Celebrating 20 Years of Dwell
This year, we’re celebrating Dwell’s 20th anniversary. To mark the momentous occasion, we’re going back into the archives to revisit some of our most prescient stories.
Below, we also revisit the predictions we made in our 10th anniversary issue to see how developments in everything from urban density to groceries have shaken out, and make our forecast for how homes and cities will look in the next decade.
From the Archives
From our first mention of prefab to once-emerging designers who are now household names, these stories from years past trace the evolution of modern architecture.
The Fruit Bowl Manifesto
Forget the perfectly staged, airless photography that dominated architectural magazines for generations. In our first issue, editor-in-chief Karrie Jacobs explained that we would cover extraordinary homes by covering the people who inhabit them. We live by that principle to this day.
The Lofting of America
Converted industrial spaces were once the province of coastal bohemia (that’s Robert Motherwell in his Manhattan home in the 1960s). But as America rediscovered its cities in the 2000s, the loft became the go-to housing type all over the country. Here’s the moment we predicted it.
What if Green Design Were Just Good Design?
What was the state of green design in 2001? According to contributor Bruce Sterling, it involved a lot of feel-good fluff that paid the idea lip service—but hadn’t become part of design DNA. Twenty years later, sustainability has come to the forefront in homebuilding, and the need for forward-thinking, integrated solutions is more pronounced than ever.
We Dream of Prefabs
The possibilities of prefabrication have long captured our imagination. These six examples, published in April 2001, were projects that fulfilled the potential of mass-produced housing.
Way back in March 2004, the latest technology manifested itself in the form of cell phones and PDAs—that’s Personal Digital Assistants, or Palm Pilots, for the young ones out there. With help from private eye Miriam Ponzi, we tested out a few "converged devices."
Halving It All
Our write-up of David Sarti’s little red house in Seattle’s sleepy Central District signaled our embrace of small-space living. Though, at 1,100 square feet, the Sarti home was far from tiny, it did call forth themes that have by now become endemic to the tiny house movement: dwellings born of situational necessity that are frequently DIY in nature and showcase bespoke, creative furniture that maximizes efficiency without sacrificing aesthetics.
Let’s Be Frank
In December 2007, we interviewed Frank Harmon, a North Carolina architect who had been designing sustainably for almost three decades. His emphasis on regionalism and vernacular architecture marked a new take on sustainability that was rooted in responding to the particulars of a climate, site, or materials.
The Shipping Muse
The first shipping container home to grace our pages appeared in our October 2009 "Made in America" issue. Houston developers Katie Nichols and John Walker wanted to create "affordable, design-intensive housing for creative, urban people"—and accomplished just that with easily acquired, incredibly durable containers.
The Next Decade
For our 10th anniversary issue published in 2010, Dwell departed from its regular programming to address topics that we felt would be of significance in the decades to follow—from groceries and design education to density and community. "We have tried to stay away from the type of garish predictions that look silly in 20 years’ time," wrote editor-in-chief Sam Grawe.
This year, we asked our writers to consult the experts to not only respond to inquiries raised a decade ago to see where we stand now, but also pose the important questions that will guide design in the years to come.
Can Co-Living Survive in a Socially Distanced Future?
Over the past decade, soaring rents and urban loneliness have been driving people to live closer together. Then the pandemic hit, and sharing was no longer caring.
How Can Higher Education Build a Better Architect?
In the 2010s, design-build programs were the cutting edge of architectural education. Today, young architects must master empathy as much as any design software or construction know-how.
Whatever Happened to the Ecohouse?
First profiled a decade ago, we checked back in with the adventurous architect of Biosphere 2 and his plans for his massive, sustainable prefab.
How Will the Coronavirus Pandemic Change the Way We Eat?
Over the past 10 years, the troubling realities of the food supply chain became apparent. The coronavirus pandemic has made them impossible to ignore.
What Happens to Cities When We Are Free to Roam?
Despite lockdowns and quarantines brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, the question of how to shape public space has never felt more relevant.
How Will Architecture Merge the Digital and Physical Worlds?
Artificial intelligence is not only changing how we design buildings—it’s also influencing how buildings shape our behavior.
Is a Sustainable Suburbia Still Possible Post-Pandemic?
In 2010, Dwell took a look at four radical plans to reshape and retrofit spaces outside of our cities. Ten years later, we asked experts if those plans were possible or pie-in-the-sky.
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