Reflecting on Summer Vibes and 4 Incredible Designers | 456 | Design Leadership LIVE from Design Hardware featuring; Lorena Pulichino, Jeanne Chung, Stephanie Hatten and Kim Colwell

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design. This Summer, I spent some time back in LA visiting with some very talented designers and I wanted to share some of those conversations with you. 

But first, you should know that if you are in LA and listening to this episode the week it was released, November 14th, the WestEdge Design Fair is happening RIGHT NOW and you should come down to Barker Hangar in Santa Monica and take in some of the incredible conversation being produced by yours truly. These are highly curated conversations that were crafted specifically for those in the trade as well as those who love design. So check out @ConvoXDesign with an “X” on IG and message me for more details and tickets. If I have any left, they’re yours for the asking. We’ll be right back with this weeks episode, right after this.

Designer Resources

ThermaSol – Redefining the modern shower experience. Episode 271 featuring Mitch Altman

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

Design Hardware – A stunning and vast collection of jewelry for the home!

Thank you Stephanie, Kim, Lorena and Jeanne for your time, loved this. Thank you to Michele Solomons and everyone at Design Hardware for making this space available for having these important conversations. Thank you to my partners and sponsors ThermaSol, Moya Living and Design Hardware for your continued support of both Convo By Design and the design community. A side note, the sponsors and partners you hear on CXD are more than companies with a product, each of the partners I work with have been fully vetted, they are owned and operated by people who love what they do and have dedicated themselves to serving the design community and customers by providing the best products and services available. If you would like to know why I am so proud to have them part of Convo By Design, email me at convobydesign@outlook or on IG @convoxdesign with an “X”. I would be happy to share my experience. Please make sure you are also reaching out with show ideas and guests you would like to hear on the podcast. I love hearing them and it has given me the chance to meet new creatives not already on my radar, so thank you. Thank you for taking the time to listening to the show and share in the experience, until next week, be well and take today first. – CXD

What is Design and Why Does it Matter | 449 | A Psychological Approach to Understanding the Design Industry

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design. What is design? Is design the process of finding pretty, cool, unusual things, objects, artifacts and materials and then placing them in an order to appear pleasing? Is it a method of material placement, functional arrangement or is it something else? And, why does it matter? Right about now, you might be wondering what the hell. What’s up, Josh? you good?

I am. But I’ve been thinking a lot about this. I just recently completed a no code AI course through MiT. Yes, THAT MiT and while I can tell you that the math was a real challenge,, the concepts I learned were thrilling. And, it left me with more questions than answers. While everyone is talking about AI, I am hearing and seeing some things that I find disturbing. An example. Recently on Instagram, a notable personality in design was self-congratulating on the new product they created using nothing but AI tools thereby creating something that nobody asked for, nobody expressed a need for the design of this object and there was such glee in the idea that something had been created without any human influence save for the prompts used in a Midjourney rendering which was then given dimensions and finally produced.

Designer Resources

ThermaSol – Redefining the modern shower experience. Episode 271 featuring Mitch Altman

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

Design Hardware – A stunning and vast collection of jewelry for the home!

Okay, cool right? That is what I thought at first glance until I really started to think about it.  I started this show 10 years ago, I’ve been publishing at least one new episode every single week since 2013. I love design and I love the creatives that make up the industry. I think anyone who spends a fair amount of time around people understands that there always have been and always will be people who don’t really understand the subject matter in which they work. It’s the difference between a Bunny Williams, Alex Papachristidis or Martyn Lawrence Bullard and a designer who spends a few years designing their own home, realize how hard it is and then drop that to be a design business consultant. The industry is littered with them and ultimately, the clients they consult are usually out of the business in a few years. When I was in broadcast sales, it was the same. Someone would take a job selling airtime only to leave in a few years to start their own radio buying service. They were always a one-dimensional enterprise that would last a few years and then, off to something else. 

Why am I asking about the “true” nature of design? We are at a bona fide turning point. There is an emerging technology in the form of AI that is going to change our industry forever. I think we are also in a place and time where there is a loss of respect for the creative side of the work in favor of less expensive, although it still has to look expensive. A new mentality that in someway makes if okay to take other people’s ideas and creativity and change it just enough to make it seem new. It’s not a legal question or even a moral one but a question of  ingenuity, creativity and the idea that creatives create new concepts, new designs, break some ground for goodness sake. I’m seeing less and less of this from those who are new to the industry.

Designers and architects are creatives who make better the lives of those who inhabit the spaces they create. Full stop. it’s not about how many awards you win, the lists upon which you find yourself and lord knows there are a lot of lists out there. It’s not about the coverage in the trade pubs, because there are fewer and fewer of those every year. And it’s not about making rooms look pretty or high luxury because at the end of the day, form is meaningless without functionality.

“Form follows function-That has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

But even Wright got it wrong sometimes. Blasphemy, you say. After touring the Price Tower, I learned some things about Frank Lloyd Wright.  Things that everybody knows about his work. It’s too rigid in places. Like solid concrete walls that are impossible to access electrical and flat roofs that leak. Spaces that are too small like hallways & corridors. Furnishings that are neither comfortable nor functionally exceptional. But, Wright was a dreamer, an artist, the ultimate creative who thought in color, spoke his mind and had zero concern for what others thought when it came to his work. Being an artistic creative isn’t about being perfect. It’s about possessing a willingness to fail in pursuit of something meaningful.

AI is real, and if you read all the posts on social media, you know as well as I do that people in the business are nervous about their future prospects. And you should be. The individual who created a project from thin air using AI tools and finding a company to produce it… It’s novel now, but there is plenty of real stories about idea theft, plagiarism, copyright and trademark infringement or being labeled as a fraud and you don’t have to work too hard to connect the dots…

The true pioneers of the electric car. Elon Musk, right? Nope. Have you ever heard of the EV1. The first, most advanced automotive feat ever created by General Motors between 1996 and 2003. The car was introduced at the LA auto show in 1990, and by 2003, the concept was killed and almost all of the vehicles that were distributed through a lease-only program were collected and destroyed. The idea that technology had created something so dynamic it could literally destroy the auto industry as we know it. Why would you buy a car every 3 years if you could invest in a far superior product that would remain on the road for 10 years or more. You wouldn’t and the car companies knew that. And they also knew they would not survive if you could.

So, designers. Why would a client retain the services of a designer if all they had to do was input a series of well written prompts into a set of AI tools and receive back a fully rendered, CAD design.  I haven’t, but someday in the future, I will be asking the individual who created the AI product and the company that produced it if they were thinking about your future. If they are honest, the answer will be “no, not really.”

To me. Design is truly an art form that captures the essence of an individual (client), pairs it with true desire both spoken and not to produce spaces that provide a superior quality of life. 

Please note, I did not mention products, budget or anything outside of the application of skill, nuance and communication. I don’t think AI means “artificial intelligence”, it is more about ‘acquired intelligence’. I think that because it is only and always going to be rear-facing, it doesn’t posses the computational power to think and process in a forward thinking process. In other words, it can only tell you what’s been done in the past. If this were music, it could only share what has been played in the past to come up with new work product. But, that which it used to create the new work is still a derivative product from what has already been created. And the musician who created that receives no credit. Te designers who worked on products in the past made the new product created possible. If you are a designer, are you okay with others taking bits of your work to create new work product?  As a creator who has published over 450 interviews that are in the digital universe and part of the AI collective, I’m not. So what is the responsibility we all in the industry share to do AI responsibly? Well, I would say that you need to understand the technology you’re working with and not abuse its power. If you are a manufacturer, show some integrity and don’t just jump to create a product whose mere presence with negatively affect the very specifiers that keep you in business. But that won’t happen.

Have you ever heard of the Dunning Kruger Effect and the idea of illusional superiority. You may not know the name, but you know the idea behind it. The Dunning-Kruger effect is when someone’s lack of skills and knowledge in a subject permits them to overestimate their own competence in that subject. Do you know someone who always interjects with advice in matters of which they have no functional understanding or abilities? You do, we all do. Usually, it’s just a friend who shells out bad advice. But what if that person heads up a division in a popular product manufacturer. What if that person is a consultant in the business with resources and a persuasive personality. 

What if that person convinces the first person to produce a design product strictly from AI tools. It’s a gimmick that will get some ink and it might get coverage from some larger media players in the shelter space. But once that gimmick gets some oxygen, its precedent. Once established, why wouldn’t everyone do it until the novelty subsides. Do you understand that if there are no more designer lines, that is yet another profit center removed from the creative side of the business.

There is another idea called the mere-exposure effect that makes a lot of sense as well. It’s this idea that people not only become more comfortable but actually like stimuli to which they are increasingly exposed. It’s this concept that after someone is exposed to something, they will like it more due to a greater familiarity. In design, we call this a trend, right? Trends only become a bad thing, when they are trendy or popular for no other reason than others “like” or promote it. And, by “like” I mean in the social media sense of the word. The Mere Exposure Effect highlights how style familiarity, where some are drawn to a past connection to things or ideas. 

This is why you might see a design in one of the shelter pubs and think, WTF, but later perhaps finding yourself more familiar and liking it a bit more.

The Mere Exposure Effect, also known as the familiarity principle, suggests that people tend to develop a preference for things they are exposed to more frequently. While this effect is typically associated with psychology and marketing, it can also be reflected in interior design choices. Here’s how the Mere Exposure Effect can influence interior design:

  • Familiarity with Styles: People often feel more comfortable and drawn to interior design styles that they are familiar with or have been exposed to in the past. For example, if someone grew up in a home with traditional decor, they might naturally gravitate towards similar styles when designing their own space. This preference for familiar styles can be seen in the selection of furniture, color schemes, and overall design aesthetic.
  • Repeated Exposure to Trends: Trends in interior design often gain popularity through repeated exposure. As certain design elements or styles become more commonly featured in magazines, websites, or social media, they become familiar to people, which can make them more appealing. Interior designers and homeowners may incorporate these trends into their design choices to create a sense of modernity and relevance.
  • Showcasing Personal Belongings: Displaying personal belongings, such as family photographs, cherished heirlooms, or travel souvenirs, can create a comforting and familiar atmosphere within a space. These items hold personal significance and evoke memories and emotions, contributing to a sense of familiarity and belonging.
  • Consistency in Design Elements: Repeated use of specific design elements throughout a space can enhance the sense of familiarity and cohesiveness. Consistency in color schemes, patterns, or materials can create a harmonious and comforting visual experience. This can be achieved through the use of recurring colors, textures, or motifs in furniture, fabrics, and accessories.
  • Subtle Repetition: Incorporating subtle repetitions in design can create a sense of familiarity and harmony. This can be achieved through the use of repeating patterns, shapes, or textures. For example, a repeated geometric pattern in wallpaper or tile design can contribute to a cohesive and familiar visual experience.
  • Gradual Exposure to Novelty: While the Mere Exposure Effect suggests a preference for the familiar, it also indicates that repeated exposure to novel stimuli can lead to increased liking and acceptance. In interior design, this can be seen when introducing new design elements or styles gradually. Initially, a new and unfamiliar design choice might be met with resistance, but with repeated exposure, it can become more familiar and ultimately well-liked.

By understanding the Mere Exposure Effect, interior designers can leverage familiarity and repeated exposure to create spaces that resonate with individuals and elicit positive emotions. Whether through incorporating familiar design styles, showcasing personal belongings, or employing consistent design elements, designers can create interiors that feel comfortable, appealing, and aligned with the clients’ preferences.

What do these two ideas have to do with AI, and interiors? Back to the original idea. If we find a liking due to familiarity, and we have those, not with a talent or skill but a following or influence, speaking out of an assumed expertise, begin to produce objects from what is familiar through AI, remember, AI produced imagery can only be tethered to what was previously created, not a completely new work product, so there would be a certain level of familiarity with the object and it is then promoted or seen at trade shows, it is entirely plausible that these products would become popular. It is also completely plausible that the work of true design talent does, in fact become obsolete. Think it’s not possible?

Radio Vs. Record Companies. When I was in broadcast radio, something happened in the 1990’s that I found shocking. Around the time Napster come out, the record labels were freaking out about people being able to freely download, upload and share music without paying for it. At the same time, radio leadership was freaking out for the same reason but in their case, the fear was radio listeners would stop listening for the music because they could get it for free. Decades later, we have the luxury of looking back and evaluating the outcome. Remember that by the 1990’s, when I would go and buy a CD, unless it was a rarity, like Guns and Roses, Appetite for Destruction, Nirvana’s Nevermind or Depeche Mode’s Violator, you got a 13 song record with 2 great songs, 4 b-sides and fillers that you could tell most bands just cobbled together for the record. The labels lost control of their product. Bands learned that touring could beat publishing revenues and it became all about the singles on iTunes. What does any of this have to do with design? Everything because it is exactly the same idea. History doesn’t repeat, it rhymes, right? thank you , Mark Twain.  But it’s true. 

As an industry, we need to be very careful, as does everyone with the ideas revolving around AI, because, like I said I don’t believe AI is artificial, but accumulated intelligence and once designers give up the creative activity that is creation of a dedicated line, you will never be able to get that back. And, any creative who has had their ideas hijacked and reimagined by someone else knows how that feels. So, here’s another concept to chew on. Have you ever heard of the 30% rule? It’s the false concept that one can change the intellectual property of another persons work and have that satisfy that the work is fundamentally different and not a copy. The idea itself is flawed because there is no such rule. If someone feels like you stole their intellectual property, they can sue you. It’s not what anyone thinks, it’s what you can convince a judge or jury. But a creative would still need to defend their IP and there are no guaranteed outcomes. So, what stops someone from taking a sofa, rug or console that was created and manufactured by someone else, prompt ChatGPT to change the concept by 30% and put the final product into a CAD drawing for production? Absolutely nothing. One step further down this slippery slope, ask Midjourney, through a series of prompts to create a design for a piece of furniture using a series of popular keywords. The work product created will be drawn from other ideas, again, recreating the work product from another into a “new” design. But it isn’t new, is it?

I think AI tools are properly positioned to decrease the amount of time it takes to ideate and create new products. But, as long as you have the Dunning-Kruger Effect and people who just want to capture short term gains without really understanding the potential pitfalls, the industry, like every other industry is going to find itself with ethical, legal and other issues as of now, unforeseen. But through trial, they will materialize. Don’t take the bait, this business is not easy, if it were, everyone would be doing it. What if it became so easy that everyone could do it?

A while back I was on social media and there was a graphic designer who was blasting AI tools saying that they couldn’t handle it if a client provided abstract feedback like, “I want it to pop more.” I asked ChatGPT how it would respond to the following: Imagine that I am a client of yours and you are a graphic designer. I  gave you the task of creating a visual project and upon review of the first iteration, I said to you, “make it pop more”. What would you do? And here is the response…

As a graphic designer, if you asked me to make the visual project “pop more” after reviewing the first iteration, I would understand that you want the design to be more eye-catching and impactful. Here’s what I would do to achieve that:

  • Color Enhancement: I would consider adjusting the colors to make them more vibrant and visually appealing. This could involve increasing the saturation or contrast, selecting bolder color choices, or experimenting with complementary color schemes to create a stronger visual impact.
  • Typography: I would revisit the typography used in the design. Making it “pop more” could involve selecting a more attention-grabbing font or adjusting the size, weight, or spacing of the existing typography to create a stronger hierarchy and visual interest.
  • Visual Elements: I would assess the visual elements within the design and look for opportunities to enhance their impact. This could include adding graphic elements, such as icons, illustrations, or patterns, to make the design more visually engaging. Additionally, I might explore the use of gradients, shadows, or other effects to create depth and dimension.
  • Composition and Layout: I would review the overall composition and layout of the design. Making it “pop more” might involve repositioning or resizing elements to create a more dynamic arrangement. Adjusting the placement of key elements, such as focal points or call-to-action elements, can help draw the viewer’s attention and increase the design’s impact.
  • Contrast and Visual Hierarchy: I would ensure that the design has sufficient contrast between different elements, such as text and background, to make the important elements stand out. By establishing a clear visual hierarchy, I can guide the viewer’s attention to the most important aspects of the design.
  • Experimentation: If the current design iteration is not achieving the desired level of visual impact, I would explore alternative design concepts and iterations. By experimenting with different approaches, I can discover new ways to make the design more captivating and visually appealing.

Ultimately, my goal would be to create a visual project that captures attention, communicates effectively, and aligns with your vision and requirements. Through the iterative design process, I would work closely with you to ensure that the final outcome fulfills your expectations and successfully “pops” to grab the viewer’s attention.

If you can ask a machine that has been trained to use specific influence on the creation of “new” work, it is by its very nature a derivative work. Meaning, it’s not original. The argument then is, well, what is? If we are okay with using derivative works to and calling them new, that’s fine because at the end of the day, all a creative can really do is their best work. Limited by creative flow, time and energy. This is only one part of how AI will change our industry. Many I have spoken with say they don’t have the time to learn how to properly use these new tools. If you don’t have the time to stay current on new tech like this, you risk becoming irrelevant.

Design Out Crime is a concept the Los Angeles Police Department has been engaged in since the late 1990’s. You never heard of it, right? I hadn’t either until recently while working on a project for a client. Design Out Crime is based on an idea a city government, municipality or police department can apply strategies and techniques that prevent crime, before it happens through the application of design principles. This is a really interesting idea because, as a society, I think we feel unsafe. When I was a kid growing up in Southern California, I was afraid on one thing. The bomb. The Day After was a made for TV movie that came out in 1983. Scared the hell out of me because it could happen. To be frank with you, prior to the pandemic, I never believed it could happen here. Third-world countries, of course, but not here. The smash and grabs happening by large groups in many major cities is completely unacceptable yet it keeps happening. Water in Flynt, Michigan. Floods, fires, violent crime, mass shootings, wind events and unpredictable weather of all kinds… Feeling safe, feeling secure is an issue that affects all of us. 

As if all that isn’t enough, it’s difficult to remember sometimes that we are in a service industry. I had a recent reminder of sorts what that means and why it’s important. I recently made a switch in cell service. I was with my former mobile provider for 22 years. And in that time, there was never any “service” provided, just the product. Over the years, the “product” degraded and the customer service became completely unacceptable. It was not the pain I expected to switch service providers. Not only did I switch, but got better service for half the cost I was paying before. Designers I speak with all tell me that their number one source for new business is not advertising but word-of-mouth. I believe that is true because they don’t advertise but it also begs the question, why do clients recommend you? What you do now is wonderful, but as the world keeps getting smaller, the need to raise your level has increased and you don’t get any additional time to learn how to navigate these new challenges, but there are others who will. If you’re standing still, you are falling behind. And the level of urgency and ability to adjust will determine your success. Not to pile on, but look at the recent developments with Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. As of this writing, they have been shuttered for over a week and you can still order product on the website.  Will it arrive? I have no idea but it does draw the memory back to Laurel & Wolf’s spectacular collapse. Service and reputation matter because there is always someone else out there to replace you. If I have learned anything throughout my career, if you make a mistake, own it. If you own it, clients will respect you for it. If you don’t own it, you will become obsolete.

Finally, the second question…Why does it matter? That is almost more important than, what is design, right? What is design is personal and subjective. Why does it matter is more important because it represents the future of the industry. Going back to examples like radio, music and cars… Radio was once a personal friend and now it’s a utility to deliver music, news, sports and information. Radio stations used to have a personality all their own, they had exclusive dj’s talking to local listeners like they knew them personally. Music was once delivered in a packaged format, on a record with a jacket, cover art and liner notes. Now, it’s delivered as a genre, collection by artist or format. If you use Spotify, Apple Music or any of the other delivery systems, AI selects the tracks for you. Automotive was once a passion and to many, it still is. But it’s not mandatory any more. You can live in NYC, Boston or even Los Angeles and not own a car. This was previously unheard of. Not anymore. It matters, because it is a unique form of art and it should last.

As I said when I started this episode, I love designers and architects. That is why I do what I do. If design DOES matter, here is my recommendation for those new to the industry as well as those who want to reset:

  1. Return to Learning. If you have become dependent on any form of technology that, in its absence you could not continue to do what you do, look at ways to extricate yourself. For example, if you are using 3D modeling software for all your renderings, learn to draft by hand. Learn to sketch with a pencil, graph paper and ruler. Acquire the ability to draw your designs on a napkin that convey your ideas.
  1. Tune Out. Social media isn’t real. Fans and followers are fake, images aren’t real and the ideas conveyed, obtaining value from a quantity of likes and emojis isn’t real. Disconnect emotional from social media and use it for what it is, a communications tool.
  1. Reconnect. Answer the phone, make a call, send an email intended for just the one person to whom you are sending it, take the time to ask questions, listen to the answers, have a conversation, slow down and hear. We are losing our ability to connect 1 on 1 because social media, something of which we are always exposed places a currency on volume. how many likes, how many followers, how many posts. It’s not real, but the individuals are. Real connections make for real relationships which translate to real engagement.
  1. Unplug. AI can really help you do your work in amazing ways. But you first must learn to use it and use it for what it does best. The skill set is what makes designers amazing, not how they can manipulate tools to do it for them. If that ever becomes the rule, designers will cease to be special for what they do because any project manager will be capable of doing the work with the same level of proficiency. Digital artists have a real skill, but they will never replace a fine artist or sculpture artist. A concept like wabi-sabi is real and because it is imperfect, it is naturally authentic, not manufactured. It’s the imperfections that make something unique.
  1. Think for yourself.10 years ago, there were very few design or architecture podcasts. All the information shared with the trade came from the shelter publications. They were neatly packaged and offered like the art magazines. Now, you can see all of the shelter pubs are more real and authentic because they have to be. Podcasts are the same way. But there are som many of them now. If you listen to podcasts, you listen most likely because you appreciate what the host has to say. But you also need to accept that not all podcast hosts know what they are talking about. I hope you love Convo By Design and that you glean new information from every conversation, story and episode. If you have a host that was once a designer telling you how to run your business, think about why they are doing that instead of running their own design business? If you want to learn about contracts, find a really good legal podcast episode about contracts. If you want to learn about keeping your books, contract negotiations or business coaching, find professionals who do that and host a podcast to learn that. Everyone has advice, myself included. I’m confident in my abilities and I know what I have learned through real world scenarios. Your time is valuable, connect with experts who aren’t sharing what they never did, but instead those who know the specific vertical of which you want to learn.

I am posting this episode now because I am working on the Convo By Design 2024 Editorial Calendar and I am absolutely thrilled to share new ideas, conversations, guests and ideas with you. 2024 will bring the long-form interviews with creatives that you have come to enjoy, More Drinking About Design episodes featuring incredible but real stories behind design, Business of Design, BookLooks, recordings from live events from around the country and so much more.

Thank you for listening and subscribing to the show. If not already, please do subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode of the show. Subscribers receive the podcast episodes automatically in their podcast feed. Thank you to my remarkable partners and sponsors, ThermaSol, Moya Living and Design Hardware. If you are not familiar with these brands, they are the best at what they do and will help make you the best at what you do so check the show notes for direct links. Thank you to Convo By Design guests for taking the time to share your stories and skill. Until next week, be well and take today first. – CXD

Repping ATL with Beautiful Work in an Emerging World-Class Design Destinations | 447 | Andi Morse of Morse Design

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design Today, I’m speaking with Atlanta based designer, Andi Morse about balance, vibe and having it all. Or getting as close to it as one can.

Born and raised in Atlanta, Andi is married to her college sweetheart and the mother of three daughters. Family comfort is the central influence to her interior design philosophy, and one of the core values of Morse Design. One’s home must reflect the lifestyle of the occupants and resonate with both beauty and functionality. Her passion for creating comfort and style with a southern elegance and grace drive her creative vision. Nothing makes Andi feel better than the happiness on a client’s face at the end of a project. That’s in the bio. What isn’t mentioned in the bio are the finer nuances in her approach to the work. There is a fun-elegance to the work that appears to be evident in every space regardless of size or color palate. Her approach is layered and collected. You will see an active pursuit of joy and that is one of the things I think I love most about her work. I think you will too.

Designer Resources

ThermaSol – Redefining the modern shower experience. Episode 271 featuring Mitch Altman

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

Design Hardware – A stunning and vast collection of jewelry for the home!

The Oasis Alliance – Providing design to those in need.

Thank you Andi, loved our chat and truly appreciate the time. Thank you to Convo By Design partners and sponsors, ThermaSol, Moya Living and Design Hardware. You make this show possible and I truly appreciate you. Speaking of appreciation, thank you for listening, subscribing and downloading the show. Without you, what’s the point. Please keep sharing this little podcast, entering our 11th year with some truly fun things in store over the coming weeks and months. Did you catch our first episode of Drinking About Design? We’re drinking and telling design stories! More on the way. Thanks for listening, until next week, be well and take today first. -CXD

She’s Got the Magic and That is What Makes it All Work | 446 | Glenna Stone

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design exploring the work of Philadelphia interior designer Glenna Stone. A very talented creative who said this, “I think of design as a magical process where something that didn’t exist suddenly does…and that’s what I love about what I do. I love developing a complete design, a 360 vision that considers the intentions of the client, the architecture of the space, and all the while artfully combining scale, balance, proportion, texture, and hue in a way that marries beauty and lifestyle. Great design is about walking into a space, and every single time feeling one thing: this is as it should be.”

Designer Resources

ThermaSol – Redefining the modern shower experience. Episode 271 featuring Mitch Altman

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

Design Hardware – A stunning and vast collection of jewelry for the home!

Glenna’s bio reads like this; Inspired by her mother, an artist and teacher, Glenna developed her sense of color and composition at a young age. She has always had a passion for combining color, materials and textures in an artful manner. Paralleling her creative side, Glenna embraced her strong technical skills and received a degree in engineering from Lehigh University. Upon graduation she worked for Fortune 500 companies as a consultant and project manager in the consumer products industry.

While achieving much success in this previous career, she felt the need to embrace her more creative side and began taking interior design courses at the Boston Architectural College and the Rhode Island School of Design. After much consideration, Glenna decided to combine her technical and creative skills and pursue a graduate degree in interior design. Glenna graduated from Drexel University with a Masters degree in Interior Architecture and Design. This specialized background and balance of left and right brain not only contributes to the success of Glenna Stone Interior Design, but also sets the firm apart within the industry.

Glenna prides herself on being an original thinker, a good listener with impeccable attention to detail, and someone who sees each project phase through to completion. As a cofounder of The Sustainability Nexus, sustainable design and giving back to the local community is of high importance. She finds her work as an interior designer exceptionally rewarding because it allows her to enhance the quality of others’ lives through design. (end of bio)

Thank you Glenna, loved our chat and truly appreciate the time. Thank you to Convo By Design partners and sponsors, ThermaSol, Moya Living and Design Hardware. You make this show possible and I truly appreciate you. Speaking of appreciation, thank you for listening, subscribing and downloading the show. Without you, what’s the point. Please keep sharing this little podcast, entering our 11th year with some truly fun things in store over the coming weeks and months. Did you catch our first episode of Drinking About Design? We’re drinking and telling design stories! More on the way. Thanks for listening, until next week, be well and take today first. -CXD

Which Comes First Design of Architecture | 445 | Charlotte Designer (and Architect) Ashley DeLapp

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design and on todays episode, you are going to hear from an incredibly talented Charlotte based creative who started as an architect and transitioned to designer. Ashley DeLapp is not the first creative I have spoken with that went the design route from other endeavors and there have been a few you have heard from in the past that started as architects as well. Ashley holds a BA in Architecture from the University of North Carolina and after spending 10 years as an architect, opened her own design firm in 2009.

Ashleys work is theatrical, bold and one of the things that you will hear as we explore her work is both a scientific approach to space and space management combined with a fearless use of color and materials. Now, keep in mind that with application of the bold comes the more often than not sales approach to the client. Selling these bold ideas must be easier when there is a heavy attention to detail in space management and using a space to let the work breathe. These are just a few observations, you will hear more, I promise.  As a matter of fact, if you have been listening to the show for a while, you know about the deep design dives we take together and in this episode of the show, we go deep so make sure you check the show notes for a link to Ashley’s projects and follow along provided you are not driving! So, let’s get to it. You are going to hear from Ashley DeLapp, right after this.

Designer Resources

ThermaSol – Redefining the modern shower experience. Episode 271 featuring Mitch Altman

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

Design Hardware – A stunning and vast collection of jewelry for the home!

Thank you Ashley. Loved our time together. Love the work.  Thank you to my partners, sponsors and friends of the show, ThermaSol, Moya Living, Design Hardware, ICAA SoCal Chapter and the Oasis Alliance. And thank you for taking time to subscribe and listen to the show. I appreciate you, more than you know. Thank you for the emails with show and guest suggestions as well as those just to say “hi”. Please, keep them coming. Thanks again for listening, until next week, be well and take today first. -CXD


Fitting In Is the Art of Being Yourself, and Others Loving You for It and This Company Nailed it | 444 | Roberta Mantenuto, CEO of Fittes

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design. Today on the show, you are going to hear from Roberta Mantenuto, CEO of Fittes, formerly Aria Vent and sometimes the biggest changes from changing the smallest details. This is one of those occasions, to me at least. Fittes Co. is the Canadian company revolutionizing the vent and register business. They created a modular air vent and you know what I love most about this? For the longest time, we just used what we had available, contractor grade from the big box or perhaps a boutique brand that made the same thing, but with nicer finishes. Fittes now has a full line of framed and flush mount covers, vents, outlets and drains.  It’s just such a simple idea and that is what I love most about this story. I sit down with Roberta, CEO and co-founder of Fittes and daughter of company co-founder and inventor, Paolo. One part of this story is in the simplicity of the idea, another is the elegant execution of the concept. The third idea is the scaling up and recent name change to stay current. The final piece for me, is the story of a father-daughter duo making something happen and executing on this simple idea in a very big way.  You are going to hear my conversation with Roberta Mantenuto, right after this.

Thank you Roberta for the time. Love the idea, love the company and as a girl dad, love the family partnership dynamic. Thank you to my partners and sponsors ThermaSol, Moya Living, Design Hardware. I truly appreciate the partnership. And thank you for listening, downloading and subscribing to the podcast. Please make sure you are subscribed so you get every episode of the show the moment its published. Please email me with suggestions and show ideas, love the input. Email is convobydesign@outlook dot com and on Instagram @convoxdesign with and “x”. Thanks for listening. Until next week, be well and take today first. -CXD

Drinking About Design: An Architect, Designer and Journalist Walk Into A Bar | 443 | Al Beadle & William Haines

I’m Josh Cooperman, host and publisher of Convo By Design with something new for you. Dropping this on Friday, for a very good reason. You’re going to want to get a drink.

 In the summer of 2020, the pandemic was in full effect. We were all locked in and trying to figure out what was going to happen next. You remember, you were doing the exact same thing. So, besides the day drinking and looking up old friends on Facebook, I was trying to learn new ways to be socially engaged. On at least one occasion, John McClain, Erik Peterson and I, met via Zoom to share a few pops and tell stories. One of things I did during that time was binge watch Drunk History, Dinner for Five and Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown and No Reservations. Ground breaking shows that I never could find the time to watch before.

I became enamored with the skill by which Anthony Bourdain found a complete language revolving around found and association to society, how Jon Favreau could take 4 celebrities and craft a vibrant tableau out of each of the stories shared around a table. How Derek Waters told stories through the honest interpretations of historical events through the drunken lens of comics woven together as a tapestry featuring some of the funniest people working in Hollywood.

Then all of a sudden, it was over. Things opened up all at once and we all got busy. Really busy. I’ve been missing some of those evenings at the virtual bar, My virtual bar is called, Big D Energy. Big Design Energy for my Hip Hop loving friends. I wouldnt want you to get the wrong idea.

So I got an idea that I have been toying with for about 2 years and I finally got a chance to do it. And what better way to launch this than to reunite with John and Erik.

John McClain tells the story of William Haines I’m also sharing an interesting story you might find illuminating.

Erik Petersen is talking about Al Beadle. You have probably never heard of Al Beadle? Well, you will now. 

This is just 3 friends getting together at the local virtual watering hole, talking a little shit and telling stories. And, yes, this is very different than the episodes of the show you have heard in the past. We’re drinking and this episode carries the Explicit label. If you are sensitive to some salty language, you might want to delete this episode and move on to the next one. With that, I give you the first installment of Drinking About Design. 

This was the first installment of Drinking About Design featuring John McClain and Erik Peterson sharing stories about William Haines and Al Beadle. Two incredible talents, and good friends. Thank you both for doing this. For notes, drink recipe’s and further links to the stories and work you heard about here, check the show notes. Thanks for listening. Cheers. 

Illuminated Ideas: Architecture and Lighting for A Modern Client | 442 | Charles Pavarini III

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design with Charles Pavarini III.  Pavarini has reinterpreted the legacy of the Pavarini Construction Company, known for creating historic landmarks including the Seagram Tower, the United Nations, the State Theater at Lincoln Center, and numerous other landmark buildings in New York City and throughout the world. All of his projects hinge around a powerful central design theme and maintain a certain ‘vision’ which is always dramatically executed given Charles’ keen sense of color, style, and use of lighting as a ‘design tool’. Having sat on the board of directors of the Designer’s Lighting Forum of New York for twenty-five years, he has a refined approach to interior design always staged with strong focal points and exacting lighting technique to harness the artistic and architectural vernacular of the spaces he designs. His extensive experience in the Performing Arts as performer, costume designer and set designer qualify him to conceive projects of any scale and proportion with great dignity and an unmatched passion for mood. While that is the bio, it should also be noted that Pavarini co-authored a book that was featured on BookLook. His offering, Lighting Beyond Edison: Brilliant Residential Lighting Techniques in the Age of LED’s is truly a transformative look at what is possible in modern lighting and how it works to elevate the design and increase functionality.  We are going to cover this and a great deal more.

Designer Resources

ThermaSol – Redefining the modern shower experience. Episode 271 featuring Mitch Altman

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

Design Hardware – A stunning and vast collection of jewelry for the home!

The Oasis Alliance – Providing design to those in need.

ICAA Southern California – SoCal is Southern California’s preeminent resource on classical architecture and the allied arts.

Thank you Charles for the time. Thank you to my partners and sponsors ThermaSol, Moya Living, Design Hardware. I truly appreciate the partnership. And thank you for listening, downloading and subscribing to the podcast. Please make sure you are subscribed so you get every episode of the show the moment its published. Please email me with suggestions and show ideas, love the input. Email is convobydesign@outlook dot com and on Instagram @convoxdesign with and “x”. Thanks for listening. Until next week, be well and take today first. -CXD

Top SoCal Talent Spill the Tea on Elevated Design | 441 | What You Need to Know Right Now

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design with another installment of the Design Leadership Series and this week, I am going to share with you. This group was recorded live from the Design Hardware showroom on Third Street in LA. This was an amazing group and with 12 creatives there, it was the biggest event we recorded to date.  Keep listening, you’re going to enjoy this.

Designer Resources

ThermaSol – Redefining the modern shower experience. Episode 271 featuring Mitch Altman

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

Design Hardware – A stunning and vast collection of jewelry for the home!

The Oasis Alliance – Providing design to those in need.

ICAA Southern California – SoCal is Southern California’s preeminent resource on classical architecture and the allied arts.

I started hosting these events in 2017. I realized after a design festival, that the panel conversations, while interesting, did not contain the same power as the conversations that followed. Groups of creatives getting down to the brass tacks, sharing what they really think without the audience. These gatherings are more “happening” than anything else. It places the creatives in a safe space with colleagues free to discuss what is really happening, get a little commiserating in and then getting to the challenge of addressing these issues. These events are powerful and I’m really proud to share them with you. This conversation has also aired on Doctoring Up Design, the Design Hardware podcast. You are about to listen in on a real workgroup discussing the issues designers, architects and builders face today. The following conversation is between 12 creatives and at times, it gets complicated, just like conversations in the real world. 

This conversation was not intended for you to blow through while multi-tasking. There is a great deal of material here and it is intended to be listened to over time and re-listened as well. It is worthy of saving and added to your resource library.

This is kicked off by Michele Solomons with Design Hardware asking about the experience designers have with their showroom partners. It’s an important question and one on just about every designers mind. From there, this chat takes on a life of its own and if you follow closely, there are nuggets of design business gold to be found.

Before we listen in, I thought you would like to meet the participants: 

Andres Gonzalez – Cali Renderings

Christine Jahan – Christine Jahan Designs @christineJahanDesigns

Crickett KenserKitchen Places @KitchenPlacesVentura

Huma Sulaiman – Huma Sulaiman @HumaSulaimanDesign

James Hernandez – James Hernandez Interior Design @jameshernandezinteriordesign

Joan Barton – Dirty Girl Construction @dirtygirlconstruction

Kara Piepmeyer – Studio Kosma @studiokosma

Leslie Delli-Venneri – Aquabella @aquabellatile @leslie.dee.vee

Marbe Briceno – Marbe Designs @marbe.designs

Mark Hermogeno – Hermogeno Designs @hermogenodesigns

Nicole Michael – Nicole Michael Designs @nicole.michael.designs

Rydhima Brar – R/Terior Studio @rteriorstudio

So those are the participants. This is the full conversation. Enjoy listening in.

That was a fun and incredibly talented group. Great job, designers! Thank you for your time. Thank you to my partners and sponsors, ThermaSol, Moya Living, Design Hardware, The Oasis Alliance and the ICAA SoCal chapter. And a special thanks to you. Thank you for downloading, streaming and supporting the show. If you have anything to suggest for a future episode of the show or a guest from whom you would like to hear, email me Convo By Design at Outlook dot com or on Instagram @ConvoX Design with an “x”.  Thanks again for listening. Until next week, be well and take today first. -CXD

LIVE From Frank Lloyd Wright’s ONLY Skyscraper | 440 | The Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. A Very Special Place

When I first moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, I mentioned in the show that something I was most excited about was seeing new things that many if not most have never seen. There was something on my list from day one and I finally had the chance to go and do this. Visit Price Tower. For those not familiar; The Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma is an absolutely exquisite creation of Frank Lloyd Wright. It is constructed of concrete in a very unique shape. Four quadrants based on the geometry of  a 30-60-90 double parallelogram.  It was based on the idea for a Manhattan cluster of buildings designed and then scraped in 1929 due to the great depression. The Price Tower was designed and built for Harold C. Price to serve as the headquarters for his oil and gas pipeline company. The building was designed to be mixed-use and was opened to the public in February, 1956. 

Designer Resources

ThermaSol – Redefining the modern shower experience. Episode 271 featuring Mitch Altman

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

Design Hardware – A stunning and vast collection of jewelry for the home!

The Oasis Alliance – Providing design to those in need.

ICAA Southern California – SoCal is Southern California’s preeminent resource on classical architecture and the allied arts.

Materials Used: The building is primarily made of concrete with heavy use of wood, copper and other materials regularly found in Wright’s work. heavy use of copper, stamped concrete in Cherokee Red can be found alongside the natural wood and use of greens and golds. The wallpaper used as well as fabrics designed for Schumacher as part of his Taliesin line can be found as well as his unique style of lighting and a significant amount of art are all present. There are unique pieces present that were designed and then sent to local companies to create. They include cast aluminum chairs by the Blue Stem Foundry

Mixed Use. What makes this building unlike any other example of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture is that this is a “skyscraper”, to be considered by him and others as the only one he ever built. FLW was interested with how people lived. His definition for a skyscraper was not dissimilar to how streets showcase horizontal society, this was made to be vertical an accomplish similar purpose. As such, this was his example of a live/ work environment and incorporated many floors to serve as separate zones for separate purposes. Because the building is supported by the four elevator towers and not the floors themselves, FLW was able to imagine the space almost like a tree with the elevator columns as trunk, floors as branches and copper installation as leaves.

My Experience: This visit was amazing for me. I received an incredible tour by a gentleman named Price Connors and later sat down  with Price for an interview which you are about to hear. If you check out the show notes, you will find links to some IG reels showcasing video from this visit. Of note, check out how FLW wanted you to live in the spaces he creates. Check out the amazing views and try to imagine as I did that you were in a tree house, because that is how it felt to me.

The day I visited, I learned that the building has been sold to Copper Tree, Inc. for the debt and a $10M promise to refurbish the building. I had never heard of Copper Tree and thought, what a unique name for a company interested in refurbishing this particular building. I did a little digging and learned that Copper Tree is a relatively new company, an investment company created for the purpose of acquiring and preserving iconic buildings.

I sat down with Price Connors who is an absolute wealth of knowledge and who both gave e a guided tour of The Price Tower, and sat down for an extensive interview about this truly unique project. I hope you enjoy hearing from Connors as much as I enjoyed speaking with him. For images and video shorts from my time at The Price Tower, visit us on Instagram, @convoxdesign with an “x”. You are going to hear from Price Connors, right after this.

What an absolutely amazing experience. Thank you everyone at The Price Tower for making the visit possible. Thank you Price for speaking with me and the amazing tour. My hope here was to share this extraordinary piece of American architecture with you. I know that many if not most in the US have no plans to visit Bartlesville, Oklahoma and I imagine it even more challenging for our international listeners.  I do encourage you to check out the videos, images and extra content on Instagram, @convoxdesign with an “x”. Thank you for listening, until next week, be well and take today first. -CXD