Unlocking The Intrinsic Value of Interior Design | 388 | Brendan Kwinter-Shwartz and A Conversation About the ‘Whom’ Design is For

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design featuring a one-on-one conversation with interior designer Brendan Kwinter-Schwartz. Were talking about art and design, but also family. What value is there in design if you don’t have loved-ones with which to share it?

Family. It is more important than design, art or architecture. Yet, Design, art and architecture are invaluable because there are loved ones with which to share it. The intrinsic value of design is often compared to that of art and while I do love art, it isn’t the same to me. Art, photography, even music…all things I am passionate about, are not the same creative endeavors as that of interior design and architecture because there is a function that follows form that is not present in single sensory creative endeavors. This is another installment of the Wellness & Design Thought Leadership Series presented by ThermaSol.

To sit in a cozy space, feel that material under a shared and focused light enhances the experience so much more when one is in the presence of family and friends. I love this side of design. Brendan and I explore this a little bit and cover some other associated topics. I hope you enjoy this conversation and another installment of the Wellness & Design Thought Leadership Series presented by ThermaSol, with interior Designer, Brendan Kwinter-Schwartz.

Before we get into our conversation for this week, I received an unexpected surprise in the mail. It was a copy Unapologetically Chic, Ryan Saghian’s new book. Ryan was last featured on the show in 2019, episode 221. If you would like to hear it, and I encourage you to do just that, you can find a link to that episode in the show notes. You will also find a link to Ryan’s book.

I cannot think of a more appropriate title than Unapologetically Chic because Ryan is both. Always. And that is what I love about him. He is also one of the most talented designers working today. Not most talented young designers, not most talented Los Angeles designers, not most talented Jewish designers…No, most talented designers. Full stop. He infuses a sexy, cool and chic style into his work that becomes inextricably tied to the work itself. It’s not a style, look or feel yet it’s all at once. There are consistent through lines whether you’re looking at a monochromatic, black and white or in living color. The work is endued  with attitude. One that very clearly says, “you love this and you deserve it.” There is a certain arrogance that comes with the attitude, and if that wasn’t present, neither would the quality of the work. Everything is ideated upon a concept and placed to work together. From the case goods, soft goods, accessories, everything.  Interesting too, Ryan shares his creations with you but doesn’t rub noses in the stature or wealth of the clients themselves. There are no clients named, only their spaces and locations.

It’s funny. At the time of my most recent conversation with Ryan, published in 2019 but took place in 2018, I described him as, “an aggressive designer who attacks the space with luxurious finishes and a creative use of space”. He is that now as much as we was then. Unapologetically chic. 

Designer Resources

ThermaSol – Redefining the modern shower experience

Article, great style is easy. It’s the best way to buy beautiful modern furniture

York Wallcoverings – Designed to inspire for over 125 years

Franz Viegener – Finely crafted sculptural faucets

Moya Living  Beautiful, durable powder coated kitchen, bath & outdoor kitchen cabinetry

Thank you Brendan, I loved our time together. For more about Bendan and her practice, please check the show notes for links. Thank you to Convo By Design partners ThermaSol, Article Furniture, York Wallcoverings and Franz Viegner and Moya Living. If you would like to learn more about any of these amazing companies, yes, the show notes for more info and direct links to check them out for yourself.

And thank you for spending part of your day, or night listening to the show. I appreciate you and hope that these conversations help your design business , make a project go more smoothly or provide inspiration. Remember why you do what you do and for whom you do it. Be well, take today first. -CXD

Artisan, Craftsman, Architect & The Power of Creativity | 387 | Darrell Wilson

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design with the kind of architect you love to hear from and I love speaking with, both craftsman and creator. What’s the difference?

Years ago on the show, you heard from a friend and former high school classmate, now amazing chef and restauranteur, Steve Samson. He explained to us that he did not consider himself an artist, but a craftsman. He wasn’t interested in creating new dishes but instead, wanted to take his customer back to Italy with a regional focus. He wanted his food to make you feel the way he did when his grandmother made this for him. Architect Darrell Wilson is a Principal Designer with Mark Weaver & Associates. He is both craftsman in the sense that if a client wants a Hollywood Regency style, he can create an original design with historical accuracy. Wilson can also ideate an original idea for his more adventurous clients influenced by Modern ideas or traditional. There is a big difference between artist and craftsman, there is a huge difference in creatives who can straddle both worlds, Darrell Wilson is one of them. This is another installment of the Wellness & Design Thought Leadership Series presented by ThermaSol. You are going to hear from Darrell, right after this.

Designer Resources

ThermaSol – Redefining the modern shower experience

Article, great style is easy. It’s the best way to buy beautiful modern furniture

York Wallcoverings – Designed to inspire for over 125 years

Franz Viegener – Finely crafted sculptural faucets

Moya Living  Beautiful, durable powder coated kitchen, bath & outdoor kitchen cabinetry

Thank you Darrell. I appreciate the time and, I am in awe of your talent and skill. Thank you to Convo By Design partners and sponsors; ThermaSol, Moya Living, Article Furniture, Franz Viegener, and York Wallcoverings. And thank you for joining me every week for these conversations. I do hope you enjoy them as much as I do. And give yourself a mental hug right now because we are all living through some very interesting times. Personally and professionally. It has gotten much harder to do business, create wonderful and sublime spaces but remember why you do what you do and why you do it. Your clients depend on you to make their lives a little better. Check back here every week for more stories of design professionals and creatives who are doing this at a very high level. Get some new ideas and inspiration to take your firm to the next level. Until next week, be well and take today first. -CXD

The Novogratz | 386 | Building a Family Design Empire, One Building Block at a Time

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design with one half of The Novogratz, a husband and wife team crafting and cultivating a truly unique design brand. I spoke with Courtney Novogratz about life, family and design, and not necessarily in that order…

Designer Resources

ThermaSol – Redefining the modern shower experience

Article, great style is easy. It’s the best way to buy beautiful modern furniture

York Wallcoverings – Designed to inspire for over 125 years

Franz Viegener – Finely crafted sculptural faucets

Moya Living  Beautiful, durable powder coated kitchen, bath & outdoor kitchen cabinetry

The Novogratz design brand is just that, a brand with so many offshoots it makes the mind spin. It spins because if you do the math, and I encourage you to do this, listen to all the brand extensions and offshoots in which she and husband Robert engage. If you try to imagine filling all of this into days and weeks, the time doesn’t match the ambition. Between family, travel, the store, the design and developments… Okay, there is a lot packed into the following chat so let’s get to it.

Thank you Courtney. Loved our chat, next time we have to have you and Robert on together. That will be fun.  Thank YOU for listening to the podcast, subscribing to the show and for your emails. Thank you to CXD partners; ThermaSol, Article, York Wall Coverings, Franz Viewgener and Moya Living for your partnership! Coming up on the show in the next few months…You are going to be hearing episodes showcasing the work done on the 2022 Remote Design House – Tulsa. A project I am extremely proud of and really looking forward to sharing with you. Thanks again for taking part of your busy day to spend with me and the most wonderful designers in the world! Until next week, be well and take today first. -CXD

Perspectives on Salone del Mobile | 385 | Featuring Michael Cox, Kaitlin Madden and Jonathan Zanger LIVE from Hastings Tile & Bath

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design and following is a very special conversation that was recorded LIVE from the Hastings Tile & Bath showroom in the A&D Building, New York City. Live, in-person and focused on an event that we have been missing for years…

Designer Resources

ThermaSol – Redefining the modern shower experience

Article, great style is easy. It’s the best way to buy beautiful modern furniture

York Wallcoverings – Designed to inspire for over 125 years

Franz Viegener – Finely crafted sculptural faucets

Moya Living  Beautiful, durable powder coated kitchen, bath & outdoor kitchen cabinetry

The idea is a little different, we gathered at Hastings Tile and Bath to talk about Salone del Mobile, but before that, about a month before we met, I asked each of the participants to capture Milan in any way they felt demonstrated their experience. I really wanted their perspective and I wanted to try and experience it through their eyes so those that were not able to attend, could feel like they did attend.

With that, let me introduce the group. Michael Cox of Foley & Cox, Kaitlin Madden from Homes and Gardens and Jonathan Zanger, a commercial design, tile and stone expert. Check the show notes for video from this event where you can follow along AND share the images, descriptions and videos. So, let’s get to it. You’ll hear all about it, right after this.

That was so much fun!  Thank you Michael, Kaitlin and Jonathan. Thank you Bob Gifford from Hastings for having me out to share this conversation.  And thank YOU for listening to the podcast, subscribing to the show and for your emails. Its Summer in 2022 and travel is in full swing so you are going to be hearing episodes of the show from New York, Texas and LA events in the coming weeks and months. You are also going to be hearing episodes showcasing the work done on the 2022 Remote Design House – Tulsa. A project I am extremely proud of and really looking forward to sharing with you. Thanks again for taking part of your busy day to spend with me and the most wonderful designers in the world! Until next week, be well and take today first. -CXD

Creating Beautifully Cozy, Luxuriously Well Planned Spaces using the Strategies of A Master Visual Merchandiser | 384 | Roz Murphy of Roz Murphy Designs

I’m Josh Cooperman, this is Convo By Design and today, we’re going back to Dallas, metaphorically of course to speak with Roz Murphy of Roz Murphy Designs about planning, fabrication and process. All part of the Wellness & Design Thought Leadership Series presented by ThermaSol.

Roz was born and raised on the East Coast, moved to Dallas to earn her Bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Art History from Southern Methodist University. She later attended El Centro College where she earned her degree in interior design. Interned with the internationally renowned Wilson & Associates, as well as with Emily Summers Design. Later honing her high-end residential design skills working for Lisa Barfield Interiors and gained expertise in the window treatment industry under Barfield’s Claire & Co.

She has a passion for luxury designs that are as comfortable as they are timeless. And that is something that keeps coming up in conversation about design these days. Luxurious and timeless. Roz is as versatile as she is creative and those are some of the ideas I wanted to drill down on with Roz, who you will hear from in just a moment.

Designer Resources

ThermaSol – Redefining the modern shower experience

Article, great style is easy. It’s the best way to buy beautiful modern furniture

York Wallcoverings – Designed to inspire for over 125 years

Franz Viegener – Finely crafted sculptural faucets

Moya Living  Beautiful, durable powder coated kitchen, bath & outdoor kitchen cabinetry

Thank you Roz. I enjoyed our chat, love your work and appreciate the time.  And thank YOU for listening to the podcast, subscribing to the show and for your emails. Its Summer in 2022 and travel is in full swing so you are going to be hearing episodes of the show from New York, Texas and LA events in the coming weeks and months. You are also going to be hearing episodes showcasing the work done on the 2022 Remote Design House – Tulsa. A project I am extremely proud of and really looking forward to sharing with you. Thanks again for taking part of your busy day to spend with me and the most wonderful designers in the world! Until next week, be well and take today first. -CXD

Beautiful Books & Legendary Libraries are Must Haves in for A Well-Designed Home | 383 | Christy Shannon Smirl of Foxtail Books & Library Services

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design with a conversation about books. It’s more than that, really. It’s about special books, the kind that connect with those who love to read but also love the idea behind holding the book as they do it. 

Designer Resources

ThermaSol – Redefining the modern shower experience

Article, great style is easy. It’s the best way to buy beautiful modern furniture

York Wallcoverings – Designed to inspire for over 125 years

Franz Viegener – Finely crafted sculptural faucets

Moya Living  Beautiful, durable powder coated kitchen, bath & outdoor kitchen cabinetry

You can pop out the iPad, Nook or Kindle. Any digital device really and read material. It is an efficient delivery system and ubiquitous as none of us are ever really that far away from our mobile devices. But the idea of holding a book, reading the pages in anticipation of, not swiping but turning the page is an experience. Reading traditionally is a greater experience for many and that is where Christy Shannon Smirl comes in. She owns Foxtail Books & Library Services. They assist and consult their clients on building a unique library and the collection within that library to fill a void, a yearning really for an experience that only a library can provide. The services include curation, organization, appraisal, cataloguing and sourcing the right materials. It’s not jut about holding, touching and reading. It is an experience to match an escape into that thriller, comedy or  series of short stories. It’s the experiential nature of design. And you’ll meet Christy, right after this.

Thank you Christy. I appreciate the time and love what you do.  And thank YOU for listening to the podcast, subscribing to the show and for your emails. Its Summer in 2022 and travel is in full swing so you are going to be hearing episodes of the show from New York, Texas and LA events in the coming weeks and months. You are also going to be hearing episodes showcasing the work done on the 2022 Remote Design House – Tulsa. A project I am extremely proud of and really looking forward to sharing with you. Thanks again for taking part of your busy day to spend with me and the most wonderful designers in the world! Until next week, be well and take today first. -CXD

A Guide for Navigating the Rapidly Changing Industry Climate and Business Coaching for the Design Community | 382 | Melissa Galt

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design with interior design business coach, Melissa Galt. We are talking about the business of design and fame in the family. This one is fun and if you pay close attention, you will learn some strategies for upsizing profits of your design business.

Designer Resources

ThermaSol – Redefining the modern shower experience

Article, great style is easy. It’s the best way to buy beautiful modern furniture

York Wallcoverings – Designed to inspire for over 125 years

Franz Viegener – Finely crafted sculptural faucets

Moya Living  Beautiful, durable powder coated kitchen, bath & outdoor kitchen cabinetry

Seriously, Melissa Galt claims that her superpower is calling you on your BS, and she’ll do it. The fame in her family, as you’ll hear, gives her a unique perspective on the designers who must deal with big personalities. We’ll be right back with design business coach, Melissa Galt.

Thank you Melissa. I enjoyed our conversation and really appreciate the time.  And thank YOU for listening to the podcast, subscribing to the show and for your emails. Its Summer in 2022 and travel is in full swing so you are going to be hearing episodes of the show from New York, Texas and LA events in the coming weeks and months. You are also going to be hearing episodes showcasing the work done on the 2022 Remote Design House – Tulsa. A project I am extremely proud of and really looking forward to sharing with you. The first two episodes are coming featuring designers Gail Davis and John McClain. I think you’re going to LOVE this! Thanks again for taking part of your busy day to spend with me and the most wonderful designers in the world! Until next week, be well and take today first. -CXD

The Post-Mortem on 1001 North Roxbury Drive, Beverly Hills, CA | This is How (Not) to Preserve and Protect Significant Architecture

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design with the second part of a conversation that aired on June 20th, 2022. It aired a day in advance of a Beverly Hills City Council meeting that was determining a Certificate of Ineligibility and ultimately, the future of this property located on one of the most famous residential streets in the world. And depending on which side of the issue you reside, it did or did not end well. 

I’m not going to rehash the issue because that has already been done. If interested, you can find the episode in the podcast feed or go to the show notes and click on the link to listen. This episode is pretty much the last chapter until I ultimately report back with what will be built after this Carleton Burgess designed house is torn down.

I’m also not going to relitigate this issue, it has already been done. Everything that needed to be said, was said in a marathon council meeting. I am going to play some excerpts of note but first, I want you to know that I see value on both sides of this issue. I believe in property owners rights. If you spend the money to buy something, and you follow the rules and you do it with transparency, you should have the right to do what you wish. At the same time, I believe in preservation because it is culturally important. If you look at Beverly Hills alone,  so many properties of note by legendary architects have been torn down and it’s not because there was not a buyer for the properties. To the contrary. Many of these stories are not known until the process for saving them makes the news and by then, it’s too late. Falcon Lair, PickFair, Garden of Allah, the Brown Derby. It’s not just Beverly Hills. But here’s the thing. Beverly Hills failed miserably in this case identifying, labeling and securing the architectural treasures within their city. City Council, with the exception of Mr. Mirisch seemed more interested in the minutia, meeting Mr. Baker and seeming just interested enough as to avoid any political blowback. A side note not related to the historical issue. Beverly Hills will be allowing the demolition of a 10,000 square foot home as the majority if not all building materials make their way to a landfill. The environmental impact of this is significant and again, is it In the best interest of the community? Is this a part of your Sustainability Plan?

1001 North Roxbury Drive is NOT a tear down and was not a property that someone would just buy for the dirt to rebuild a dream home. This property has been lovingly maintained, has a significant history in Hollywood lore.  Jack Benny, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez, supposedly Esther Williams swan that pool back in the day. The property has been published in shelter publications. In the process of trying to assure that this property was NOT listed as a significant property, well respected shelter publications and websites were deemed nothing more that shills for paid stories to promote those who did the work.

As we dig in a bit, you are going to hear segments from the City Council Meeting of June 21, 2022. You are going to hear segments from over 3 hours of testimony and debate. First, Mayor Bosse and City Planner Ryan Gohlich explain how this got here in the first place. As you listen, note that this only happened because the property was sold, and the new owners applied for a Certificate of Ineligibility to begin the process of (potentially) destroying this home. 

Benjamin Hanelin of Latham & Watkins now explains, in detail and masterfully lays the groundwork, a roadmap really, for obtaining a Certificate of Ineligibility. Before I play this for you, I think it is important for you to know, I don’t really care if this home is torn down or not because I don’t live in Beverly Hills, don’t drive by this home on my way to work or dropping the kids off at school,  don’t walk my dog by this home, don’t see it in any way and because of that, this doesn’t affect my life and so it does not materially affect me if this home is torn down, another erected, large gates installed, they want to revive the Sheik’s House, it doesn’t affect me personally. But it does affect the community of Beverly Hills and it directly affects those who live, work and visit. It is offensive though to hear the manipulation of facts, and minimization of significance, the tearing down of what Beverly Hills has deemed a Master Architect in their community for the sole purpose of stripping social, architectural and historical value of this home. 

Talk about exceptional, Benjamin Hanelin is an exceptional attorney. In just 13 minutes, he completely dismantled the City’s standards for what would qualify for preservation. I believe we will see this approach in the future.

Next up are the words of architect Mark Rios. Here is what he had to say. I think it’s disingenuous to tear down the work of another creative as it represents a golden era for Hollywood Regency, architecture and Beverly Hills in particular. That timeframe is when the legend of Beverly Hills was cemented, in large part to the stars and the star architects (and builders) crafting the structures. You simply cannot have an iconic example of architecture without an interior space and an exterior space, otherwise, it would be, simply a set.

Mark Rios is entitled to his opinion both professionally and personally. I also think that because he is such a talent, his work on the interiors and exteriors added to the significance and the cultural value of the property. If  that were included in the petition, should have added historical significance, not detracted from it. 

A piece written by Lambeth Hochwald for AD covering the Darius Rucker renovation of an 1803 home. The piece online shows 5 images and only one is of the exterior, very much the same issues pointed out by all looking to devalue 1001 North Roxbury, yet the point of the article is about the betterment of a historical property by what is done to it later in its life. Moving on.

If an iconic city like Beverly Hills wants to save their cultural treasures, if city government wants this on behalf of the community,  they have to realize a few things, and take some action which is infinitely more challenging.

  • If you leave this up to city staff, it will fail. Most, if no city staff of Beverly Hills live within the city limits of Beverly Hills is my guess, yes, this is an assumption. Staff earning government salaries are not living in $15, $20 million homes or paying $4,000 – $6,000 a month for rent. That means they simply interpret the rules as written and their interpretation is not that of a stakeholder but one of a bureaucratic entity. 
  • If you wait until a property is published, it will fail. Shelter publications don’t send out writers to find architecturally significant homes. They receive submissions from the likes of Mark Rios and his company’s communications team to plant a story idea, and in many cases, provide photography and storylines. No publication is going to just publish your most significant architectural properties on their own. To make that a criteria is really silly. As is the fame of the individuals who live there because is most cases, fame is subjective. Is it only stars of stage and screen, not industry? Will the Baker’s soon-to-be designed new home at 1001 North Roxbury be designated as architecturally significant because I have no doubt that the structure will be designed by an amazing and highly published architectural firm…and I am also sure that the interior design will add to the architecture, as it must. Perhaps Mr. Rios will be the designer of this project. This is purely speculation, but if so, or a firm like his with an internal communications team as skilled as his, they will get the story published. AND, further… Eric Baker is a titan of industry as the founder of StubHub. He and Dr. Baker have been well published now as the owners taking 1001 North Roxbury down. These are things you can’t do.

Here is what you CAN do Beverly Hills.

  • Establish a registry of every property built in Beverly Hills before 1970 (that is already the established date). Then, make a rule that no architecture can be considered until after it achieves a certain age. 1970 – 2022 is 52 years, make 50 years the number for consideration. What have you paid for consultants to debate the issue? Why don’t you spend the money on making it work. This is like spending money on security consultants to discuss ways to make something safer versus hiring a respected company to install a tried and tested security system. Other municipalities have tried and true methods for doing this. Did you reach out and ask anyone else? Cornell University for example offers a course in this. Why are you cobbling together your own system for this. If you do, you will fail, as you have thus far.
  • Cross tabulate that list of residences against the list of 150 Master Architects. Side note, for goodness sake Beverly Hills, Carleton Burgess lists his occupation as “Contractor” on his 1940 Census. Do a modicum of research. And, it doesn’t HAVE to be an architect…Add “builder, contractor” or “developer” to the criteria, then your rules would not be so easily circumnavigated. 
  • Clean up the verbiage. For the amount of time you spent discussing your views, you could have solved this by clarifying the issue itself. To say something is an exceptional, exemplary or otherwise flowery language only opens the issue up for endless debate and disagreement due to its subjectivity. Make it simple, “The property is architecturally consistent with other works of the Master Architect within the city of Beverly Hills.” This does a few things. As is the case with Wallace Neff, it eliminates an experimental project like his Bubble House in Pasadena from contributing to a situation where there might be an anomaly. It also limits the subjective nature of the work to that which resides within the city boundaries.  This also gives prospective buyers the confidence to know what it is they are getting into, or not.
  • Take an image of the home’s exterior and publish it yourselves on the city’s website. So everyone knows the property has been identified and registered. If it’s not on the City website, it doesn’t count. That way, nobody in the city can claim they didn’t know an iconic property was destined for the wrecking ball. 
  • Educate yourselves on what others are doing successfully and replicate their work. Simple.

The last word here is not going to be me, but Council Member John Mirisch. Here is the letter he sent me the day after the vote. For a copy, please check the show notes. Mr. Mirisch wrote:

When it comes to historic preservation, actions – not words – matter

By John Mirisch

Historic preservation in Beverly Hills is dead and we killed it.

Last night, at the behest of paid lobbyists and highly remunerated lawyers, the Beverly Hills City Council majority failed to protect one of the City’s most beautiful and iconic estates from the wrecking ball (I dissented).

Despite the false claims of paid consultants, the Carlton Burgess masterpiece at 1001 N. Roxbury Dr. has been a constant beacon of the elegance of Beverly Hills at the corner of Lexington Drive, the exterior largely unchanged for eight decades.

As was confirmed in testimony last night, the house has maintained its integrity; but sadly many individuals, including anti-preservationist interior designer Mark Ríos, who worked on an update of the interior design of the home, have not.

We are quite literally back to square one for historic preservation in Beverly Hills, when the definition of historic preservation Beverly Hills-style was – and once again is – taking a picture of a landmark building before tearing it down.

Those who actually wrote our ordinance explained in great detail that 1001 N. Roxbury indisputably met the ordinance’s criteria for the non-issuance of a “certificate of ineligibility” in the plain-language they themselves wrote.

It didn’t matter.

Listening to the tortured, warped rationalizations of people who should know better and who make a mockery of all of our “lying” eyes, represents government at its worst. Hiding behind paid staff, who constantly puts their elbows on the scale, and consciously choosing to believe the twisted angles of lawyers who would and do say anything for money is not a sign of civic courage; however, this behavior does expose how money has completely infiltrated and polluted our political system.

The pretense and attempts to gaslight the Community are infuriating and need to be called out.

If you don’t like historical architecture, just say so. If you think money trumps everything else, just be honest about it.

If you don’t respect our Community’s physical legacy, fess up.

But you can’t have it both ways. That’s not how it works. You can’t claim to care when your actions speak another truth. Gaslighting the Community only serves to divide us even more; it’s like spitting in the faces of and throwing salt in the wounds of those who truly do care.

Each time we lose a building like 1001 Roxbury, a mosaic piece that is so irreplaceable and so integral to the fabric of our Community, it’s like losing a piece of our collective soul, bit by bit.

It’s nothing short of heartbreaking for the Community, but at least there were many voices in the night who valiantly went on the record to say: “This is wrong. It’s can’t always be all ‘bout the money. Our Community matters.”

Many thanks to Craig Corman, Jill Collins, Linda and Jerry Bruckheimer, Alison Martino, Diane Keaton, and the scores of others who stood up last night to speak truth to power and truth to money. You get it. You give us hope that one day, perhaps, we will be able to value, respect, and honor our architectural legacy with more than crocodile tears, in a manner that actually means something.

Until then, RIP 1001 N. Roxbury.

RIP Community over cash.

RIP historic preservation in Beverly Hills.

The Pivot | 381 | Making the Moves That Positively Affect You, Your Design Career, Life and Wellbeing

Pivot – piv-ot /pivet/ verb – : a usually marked change especially : an adjustment or modification made (as to a product, service, or strategy) in order to adapt or improve

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design with a conversation that touches issues on the minds of just about every working designer and architect today. We’re talking about the pivot.

You know, the pivot that we have all been forced to make. It’s different for everyone but as times and issues keep changing from minute to minute, we find ourselves looking for ways to change how we work to make the work change for us. Okay, follow me. The business of design has changed now that it takes 12 months to get that sofa and 18 months for some appliances. Everything has and continues to change and I wanted to hear how some in the business are addressing that change. So, for the next hour, you will be hearing from Terra McNutt with RI Studio in Dallas, Kristin with Kozy Kasa Design in Austin and Veronica Ferro with VF Interiors in Chicago. You are going to hear about three very different yet remarkably similar approaches to the business of design. Similar in that they all do what’s needed to get the job done in their unique and fabulous ways, yet they each go about it with a different approach and I think, I hope that you will be as fascinated by this as I am. This is The Pivot panel and we’ll get to it, but first, this. 

Thank you Kristin, Veronica and Terra. I am so grateful for you time. Thank you ThermaSol, Article, York Wallcoverings, Franz Viegener and Moya Living for your partnership and support. You are remarkable partners and amazing allies for the trade. 

And, thank you for listening and subscribing to the podcast. I know you already know this, but… there are literally hundreds of past episodes of Convo By Design that you probably haven’t heard, especially if you are new to the show, so go check them out. Be well and take today first.

A Heavyweight Battle is Brewing in Beverly Hills, CA Over 1001 North Roxbury Drive | To Save or Not to Save Iconic Architecture and The Cultural Meaning Behind Both Sides of the Issue

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design with a conversation unlike any we have had on the show before. And after 9 years doing this podcast, that’s saying something. DISCLOSURE… opinions voiced by guests appearing on this episode are their own and not necessarily the views of Convo By Design or the host of this podcast.

 I was reading an article recently about another Los Angeles mansion on the potentially slow march to its demise. This one is in Beverly Hills, as many of them are and it’s the same story. Someone with more money than almost everyone else comes in and buys a property for which he possibly has other intentions than living in it, as is. I read this article on dirt.com, and this property sits on North Roxbury Drive and Lexington Road. The Hollywood Regency-style residence was designed by, Carleton L. Burgess.

Let’s stop here for a moment. What makes “significant”, or “special or, more to the point, worth saving? Serious question and one that is really hard to answer for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the rights of a property owner. They worked for the money, or inherited it, whatever, it’s their money. Can they not buy and do with it what they wish. Well, yes, unless there are regulations that prohibit it. This Burgess residence lies within the city of Beverly Hills and unfortunately, Beverly Hills was extremely late to the preservation party and because of that, many architectural gems have been wiped clean, again… being honest here, is an LA tradition and every architect since the 1940’s knew that going in.

Now, in 2012, the City of Beverly Hills discussed ideas around architectural preservation at a city council meeting. In that meeting, they reviewed a list of significant Beverly Hills architects, calling it “A list of local master architects” and the list included 150 such designers. This list was part of a recent requirement to an ordinance that the city adopted to begin preserving properties it deemed “significant”.  It’s important to note that at the time, the city was also compiling a list of original architects for more than 2,900 structures. Using their own mathematical formula, they determined that there would be under 500 structures that would be awarded with a historically significant designation.  Interestingly enough, the time for significant architecture in the city was crafted by those working in Beverly Hills prior to 1970. Fair enough.

The city had a pretty solid plan. The list would be used as criteria for preservation designation and designation as a “local historical landmark.” An interesting note, the criteria verbiage states, “Represents a notable work a person included on the city’s list of Master Architects or possesses high artistic or aesthetic value.” Now, that last part is tricky. “Aesthetic value” to whom? And then it get’s even MORE fascinating with some very specific criteria that includes according to BHMC 10-3-3212:(1)

A.

The property meets two of the following criteria:

B.

The property retains integrity from its Period of Significance.

C.

The property has historic value.

1.

Is identified with important events in the main currents of national, state, or local history, or directly exemplifies or manifests significant contributions to the broad social, political, cultural, economic, recreational, or architectural history of the nation, state, city or community;

2.

Is directly associated with the lives of significant persons important to the national, state, city or local history;

3.

Embodies the distinct characteristics of a style, type, period, or method of construction;

4.

Represents a notable work of a person included on the City’s List of Master Architects or possesses high artistic or aesthetic value;

5.

Has yielded or has the potential to yield, information in the prehistory or history of the nation, state, city or community;

6.

Is listed or has been formally determined eligible by the National Park Service for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, or is listed or has been determined eligible by the State Historical Resources Commission for listing on the California Register of Historical Resources.

Okay, so this does clarify things a little bit and which much of the criteria is nebulous at best, some is very clear. And there is a process and procedure:

“The list will also be used to screen incoming development and demolition proposals and identify properties that could be historically significant. If a property is identified, and the work proposed would demolish or remove historic characteristics, the City Council and the Cultural Heritage Commission will have 30 days to direct staff to conduct further analysis and initiate nomination proceedings. While the property is being evaluated, no permits will be issued, and no work or demolition will be allowed. For demolitions, the 30-day review period is an extension of the existing 10-day wait period currently required of any demolition proposed in the City. The 30-day review period for development

Page 3 of 4 6/27/2012

 List of Local Master Architects

projects is a new holding period; however, plans submitted will continue to be processed and therefore it is not anticipated that the 30-day review period will result in any added wait time, unless the City Council or CultUral Heritage Commission instructs staff to initiate nomination proceedings. If the City Council ultimately designates the property as a landmark, the property could still be remodeled or potentially demolished; however the proposal would first be reviewed and approved by the Cultural Heritage Commission, and the City Council upon appeal.”

One guess whose name DOES appear on the list of 150 Notable Architects. Correct. Carleton L. Burgess. On January 24, 2012, the City of Beverly Hills adopted ordinance No. 12-O-2617 establishing a historic preservation program. That program included a list of notable architects and the architect was listed. Further, the City of Beverly Hills maintains a list of Master Architects(2) for specifically this purpose.

So, if this particular property was crafted by a noted “Master Architect” and fulfills 2 of the criteria listed, which it arguably hits at least 4 of the 6 criteria, then why is this up for debate? Yo already know the answer to this question. Someone with a significant amount of money, in this case, the owner, according to the article on Dirt.com, is a man named Eric Baker, the CEO and co-founder of StubHub, so you there is a significant amount of money there. Also mentioned in the article was that Baker or his representatives applied for a certificate of ineligibility for historic designation. 

So, I’m going to warn you right now, were are going to get into the weeds a little bit. Here is what constitutes a Certificate of Ineligibility(3):

10-3-3221: CERTIFICATE OF INELIGIBILITY:

Any owner of a property not listed on the local register may at any time file an application with the city requesting a determination that the subject property is not an eligible property and therefore is exempt from the provisions of this article.

A.   Applications: A request for a certificate of ineligibility shall be made by filing a written application with the department of community development. The application shall be completed on a form provided by the department, and shall include all required information and payment of applicable fees. Copies of the application shall be provided promptly to members of the commission by the director to enable commissioners to provide information to the director concerning the subject property where appropriate.

B.   Administrative Procedure: Within thirty (30) days after the filing of the application, the director shall review the application materials and determine whether the application is complete or whether additional information is required. If the application is determined to be incomplete, the director shall promptly inform the applicant in writing of the missing information. Within thirty (30) days after the submittal of the missing information, the director shall again review the application materials and determine if the application is complete. The processing time lines and procedures set forth in this section shall commence on the next business day after the application is deemed complete.

Within thirty (30) days after the application is deemed complete, the director shall prepare and serve on the property owner by first class, prepaid mail a written preliminary evaluation stating whether or not the director finds that the subject property is an eligible property. If the director does not find that the property is an eligible property, the director shall issue the requested certificate of ineligibility; but if the director believes that the property is an eligible property, the director shall not issue the certificate. If the director fails to prepare and serve a preliminary evaluation regarding the subject property within the allotted thirty (30) days, such failure will be deemed a finding of ineligibility, and the director shall issue the requested certificate of ineligibility without further delay.

C.   Hearing After Preliminary Evaluation: If the director declines to issue a requested certificate of ineligibility, the commission shall consider the matter de novo at its next regularly held meeting; provided, however, that if the next regularly scheduled meeting is set to occur less than ten (10) days or more than thirty (30) days after completion of the preliminary evaluation, the director shall schedule another meeting to occur within thirty (30) days after completion of the application at which the commission shall hear the matter. The director shall give written notice of the date, time, place, and purpose of the hearing to the applicant/appellant and any designated agent(s) by first class, prepaid mail not less than ten (10) days prior to the hearing. If, based on the director’s preliminary evaluation and any other evidence provided to the commission at or prior to the hearing, the commission determines that the subject property is not an eligible property, it shall issue the requested certificate; but if the commission finds that the subject property is an eligible property, it shall not issue a certificate.

D.   Effect Of Certificate Of Ineligibility: A certificate of ineligibility bars the commission or the city council from initiating landmark designation proceedings concerning the subject property, in whole or in part, for a period of seven (7) years from the date of issuance. While a certificate of ineligibility is in effect, the subject property shall not be listed on the local inventory, and shall not be subject to the provisions of sections 10-3-3217 and 10-3-3218 of this chapter.

E.   Effect Of Nonissuance Of Certificate: A final determination not to issue a certificate of ineligibility bars the owner of the subject property, and any successor in interest, from filing another application for a certificate of ineligibility concerning the same property for a period of five (5) years. Any such final determination may also serve as a basis for the commission to list the subject property on the local inventory if it is not already so listed.

F.   Extensions Of Time Periods: Any period of time to act specified in this section may be extended by the commission or the director upon request of the owner of the subject property. Such a request shall be made in writing or on the record at a noticed hearing. (Ord. 15-O-2682, eff. 11-19-2015)

This was a special episode of the podcast for a very specific reason. We examine what makes an iconic property. We do this because while a structures age doesn’t make it significant, we do need to define what does. While Every Hills was fairly late in this regard, which cost the city many true iconic properties like; Wallace Neff’,s Pickfair, Wallace Neff’s Falcon Lair, or Wallace Neff’s Enchanted Hill. Wow, Neff took a hit in Beverly Hills.  According to Curbed Los Angeles (4), Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen had Enchanted Hill demolished around 1997. Pia Zadora had Pick Fair torn down in 1990 and Falcon Lair’s main structure was destroyed in 2006. All before the 2012 organizational structure  was established for historical preservation. Not every property that is older than a certain date is significant. But a structure crafted by a noted architect does, regardless of whether I like it or a multi-millionaire buys it. The architectural provenance is detailed, criteria is outlined and it appears very clear. There is a special hearing scheduled for June 21, 2022 and it should be interesting. According to an article in the Beverly Hills Courier(5), written by Samuel Braslow, and the most important of details in this whole thing is the fact that on March 15th, the City of Beverly Hills actually issued a certificate of ineligibility for the property thereby stating that this property has no significant historical value.  

  1. BHMC 10-3-3212: Obtained from the internet on 6.10.22
  2. List of Master Architects. Obtained from the internet on 6.10.22

3. Certificate of Ineligibility. Obtained from the internet on 6.10.22

4. https://la.curbed.com/maps/los-angeles-lost-mansions. Obtained from the internet on 6.10.22

5. Braslow, Samuel, Beverly Hills Courier, 6.5.22. https://beverlyhillscourier.com/2022/06/03/council-will-review-1001-n-roxbury-despite-challenge/Obtained from the internet on 6.10.22

6. Mark Rios Letter to Beverly Hills City Council – Obtained via the Internet on 6.19.22

LATE ADD – As I was getting ready to publish this, I found a note entered into this fight by architect Mark Rios (6). An extremely accomplished architect and landscape architect who worked on this property not once, but twice. Here is an excerpt from his letter, and you will see instantly which side of this debate upon which he stands and it might surprise you.

“I’m writing to address the potential historic status of 1001 Roxbury Drive, Beverly Hills, which I

understand is currently being considered.

I’ve had a long history with the property. I had the unique opportunity to partner with two separate owners, David Bohnett and subsequently Lisa and Josh Greer, for full remodel and revisioning projects. The piece from LUXE magazine was a publication of my work on this property.

I hope you know from our past work in Beverly Hills, that I am an avid supporter of Architectural Historic Preservation. I can fondly list the historic buildings we’ve helped to preserve and restore within the city, and we continue to work to protect and add to the city’s important architectural resources. I support and applaud everyone in Beverly Hills who passionately works to protect and maintain this irreplaceable historic resource…I’d like to make a few more comments to consider in this conversation. I fully support the city’s urban design guidelines for this neighborhood, which I believe are the key factors which give this house, other homes, and the overall neighborhood its sense of value and character. Open front yards, the position of the house on the street, the avoidance of high hedges, the limited heights of fences, the limited amount of hardscape all SIGNIFICANTLY contribute to the character of Beverly Hills. These planning ideas should be celebrated and protected, because I believe it’s what give the neighborhood its “historic significance,” not the individual houses. If a specific house remains, gets remodeled or replaced, it doesn’t matter to be honest. What’s important is the character of the neighborhood which creates the important feel and personality of this part of Beverly Hills. I applaud the Beverly Hills Architectural Review board for all their time and effort to protect and improve your community,:Their hard work, and your work from the Planning/Development departments is evident- and it pays off.

In conclusion, I absolutely support the designation and protection of valuable Architectural historical assets within the City of Beverly Hills, but 1001 Roxbury is not one of them.

A note of interest, one of the most interesting things about this debate is the lack of history or importance surrounding this property. And significant owners of this property. David Bohnett, Josh and Lisa Greer, seriously, need for more fame? I’m not so sure. Published property in AD and Luxe. I don’t know, this doesn’t sit well with me and I believe in property owners rights, but I also strongly believe in preserving history and remarkable design. Okay, on with the episode.

Thank you to Councilmember Mirisch and Jamie Rummerfield for joining in the conversation. As mentioned, the owner’s legal council in this matter and Josh Flagg were invited to provide comment but neither did so at the time of publication.

So, say what you want about millionaires and billionaires doing what they wish with significant architecture and how that affects society as a whole versus their individual rights to do what they wish with the things they buy but at the end of the day, tomorrow actually, June 21st, 2022, there will be a satisfied group and an unsatisfied group. And there will either be a well documented and protected example of classic Regency-Style architecture, or there will be a Certificate of Ineligibility upheld and most likely, another piece of local history gone forever. We’ll see. Thanks for listening. Until next time, be well and take today first.