I stopped by Dwell on Design, a home design show sponsored by Dwell magazine at the Los Angeles Convention Center this weekend. This was the kind of event I expected to be really slow during the Great Recession. It cost $25 to get in and had a lot of cool, but pricey products on for sale, everything from $3,000 Ligne Roset arm chairs (and they are cool) to my bottle of Vitamin Water which cost $3.80 including tax (convention center pricing). There was actually a pretty decent-sized turnout.
The big hit seemed to the handful of prefab homes on display. Green Inc. is a Los Angeles company that makes dwellings out of converted shipping containers. That’s one of their homes above.
Modern-Shed makes the most stylish sheds you’ve ever seen. Like the Green Inc. structures, Modern-Shed’s products start at around $10,000. The company wisely positions them not as a hipper replacement for the $1,000 aluminum shed you could buy at Sears but as a low-cost addition to your home. While my wife and I liked that idea, my mother-in-law and niece didn’t seem to too keen on sleeping in the shed.
Also generating a lot of interest was a 400 square foot cottage made from reclaimed wood and other products. The cottage was very cool, kind of a cross between a shabby chic country house and the Unibomber’s cabin. It’s made by an Austin company called Reclaimed Space, which auctioned off that actual home on eBay. The winning bidder paid $75,000. I remember one of the staffers in the house saying that home typically sold for $60,000, although in this case half the proceeds went to Habitat for Humanity.
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.