This year’s  three day Dwell on Design expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center attracted more than 30 000 people from every continent and more than thirty countries around the globe. Four hundred exhibitors displayed two thousand projects for the way we live in the twenty first century.

Contemporary design isn’t just about looking good or conspicuous consumption, or even style and innovation for it’s own sake. Events and happenings included celebrity insights, activism for the homeless and celebrations of the intersection of art and design. Participants included professionals, design students, social and environmental activists and famous name speakers and writers.

Dwell on Design celebrates the holistic heart of current attitudes to life and lifestyle. A highlight for many was Bryan Cranston, of ‘Breaking Bad’ fame, taking the floor to share his philosophy of green living, his LA eco-home on the beach and the importance of great design in achieving his ideals.

Like art, design is not just something that happens in some rarefied parallel universe. It’s not about having the money to consume it – though cutting edge new design pieces can burn a big hole in the average person’s pocket. As the Dwell on Design show demonstrated, design today is for everyone (and for the environment). Developments in design are about improving the material and visual spaces we all inhabit. Design isn’t a luxury for the well-heeled. It’s for all of us, and for enhanced quality of life right across the board.

As well as showcasing some of the very best of contemporary design in home products and consumables, the Dwell on Design event took a holistic view of contemporary homes, neighborhoods and ways of thinking and being. It was a forum for new ideas, an occasion to reward visionaries and achievers with prestigious industry awards, and a moment to celebrate contemporary awareness of how design impacts on all our lives – even if it’s not always immediately apparent.
The show was a visual and conceptual feast for all, with an array of new products and ideas for now. Furniture, garden products, lighting, decor pieces and products created by leading designers were all showcased Those ideas included the funky, the futuristic, the affordable and the environmentally smart – or all of those together. It wasn’t just accessories and accent pieces. Designs for contemporary living range from stylish LED eco-lighting all the way through to prefab houses and ideas for improving neighborhoods and wider environments.

Architect and product designer Michael Graves summed it all up in his keynote address, in which he examined the crucial connections between design and quality of life that affect all of us. Twenty-first century design isn’t just about appearances. It’s about ethical living and enhancing our experiences of living.

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