5 design things to do this week: Oct 14 - 20

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An ancient stepwell in India, right (photo by Victoria Lautman), inspires designers today, including Vessel creator Thomas Heatherwick (image courtesy of Forbes Massie-Heatherwick Studio).

This week: Find out what L.A.'s urban landscape reveals to an artist/motorcycle designer; learn about India's mesmerizing stepwells at a show of Victoria Lautman's photographs; go to Palos Verdes for some fabulous wallpaper; see Brooks + Scarpa's visions for long term sustainable housing in Los Angeles; and celebrate P22, poster boy for efforts to save LA's mountain lions.

Door Of Hope, Acrylic on Linen / Conrad Leach 2019

1) When Art Meets Architecture

British artist and custom motorcycle designer Conrad Leach describes his series of paintings, FACADE, as "a study of  the complex personality of Los Angeles, seen through an outsider's lens" and finds it "both beautiful and melancholic, anachronistic and changeable." Leach will chat about the intersection of art, architecture and more with highly talented designer and SCI-Arc teacher Elena Manferdini, architectural realtor Crosby Doe and Joe Day of Deegan Day Design on Tuesday at The Loft at Liz's, above Liz's Antique Hardware on La Brea. 

When: Tuesday, Oct 15, 7 - 9 pm

Where: The Loft at Liz's, 453 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles 90036

Tickets: Free; call 310-927-0157 or click here for more information.

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2) India's Subterranean Stepwells: Photographs by Victoria Lautman

Necessity is the mother of invention and, sometimes, extraordinary architecture and engineering. Fascinating and beautiful, stepwells - built at least as early as 600 CE and unique to India - were subterranean water storage systems designed to collect water during the heavy rains of the monsoon season. Elaborate stairway networks plunged three to thirteen stories into the ground, providing access to water throughout the reservoir during the dry season. And they've inspired many designers since (see Thomas Heatherwick's Vessel at Hudson Yards or Charles Jencks' Garden of Cosmic Speculation.)  

For the past 30 years, Victoria Lautman has visited and photographed more than 200 stepwells. 48 photographs of 16 sites built between the 9th and 18th centuries are on show at the Fowler Museum. Lautman’s photographs present the stepwells as bustling sites of community gathering, as places of worship, as international tourist attractions, or  neglected, derelict sites. See it before it closes.

And to learn how stepwells are inspiring modern-day water infrastructure projects, go hear architect A. Mridul and artist/entrepreneur Shilpa Mridul discuss their 2009 project Birkha Bawarii, a stepwell built in a water-stressed township in Jodhpur. That's on Wednesday, Oct. 16 from 6-7 pm, with a reception following the program. Find details here.

When: Exhibition closes Oct 20. Remaining days Wednesday - Sunday.

Where: Fowler Museum at UCLA, 308 Charles E Young Dr N, Los Angeles 90024

Tickets: Free; click here for more information.

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3) Zuber: Two Centuries of Panoramic Wallpaper [Author Talk and Book Signing]

Walls don't have to be one flat color. There's always wallpaper -- and just how glorious it can be is on show at Palos Verdes Art Center. On the Surface: Wallpaper 1797 to the Present features historic samples of European, English, and American wallpaper designs, as well as contemporary reproductions of classic patterns. Many of the designs come from the company Zuber & Cie and this Saturday, Brian D. Coleman, author of Zuber: Two Centuries of Panoramic Wallpaper, will talk about the company and sign books.

When: Saturday, Oct 19, 1 - 3 pm

Where: Palos Verdes Art Center, 5504 W. Crestridge Rd. Rancho Palos Verdes 90275

Tickets: Free; click here for more information.

Nest is a kit of parts being offered online by Brooks + Scarpa Architects

4) Dense-City: Housing for Quality of Life and Social Capital

Access to affordable housing is LA's biggest challenge and many designers are offering solutions. Among them is Brooks + Scarpa, longtime builders of houses and housing that push the envelope in terms of design, fabrication and navigating LA's complex regulations and zoning. Now they are putting their work on display in DENSE-CITY: Housing for Quality of Life and Social Capitalan exhibition at 18th Street Arts Center's gallery at Santa Monica Airport.  The exhibition shows models, plans and images of two decades of projects including their latest, the NEST Toolkit, a prefab, modular housing system that they are sharing online as well as looking to develop with Plant Prefab, the factory that manufactures prefab LivingHomes. On November 12 there will be a public discussion about the issues raised, helmed by LA's Chief Design Officer Christopher Hawthorne. You can catch Lawrence Scarpa and Angela Brooks talking about NEST on this week's episode of DnA.

When: Opening night reception Saturday, Oct 19, 5 - 8 pm; Exhibition runs through Dec 14

Where: 18th Street Arts Center (Airport Campus), 3026 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica 90405

Tickets: Free; click here for more information.

Artwork by Phil Yarnell

5) P-22 Day Festival

In the concrete jungle of Los Angeles, life has become tough for the region's native mountain lions, who are kept from roaming and mating in the Santa Monica Mountains by obstructions like freeways (not to mention they are also vulnerable to poisoning). P22, a lion who miraculously made his way to Griffith Park, where he is now stuck for life, was photographed and became the poster boy for efforts to built the Liberty Canyon wildlife crossing over the 101 freeway in Agoura Hills. The multi-million dollar project will get some funding from Caltrans but much of it has to come from private donors. Enter P-22 Day Festival: a collection of lion-inspired art and other exhibits along with music, food and other activities. Check out DnA's coverage of the wildlife crossing.

When: Saturday, Oct. 19, 11 - 4 pm

Where: Griffith Park, Crystal Springs Drive (across from the Visitor's Center)

Tickets: Free; click here for more information.