"Sustainability is part of our culture [in Austin]...but modern was rejected," Krisstina Wise said Thursday night as designers, architects, environmental policy makers, photographers—and even a few life coaches and restaurateurs thrown in—mingled at the Dwell SXSW Eco prefab party held at her real estate brokerage firm, The GoodLife Team, and its xeriscaped garden venue.
To dispel the misperception she so often heard that modern was all about tearing down funky old houses to pour concrete slabs, she created a modern home tour that would "show Austin was modern could be."
As the popular tour has grown, so has her company and the building she’s transformed from a decrepit "pigeon house" just east of downtown Austin into a vibrant, eco-friendly workspace that now includes three prefab buildings from Austin’s Sett Studio, the largest of which was only just finished hours before Dwell's SXSW Eco party started.
"We work a lot, so I wanted to have a space where we love to work," Wise explains. The prefab buildings were a relatively inexpensive way to expand to accommodate the quickly growing staff but in a way that was still environmentally conscious. Throughout Dwell's party, guests were popping in and out of the individual buildings, inspecting the materials and layout and enjoying a quiet and cool place to sit and have a conversation admidst the happy party bustle of music, cocktails, and vegetarian food trucks surrounding the prefabs.
Among the most striking and talked about features of the party were the lightshades from New Zealand designer David Trubridge hanging around the property, including a large raindrop-shaped piece near the DJ booth and a cluster of a half dozen smaller, brightly colored lights hanging under the canopy toward the back of the property. Most of them were made out of bamboo and pieced together with small clips, making them easy to ship, assemble, and break down. Everywhere you looked, the light cast the shade's intricate pattern onto the white rock gravel. (WakaNINE, the Austin-based distributor of David Trubridge, was Dwell's generous lighting sponsor for this event.)
Also spread throughout the party were white origami-like folding Flux chairs provided by Flux Furniture and copies of Origin magazine, whose publisher and editor-in-chief, Maranda Pleasant, was on hand to talk about the conscious art and lifestyle publication and her presentation at the SXSW Eco conference earlier in the day. (Origin is distributed nationwide in Whole Foods, among others.) Pleasant joined forces with Dwell to bring in a diverse mix of SXSW Eco green and tech minds, as well as designers, architects, and other Austin creatives. The lively event culminated in a special set by the internationally renowned Paul Miller a.k.a. DJ Spooky, an artist-in-residence at the Met and a bestselling app creator, author, speaker, and musician, who entertained guests with a mix of hip hop infused symphonic beats well past the event's scheduled closing hour of 10 p.m.
From the delicious drinks (classic margaritas and muddled jalapeno-cucumber cocktails made with sponsor Dulce Vida's 100% agave, organic tequila) to the eco-friendly eats (fried green tomatoes atop local arugula; vegan Jamaican jerk slaw from one of Austin’s most noted food trucks, Lucky J’s Chicken and Waffles; and vegan ice cream sandwiches from Coolhaus, another trailer), the party was a high-energy mix of authentic Austin SXSW style, sustainability, and modern design inspiration (sans the frenetic mania of SXSW 6th Street parties). Special additional thanks go out to Sustyparty for the lovely, eco-friendly party supplies, and our sponsor Whole Foods, who provided mixers for the event.
Click through our slideshow to see snapshots from the event. We hope to see you next year!
Addie Broyles is a writer based in Austin, Texas. As the food writer for the Austin American-Statesman, she writes a weekly column and blog called Relish Austin and her stories usually appear in the Wednesday print section of the newspaper. When she’s not wrangling backyard chickens or her two young sons, the Ozarks native and University of Missouri graduate writes about women and food at TheFeministKitchen.com and is the advisory council chair of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance. In 2011, Addie was named by Tribeza magazine as one of the top 10 Austinites to watch and was voted the top food writer in the city by the Austin Chronicle. She recently won the National Headliner Award for special or feature column on one subject by an individual.