DWELL ON DESIGN: Weekend in Review

by , 09/18/06

dwell on design, modern shed, prefab, sustainability

In three days at Dwell in Design, there was enough to hear, see and discuss that we could keep the reports rolling out for days. We will bring you some specific product highlights before the conference fades into memory, but for now, the weekend in review…

Friday morning we heard a panel on prefab. It was great to see so many of the designers we talk about on Inhabitat up on stage in conversation, but even more interesting were some of the cultural and historical perspectives from the professors and authors who peppered the panel. The prefab session concluded with a screening of the documentary, Leisurama, which chronicles midcentury prefab through a 1963 housing development by the same name. The film was full of the same retro visuals of idyllic post-war living as the images we found when we researched the Lustron Home last spring.

In our opinion, Friday afternoon brought the day’s highlight — a presentation by David Baker, whose distinct multi-unit urban buildings provide shelter to low-income residents in a number of San Francisco neighborhoods. Inside and out, David Baker Architects’ work is remarkable, with transitional entry courtyards, daylight in every room and corridor, and access to outdoor space via balconies. We’ll be speaking with David in greater depth about his work in the near future.

On Saturday morning, the sustainability panel — most anxiously anticipated by the Inhabitat team — planted plenty of seeds for further conversation. As we mentioned yesterday, the sequence of speakers seemed to organically develop its own narrative, which began with what’s current and pushed us toward what’s possible. Bill Browning, a senior fellow at Rocky Mountain Institute (among many other credentials), spoke about sustainability and the preservation of resources as a matter of considering human experience and the health of the people who inhabit spaces.

steve glenn living homes dwell on design LEED platinum sustainable prefab

Jennifer Roberts, an author and all-around advocate for sustainable living, challenged the audience to consider the “mainstreaming of green” to be only an incremental improvement upon what currently exists; and a far cry from sufficient to solve our environmental crises. We couldn’t agree more. She closed with excerpts from poet Paul Williams’ Common Sense: “We have been born into a moment of unprecedented danger and opportunity…It is time for each of us to vote with our lives –our daily lives– for or against the vision of a more hopeful future.”

The panel closed with Jay Baldwin, who is nothing short of a genius. He gave a rapidfire presentation on the work of Buckminster Fuller, (saying he sees himself not as a protege but as an artifact of the great inventor and visionary). Seeing so much Bucky brilliance wrapped up so tightly led to just one obvious question: if all of these solutions already existed more than half a century ago, and we know about them, why have we continued to design and build our world in a manner that fosters degradation instead of sustainability?

That question did get asked at the end. Is it just a matter of increasing the momentum of the next green movement? Is there something we’re missing? What do we need to know and do for the centuries ahead? No sharp answer emerged, but the fact that these were the questions we were asking as the formal segment of the conference wound down felt hopeful, even if they went unanswered.

dwell on design quickup camper jay baldwin sustainability bucky fuller buckminster

From here the exhibition floor opened and the public show remained abuzz right up until the end of the day Sunday. Among other things, there were full-scale models of Chris Deam’s Breckenridge Trailer, two Airstreams, Jay Baldwin’s Quickup Camper and a Modern Shed (shown above). Steve Glenn of Living Homes spoke (also pictured) about achieving LEED Platinum for their prefab design; and we met Andy Thomson, creator of the gorgeous green Sustain MiniHome.

We congratulate Dwell for packing so much great stuff into three short days, and for doing it with all the style and attention to detail they’re known for.

Related Posts


or your inhabitat account below


  1. Inhabitat » DWELL... August 16, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    […] on Design is coming back to San Francisco, and we’re counting the days already. Running Friday, September 14th through Sunday, […]

  2. E February 14, 2007 at 11:18 am

    how about some picture captions

  3. James Wiese February 11, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    So how much is the shipping to the Big Island?

    What is the efficiency of a solar cell roof, and can it capture enough energy to run a modern home in Hawaii,
    on the Big Island?

    I am assuming that these can be set up with a cistern and a septic pit.

    It is this or Bob Villas home made of metal containers from shipping, with windows and doors cut with a plasma
    torch, and insulated with a spray derived from the space shuttle tiles.

    The Villas home is considered hurricane proof, though, and I believe is thus not considered a “mobile” home,
    which I gather is still a problem with the Glassic Soho. That me be a problem in Hawaii, as well. Resolve that issue, though, and you will hit a home run.

  4. Tom October 4, 2006 at 6:24 am


    The final production version of the Christopher Deam “Perfect Cottage” will be sold by Breckenridge as the “Glassic Soho” line. There will be three models: the Soho Flat which is the production version of the all-in-one model that’s been making the rounds of the shows for the last year or so, the Soho Studio which has no sleeping area but does have a full galley kitchen and larger living/dining area, and the Soho Sleeper which has no kitchen but does have two sleeping areas and a study/TV area. Apparently, the latter two models are to be used together as a larger home.

    This could be a relatively low-cost, low-hassle way to have a Modernist home.

    This information and pictures are at a new Breckenridge site which has surfaced in the last few days. The site is still under construction. Some of the links on it don’t work yet. Here’s the URL: http://breckenridgefinerliving.com

  5. Tom October 4, 2006 at 6:08 am


    The final production versions Christopher Deam “Perfect Cottage” will apparently be sold by Breckenridge as the “Glassic Soho” line. There will be three models: the Soho Flat, the production version of the all-in-one model thats been displayed for the last year or so,the Soho Studio which has no bedroom area, but has a full galley kitchen, and larger dining/living area, and the Soho Sleeper which has no kitchen but two bedroom areas and a small study/TV area. I think these latter two are meant to be used together for a larger home.

    I think these could be a very nice relatively low-cost, low-hassle means to a modern domicile.

    The site with this information has just surfaced in the last few days, apparently. It’s still under construction and not all of the links work yet. Here is the URL: http://breckenridgefinerliving.com

  6. Walt Barrett September 20, 2006 at 11:46 am

    We are ready to immediately start mass producing solar powered micro homes. I am behind the concept 100%. Our problem here in RI is that the land is sky high. If we can find clients in other areas we are prepared to move forward and ship them knocked down. We could use some feedback. I have found the information in your posts to be extremely helpful. Please keep up the good work!
    Walter H. Barrett President

  7. Mike Springer September 19, 2006 at 5:32 pm

    “Green designs” are great but won’t catch on until the public is forced to build homes using these principals due to cost.
    The current crop of prefabs won’t catch on becuse they cost too much. The breckenridge trailer looks awesome but $45,000 dollars?????????? Even if it was fully furnished with fixtures etc. you could easily duplicate for less built on site.
    What happened to all the great ideas of the 70’s? They may look dated but worked. I grew up in kansas and on our block we had a pre-cut two story high log cabin, a pre-cut a-frame kit and a nieghbor that had full solar power. Also there were quite a few geodesic homes in our area.

  8. Craig September 18, 2006 at 7:26 pm

    Are you going to offer any pictures of Deam’s Perfect Cottage? I’ve been champing at the bit for more pictures and any new information about it!

  9. Kevin at TasteTV September 18, 2006 at 5:42 pm

    You’re doing a fantastic job covering this event! (from Kevin at TasteTV.com)

  • Read Inhabitat

  • Search Categories

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

  • Browse by Keyword

get the free Inhabitat newsletter

Submit this form
popular today
all time
most commented
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
Federated Media Publishing - Home