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Dwell's editor in chief, Amanda Dameron, took center stage at the IBM Building for our Smarter Living series.

Oct 06, 2017

A Better Life Through Smart Design

Times are changing. As more of us embrace the values of urban living, we're re-evaluating the way we view our living spaces and what we really need to make us happy. We've realized that location is paramount and that many of us chose to live our lives beyond four walls.

Walking to the beach beats driving any day. Commuting to work on a bike over sitting traffic feels like the future. We may not actually need expansive living spaces to live a comfortable life at home. The key to happiness—well, at least the keys to less stress—may lay in our ability to appreciate quality over quantity, utilize smart design to make the most of a space, and take a more edited approach to our lives. With this change in mind, we launched our Smarter Living series. We're working with some of the brightest visionaries in smart design and outside-of-the-box thinking to reimagine the ways we consume and live. Through this series, we've recently hosted two influential visionaries—Amanda Dameron and Graham Hill—and their insights have forced us to re-think a variety of aspects of daily life and discuss how smarter design allows us to live sustainably, lessen stress, and places a premium on quality over quantity.

As a publication, Dwell has been a pioneer in the movement to spotlight sustainability and efficiency through smart design, and much of that is thanks to vision of the publication's editor, Amanda Dameron. According to Dameron, who gave a detailed and enlightening speech at Ward Village's IBM Building recently, by taking an edited approach to the things we consume and keep, we're able to live better, even in a smaller home.

"The trend we're seeing more of now is that homes are going smaller, we're using smart design to maximize space." Dameron is quick to point out that inventions like Murphy Beds serve as a perfect example of ways we can utilize smart design to transform a space. "Murphy Beds have come a long way over the years. You can have a very comfortable mattress that folds into your wall, transforming your bedroom into your office in the flick of a wrist. "Part of what we're trying to show at Dwell is that the more you can really dial it back to design thinking, using sustainable materials the better. All of this reinforces the notion that you don't have to buy big things and have a ton 'stuff' in order to be happy. Good design can go a long way."

As Dameron alluded, as more of us—specifically millennials— choose to live in smaller homes in cities, we're forced to reexamine huge parts of our lives. Urban communities like Ward Village offer us experiences, convenience, and life opportunities that we could never find in remote subdivisions. But with that life choice, many of us often choose to live in smaller apartments than four-bedroom homes. So just how far can smart design (along with taking an edited approach to your belonging) go? Understandably, the question of "Can I really be comfortable living in a 450-square-foot apartment will arise" and Dameron will be quick to point out that the answer is an enthusiastic "yes!"

"I lived in a 350-square-foot shack in Los Angeles for seven years and was great. My boyfriend at the time was a musician, and he had a lot of instruments and amps and wires and I have a lot of books. But we were able to have a really happy life in our environment by being very disciplined about what we chose to keep and bring in the house," says Dameron. "We were also really smart about what we acquired, and what we used. Now, I live in a 700-square-foot home in New York, and I have a family of four. I truly believe if you're measured and thoughtful about what you buy, and what you bring into your home, you can absolutely live well in a small space. One hundred percent!"

Famed designer and writer Graham Hill recently gave a speech at Ward Village touting smart design and the ways we can all live a well-edited life.

In 2011, noted entrepreneur, environmentalist, writer, and designer Graham Hill gave a Ted Talk that went viral. In just a few minutes, he was able to present a very compelling argument that a life well lived can be found through a life well edited. Hill, who lives in one of the most interesting and well-designed apartments New York City, has been able to maximize his 350-square-foot apartment to function as if it were a four-bedroom home. Yep, four bedrooms. Through smart design and room configurations, every square inch of his apartment has been maximized. If Hill wants to have six people over for dinner, that's not a problem. Overnight guests? No sweat. Through elements like sliding walls and Murphy Beds, even the smallest of apartments can be transformed. "I've always been interested in design. I'm always thinking about new ways to make something more efficient," says Hill. "Through smart design and a little ingenuity, you'd be amazed at what's possible."

Both Dameron and Hill agree that editing down your belongings is paramount. From a practical standpoint, the next time you're thinking about downsizing or organizing, ask yourself a simple question: Does this (fill in the blank) actually make me happy or is it just taking up space? While this approach won't help you organize your entire home over night, it's something that we can all do today to declutter our lives. At Ward Village, we're proud to support visionaries like Dameron and Hill who are literally rewriting the way we perceive the world through our Smarter Living series. The world is changing and instead of fighting it, we're happy to embrace it.

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