Living Well is the Best

6.4.2008

By Japhy Grant

The Dwell on Design Conference, created by Dwell Magazine, comes roaring into L.A. today. Billing itself as 'The biggest design show in the West," the show features over 50 speakers, an exhibition hall filled with shiny, renewable sexy objects, parties and home tours of downtown lofts. If that didn't have you shouting 'fierce," one of the keynote speakers is queer designer and performance artist Fritz Haeg.

While Haeg has been a fixture of the Los Angeles queer scene for years, he's just beginning to get wider exposure. At the Whitney Biennial in New York this year, he debuted a work called 'Animal Estates," which created homes for wildlife that used to live on the Upper West Side. The piece also included a performance dance piece, because, well, dancing is pretty cool. You can see both in this video. (Until recently, Haeg lived in a geodesic dome where he would hold salons that were part happening, part artistic mentorship.)

Dwell brought on Haeg to talk about his art project, Edible Estates, which takes a typical L.A. front yard of grass and transforms it into a sustainable and public vegetable garden. Is it art? Is it social action? Is it a small step towards saving the planet? Yes, yes, yes.

Things have changed since Steel Magnolias proclaimed, "All gay men have track lighting" -- both for the gays and the track lighting. While there will always be a place for fabulous designers explaining how to accessorize your sofa (that place being HGTV), queer designers like Haeg are taking that same inventive spirit and applying it to a whole host of different design problems. Design is no longer about 'living pretty' so much as 'living well." Whether it's a 1948 Aero Saarinen womb chair, a V-8 engine, the density of an urban street or the light bulbs we buy, we live in a world full of design.

The Dwell on Design conference runs in various venues throughout L.A. til Sunday. Out.com readers get a free ticket to the exhibition by using the code BDODEC when they register.

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