One of the highlights of this weekend’s Dwell On Design conference was Johanna Grawunder’s Saturday lecture and DesertGlow exhibition at the Art + Industry Gallery in downtown Palm Springs. While at first glance, many of her architectural and lighting projects look distinctly modern and not overtly green, her rhetoric poses new ways of creating design solutions with regards to efficiency, modernism and sustainability. Grawunder’s fabulously modern light fixtures are simple enough to mass produce at low cost, and energy efficient enough (most are fluorescent tubing) to question their rather high-end price point. Her work poses the question: Why shouldn’t high-end design be energy efficient?… and why shouldn’t energy efficient design be incredible, sophisticated, and art-worthy?

Johanna Grawunder, Sustainable Lighting, Dwell on Design conference, Fluorescent lighting, Design at eye level

Architecturally, Grawunder advocates designing built space “at eye level” as opposed to what she describes as the historically male-dominated way of designing “with a view from above.” Her current house project in Desert Hot Springs, CA is composed of simple, prefabricated assemblies she describes as a “unified system of architecture” that frames dramatic views of the Desert and creates outdoor rooms, called “sky spaces”.

Her work captures the premise behind much of Mid-Century Modernism- providing minimal protective structure that is both economical and complimentary of its environment; but is also a perfect example of Modernism today- providing new, subtly sustainable ways of experiencing built space in its environmental context.

What a wonderful balance of architectural design and art medium combining the creation of inhabitable open air spaces and sculptural lighting ‘in the round’ to compliment the architecture.

+ DesertGlow exhibition at Art + Industry
+ Dwell On Design