Friday Cabins #36: Dwell Magazine Makes a House
A brief exploration of the implications of Dwell's new $390k prefab cabin
Happy Friday folks! We did it again. Here at Cabins Etc we're coming at you live with another Friday Cabins, a weekly newsletter highlighting neat cabins and cabin-adjacent content from around Mrs. Earth.
Here in the Big Apple, it seems Fall has arrived, and just in time for the Fall Equinox yesterday. Now's a great time to reflect on your proverbial harvest made in the last year, clean the house for Cozy Season hibernation, and of course, bake something with apples. Or just admire the changing leaves :)
Today we highlight and discuss a prefab cabin designed and manufactured by a comrade-in-arms, Dwell Magazine. After 20 years in the biz, and 18 years in the making, the Dwell House launched this week and is available for purchase for approximately $390,000. Read on and enjoy your weekend!
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In 2004, Dwell Magazine launched a competition to design a prefab home for $200,000 and the team constructed the winning design for a real family. Years passed, and the magazine waited until an appropriate time to launch its own. Now, with the advent of the pandemic spurring lifestyle changes, an ever-increasing need for affordable housing, and ADU laws loosening up, the iron is hot, and Dwell struck, launching the Dwell House just this week.
Working with designers Norm Architects and manufacturers, Abodu, the Dwell House is touted as "functional, not flashy." A thoughtful floor plan gathers utilities like kitchen appliances, storage, and mechanical along the long back wall of the house, opening up unhindered space for a living area, bedroom, and bathroom. A 12-foot folding glass wall and gabled roof also help to create some spaciousness, and cubbies and shelves provide additional hiding places for stuff.
Given Dwell's extensive network, the house also features premium cladding materials and bespoke features, like outdoor lighting from LA-based designers Ravenhill Studio (who’s founders made a really great sauna we’ve talked about before, btw).
In a press release, Editor-in-Chief William Hanley and CEO Zach Klein (of “Cabin Porn” fame) explain Dwell's mission is to help people make spaces that improve their lives, advocating for ADU's and prefab in the process. The House is their response, in part, to the affordability crisis.
As for the design, Hanley states, he's "so tired of blandinavian boxes," although the Dwell House does indeed, take on the appearance of a blandinavian box. This may be no fault to the designers, however, because prefab calls for a structure that can be constructed easily, assembled easily, and fit on a flat bed truck easily—and there's no better shape for that than the rectangle.
The Dwell House's exterior appearance is also fairly similar to the prefab cabins coming from order-a-cabin-online pioneers Manta North, whose interior floor-plans differ considerably. And before we admonish Dwell for some, er, striking similarities, there's only so much one can do with a rectangle, and even less that makes actual sense for actual people. And as the industry continues to grow, and more designs are produced, that "so much" is also shrinking.
In the end, the most significant takeaway from the launch is that the Dwell House signifies a major endorsement for prefab construction, period. Coming from a 23-year-old publication that has helped popularize some of the Western Design World’s most influential design trends and covered countless spaces and structures, it's a bold and telling move where the prefab industry may be headed—up. And into your backyard.
That’s all for today. Happy Fall! Go outside!