For most of Kaufmann's designs, the real cost savings come when developers build a passel of the same house in proximity, and pass the savings on to the end-user. So the game-changer with the mkHearth is the design: If you associate slanted roofs, walls of glass, and HardiePanel siding with 7-11s and urban elites, then you'll love the mkHearth. A traditional farmhouse style on the outside, with a modern emphasis on light and space on the inside–plus all the requisite green bells and whistles–it's something a suburban or rural developer, and his or her buyers, can feel good about.
Dave has contributed to Dwell since its inception. He's a CalArts dropout, a former art critic for The New Yorker, and a producer of comedies on TV. He lives in, and writes from, Los Angeles.