Minarc: The Gold-Standard in Modern Sustainable Design

Two Iceland natives are working to shake up the way people think about construction in the United States with their creative minimalist approach to architecture.

Due to the couple’s amazing creative spirit, there are no typical homes with Minarc, an architectural firm founded by Erla Dögg and her husband Tryggvi in 1999 and based in Santa Monica, CA.

Yet there’s a common earth-friendly theme, that less can, and should, be more in both new construction and remodeling.

“The whole industry is about using less,” said Tryggvi in an interview with House Tipster during the Meet the Architects portion of the Dwell on Design show held June 23-25 in Los Angeles, CA.

Whether they are designing a residential, commercial, or public setting, the firm is known for its careful choice of materials, such as the absence of paint, tiles, and carpeting.

“We brought a lot of things from Iceland and our upbringing to our work,” Erla told House Tipster.

Their hallmark is designing homes to be energy conscious, which means less air-conditioning and more natural features like cross-ventilation. Their holistic and environmentally aware approach to home design is aimed at eliminating waste during construction.

Sending a Message

But this couple is also known for making a statement about the environment in their designs.

Take the GRASSsit barstools they sat on during this interview. Blanketed with synthetic turf for the look of green grass, the chairs highlight the waste that happens when schools replace this turf on their athletic fields every few years.

A TV show about a rubber mountain of old tires in California sparked other ideas, leading up to the rubber sink they first experimented with in their own home.

“Since then we have numerous clients using it, and everyone seems to be liking it,” Tryggvi said.

Minarc has won numerous awards and accolades for its use of innovative materials and sustainable practices. For its founders, the work is all about having fun and sending a message that makes others think about the environment.

“That’s our directive – to educate people, and have people understand,” he said.

Always taking the needs and desires of clients into consideration, Minarc can create a traditional country cottage or that modern dream house.

Ultra-modern is how folks are describing two of its projects, the Sherbourne Residence, located in Culver City, CA, and the Drexel home situated in the Hollywood Hills, chosen to be showcased during Dwell on Design’s annual Home Tours event in June.

These properties aren’t just eco-friendly and ultra-modern, they were also hand-selected by Dwell, a magazine devoted to the art and function of contemporary design as a representation of its brand.

Holistic-Building: It’s Important

We love how Minarc incorporates holistic-building practices into all of their builds and renovations, from small residences to large-scale commercial properties. These are just some of the ways they put thought—and heart—into their creations.

  • Using natural light whenever possible. This translates into big windows, which means a great transition from the inside to the outside.
  • Focusing on outdoor living spaces. This is another way to bring the inside out and vice versa. The less time you spend indoors, the less energy you’re using.
  • Choosing eco-friendly materials. Say goodbye to chemical-laden carpets and inorganic tiles. Instead, Minarc helps you find materials that are locally sourced or recycled such as reclaimed wood, recycled tires, and renewable woods like walnut or ipe.
  • Incorporating modern design principles. Clean lines and functional spaces are intentional yet simple.

Regardless of whether you’re building new construction or renovating, you may want to consider using some of these holistic-building ideas in your own home.

Action-Packed Days 2 & 3 at Dwell on Design 2017

Dwell on Design 2017, an annual event showcasing the best in modern architecture, design, and technologies, featured an array of 200+ vendors, guest speakers, continuing education, thought sessions, and more. And our House Tipster team was on-site throughout the event looking for the trends that matter to YOU.

After Day 1’s exciting start, we were beyond pumped to wake up and meet and greet even more exhibitors on the floor of the Los Angeles Convention Center for Days 2 and 3 of the weekend-long event.

Remember how we mentioned how passionate the brand representatives, designers, and architects were on Day 1? Well, things didn’t change much throughout the rest of the event. The common consensus here is that everyone at Dwell on Design cares an awful lot about modern design.

All the vendors had great products they wanted to share with the world, but here are some that stood out to us, and we think you’ll love them too!

Jonathan Brill: Infinity Drain

Infinity Drain, a drain company based out of New York, is the brainchild of Jonathan Brill. And boy, does Jonathan appreciate a good drain! Since 2009, he’s been designing and overseeing the fabrication of his line of American-made drains.

But these aren’t just any drains. Infinity Drain specializes in shower, pool, and balcony drains with linear and center-based designs. What sets Jonathan’s company apart from others is the site-sizeable install, meaning that everything is cut to size right then and there.

If you’re looking for a complete shower system, Infinity Drain handles that too. In collaboration with USG Durock, the entire system takes only 90 minutes to install and includes drains, waterproof floor and walls, and all shower accessories.

For a sleek, streamlined drain, go “linear” with Infinity Drain.

Dondi & Kris: Marvin Doors

Marvin Windows and Doors makes every window and door to order out of their Warroad, Minnesota home. Thankfully, Dondi and Kris, representatives from Marvin Doors were eager to talk with us about their entire contemporary line.

Regardless of where people live, it seems like everyone, everywhere is looking to incorporate modern design elements into their homes — and one of the easiest ways to do this is by upgrading the windows and doors.

According to Kris, social media has standardized the styles homeowners are looking for, meaning that what’s popular in California may also jive in Minnesota, Maine, and Florida. Of course, there are regional preferences, but advances in material technology have made glass styles available to anyone, even if you live in sub-zero temperatures!

Basically, no matter where you live, people want glass, including bigger windows and doors. If you’re dying to bring the outdoors inside (like so many of us, nowadays), then think about adding more glass to your home with Marvin Doors.

Robert Lemke & Kate Weiss: Saroyan

Robert Lemke, vice president at Saroyan in Huntington Park, CA, presented us with some great information on the hardwood molding and flooring created by this 70-year-old company.

In fact, all of Saroyan’s hardwoods, from ash to douglas fir, mahogany, maple, and even European white oak, are manufactured at their facilities in California, Kentucky, and Indiana. Aside from their natural hardwoods, Saroyan also creates engineered hardwoods.

We definitely like our parquet here at House Tipster, so you know we flipped when we got a chance to browse Saroyan’s popular parquet panel line. It comes in a variety of sizes, colors, and woods, providing that perfectly unique classic European-look.

Saroyan produces a great product, whether you’re interested in lumber, moldings, or custom millwork.

Lisa Kruger & Ryan Hughes: Stepstone

Dwell-veterans Lisa Kruger and Ryan Hughes feel at home representing their 60-year-old Los Angeles-based concrete company, Stepstone. While you may not have ever given two thoughts about precast concrete, it’s everywhere, and you definitely need it!

Stepstone’s a cut above the rest because all their products are completely cast and finished by hand. We couldn’t help but love how excited Lisa was about the entire production experience. Unlike other similar companies, employees at Stepstone are given some creative liberties during the manufacturing process. How cool is that?

You’re bound to fall in love with Stepstone’s Linearity Series, including their popular Diamond Pavers which are more durable than traditional pavers and come in several sizes, patterns, and colors.

Jeremiah Rice: Sun Valley Bronze

You can browse Sun Valley Bronze’s website all you want, but you’re going to have to visit a showroom to get your hands on some of their stunning products. Jeremiah Rice from Sun Valley Bronze gave us the inside scoop on his family-owned and operated business, which has been in operation since 1992.

Everything made by Sun Valley Bronze, from kitchen and bath accessories to door handles and hinges are sand-cast in Sun Valley, Idaho. They work with white bronze, silicone bronze, and the ever-popular brass. According to Jeremiah, people are raving about Sun Valley Bronze’s brass products. Another popular product is the barn-track sliding door hardware, which is durable and can handle a door weighing up to 700 pounds.

Regardless of what material you choose, the products you get from this special company are truly refined. Most touch around 50 pairs of hands before reaching the end-user.

Paul, Derick, & Carlos: Wickham Hardwood Flooring

Lastly, we chatted it up with Paul, Derick, and Carlos from Wickham Hardwood Flooring of Canada. Just recently, Wickham partnered with California Granite & Flooring to break into the US’ West Coast market, and they were definitely enthusiastic to be here at Dwell on Design.

Wickham manufactures both solid and engineered hardwoods, featured in four main collections. Their premier line, “Mountain Home Collection,” is hand-scraped and finished in natural hardwoods. If you decide to go the engineered hardwood route, rest assured you’re getting a great product with a Baltic birch core with a 4mm veneer.

As a bonus, since everything is hand-made, no two Wickham Hardwood Flooring planks are alike.

We know you have lots of new brands and products to explore after this action-packed day.

Dwell on Design: Everything Outdoors

Outdoor spaces are a source of pride for many homeowners. Whether you’re working on a small patio or acres upon acres of open land, spending time making your outdoors area “beautiful” is both therapeutic for your soul and great for the overall aesthetics of your property.

If you’re looking to spruce up your outdoor space, particularly a garden area or your landscaping, then you’re in good company. Homeowners are spending more money every year on landscaping, including growing and mowing grass, installing and maintaining sprinklers, adding trees and other plants, and installing fences and other outdoor structures.

House Tipster is thrilled to attend Dwell on Design and talk to some of the most trusted, trendiest outdoor-focused companies in the industry in order to bring the latest and greatest innovations to you. These are just a handful of the many companies headed to the event.

Outdoor Building Materials

Since they’re exposed to the elements, the materials you use to build outdoors are oftentimes different from those you use indoors. After all, you want to avoid issues like mold and mildew at all costs.

We really love the sustainable wood offered by Humboldt Redwood. It’s the perfect material to build structures like pergolas and decks, while also resisting many types of pests. Aesthetics are important, especially when you’re using building materials that will be seen by your family and houseguests, which is why it’s definitely worth taking a look at Humboldt Redwood’s entire line of quality wood products.

Photo courtesy of Humboldt Redwood

Carpet and even some hardwoods may not be the best flooring option for your outdoor space, especially if you expect a lot of traffic. For a consistently cool-to-the-touch ground or wall cover, take a look at the ceramic, brick, and other tile options offered by the Los Angeles-based retailer,  ARTO. The collections sold at ARTO vary depending on your preferred tastes, from simple glazed brick to the elaborate designs of the Coachella line.

Photo courtesy of Humboldt ARTO

For fencing, look no further than DEACERO USA’s Designmaster Fence line. Made of 100% recycled steel, these fences are super-strong and include a non-toxic powder coating.  If you need a fence but are worried about health and environmental factors, this is a solid option to consider.

Photo courtesy of DEACERO USA Designmaster Fence

By focusing on a product’s quality, what it’s made of, and how it was sourced, you’ll ensure you’re getting the best materials for your outdoor space.

Aesthetic Touches

Don’t forget to also include a few special, little touches to truly make your space unique to you. Dwell on Design features many artists and designers, but these brands really stand out for their innovations and focus on modern design and materials.

Ahhh, the smell of a campfire. If you’re anything like me, then this scent evokes childhood memories. To relive the magic, try adding a modern fire pit from Spark Modern Fires. Our entire team at House Tipster is completely obsessed with the Outdoor Fire Cubes, which can fit virtually anywhere.

Photo courtesy of Spark Modern Fires

We can’t get enough of gardens and landscaping decorated with color and a touch of flair. Design Collaborations designed these super-trendy LED light poles to illuminate your walkways. Oh, and their hand-blown glass rain chains? We’re absolutely in love.

Photo courtesy of Design Collaborations

If simplicity is more your “thing”, consider concrete touches around your outdoor living space. Concrete is not only a versatile building material, it’s also considered eco-friendly and is useable to other products besides building. Settlewell creates unique yet simple concrete pots, perfect for your flowers, dwarf fruit trees, and more. These straight-sided pots are a nice take on the modern, clean lines found on many product lines at Dwell on Design.

Photo courtesy of Settlewell

And the list of phenomenal outdoor products that we’re going to see at Dwell on Design goes on and on.

You’re probably eager to get started browsing the product pages of some of these amazing companies and products (we DEFINITELY don’t blame you). For more information on uniquely modern design features, keep up with our ongoing coverage of Dwell on Design 2017.

Dwell on Design: Green Building Materials

Close your eyes and imagine your dream home. If you’re thinking about vast open spaces, floor-to-ceiling windows that allow a surge of natural light in, solar panels galore, and an ample outdoor living space, then you’re in good company.

Today, we can’t get enough of “green” building. From eco-friendly materials to nature-inspired designs, green building is now more popular than ever before. In fact, more than half of all potential homebuyers say energy efficiency and green building practices are important to them in the search for their next homes.

At House Tipster, we hear you loud and clear. We know you’re dying to get the latest news on innovative technologies, safe and sustainable building materials, and ideal floor plans for your own “green” home.

That’s one of the reasons we’re headed to Dwell on Design this weekend — to check out some of latest sustainable building trends. But did you know that there are over 200 exhibitors at the event? That means there will be a ton of vendors to interview to help you find the perfect “greenness” to add to your home.

Here are just a few companies and products to keep your eyes on if you’re looking to ramp up your home’s green features.

Going Green: Exteriors

Building with green materials isn’t difficult, especially if you’re “in the know” of some of the latest and greatest in green building materials.

Let’s start by talking about wood. After all, wood seems like it would be one of the first things you think about when deciding to “go green.” Unfortunately, many of our favorite woods like teak and cherry are not always harvested sustainably. To avoid purchasing unsustainable woods, look no further than Humboldt Redwood. You can use Humboldt Redwood for anything from your exposed beams to building frames. Best of all, their products are Forest Stewardship Council certified, meaning you can rest assured that they’re grown and harvested sustainably.

Photo courtesy of Humboldt Redwood

When it comes to building, wood is just the tip of the iceberg. You can also use aluminum.  AL 13 Architectural Systems’ aluminum composite panels are hearty enough to stand up to the elements, and they’re also made of one of the most easily recycled materials on the market.

Photo courtesy of Architectural Systems

Along the same lines, Barema European Windows and Doors manufactures their creations out of aluminum as well. These windows and doors grace the highest-quality modern homes throughout Los Angeles and beyond.

Photo courtesy of Barema European Windows and Doors

And then we come to home barriers, which aren’t necessarily “sexy” but they’re a necessary part of any home build. Henry Blueskin vapor barriers and liquid flashing contain fewer chemicals than other brands, while still maintaining the same level of effectiveness.

Photo courtesy of Henry Blueskin

Going Green: Interiors

It’s just as important to be “green” inside as it is outside, for both personal health and environmental reasons.

To this day, some paints still contain VOCs and are unhealthy to breathe in, especially if you have young children. Avoid these chemicals and instead use products that are better for you and your family. For starters, try Dunn-Edwards Corporation paints. When you’re working with Dunn-Edwards paints, you know you’re using the best of the best. Not only is the paint the highest quality, but they produce it in the world’s only LEED Gold-certified manufacturing plant. If you want to avoid VOCs altogether, use the Dunn-Edwards Spartazero interior line of low odor/VOC-free paint.

Photo courtesy of Dunn-Edwards Corporation

If paint isn’t your forte, test out some other wall coverings from Archoterra. All their veneers and papers are created from recycled paper and bonding ages. Plus, they’re eco-friendly and come in a variety of styles to satisfy any design taste out there.

Photo courtesy of Archoterra

Natural stone checks most of the boxes of environmental-friendliness and are a must-have in green homes. Two stone importers located in the LA-area plan to be at Dwell on Design to showcase their products. Ollin International Imports offers some of rarest natural stones from around the world.

Photo courtesy of Ollin International Imports

Along the same lines, we’re also impressed by the natural stone selection and other surface options offered by  Stoneville USA, Inc.

Photo courtesy of Stoneville USA, Inc.

Green building has never been easier thanks to the many environment-focused products on the market. The best part? They’re designed to make your home work better for you, your family, and the planet.

Dwell on Design: The Ultimate Modern Design Showcase

Modern design: It’s a style we can’t get enough of here at House Tipster. We find sleek lines, clean spaces, and purposeful material selection both breathtakingly beautiful AND functional. It’s a style that appeals across many spectrums, whether you’re young or old, swimming in money or just your average Joe.

And when we learned that Dwell, the modern design inspiration powerhouse, was hosting another Dwell on Design event, we knew that there’s no way we could miss it. Why? Because modern matters to YOU as a homeowner. We know you love the stylistic features of modern design as much as we do and we want to keep you informed on all the current and emerging trends that will transform our spaces in the future.

Dwell on Design begins June 22, but here’s what you need to know about the event before our “official” coverage begins.

About Dwell & Dwell on Design

Today’s modern design pieces, from furniture and light fixtures to actual, physical homes and buildings, are based on mid-century modern trends that went mainstream in the 1950s and 1960s. Since then, the concept behind modern design hasn’t changed much (after all, we’re still swooning over those strategic yet simple finishes) but technology has completely altered our options.

Dwell, a magazine and online resource devoted to all things modern, is the ultimate source if you’re an enthusiast of modern design looking to browse and learn about the trend.

Their annual expo, hosted in the Los Angeles Convention Center, brings together the brightest and most creative minds to showcase and learn about the progression of modernity. The 2017 Dwell on Design event kicks off on the evening of June 22 and lasts through June 25.

House Tipster & Dwell on Design

A select team from House Tipster is headed to Dwell on Design to find the best, most innovative and unique trends and bring the information back to you.

We’re interested in learning about the most energy-efficient lighting options, the best outdoor living designs, and the neatest functional decor. These are some of the happenings of Dwell on Design and how we plan to cover it for you, our readers.


With over 200 exhibitors at Dwell on Design, one could virtually spend all their time on the convention floor.

Booths feature every aspect of modern design, from international design concepts and renowned architects to furniture and accessories, home technology, and so on.

We’ll be interviewing representatives from our favorite exhibits to give you glimpse into their vision and how it may work for you.

Home Tours & ‘Meet the Architects’ Night

Southern California is THE place to find modern architecture. From brand-new construction to modern prefab and restored mid-century gems, you’ll find it all in and around Los Angeles.

Luckily, attendees of Dwell on Design can visit some of these spectacular homes first-hand through the Home Tours option. House Tipster will attend the Home Tour’s kickoff event, “Meet the Architects,” on the evening of June 22. There, we’ll learn about the thought process behind the design and builds of the 10 homes featured on the tour. Then, we’ll travel to the houses found in Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, the East Side, and Hollywood Hills on June 24 and 25.

It’s a great opportunity to see the trends in action and bring it all back to our audience.

Sessions, Guest Speakers & Continuing Education

An important part of the conference is the learning and education aspect. In fact, the first day (June 23) is reserved for design professionals and retailers only.

We’ll hear from Martyn Lawrence Bullard, designer to the stars, whose work has been in over 4,000 publications, as well as Sir David Adjaye, reclaimed architect and the brains behind the design of the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum of African American History and Culture.

In a series of sessions, speakers from all industry niches including product design, building, and marketing will be there to talk about their ideas and experiences in the field.

Stay Tuned for More

Stay connected with House Tipster via our our Facebook feed and press page as we go behind the scenes at Dwell on Design and bring you the latest information related to modern design.