What’s My Line | 259 | How to Create and Take a Design Product Line to Market



Resetting the scene for you, the WestEdge Design Fair was held, as it is every year, at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica. These conversations were held in the Convo By Design Programming Lounge with custom designs from John McClain, Studio Akiko, Isbell Interiors and Julia Wong Designs. This conversation was transformative for a number of reasons. Interior designers, many if not most, want a line to call their own. That signature line not only creates an opportunity to do business outside of the design studio but it is considered by many to be a legacy proposition, something that extends beyond the design work.

As such, I wanted you to hear from power players in the space, and you are about to hear that conversation featuring Sue Firestone of SFA Design, Arch Interiors, Christopher Grubb, photographer, Gray Malin, designer Xander Noori, and designer Leslie Shapiro Joyal. This group was expertly questioned by journalist and editor, Alex Abramian. This group brings some serious firepower. Enjoy and be inspired.


Sweeten Your Design | 258 | Jean Brownhill



You listen to Convo By Design for a few reasons, I have been told, and 2 of those reasons are to find inspiration and hear the stories of designers, architects, futurists and creators responsible for the direction of design in So Cal and beyond. I have an amazing guest in Architect, founder and CEO of Sweeten, Jean Brownhill.

Brownhill’s story is a complex one full of long shots  successes and uphill battles. A women who is disrupting the construction space by attempting a massive change in the way the business is done. I want you to know that I use the word “disrupting” carefully and with purpose. Because that word has become overused with regard to business changing the status quo and because simply changing something isn’t enough, it has to be positive change or what’s the point? 

Brownhill is addressing some common issues and attacking those issues with thoughtful strategy available via Sweeten, a company that matches clients with vetted contractors in a transparent ecosystem that incentivizes the trade to remain on good terms and Sweeten is compensated through commissions on work transacted within that ecosystem. While I have not experienced the service myself, I like the idea because it provides all parties with positive motivating factors for doing things the right way. That would make Brownhill and Sweeten a truly disrupting company. And regardless of how you feel about that idea, what cannot be denied is that a woman… of color… an architect… in  the construction space… who has raised millions of dollars in VC funding… does make Jean Brownhill a unicorn. She is one of very few, this is her story.

Convo By Design is presented by Walker Zanger….A remarkable company and an equally remarkable design partner.  While the Walker Zanger brand was built on the promise to inspire designers and architects to do their best work, there is far more to it than that. Yes, that promise is fulfilled everyday through a commitment to provide the best ceramic, glass, stone, porcelain, quartz and concrete surfaces and finishes but at the heart of this is a family owned and operated business that provides stunning surfaces for a well designed home.  Walker Zanger started in 1952 and they are absolutely one of the best trade partners a designer can have. Check out their newest collaborative line with designer Pietta Donovan. A collection of Cement and Ceramic tiles inspired by the the patterns and colorways of the 1970’s and created with a comfortable modernity. Walker Zanger is on the cutting edge of design featuring products for every style and architectural feel you can create and they provide homeowners with the materials that dream kitchens and baths are made of. Check out any of their 14 showrooms across the country or shop online, Walker Zanger dot com.

That is a wrap on this episode of Convo By Design featuring Jean Brownhill, this was recorded at the WestEdge Design Fair in Santa Monica in October 2019. Thank you for the time Jean, thank you Walker Zanger for your generous support of the show and of course, thank you for listening. Without you, there is no Convo By Design!  Until next week, keep creating.


Beautiful Together | 257 | Product Partnerships Designed to Succeed



Every week, you and I go on this journey through the inner workings of the business of design and architecture together. Actually, that’s not completely accurate, it’s not just the business, it is the inner workings of a big complex machine of which the business is an integral part but certainly not the entirety of what we talk about every week. The very DNA of this world is design and architecture. Within that are many detailed and complex inner workings that aren’t always what they seem. I had an opportunity at the WestEdge Design Fair to sit and talk with some people of whom I am extremely fond. They include New Zealand born, Brooklyn based interior and product designer, Pietta Donovan and Walker Zanger Marketing Director, Erika Egede-Nissen. We talked about partnerships.

I get asked about this subject quite often and discuss it on the show equally often, what makes a good partnership between designers, showrooms and manufacturers? What is the best way to approach a line of products while trying to both hit a spot in the market, maintaining brand identity while simultaneously breaking new ground and being innovative. All these things are difficult to do in isolation but combined in a product launch. It’s hard, it’s complex but is also something that is best done in a collaborative framework. You don’t know when I was recording this intro and it’s immaterial to the point of the story but today I had a conversation with a showroom manager and their director of showrooms who was in from out of town. I was explaining how Los Angeles is different than New York, and how we are different compared to Houston, Dallas, Miami and Chicago. Of course we are, and those differences are not just regional, local or national. Design today is all about making our spaces truly unique to us as opposed to making our spaces exactly like the projects found in the trade publications. Listen, as the associate publisher and online editor for Modern Luxury Interiors California Magazine, I see the challenges the industry faces when trying to differentiate themselves from everyone else. Manufacturers, showrooms, designers and architects all face those very same challenges. You listen to the show, and if your new, welcome, you’ll be up to speed very quickly, I believe in brand, differentiation, innovation and that the true value of design lies in the talent of the individuals who create. Today, I offer a story that will touch on all of the above. The collaboration, partnership, innovation, promotion and execution is based on a few universal truths.

Nobody does this alone, you need others to help you succeed
Luck is something earned by working hard so that you are in the right place at the right time
More is learned by listening than by speaking
True mastery is displayed through application than description, in other words, show me, then tell me.

Todays story is told in two parts, first with Pietta and Erika. They are going to explain the anatomy of this unique and special partnership. Following that, you’ll hear from Jonathan Zanger and his perspective on the same subject.


The Christopher Kennedy Compound in Turlock, CA | 256 | Hosted By Nancy Russert of Les Beaux



Design houses are one of the elements unique to interior design and architecture. It’s like our version of the runway show in fashion, or the car show in the auto industry. Christopher Kennedy has become quite adept at ideating the design house and executing them. Christopher is a regular fixture in Palm Springs during Modernism Week and you have heard about some of those here on the podcast and even seen some of the interviews on our YouTube channel.  As a side note, before I started the podcast, I produced a design house in Hollywood I called Small Space, Big Style and Christopher was a featured designer on the project. He masterfully designed a 70’s inspired living room and was an absolute pleasure to work with. So when I heard that Christopher was creating a design house in Central California, I really wanted to cover it for you.

I had another idea at the time, I wanted to assign this project to someone who could cover its from a designer’s perspective so I reached out good friend, previous guest and fabulous design talent, Nancy Russert of Les Beaux and Twist Custom to go and see this project. She did, and in the process, created what is really a travel journal to the Central California Valley City of Turlock, definitely NOT a hotbed of design to see this project.

Convo By Design is presented by Walker Zanger….A fantastic company and an equally dependable design partner.  While the Walker Zanger brand was built on the promise to inspire designers and architects to do their best work, there is far more to it than that. Yes, that promise is fulfilled everyday through a commitment to provide the best ceramic, glass, stone, porcelain, quartz and concrete surfaces and finishes but at the heart of this is a family owned and operated business that provides stunning surfaces for a well designed home. Walker Zanger started in 1952 and they are absolutely one of the best trade partners a designer can have. Check out their newest collaborative line with designer Pietta Donovan. A collection of Cement and Ceramic tiles inspired by the the patterns and colorways of the 1970’s and created with a comfortable modernity. Walker Zanger is on the cutting edge of design featuring products for every style and architectural feel you can create and they provide homeowners with the materials that dream kitchens and baths are made of. Check out any of their 14 showrooms across the country or shop online, Walker Zanger dot com.

This is Nancy Russert starting off where most good travel stories begin, the airport. #Design #Interiors #MidCenturyModern #NancyRussert


Your Canvas for Outdoor Memories | 255 | Creating Memory Making Spaces for Outdoor Living



This is the time of year when many here in California are starting to think about getting back outside. It was cold for a week or two, we got a little rain to clean off the dust from the Santa Ana winds and now it’s time to start thinking about making new outdoor memories. For that, we are going back to the WestEdge Design Fair for a conversation called, Your Canvas for Outdoor Memories presented by Urban Bonfire and featuring; Patty Dominguez, VP of National Sales at Cosentino, Annette Reeves, lifestyle advisor for Pirch and designer, Cesar Giraldo. If you have listened to the show for a while, you know Cesar. This panel was moderated by Urban Bonfire President and Co-Founder, Ryan Bloom.

You are going to hear about collaboration, inspiration, design and putting it all together for a space that is a canvas for creating your outdoor memories. Enjoy this conversation, by design. A note, if you haven’t already please subscribe to the podcast everywhere you find your favorite shows, check out our videos form conversations like this one and engage via the socials. Can’t wait to hear from you and if your’e a designer with a story to tell, email me directly ConvoByDesign@Outlook.com.

#ConvoByDesign #WalkerZanger #Pirch #CesarGiraldo #UrbanBonfire #WestEdgeDesignFair #OutdoorDesign #InsideOut


Epic Spaces & Favorite Places | 254 | Bringing Inspiration Home



This is a conversation from the WestEdge Design Fair called Epic Spaces and Favorite Places… Here’s the idea… Online access has made the world a smaller place. It has brought us closer together and created the opportunity to see amazing things in wonderful and far away places. For some, that’s just not good enough. Travel, treasure hunting and using that as inspiration to create magnificent spaces is their true desire. This is a conversation about amazing places in exotic places and bringing it home moderated by USModernist.Org founder George Smart and featuring, Assembledge+ David Thompson, Massimo Buster Minale from Buster and Punch, interior designers Alison Pickart and John McClain and Fettle’s Tom Parker. This is a great chat about design, inspiration, travel and putting it together in pursuit of epic spaces!
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#design #inspiration #travel #Assembledge+ #BusterandPunch #JohnMcClain #AlisonPickart #USModernist


Build Your Design Brand | 253 | The Firm Upgrade Master Class



This is a panel conversation from the WestEdge Design Fair called The Firm Upgrade, part of the Brand Development Series. It featured journalist, Alex Abramian, Project M+ Cleo Muranane, Designer Jeff Andrews and Xander Noori’s, Keon Khajavi-Noori. This conversation is about growing your design or architecture firm’s brand, your profile, doing more, doing better and increasing the productivity of your brand development, an afterthought for many creators. This is the whole conversation and it covers many of the questions you probably asked yourself before working on your resolutions for 2020.  Get off to a fast start… It starts here. This conversation was hosted by yours truly and I do hope you enjoy it.

Thank you for the time, Alex, Cleo, Keon and Jeff and thank you for listening, downloading, subscribing, emailing and coming out to our events. Without you, there is no Convo By Design. Please follow the podcast on Instagram, ConvoXDesign with and “X” and make sure you subscribe everywhere you find your favorite podcasts. That way, you will receive new episodes on your mobile device the moment they are published.

Convo By Design is presented by Walker Zanger.

Until next week, keep creating.

#WestEdgeDesignFair #ConvoByDesign #BrandDevelopment #XanderNoori #JeffAndrews #CleoMurnane #AlexAbramian #WalkerZanger


Martyn Lawrence Bullard | 252 | Designer, Traveler, Storyteller & Luminary



This is the seventh year of Convo By Design and I can tell you, this will be the most adventurous yet. Starting off strong in 2020, I want to share with you, the time I spent with designer, Martyn Lawrence Bullard. You know Martyn so I’m not going to go on with the big fluffy intro, instead, I want to tell you some things that you might not know…

Martyn is a major personality, that you already know. But did you know that he is a television producer and an actor? Sure, you’ve seen him on Million Dollar Decorators and Entertainment Tonight but did you he was on The Young and the Restless? True, he also has a passion for Hollywood, theater and set design. This explains a great deal about his theatrical design. Martyn loves to travel and he has recently designed a new boutique hotel in West Hollywood called, The Prospect. A project in which he shares his love for both old Hollywood and exotic destinations. Check out his remarkable hospitality design and listen to this episode… you will hear his design philosophy explained. Martyn and I met at his showroom on Melrose to talk about his participation in LCDQ’s Legends event.  He opened this store in 2017 and it is already a must-see destination on Melrose. We also discuss his window design, production of his eponymous design line and so much more. This is designer, producer, actor, traveler… Martyn Lawrence Bullard.

Convo By Design is presented by a fabulous design partner, Walker Zanger. Visit any of their 14 beautiful showrooms across the country or visit them online. www.walkerzanger.com.

#MartynLawrenceBullard #InteriorDesign #LCDQLA #ConvoByDesign #WalkerZanger #Hollywood


Design Destinations | 251 | The Beautiful Year That Was



2019 was an amazing year for me personally and professionally. A breakthrough year, really. Convo By Design was recorded from the home studio, sure, but we were on the road as well. These design road trips took me, and you all over Southern California, Arizona and Nevada.

We started with a trip to Las Vegas for the 2019 edition of KBIS. If you haven’t been to KBIS before, a word of advice, wear comfortable shoes. This is one of the biggest design focused events I have attended. I must have walked 4 miles a day and seen every new kitchen and bath product known to man. I talked to so many amazing people. I wanted to share my chat with Billy Peele with Mockett. This is a small Southern California company with some creative architectural solutions for age old design challenges. I thought you might enjoy hearing about this…

1. Billy Peele of Mockett

From Vegas, it was off to Modernism Week in Palm Springs. I had the chance to catch up with a ton of remarkable and creative people and this year, I had the honor of recording from the SIA (Save Iconic Architecture) Party at the Cary Grant Estate. Catching up with some old friends and making some new ones. Here’s what that sounded like. First with long time friend of the show, Patrick Dragonette. Patrick was the president of the LaCienega Design Quarter and owner of Dragonette, LTD. His showroom in said design district. We covered a lot of ground here,

2. Patrick Dragonette

Next was a fun chat with Ron Woodson and Jamie Rummerfield, the creative and intellectual force behind Woodson & Rummerfeilds House of Design and co-founders of SIA.

3. and 4. Ron Woodson and Jamie Rummerfield 2

If that wasn’t enough, I had the chance to catch up with Peter Gurski, interior designer and set decorator, responsible for the look of Will & Grace.

5. Peter Gurski

Finally, it was off to El Paseo for an amazing afternoon at the Cambria Surfaces showroom. Here are a few of the highlights including;

6. Adele Cygelman talking about her book about noted designer, Arthur Elrod.

7. Dann Foley

Before I left Modernism Week, I had to make a stop by the Christopher Kennedy Compound. I spoke with Christopher about the project this year.

8. Christopher Kennedy

This was so much fun and was the very first Design Influencer Group meeting. The Design Influencer & Innovator Group as its now known is series of events that include designers, architects and others from the design and architecture space for the purpose of networking in a meaningful way, sharing information and helping each other do better work while making more for that work. A novel concept, right?

Since that first gathering in Palm Springs last January, over 70 creatives have participated and shared their expertise. This is Kristi Nelson from an event at the Tidelli showroom in the pacific Design Center

9. Kristi Nelson

10. Micehelle Salz-Smith

11. Gary Gibson

These DIG events are so much fun, and incredibly rewarding… Speaking of rewarding, the Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts was fantastic this year. This was my third year covering the Pasadena Showcase, here is a clip.

12. Robert Frank

The LaCienega Design Quarter’s LEGENDS event was blast this year. I had the chance to interview 38 of the 43 designers who crafted some of the astounding showroom windows. I actually rode my bike between LaCienega from Santa Monica Blvd to Melrose by the PDC, almost got hit about 5 times and covered about 80 miles during the week. Earlier in this episode, you heard Patrick Dragonette mention some of the amazing designers, here they are…

13. Alex Papachristidis

14. Jeff Andrews

15. Peti Lau

16. Nicole Fuller

So much fun, I truly loved Legends this year! This brings us to the home stretch of 2019, WestEdge Design Fair where Convo By Design was, once again the presenting sponsor of the Programming Lounge. A full 3 days of panels, keynotes and elevated conversations. over 65 creatives, 15 panels and 20 hours of programming in a space designed by Nicolette Akiko of Studio Akiko, John McClain of John McClain Designs and Kevin Isbell of Kevin Isbell Interiors.You will hear all of these in 2020. Here is a little bit from the Convo By Design Programming Lounge at the WestEdge Design Fair…

17. Jean Brownhill

18. Breegan Jane

19. Ryan Saghian

20. Timothy Corrigan

That is a wrap in this episode of Convo By Design featuring clips from the design events of 2019. Thank you to the fine folks at KBIS, Modernism Week, LCDQ, SIA, Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts, the Design Influencer and Innovator Group and WestEdge Design Fair. What a spectacular year in design from some of the most inspiring events. Thank you for listening, downloading, subscribing, emailing and coming out to our events. Without you, there is no Convo By Design. Please follow the podcast on Instagram, ConvoXDesign with and “X” and make sure you subscribe everywhere you find your favorite podcasts. That way, you will receive new episodes on your mobile device the moment they are published.

This is also a wrap on 2019. This has been a spectacular year, and next year is going to be an even better year, not just for Convo By Design, but for you. Set your goals, make your plan, recharge those batteries and buckle up because 2020 is coming and you are going to punch it in the face! Happy holidays, and until next year, keep creating.


The Future of Real Estate for Those That Love Design | 250 | SUPRSTRUCTUR



I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design… with an episode featuring a company proposing a new concept in architecturally significant real estate. While this is not a new idea, theirs is a new approach. I sat down with Jack Byron Founder & CEO and Charlie Byron, Founder and Marketing Director. We discussed the business and we also talk about the challenges that face the design and architecture communities here is Southern California as it relates to the availability of architecturally significant properties, their value, scarcity and the value of the dirt underneath them. When the dirt is worth more than the structure, treasures will be lost, and they are, at a na alarming rate.

This is an interesting idea when you consider that the company was not created to drive pure real estate deals, it was created to specialize in design differentiation, significance and specialty.

Jack and Charlie know if what they speak. Jack has worked for Sir Norman Foster, Phillipe Starck and Dame Zaha Hadid while Charlie worked in marketing shops for brands like BMW, Google, Hulu and Procter & Gamble. So, understanding that Real Estate is equal parts passion, psychology, commodity and marketing, these two understand the basis for founding a company like this. In this conversation, you will hear each concept explained as it relates to this endeavor, they is Suprstructur.

Thank you for listening to this episode of Convo By Design. Make sure you subscribe to the show and follow us on the socials so you don’t miss any of the latest developments in So Cal architecture and design. You can also ask your smart device to play it for you, just say, “Hey Siri, play Convo By Design.” Thank you again for listening, until next week, keep creating.