The Power of Design

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By Lara Deam
Preview the Editor’s Letter from our January/February issue, written by Dwell founder and CEO Lara Deam.

In all the years since I started Dwell, this is the first time I’ve written an Editor’s Letter. I’ve lived on the peripheries of the day-to-day workings of the magazine, but I’m constantly thinking about Dwell, caring for it, tending to it. Lately I’m much more involved, serving as the CEO. Since the magazine launched in 2000, publishing has changed again and again. Through the upturns and downturns, we’ve always tried to be a voice of optimism for people who want their home to reflect their values and a champion of the professionals who can help them accomplish that. 

Those who know me know that I have an allergic reaction when I hear "modern" referred to as a style. Modern is a way of communicating with our culture and attempting to make our dreams—big and small—come true. While I love a flat roof as much as the next person, modern isn’t just about design details. Nor is it necessarily a way to live with less or build more cheaply—although both are worthy goals. Modernism is an exploration of authenticity, materials, and function; it involves problem solving, testing different ideas, and expressing a little idiosyncrasy. Most important, it’s about work that responds to the time in which we live. To achieve this requires talent. Not all of us are capable of doing it. 

That’s okay. That’s why we have architects. But all too often their profession is sidelined. It’s important that architects be allowed to lead the creative process. Just because you or I get a lot of likes on Instagram, or curate a good Pinterest board, doesn’t mean we’re designers. Architects went to school—brutal programs from what I hear—and worked hard to perfect a craft, a way of seeing. If you have the privilege to hire an architect, please find one whom you love, step aside a bit, and allow her to do her best work. 

P.S. Please join us online to learn about and engage with the world of thoughtful design. Thanks to our community (and our editors), we have thousands of images that embody the best ideas in architecture. Come dream with us!  

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