The Design Life: What Inspires This Year’s Dwell 24?

We asked The Dwell 24 about how they work and how think they about the future of design.
Text by

We asked each of this year's Dwell 24 about their everyday lives as designers—including their creative rituals, how they work best, and if they picked up any new hobbies during the COVID-19 lockdowns. 

We also asked how they think about design. How can we design the work to be more inclusive? What everyday object would they like to redesign? What is their earliest memory of design?

Follow along with the infographics below to read their responses to all of these questions and more.

Do you have a creative ritual? 

  • Funny enough, I weave in creative sketching with my evening skincare ritual! My head is usually buzzing with ideas by end of day, and I use this time to sketch them out while waiting for layers of face lotions and potions to absorb. —Rosie Li 
  • I don’t have plumbing in my studio, so my daily morning ritual is dragging a five-gallon bucket of water to the slop sink in the hallway. It’s not fun, but it’s become a meditative and repetitive process that I do each day when I walk in. —Sarah Hussaini, Not Work Related

My studio is...

  • 59% A hive of productive clutter
  • 41% A study in head-clearing minimalism

What's in your dream house?

  • Serge mobile ceiling lamp. —Emmanuel Aguilar, Mool 
  • Everything I want is already in my house. My wife and my two cats are the most important things I can’t live without. —Cathy Lo, Brave Matter 
  • Ultrafragola mirror by Ettore Sottsass, a pair of armchairs from Leroy Personc. 1979, and a painting by Daniel Lezama named El Sueño del Tepeyac II, 2003. —Lilia Corona, Platalea Studio 
  • A shower with a skylight. —James Minola, Grain 
  • Give me huge windows, indoor plants, and an enormous marble bathtub with a view. —Laura T. Jaramillo

If I had to choose one...

  • 73% Bauhaus
  • 15% Memphis

  • 12% Brutalist

What everyday object would you like to redesign?

  • Ugly clothes hangers—beautiful clothes and closet spaces deserve beautiful hangers. Maybe in porcelain. —Dana Castle and Michele DeHaven, Crosland + Emmons 
  • The hand-crank coffee grinder, because it’s too slow. —Sunshine Thacker 
  • Not an everyday object, but I would redesign the government. It ain’t been working right for along time now. —Lalese Stamps, Lolly Lolly

I work best with...

  • 71% Music
  • 21% Silence
  • 8% Podcasts

How do you procrastinate?

  • Hunting for vintage touring bikes and parts. —Casey Lurie 
  • I do every New York Times puzzle I can find. —Abby Ross, Artish 
  • Cleaning my house, staring at my plants, and playing video games (also reading, but I tend not to think of that as procrastinating). —Daniel Lizardo, Lios Design

I believe...

  • 54% Less is more
  • 41% Enough is enough

  • 5% More is more

How can we design the work to be more inclusive?

  • By being less exclusive. It sounds like a joke, but it’s not.Design has become a service industry for corporations and the rich. We need to shift back to earlier and more elementary concerns of making useful, durable things and solving actual problems —Casey Lurie 
  • By understanding diverse perspectives. —Nina Cho

I do my best work...

  • 38% In the morning
  • 20% In the afternoon
  • 27% In the evening
  • 15% Late at night

What skills would you most like to learn?

  • Two: welding and glassblowing. —Sunshine Thacker 
  • The ability to speak any language. —Abby Ross, Artish 
  • I would like to learn to harvest crops. —Edgar Tapia, Mool
  • How to play a saxophone. —Jessica Switzer Green, JG Switzer 

  • I would love to learn how to blow glass, but I’m honestly not sure I could take the heat! —Rosie Li

I am...

  • 78% Right-handed
  • 7% Left-handed

  • 15% Ambidextrous

All design should...

  • Offer an answer to a question. —Michael Stern, Lios Design 
  • Be better than what came before it. —Sarah Hussaini, Not Work Related 
  • Make you feel something—have a depth of curiosity to it. —Dana Castle and Michele DeHaven, Crosland + Emmons

Instagram is...

  • 39% An amplifier for design ideas
  • 46% A promotional tool
  • 15% A homogenizing force in the design world

What is the last thing you designed?

  • 2020 has been a very unexpected year. The last thing I designed was a protest sign. —Joel Seigle, Harold 
  • A reading and thinking chair for a scholar and activist. —Cody Campanie, Campagna 
  • A collection of hammers. —Kazuki Guzmán

My favorite material is...

  • 30% Clay
  • 30% Wood
  • 8% Brass
  • 8% Steel
  • 8% Glass
  • 8% Fabric

  • 4% Ink

Did you pick up any new hobbies or learn any new skills while in lockdown?

  • Baking sourdough bread. I’m officially a hipster. —Joel Seigle, Harold
  • I started a small vegetable garden and learned to make the delicious sesame dressing you get on the salads at teriyaki spots. —Cody Campanie, Campagna 
  • Stress eating. —James Minola, Grain

I follow...

  • 36% Form
  • 34% Function
  • 30% Fun

What is your earliest memory of an encounter with design?

  • I went to see FrankLloyd Wright’s Fallingwater with my parents when I was young. I’ve returned three times since. I mean, I know it leaks and has cracks and was over budget, but he had a vision and made it happen. —Abby Ross, Artish 
  • I remember designing a "dream house" to scale before I was seven. —Sunshine Thacker 
  • The jungle gym.I remember being really impressed with the mechanics of them as a child. —Lalese Stamps, Lolly Lolly

I sketch with...

  • 52% Pen
  • 41% Pencil
  • 7% Computer

What is your most treasured possession?

  • All mix tapes or special playlists made for me by loved ones. —Christina Zamora, Brave Matter 
  • Some of the hand tools that were passed down tome from my grandfather. —Ethan Summers, Oil / Lumber 
  • The people I love. —Zihe Gong

Top illustration by Ben Weeks

To learn more about each of the designers and their backgrounds, visit The Dwell 24 homepage.




Get the Pro Newsletter

What’s new in the design world? Stay up to date with our essential dispatches for design professionals.