MilkWeed: The Best Green at Dwell on Design

Dwell on Design at the Los Angeles Convention Center was back June 22-24, 2012 for its annual show – larger and better than ever. It’s quickly becoming the West Coast’s most vast modern home and outdoors design show and didn’t disappoint for 2012. I was headed there this year as an “expert” (they are so nice to title us that) for the Architect’s Newspaper, and after my duties were done I headed to my favorite part to stroll, the most lush and green part of the show: the Dwell Outdoor exhibit.

I’ll admit, there is something about all the real green under the florescent lights that I love. It feels so LA to me, and I spend my time wandering from exhibit to exhibit imagining my backyard with this pot or that plant or this outdoor lounging bed at my disposal. Always on the hunt for new pots and green enclosures, a few really caught my eye this year. And I’m saving the best for last – as it wasn’t even in Dwell Outdoor(!) – so keep reading.

The concrete-like curves of GreenForm planters and furniture are amazing organic shapes for your backyard. Made from 100% recyclable fiber cement, the give you a gentle, soft look out of “in-my-former-life-I-was-a-CMU” looking material. The Biasca planter (above left) caught my eye as it could be filled with succulents or ice and beverages for a backyard party, but it’s not even new. It was designed in 1952 by Willy Guhl and is still in production today. The Birdy (above right) was another piece that I’d love to hang up and even stick some air plants inside if my birds never show up.

So I guess I’m a sucker for interesting boxes. My favorites were these wall planters that prove just a little green goes a long way by Five Feet from the Moon in Santa Cruz. And my debut MilkWeed love affair with Gainey Ceramics was recharged when I came upon recent collaborations they did with Otis College of Art & Design. The Tri-Vessel (above right) debuted at Dwell Outdoor and is a three-piece modular fiberglass piece designed by Alison Tsztoo. I wonder if its pieces can be shifted like a puzzle, and can I get it in yellow?

I dream regularly of a lush Garden of Eden for my backyard where the bright color of flowering vines and ripe fruits is always within grasp. But alas my black thumb and dry climate thwarts me. So when I saw the above TerraTrellis’ bright structures in many shapes, sizes and color options – I knew I had found a better solution. Their color palette of hues in “petal, kumquat, berry, leaf, and aubergine” is all you need.

But the best pieces this year for a bit of green indoors or out I found literally outside of the Dwell Outdoor exhibit on my way to the exit. This row of objects literally made me stop in my tracks when I saw these planters out of the corner of my eye.

They are sculptural ceramic planters designed and made by bkb ceramics of Palm Dessert, California. With several series of planters inspired by architecture, origami and nature, each looks uniquely handmade and delicate – like it could just unfold or be reconfigured to a new shape or just blend in with the landscape.

The artist, Brian Bosworth, was there to explain the forms. Right now they are only sold in a few stores around Southern California or through the bkb ceramics website, but I have a feeling you’ll be seeing more of his creations online soon. My non-buyers remorse of not having picked up some for myself when I was at the show has already set in. I’m not sure I can wait until next year.

If you missed Dwell on Design this year, check out Design Milk for other coverage of the show and Dwell on Design Home Tours.

Kara Bartelt is a design strategist in practice at kara b. studio. Kara enjoys the design process on all scales via her architectural practice, Lettuce Office, or by creating botanical art with air plants, via toHOLD. She wishes at 11:11 each day at Kara writes the Design Milk column, MilkWeed.