Dwell on Design’s Debut in New York

After nine years in Los Angeles, with 31,000 visitors annually and a reputation as the largest design event in the nation, Dwell on Design is setting its sights a little higher.

From Oct. 9-11, it will lead a series of discussions about architecture and design – in New York.

For starters, there’s keynote speaker Daniel Libeskind, designer of the master plan for Ground Zero. There’s Caroline Baumann of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. And architect Barry Svigals of  Svigals Partners, who designed the new Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

“Amanda Dameron (Dwell’s editor-in-chief) and I started concepting an event that was very much a summit-like discussion on design for New York,” says Michela O’Connor Abrams, president of Dwell Media.

This is no trade show, and there will be no booths. The 20 participating sponsors – six openings remain – will be designing installations instead.

“We invited the sponsors to come and do an exhibition of their brand and its essence, to show what it that looks like,” she says. “We told them: ‘You can work with an architect or designer of your own, or we’ll pair you with one to bring your brand to life in a very abstract way.’”

Less abstract will be some very sobering discussions about architecture’s role in 21st-century America – where tragic events like 9/11, Hurricanes Katrina and Irene, and the shootings at Sandy Hook – seem to take place with alarming regularity.

“We want to make sure that our audience knows that Dwell is rooted in modern architecture and design, but that our voice is also part of the world that builds community after events like Sandy Hook,” she says.

In other words, architecture today has meaning beyond site, intent, inspiration, and materials. It also engenders behavior, and that’s a theme for the New York event.

“We want our readers come to the conference to get the vernacular to express themselves, and to understand what we’re saying when we build something,” she says. “That’s our entire mission.”

On a lighter note, there will also be tours of five homes – in Harlem, TriBeCa and the Meatpacking District, among other parts of town.

Because after all, this is Dwell.

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