Lea Bloodworth Botop bring their realistic, yet ultimately optimistic assessment to disaster response.   

A Confederacy of Heretics; Frederick Fisher, Coy Howard, and SCI-Arc professor Mohamed Sharif discussed the reality and the myth behind their influence on contemporary architecture in Los Angeles.

Treehouse Workshop; Peter Nelson demonstrated the construction methods and materials of his treehouse construction system.


Forward thinking firms contributed to DoD in many capacities. We hit up some major ones and will discuss their role at DoD in upcoming posts.

Shades of Green Landscape Architecture; Ive Haugeland and Liana Ramos


Firms and Companies we will highlight:

Shades of Green Landscape Architecture


Mountain States Wholesale Nursery

Architecture for Humanity


This post was written in collaboration with Mitch Howard.  Check out our coverage on Instagram and stay tuned for more in-depth interviews and product highlights in the following days on Land8!  


If you were there, tell us what you thought of the show below!

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