It's inevitable that most of us wind up in the same routine and see the same landscapes or cityscapes over and over again. We get caught up so easily in the every day that the views and sights we regularly see start to fade in their brilliance. So we launched our inaugural photography competition, World Views, to inspire you to take in old sights anew! Now we're hard at work culling together the best shots to be included in Dwell's first-ever photo book, which will be unveiled at Dwell on Design.
Branching out and doing your own thing is a brave and bold move at any time and any age. That said, the 21 visionaries we profile here—–designers of interiors, graphics, architecture, exhibitions, furniture, landscapes, and communities both online and off—–are all younger than 40 and are building their careers in the United States during an economic recession. Their mediums range wildly, from high-end residential town houses to urban postindustrial landscapes, but what they all share are uncommon tenacity and highly personal approaches to blazing their own paths. We’ve found editors who reinvented themselves as unconventional bloggers when their magazine shuttered; community activists who are transforming foreclosed houses in Detroit into models of environmental sustainability; and designers who’ve built burgeoning furniture companies in their own backyards. Neither an exhaustive compendium nor an exclusive best-of list, this roundup is a sampling of rising stars whose work continues to catch our eyes and imaginations.
Partnership is imperative for Swiss designer Patrick Reymond, who runs the design studio Atelier Oï with longtime collaborators Aurel Aebi and Armand Louis. Working out of a repurposed motel— the cleverly dubbed “Moïtel”—in La Neuveville, Switzerland, that is part studio, exhibition space, and materials lab, the talented team has created pieces for brands from Ikea to Foscarini, and sets scenographic installations for expositions around the world.
Although photographer Emiliano Granado only took to the camera five years ago, he quickly mastered the arts of spatial and social portraiture. After taking courses at New York’s International Center of Photography and the School of Visual Arts, Granado has gone on to produce a fascinating portfolio full of drag races, beauty contests, high school football games, travel shots of Nicaragua and Argentina, and surreally empty parking garages lit from within at night. His commercial work is equally impressive.
Owner and creative director Ebony Snow Chafey cofounded the Chicago-based design and stationery firm Snow & Graham in the spring of 1998. One successful decade later, her firm does more than $2 million worth of business each year, producing cards, calendars, stationery, notebooks, and even wallpaper. One of Chafey’s stated goals is “to put good design in everybody’s hands,” and that includes producing “big, bold, modern” holiday cards you could even send to Grandma. Amazingly, Chafey was once a welder, studying sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago—but this somewhat brutal background is impossible to detect in the simple and often mesmerizing lines of Snow & Graham’s design. Chafey invited Dwell into her busy Chicago workspace for the following Q&A.
BSB Design was established in 1966 in Des Moines, Iowa, as a small architectural firm with a grand mission statement: Every family deserves to live in an architect-designed home. Forty-plus years later, BSB employs over 200 people and has amassed an award-winning portfolio of homes. So what would make a U.S. firm verging on mega status suddenly decide to focus its pro bono attention on solving a housing problem thousands of miles away? According to architect and chairman of the board Doug Sharp, all someone had to do was ask.
It might seem that the Post Carbon Institute casts too wide a net. But after translating German at the Vatican and becoming a Hollywood filmmaker, Julian Darley, the institute’s director, is accustomed both to setting and to reaching lofty goals. Yet the mission of the Post Carbon Institute is rather simple, Darley explains: They want “to get society off of fossil fuels fast.”
If you’ve never heard of “fly-tipping,” then you’ve certainly seen its results. Fly-tipping is the British term for dumping garbage illegally, and it’s the civic challenge that motivated Londoner Deborah Leach to start a research project with the Tidy Britain Group (now ENCAMS) to investigate what it takes to engage citizens in cleaning up trash-laden waterways. “The litter along the Thames shores and flowing beneath its bridges was upsetting thousands of Londoners,” Leach recounts. Beyond their desire for cleaner rivers and canals, she found people eager and willing to help.