Read what Dwell’s editor-in-chief, William Hanley, has to say about this year’s selection…
Even after years in New York, I’ve never seen anything like it. The rental market in the city has long been a brutal and defeating arena, but the fallout from extreme home prices, rising interest rates, and landlords recouping revenue lost to Covid deals has led to a singularly dispiriting period of life-upending rent increases and bidding wars for the few apartments available. Other less notoriously expensive cities—and whole regions—are feeling a similar squeeze. And it has affected people across economic divides, including the designers out there who rely on studio space, access to marketplaces, and creative communities to produce their work. As we put together this year’s Dwell 24, our annual survey of the best emerging designers around the world, a sense of anxiety about where we live was inescapable.
After a period influenced by brightly colored Memphis exuberance and rich strains of 1970s decadence lounging on low-slung sofas, both trends seem to have given way to something more down-to-earth. Not in a neutral, greige sort of way, but one that seems to be processing a generally uneasy moment with relatable forms and accessible materials (though still with a slightly 1970s vibe).
You can see it in the rich tones and curvature of Nifemi Ogunro’s Tilt stool, the pastels of Aranza García’s furniture, and the oxidized copper of Robert Sukrachand’s lighting. The pieces, engaging and surprising, could anchor any living room. But there is also a sense of humility and grounding that runs through the work of the designers on this year’s list.
The tragedy of these insane real estate markets is that a good neighborhood can’t be built by the highest bidder. For a place to thrive, it takes lots of types of housing for people with all kinds of lives, passions, and professions—designers in need of studios among them.
Architect Elle Gerdeman, whose craftily luminous home you can tour here, describes her place this way: "It’s meant to be a playground where, if we have an idea, we can clear the furniture to the side and make it happen." That those places for creative work exist for as many people as possible is important for design and essential to a community.
Top photo by Noah Dolinsky.
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