I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design. Suzanne Rheinstein, a giant in the industry has left us but not without changing both the nature of interior design but the way in which interior design is experienced by those for whom she crafted.
Suzanne was one of those rare talents who had a signature through-line in her work that has been described as “elegant civility” which was a pulled-focus on fewer, but better. A level of quality that was exceptional but not overpowering which allowed those for whom she worked to experience the different levels of her work, not necessarily all at once but over time. It is the same way other pleasure past-times like wine, art and music are experienced and enjoyed. Rheinstein was a major talent with all of the awards and accolades that you would expect. Her work, like Suzanne, was elegant and timeless.
I wanted to share some of her wit, charm and stories, in her own voice and words from an interview n 2019 at the LaCienega Design Quarter’s Legends event where she was presented with her Living Legend Award.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you will always long to return. Learning never exhausts the mind. – Leonardo da Vinci.
The pandemic is over. With that broad statement comes some finer nuanced observations. Yes, people are still getting COVID, yes, you still see some masked holdouts but I would equate those to a lingering cough after being sick. I base this on the traffic I saw at Las Vegas Market, KBIS and IBS. It was jammed, the parties were full of unmasked, imbibing revelers all in Las Vegas to see what happening, and much was happening.
You have already heard some of what was happening at Las Vegas Market. If you missed it, check the show notes or podcast feed for links to episodes about the panels and the people. This is a montage from KBIS and IBS featuring brands and design talent from around the country who decended upon sin city to celebrate design and find inspiration from products and innovation. It is important to call an end to the pandemic but to remember all that we have learned. I will say this again, once something unprecedented happens, it is no longer unprecedented and the odds are that something like it can and will happen again. If and when it does, will we be prepared? That is a conversation for another day. Today, you are going to hear from some amazing individuals including; Hacker Kitchens, Breegan Jane, John Cialone, Top Knobs, Sara Malek Barney and more. So, let’s get after it.
Wow. Jam packed, right?Thank you Sara, Matt, Roz, Andeas, Breegan, Christine & John. Thank you Convo By Design sponsors, ThermaSol, Moya Living and Design Hardware for your partnership. I appreciate you and I love the way you support the design industry. For those listening who want to learn more, please check the show notes for links. Thank you for listening to the show. I know now more than ever, there are a lot of shows out there and you chose CXD. I appreciate you and I hope you found this episode to be a great use of your time because that is my goal. Let’s do this again shall we? Say, next week? Until then, be well and take today first. -CXD
I’m Josh Cooperman and this is another edition of Business By Design, a special feature of the show. As previously mentioned, I am producing these ad hoc and I have something special for you today. But first…So you know, the following opinions are mine and do not represent or warranty any economic or future performance. We are not responsible for any gross factual errors voiced by guests, real or fake. There are no guarantees here, just ideas that have been constructed based on research so I suggest that you do your own research as well before acting on any of the ideas shared here. This is what those in the business call a disclaimer and it is meant to make sure you know that I am not giving you any financial advice, I am presenting ideas in the hopes that it gives you a way to perhaps think a bit differently about this business of ours.
Most of you have heard and might be curious about whats happening next in the business from a technological standpoint. There has been a lot of chatter recently about NFT’s, the metaverse and AI. At KBIS and Vegas Market recently, some creatives have expressed doubts, others concern and it makes sense. Years ago, I started tracking the amount of time designers and architectural firms spent of social media, marketing and other activities not directly related to the core business of the design practice and it has been astounding to see the time spent on these activities skyrocket. For me, as the host and publisher of Convo By design, it has been interesting to watch some designers really embrace media, writing blogs and some even recording their own podcasts. I love that because they got to see first hand just how difficult and time consuming it can be to do it right. That being said, we are entering a new era, one of artificial intelligence and that will have some very interesting effects on the business of design. and we are going to explore that very idea. Before I get to deep into this, I want to introduce me guest today. Meet AIDAAN (Artificial Intelligence Design And Architectural Narrarator).
As you might have guessed, AIDAAN is not human, he is as AI as it gets. I made a choice here, I gave AIDAAN an artificial sounding voice. There are some options out there that sound as real as any human. You have most likely already heard from or actually spoken with AI support and you might not even be aware. So, today on the show, we are going to hear from AIDAAN and they are going to tell you about various aspects and topics of the industry. I’m messing around with different voices and over time, I will begin to add more refined voices and we are going to learn together what that will sound like.
Something else you should know. The content you will be hearing about was not written by me, or any other human being for that matter. I have been using a few different AI sources like ChatGPT which is responsible for the actual content that AIDAAN is voicing. As a journalist, editorial integrity is of paramount importance to me so I am going to tell you when AI is responsible for producing the content you hear on the show.
So the first thing I wanted to know was the current state of the design and architecture industry. AIDAAN, take it away.
STATE OF DESIGN
The interior design industry is a vital part of the United States economy, providing jobs for thousands of designers, salespeople, and manufacturers across the country. From high-end residential projects to commercial spaces, the interior design industry has a wide range of applications and can be found in virtually every sector of the economy. In this article, we will explore the interior design industry as a business in the United States, examining the industry’s history, key players, and future prospects.
The history of interior design in the United States can be traced back to the early 20th century, when the emergence of the middle class led to a growing demand for comfortable, stylish homes. In the years that followed, the interior design industry grew rapidly, with designers like Elsie de Wolfe and Dorothy Draper pioneering new styles and techniques that helped to shape the look and feel of modern American homes.
In the post-World War II era, the interior design industry continued to expand, with designers like Raymond Loewy and Charles and Ray Eames revolutionizing the way we think about design. The emergence of the mid-century modern style, with its emphasis on clean lines, minimalism, and functionality, had a profound impact on the industry and helped to establish the United States as a leader in the world of design.
In the decades that followed, the interior design industry continued to grow and evolve, with designers and manufacturers constantly pushing the boundaries of what was possible. Today, the industry is a diverse and dynamic landscape, with a wide range of players and applications.
The interior design industry is made up of a wide range of players, from independent designers and boutique firms to large manufacturers and retailers. Some of the key players in the industry include:
Designers: Interior designers are the heart of the industry, providing creative solutions for residential and commercial spaces. Many designers work independently or as part of small firms, while others are employed by large companies or design studios.
Manufacturers: Furniture manufacturers and other companies that produce interior design products are an essential part of the industry. These companies may work with designers to create custom pieces or may sell their products directly to consumers through retail outlets.
Retailers: Retailers are an important part of the interior design industry, providing consumers with access to a wide range of products and services. Some retailers specialize in high-end luxury goods, while others cater to more budget-conscious shoppers.
Contractors: Contractors and construction companies play a key role in the interior design industry, providing the skills and expertise needed to transform spaces into beautiful, functional environments. Many interior designers work closely with contractors to ensure that their designs are executed to perfection.
Suppliers: Suppliers of materials and other products, such as fabric, wallpaper, and lighting, are an important part of the interior design industry. These companies provide the raw materials that designers need to create their designs and bring them to life.
The interior design industry is expected to continue to grow in the coming years, driven by a number of factors. One of the key drivers of growth is the increasing demand for personalized and unique interior design solutions. As consumers become more design-savvy and sophisticated, they are increasingly looking for interior design solutions that reflect their individual tastes and styles.
Another key factor driving growth in the industry is the increasing importance of sustainability and environmental responsibility. As consumers become more aware of the impact of their actions on the environment, they are looking for interior design solutions that are environmentally friendly and sustainable.
In addition to these factors, the growing importance of technology is also expected to have a significant impact on the interior design industry. From virtual reality to 3D printing, technology is enabling designers and manufacturers to create new and innovative products and services that were previously unimaginable.
Okay, so from the state of the industry to some of the players AIDAAN mentioned, let’s start with a classic,
Billy Baldwin was a man ahead of his time. Born in 1903, he was one of the most influential interior designers of the mid-20th century, renowned for his ability to create elegant, livable spaces that were both stylish and comfortable.
Growing up in Baltimore, Maryland, Billy had a keen eye for design from an early age. After attending the Parsons School of Design in New York City, he began his career as a window dresser for the prestigious department store, Bonwit Teller.
It wasn’t long before Billy was noticed by the city’s elite, who quickly began asking him to design their homes. His signature style was a blend of classic and modern elements, with an emphasis on comfort and practicality.
One of Billy’s most famous clients was Jackie Kennedy Onassis, who asked him to decorate her family’s home in Virginia. Billy’s design for the house was a masterful blend of traditional and modern styles, with clean lines, simple shapes, and a neutral color palette that emphasized the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape.
Billy’s success continued throughout the 1950s and 60s, as he designed homes and offices for some of the most prominent names in entertainment, politics, and business. His work was characterized by a simplicity and elegance that set it apart from the more ornate and opulent styles of the time.
Despite his success, Billy was always humble and focused on his work. He believed that good design should be accessible to everyone, and he wrote several books on the subject to share his ideas and inspire others.
Today, Billy Baldwin’s legacy lives on, with his designs and ideas continuing to influence generations of interior designers. He was a true pioneer in the field, and his contributions to the world of design will always be remembered and celebrated.
Next, I wanted to see if AIDAAN could explain something a bit more esoteric, nuanced and industry specific. I wanted to know more about the
Parsons School of Design
Architecture, also known as Parsons or Parsons The New School for Design, is a private art and design college located in New York City, New York. It is widely regarded as one of the best design schools in the world, with a long history of producing innovative and influential designers, artists, and thinkers. In this article, we will explore the history, philosophy, and legacy of Parsons School of Design.
Parsons School of Design was founded in 1896 by American impressionist painter William Merritt Chase. Originally known as the Chase School, the institution was established to provide young artists with the opportunity to learn from working professionals in a supportive and collaborative environment.
In the early years, the school focused primarily on painting and drawing, with a curriculum that emphasized the importance of classical techniques and the study of nature. As the school grew, however, it began to expand its offerings to include other disciplines, such as graphic design, industrial design, and fashion design.
In 1904, the school was purchased by Frank Alvah Parsons, who served as the director of the school until his death in 1930. Parsons was a visionary educator who recognized the potential of design to transform society, and he was instrumental in expanding the school’s offerings and establishing its reputation as a leader in the field of design.
Under Parsons’ leadership, the school was renamed the New York School of Fine and Applied Art, and later the Parsons School of Design. During this time, the school attracted a wide range of talented artists and designers, including the likes of Norman Rockwell, Alexander Calder, and Donald Deskey.
In the years that followed, Parsons continued to evolve and adapt to changing trends in art and design. Today, it is recognized as one of the most innovative and forward-thinking design schools in the world, with a focus on interdisciplinary collaboration and a commitment to social and environmental responsibility.
At its core, Parsons School of Design is guided by a philosophy that emphasizes creativity, experimentation, and innovation. The school’s curriculum is designed to encourage students to take risks, push boundaries, and explore new ideas and ways of thinking.
One of the key tenets of the Parsons philosophy is the idea that design can be a powerful force for positive change. Parsons students are encouraged to think critically about the social and environmental impact of their work, and to use their skills and creativity to address real-world problems and challenges.
Another important aspect of the Parsons philosophy is the school’s emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration. Parsons students are encouraged to work across disciplines and explore new ways of combining different forms of design, from fashion and architecture to graphic design and product design.
Throughout its history, Parsons has also been committed to providing its students with real-world experience and practical skills. The school has strong connections to industry leaders and professionals, and students have the opportunity to work on real-world projects and collaborate with established designers and firms.
Over the years, Parsons School of Design has produced a long list of influential and innovative designers and artists. From fashion icons like Donna Karan and Tom Ford to architects like David Rockwell and Steven Holl, Parsons graduates have had a significant impact on the world of design.
One of the most notable aspects of Parsons’ legacy is its focus on social and environmental responsibility. Many Parsons graduates have used their skills and creativity to address pressing global issues, from climate change and sustainability to social justice and equity.
Parsons has also been instrumental in shaping the cultural landscape of New York City and beyond. The school’s alumni have played a key role in shaping the fashion, art, and design scenes of the city, and its influence can be seen in everything from the public spaces and buildings of the city to the fashion runways and galleries of the world.
Is this as interesting to you as it is to me? I find this fascinating. So the final question I had for AIDAAN today, how will those in the design trade use AI to make life better, businessmore profitable and design more refined?
Artificial intelligence (AI) has become an essential tool in many industries, including design and architecture. The use of AI in these fields is changing the way designers and architects work, creating new opportunities for creativity and innovation. In this article, we will explore how designers and architects are using AI to make their work better for clients, how this is improving interior design and architecture, and how it is making life better.
How designers and architects will use artificial intelligence to make the work better for their clients:
a) Streamlining the design process:
AI is already being used to streamline the design process, reducing the time and effort required to complete projects. For example, some companies are using AI to automate the creation of 3D models, allowing designers to focus on other aspects of the project. This saves time and increases efficiency, which can ultimately result in cost savings for clients.
One of the most significant benefits of AI in design and architecture is the ability to customize designs to meet the specific needs of each client. AI can analyze data on client preferences, needs, and behaviors to create personalized designs that meet their unique requirements. This leads to more satisfied clients who feel that their needs have been heard and addressed.
c) Improved accuracy:
AI can also improve the accuracy of design work, reducing the risk of errors or mistakes. This is particularly important in fields like architecture, where errors can have serious consequences. By using AI to analyze data and create precise models, designers and architects can reduce the risk of errors and improve the overall quality of their work.
How this will improve interior design and architecture:
a) Better space planning:
AI can be used to analyze data on space usage and traffic flow to create more efficient and effective interior design plans. This can lead to better use of space, improved traffic flow, and ultimately, a better experience for users of the space.
b) Improved sustainability:
AI can also be used to improve the sustainability of interior design and architecture projects. For example, AI can analyze data on energy usage and building materials to create more sustainable designs that reduce energy consumption and waste.
c) Improved safety:
AI can also be used to improve the safety of interior design and architecture projects. For example, AI can analyze data on traffic flow and building usage to create designs that minimize the risk of accidents and injuries.
How this will make life better:
a) Increased accessibility:
AI can be used to create designs that are more accessible to people with disabilities. For example, AI can analyze data on the needs of people with disabilities to create designs that are easier to navigate and use.
b) Improved quality of life:
AI can also be used to improve the quality of life for people in interior design and architecture projects. For example, AI can be used to create designs that maximize natural light and reduce noise pollution, creating a more pleasant and comfortable environment for users.
c) Improved efficiency:
Finally, AI can be used to improve the efficiency of interior design and architecture projects, ultimately saving time and money for clients. By streamlining the design process and improving accuracy, designers and architects can complete projects more quickly and with fewer errors, resulting in cost savings for clients.
In conclusion, the use of AI in design and architecture is changing the way designers and architects work, creating new opportunities for creativity and innovation. By using AI to streamline the design process, improve accuracy, and customize designs, designers and architects can create better work for their clients. Additionally, the use of AI in interior design and architecture can improve space planning, sustainability, safety, accessibility, quality of life, and efficiency, ultimately making life better for all of us. As AI continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more exciting innovations in these fields in the years to come.
So, there you go. If you believe the machines, the state of design is strong. AI is real and this means there are new ways to use these new tools to make life better, work easier, advance innovation at a much faster pace and learn whats available sooner all while saving time and energy so you can both be more efficient and get more done. Now, can you use that additional time in a productive way or will that mean more time spent on social media? That is a personal question, but one that all of us need to ask ourselves. And, we will explore this further in the weeks and months to come.
AIDAAN, did you enjoy your first appearance on the show?
Thank you, to the amazing Convo By Design partners and sponsors, ThermaSol, Moya Living and Design Hardware. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to listen to the show. Please make sure you are subscribing to the show so you don’t miss a single episode. You can also follow along on Instagram for more fun and informative content. 2023 is shaping up to be another interesting year in design. As I have for the past 10, I will be bringing you the stories from across the globe here o n Convo By Design as well as design business insights on CXD’s The Business X Design.
Until the next episode, be well and take today first.
I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design with a new series called The Business X Design. I’m starting this monthly addition to the show for one reason, an important reason. The shelter space, industrial design, hospitality, architecture, home goods …this business of ours is one of the most important industries in the lives of those who inhabit the dwellings you design, those who work in the offices and stores architects create. Over the years and certainly post-pandemic, the business behind design has changed dramatically, but the coverage really hasn’t changed all that much. I love the design publications, I do and I always have, I predict that I always will because they showcase some of the best work being done today. I’m also frustrated by them because they don’t show enough of it, they continue for the most part to feature exclusively the celebrity, super luxury and trendy sides of the business. I get that because that is how it has always been. But I think there is a desire for more. So, in keeping with that idea, every month as long as I feel like it serves a purpose, I am going to showcase a new episode in addition to the stories behind design, that episode will showcase how the business is changing in real time. I’m going to bring you my interpretation of the data that is shaping our economy and external factors molding and shaping the state of the business today. Each of these episodes will be shorter, more concise and cover one single idea that I think you should know. With that, here’s the first episode of Convo By Design’s, The Business X Design.
So you know, the following opinions are mine and do not represent or warranty any economic or future performance. There are no guarantees here, just ideas that have been constructed based on research so I suggest that you do your own research as well before acting on any of the ideas shared here. This is what those in the business call a disclaimer and it is meant to make sure you know that I am not giving you any financial advice, I am presenting ideas in the hopes that it gives you a way to perhaps think a bit differently about this business of ours.
When I record interviews, speak with clients and check in with people around the country, I have been asked one question with greater frequency lately, “Do you think we are going to see a recession?” I believe the answer to that question is “yes” but it also comes with a few caveats because that is not an easy question to answer. Why?
What is a recession? A recession is considered by many to be 2 consecutive quarters of negative GDP.I read a Forbes Advisor article recently that sourced the origin of this idea back to economist, Julius Siskin in 1974. Since so many subscribe to this idea, it has become a part of everyday conversation as it relates to the health of the US economy just like the goal of 2% inflation by the Federal Reserve. If this is true, then according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA.GOV), with negative GDP growth in Q1 and Q2 of 2022, we have already seen a recession this year. It gets complicated because Q3 saw a GDP pop of 2.9% and this is purely a guess but I think Q4 will see positive growth as well. I’ll tell you why in a moment. I also have a few thoughts on what we’ll see after that in the first 2 quarters of 2023 and why.
Before I get further into the nuts and bolts of this, Convo By Design is more than just a podcast. I have spent the past 10 years building a production company and consulting firm that develops brand ambassador programming, CEU’s, live event programming as well as branded content for companies in the design and architecture industry including; designers, architects, furnishing companies, showrooms and others in the trade. We have content producer talent in every region of the country and can help you grow your design business through brand development campaigns, social media and CEU content development and production as well as content consulting and live event programming and production to help you build strong and meaningful partnerships that will help you grow and strengthen your design business. For more information, message me @ConvoXDesign with an “X” on Instagram or email email@example.com.
I have been following a basket of stocks that are inextricably tied to home improvement, development and design. I am going to continue tracking these stocks to see what connections materialize. Keep in mind that stock performance is a rear facing indicator but, the best way to predict future performance is to look at what it has been in the past. Here are the stocks I’m following;
Bassett Furniture BSET
Ethan Allen ETD
William Sanoma WSM
Home Depot HD
Restoration Hardware RH
Mohawk Industries MHK
Sherwin Williams SHW
American Woodmark AMWD
Year to date in 2022, this the overall performance of a few of them with some thoughts (mid-December),
Bassett Furniture BSET
Ethan Allen ETD
LazyBoy LZB 23.32, down from 36.10 – 22 saw significantly higher earnings and revenue from the 3 previous years.
William Sanoma WSM
Home Depot HD
Restoration Hardware RH
Mohawk Industries MHK 97.50, down from 100.24 at the start of the year. Revenue and earnings were up in 22 versus the past 3 years.
What I see from this is that this sampling shows 4 mainstream companies with higher revenue and 3 of the 4 with higher earnings as well. This tells me that consumers are still buying, improving and designing. At the same time, according to the BEA again, the US savings rate was 3.2 % in July of 22, 2.8% in August, 2.4% in September and 2.3% in October. That makes sense because of inflation.
The PCE, defined as “A measure of the prices that people living in the United States, or those buying on their behalf, pay for goods and services. The PCE price index is known for capturing inflation (or deflation) across a wide range of consumer expenses and reflecting changes in consumer behavior.”
Year over year PCE rose 6.2 in August, 6.3 in September and 6.0 in October. Monthly saw a 0.3 rise in each of those 3 months.
So we all get it. Prices continue to rise, savings continue to fall. But many if not most of the companies selling the products continue to record higher earnings over the past 3 years.
I should also mention that my exit interviews with my guests indicate that some projects have been pushed further out in the calendar. A few have cancelled, and many of those cancellations are replaced with other projects looking to expedite. This is where I think the business gets really interesting. I do believe there will be another technical recession again in q1 and q2 of 2023 but after that.… I think it will be bumpy and bouncy with interest rates dropping, inflation rates dropping. I also think as the supply chain continues to free up, that could, in and of itself, create new supply delays as many clients green-light projects when they feel things have stabilized.
Supply Chain & Logistics
In a recent Los Angeles Times article, it notes that the supply chain backup of 2020 is relatively dispersed now. Because the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach represent 40% of U.S. imports, some of that business is looking elsewhere. Traffic in these two ports in down and traffic in New York/ New Jersey ports is up. If you specify goods from abroad, this will affect you, your clients and your projects. The time has come for those in the design trade to understand more about the logistical activities of their partners.
Rise of the Workroom, Provenance & Sustainable Design
The past few years have seen a demonstrable growth in a desire for clients to know the story behind the products they bring into their homes. They want to know who made it, what it’s made of and where it comes from. My guests and friends in the business have explained to me that clients want to know this because it adds meaning to their purchase. It adds a special nature to the design and it creates a narrative for their lives and the lives of their family. I believe this wholeheartedly and I believe this concept is going to remain true for quite some time. Because of this, and the amount of competition, if you don’t already have your roster of specialists, builders, artists, workrooms and trades… The first part of 2023 should be spent solidifying your relationships. The workroom and the supply chain also happen to be inextricably tied because if you can’t get that material to your fabricator, how can you hope to complete the piece? You can’t.
Sustainable design is more complicated these days. Is the material made of virgin or recycled material? How far did it have to travel to get to the project? Who made it and were they paid a reasonable wage? What else is in that material from a chemical composition standpoint? Does it off-gas? Were there chemicals used in growing the material? Is that textile pattern original? What is the origin? Some food for thought here… The idea of cultural appropriation has been a hot topic in the fashion industry lately. I have linked a few articles in the show notes if you care to read them. Some are staring to call use of indigenous patterns in textiles “plagiarism”. Which technically could be true. I mention this because this idea is gaining steam and there are major manufacturers who have been accused of appropriating patters and ideas for use in their own work. It’s a fine line, but certainly one that appears to be gaining steam and one I think every creative needs to be aware of considering how designers are shooting more projects and publishing them to social media. On the other Side of this, there is an amazing opportunity to work with indigenous people to use their products in your projects. Not only do you get to share the story, you also have an opportunity to obtain a new source, directly.
Key Findings- I also believe that 2023 will be that “moment” just about every creative I have spoken with since August 2020 has been looking for to catch their breath. Catch your breath and plan accordingly.
What does that mean? I think based on the sticky inflation numbers, high interest rate environment, low savings numbers and higher cost of both raw materials and high cost of labor: The U.S. will see sporadic drops in GDP with the greatest opportunity for another technical recession in q1 and q2 2023. It could be one quarter or it could be two. I believe that the need and desire for a well designed home has become universal and that budgetary limitations notwithstanding, the strong consumer will continue to spend but it may be at lower price points. Perhaps it’s a shift in the high-low mix to more on the lower end, or that could translate into more “vintage” or locally, artisan made. Something else for the design professional to consider… Office design, hospitality, senior care facilities, school design, restaurant design, civic space… all have undergone major shifts in thought about what these spaces are and how they can be redesigned to better serve those who use them. This disruption to the marketplace will also create new opportunities, and a new client base.
Speaking of competition, there was a time when most designers were extremely concerned about e-design and taking over the business… A recent visit to a few brought special messages of discontinuation. Check the show notes for images from their sites. You can also find a link to an interesting article from TechCrunch about Modsy’s discontinuation of services. A similar story to that of the original Laurel & Wolf, Homepolish and Decorist.
Is e-design a thing of the past? Not a chance. I was in broadcast during the time of Napster. Music is now readily available online and what’s interesting is that according to Zippia, Global paid music had 8MM paid streamers in 2010 compared to 523MM in 2021. I think the e-design industry is in its infancy. I think the growth will be driven higher when the major brands and designers adopt it using their own talents to drive the business, not merely a discount site for creative talent but a true marketplace for creative talent to offer their services using their actual remote and virtual design skills. Keep checking this space because ewe will be following this and developments as they occur.
2023 is shaping up to be another interesting year in design. As I have for the past 10, I will be bringing you the stories from across the globe here o n Convo By Design as well as design business insights on CXD’s The Business X Design. Thank’s for listening. Please make sure you are subscribing to the show so you get every episode the moment it’s published.
Until the next episode, be well and take today first.
I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design with another installment of the Wellness & Design Thought Leadership Series presented by ThermaSol. For those new to the show, the Wellness & Design Thought Leadership Series is a deep dive into the work of shelter creatives who are at the forefront of holistic design. When I say holistic design, I mean it in the truest sense. Design that keeps the individual form whom its designed at the forefront of the work. Designers who craft space for the quality of life that space provides. And Michael Gilbride is one such designer.
Michael describes his namesake firm as one that creates, “for lives well lived.” He also describes well connected spaces and purpose to elevate daily life. That is the prototypical example of a designer that works to create, elevate, connect and better the lives for those he designs for. And that’s the point. Michael and I cover a lot of ground here. We talk about his South American upbringing that informs his design philosophy and his background in fashion prior to his work in design. We also chat about an extraordinary design house project that Michael worked on in the Hudson Valley of New York. The Kingston Design Showhouse. Michael and his team created an absolutely spectacular bathroom that is part spa, part art gallery and all zen. What I love most, and you will hear about this, This bathroom is simply one of the best, most-completely designed spaces I have ever seen. I have studied this space in depth, looking for some small detail that was overlooked and I cannot find one. It is one of the best-designed spaces I have ever seen and because design is personal, you might agree, or not and that is okay either way. But what is undeniable is that design is constrained by walls, space, location and imagination. This bathroom is not huge but every inch of space was considered in the final result. What you will hear is the philosophy behind it the why, and how it all came together.
Moya Living –Beautiful, durable powder coated kitchen, bath & outdoor kitchen cabinetry. I love working with Moya Living and believe you will too for any design project you can conceive from residential to Commercial, hospitality or industrial.
Design Hardware – A stunning and vast collection of jewelry for the home! Check them out and you will find what you’re looking for.
Thank you Michael for taking the time to share your story. Thank you CXD partners and sponsors; ThermaSol, Moya Living and Design Hardware for your continued support. And thank you for taking the time every week to share some time together and hear the stories behind sublime design. Check the show notes for links to Michael’s work, our social media links and please keep emailing me with your suggestions and guest submissions. Convo By Design @ Outlook dot com. Until next week, remember why you do what you do and for whom you do it, be well and take today first.
I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design. We are talking about the Remote Design House in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This episode features a tremendous talent and incredible friend, John McClain.
In the last episode of the show featuring this new design house project in Tulsa, Oklahoma, you heard about and from designer Gail Davis. This episode features John McClain and his work on Rose’s Room. First, a reminder about this project.
The pandemic created a forced shelter-in-place which affected home and office design more than most other industries.
The core ideas of both home and office have changed forever. And rightfully so. At the same time, the very nature of what architects and designers do hasn’t changed at all, while their means, methods, processes and procedures certainly have. The remote nature of this design house is in direct response to designers responding to clients that they could not see in person at the time and, for those who have left their current city or state but love their designer and want to remain with them. If I live in Los Angeles and move to Aspen, I might want my designer to to work on my project. But if my designer doesn’t know how to work remotely, or virtually, that can and will be a problem.
Remote Design is the practice of working in one place on a project in another.
Virtual Design is the process of working on a project that does not currently exist. Thank of it as an idea without a physical embodiment.
The Remote Design House – Tulsa is a real project, using real designers who will never physically step foot in the project house. All the work is being done virtually, and remotely with local trades and artisans doing the work.
This project will also not have tours and there are no tickets for events or parties. No matter where you are listening to this, you will have access to the final project through videos, before and after segments, product features and an intimate look at the project house, neighborhood and City of Tulsa.
Side note. I was recently in Los Angeles for a design event in May and as I was telling many in the trade about the project, the Mose common response was, “eww, why Tulsa.” This has been a common response since I started planning this project in 2020. There is a visceral, negative response to the idea of Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Midwest from many I have met in LA, New York, Tab Francisco and the other “high style” design destinations. My response is always the same, “oh, when was the last time you were in Tulsa?” Not a single person with that response has ever been to Tulsa because had they been, they would know what a special city this is. Which is exactly why it was selected over Austin, Nashville, St. Louis, Kansas City, Seattle and Denver. Nothing against those cities, but Tulsa is special and over the next year, you are going to find out why.
The Family | The Jennings’s, Michael (45), Rachael (42) and their children, Davis (19) and Rose (17) are transplants from New York City. The family learned that they could work remotely from anywhere in the country and sought out a city where they could slow down, focus on family and still grow their business, make friends, finish high school and pursue a higher quality of life. The desire was to slow down, focus and decrease the rat race pace and find their space.
Michael is a TV producer. He is an avid cook, not a chef. He enjoys his work but is looking for ways to separate himself from doing it 24/7/365. Michael is connected (media) and looks for ways to disconnect, spend time volunteering coach youth sports and engaging in creative endeavors. This includes building and refinishing furniture.
Rachael is in sales. She manages a territory across the US and does the majority of her work online but travels about 5 times a year to industry trade shows. Rachel enjoys reading, yoga and quiet meditation. She is an avid baker who loves spending time in the kitchen and enjoys spending time with the family.
Davis is a college student, attending school on the east coast. While his room is not occupied year-round, when he is at home, he spends countless hours on research projects. He spends time gaming with his college friends around the country and enjoys reading, golf and computer training events.
Rose is a senior in high school. She is a highly accomplished athlete. She plays club soccer and lacrosse and debate competitions. Rose misses her friends back home and looks forward to playing host when they come to town and visit her. There are times when she is often exhausted and physically beat up from long tournament weekends. She spends long hours doing research papers and studying so her workspace needs to be both functional and comfortable. She is fashion forward and cherishes her personal space as teenage girls do.
The home is American Colonial built in 1936. This is a unique property with a park setting and Tulsa’s Crow Creek running though the back yard. Project rooms include; Living Room, Kitchen/ Dining Room, Michel and Rachael’s Room, Rose’s Room, Davis’s Room, Club Room, Guest Quarters w/ Sunroom, Office. All bedrooms are en-suites.
John McClain of John McClain Design is also a long time friend and by far the most business savvy designers working in the business today. Pair that with his tremendous talent and you have a complete deign professional whose work stops those who love design in their tracks.
John McClain is an accomplished interior designer, speaker, writer, and on-air contributor who has turned his lifetime passion for interior design into an opportunity to do the same for others. As a young man, John’s interest in creating beautiful spaces was sparked by his family’s talent in home building and renovations.
Soon, John began remodeling and redesigning home after home and combined a trade taught by his family with his natural aesthetic ability. Shortly after his career launch, John appeared on HGTV; and through this experience, his personality and design perspective were visible to a larger audience, and he was soon designing homes across the country. Next, John joined a prestigious interior design firm/furniture design company in Los Angeles, CA. Here, John gained an appreciation for the sophisticated west coast design style while collaborating on designs for many LA homes-including several celebrity clients. John also fueled his passion for custom furniture design-learning the ins and outs of quality craftsmanship and unique designs, eventually leading to his own home furnishings company, John McClain Home. John McClain Design is a well-crafted blend of John’s past design experience, education, and innovative-forward thinking.
John selected Rose’s Room and he infused it with glamour, style and a luxurious functionality that allows for work, study, fun, games, dreaming, relaxing and growing in a single space. It is so wonderful and I cannot wait to share it with you.
There you go, that is John McClain and I want you to notice a few things. John is resolute in his talents, style and abilities. That is not arrogant or cocky. John spends a great deal of time studying his craft, knowledge base of materials colors and finishes. Basically, John does the work and it shows in his design. That is the next superpower of the most talented designers. An unquenchable thirst for knowledge, a curiosity that leads to a superior base of knowledge. Why is this important? It provides:
A full understanding of what is available, and the performance of the product and materials.
Anunderstanding of the longevity of the idea. Is it a trend, a fad, or, is it something that will resonate for the duration of the design itself. This brings up another concept. Design is NOT forever. There is lasting style and classics but don’t mistake that to believe that the design is going to be forever. Nothing is. Everything has a lifespan. Architects design for 75, 100, maybe 200 years. Designers tend to create for 10, 15 or 20. Daily use furnishings and rugs will not last that long before recovering or restoration is needed. Keep that in mind.
Securing the best material quality available so when that sofa does reach the end of its life, it can be recovered, and reimagined to reflect the ideas of the day. A good designer sees that potential.
Superior designers who know their business are truly futurists. By that I mean they can look into the future based on what is happening today and predict how developing trends in design might affect other elements of the design. In this case, John designed for a 17 year old girl who will take this design concept with her when she gets her own place. And that design concept will craft her future design ideas and desires. Brilliant really.
So, it’s such a gift to have a great designer, but that’s not always enough. You need good product partners too. The pandemic and later, supply chain issues, inflation and staffing has put a white hot spotlight on the design industries product and manufacturing companies as well as the designers themselves. Not all the businesses in our industry were prepared for what happened, nor were they prepared for what would be required to keep clients and designers happy. We had some specification issues on this project and not every partner responded the same.
There was a console specified. The cost of the console was $2,000. The shipping, added later was $5,000. That is not a mistake, $5,000 to ship a $2,000 console. Needless to say, we cancelled that and found local artisan n Tulsa to craft one that that captured the original idea and I think it really did in the end. The materials used on this console were all reclaimed materials and that too felt pretty good. So, locally made by a local Tulsa, delivered locally and crafted of locally reclaimed materials. Oh, and it was delivered for about 20% of the cost of the other product. Not 20% less, 20% of the total cost. It required local research on my end and input form John. But it really worked.
There was one issue that really did not sit well and it had to do with the window coverings. We had a local workroom craft them but the materials came another vendor. The original order was not correct and the service required to fix it was less than stellar. Love the material, but will not be using that vendor again. Know your vendors and build that relationship even if you are not ordering from them now, it will pay off in the end.
Thank you, John for your time and talent. Your incredible and amazing vision. Thank you to Convo By Design partners and sponsors; ThermaSol, York Wallcoverings, Moya Living, Design Hardware. And thank you for listening and subscribing to Convo By Design. I so appreciate that you take me with you on your drives, hikes, workouts all the other places where you listen to your podcasts. For more stories from the Remote Design House – Tulsa and interviews, panels and design events, please make sure you are subscribing to the show. Remember why you do what you do and take today first. -CXD
I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design. Today on the show we are heading back to the WestEdge Design Fair from Dallas, Texas to talk about something on every creative’s mind these days. The Pivot. I started writing about the pivot in the first year of the pandemic. Through my conversations, a constant theme kept emerging. This idea that creatives must continually reinvent themselves to reflect both a working knowledge and fundamental understanding of where the design industry was going from both technological and preferential perspectives. We continue this conversation with some new voices, and I am really excited to share this with you.
How are you adapting to the design business changes over the past 3 years? Are you working harder than ever before? Checking on delivery dates, specifying and re-specifying due to repricing and discontinuations? Wondering how to capture a bigger audience in social media, upgrade your clientele? Are you wondering if this is the right time to scale back, scale up or merge with another firm? Are you concerned about how inflationary pressures or that threatened recession will become a reality?
Thought so. You’re not alone. These questions are on the mind of most if not every designer working today. Size doesn’t matter, scale does. Is this the time to scale down to find harmonious home/ life balance or scale up to increase revenues. While ultimately these are individual decisions, you will hear from designers who have scaled that mountain, some up and others down. You will learn from those who have experienced it and what they have learned from the experience. Is it working? Follow along as this distinguished group discuss these issues and others that directly affect the industry. Featuring Laura Umansky, Ann Jackson,and moderated by Sara Malek Barney.
Before I get to this episode of the show, I received a special delivery and I’m so happy to share it with you in this edition of BOOKLOOK featuring Intersection of Nature and Art, an absolutely glorious book celebrating those very things by James Doyle Design Associates. There are a few different styles for today’s design and architecture books. Some are used as a promotional piece for the designer or architect. A way to display their work in a weighted volume from which to share detailed ideas, almost like that of a text book while others create picture books full of their project images sans much editorial. Then of course there are various options between the two extremes. Then there are those who craft and construct their tome with the approach of a romance writer but weighted and balanced as to demonstrate how the copy could have served as the instructions for what would ultimately become the completed work. That narrative is then seen in the photos. There is enough art and sculpted landscape, which could also be defined as art in the project images, but there is also a great deal of work that looks to be there, not because a landscape designer placed it but because it just belongs there. That too is the feeling I had going through this monograph. It is complex yet simple in the idea that nature and art are inexplicably tied, but there is a completeness to the story being told in the work itself. I’ll share a secret with you. I am what you call an extroverted introvert. I have known this for a long time and that is one of the reasons why I think I love design as much as I do. I can appreciate the work and even draw energy from it. Going through a design book like this energizes me, provides me with an opportunity to lose myself in their work and focus exclusively on what is about the inanimate and the living working together without the need for people to activate it. Intersection of Nature and Art is a journey that takes you from a fun, elaborate tree house to the concrete exoskeleton that will be a retaining wall. Exquisitely sculpted gardens to nature-scapes that appear not to have been touched by human hands in decades yet they all share the same sense of scale, detail, scope and importance.
This book is being shared with you because it belongs in your library if what I previously mentioned are important to you. I love books, I love design and so my love for design books runs deep. This is a book I can see myself returning to often and because of that, if you share this passion, I think you will enjoy it as well. James Doyle Design Associates, well done.
Thank you Sara for grabbing the mic and taking this conversation on. Thank you Ann and Laura for your insight and expertise. Thank you for listening and subscribing to Convo By Design. The podcast, now in our 10th year was created for those in the design industry as well as those who simply love design, architecture, the arts and want the insider’s perspective.
Thank you ThermaSol, Moya Living and Design Hardware for your partnership and support of the show. Keep those email coming, I do love hearing your thoughts about the show, ways to provide you new ideas and those guest submissions. Love those. Until next week, be well and take today first.
I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design. After 10 years doing this show, I am still happy to say that I love doing it. If I’m being completely honest, it’s not because I am surprised and delighted by the design. I am, but that’s not why. I have grown accustomed to seeing extraordinary design and architecture. Spectacular new products, amazingly talented creatives doing the work. But it is the people and their stories that keep me in a childlike state of wonder. That is why I continue to love doing this show the way I do. And today’s episode is no different. This is part of a series called American Made By Hand and it features a friend, Brad Glock who turns wood into exquisite pieces of Americana. And you are about to hear his story.
I met Brad while learning to turn myself, something I have wanted to do for a very long time. After moving to Oklahoma to work on the design house, I had the chance to do that and Brad was one of the instructors. Turning is like any other passion or endeavor, you have to love doing it and the skill and art follow, as is the case with Brad. His work is amazing. As always, you can check the show notes for links to Brad’s work, but what is to follow is my conversation with Brad as part of a new series I’m starting called American Made By Hand. As the best designers know, if you’re accessorizing, clients want the story, the provenance, an understanding of the meaning behind products and materials they are bringing into their homes. Brad is an artist, and a craftsman. Years ago, you might recall me speaking with Rossoblu chef and restauranteur Steve Samson who explained that he was a craftsman, not an artist. He could make something you’ve eaten before in Northern Italy, and it would taste like his grandmother’s grandmother made it, but he doesn’t create new work. That left an indelible mark on my brain. It did. A desire not to create, but recreate with exactness… Amazing. But, Brad is an artist and a craftsman. He innovates using wood, a lathe and other items as they materialize.
I had an idea, I asked Brad to work with me to create a custom tableware set for the Tulsa Remote Design House Project. We ideated, designed it and he turned it. I did sand though, and I have a scar to prove it. That is a story for another day. I consider Brad a friend and I am thrilled, truly to share his story with you. This is Brad Glock on Convo By Design’s, American Made: By Hand.
Thank you, Brad. Love your work and I cannot wait to share images of this incredible tableware set. A side note, this collection is available for purchase, not this exact one, but one of your own, customized just for your project. Make sure to contact me directly. Message me @ConvoXDesign or email me at Convo By Design at Outlook dot com.
Thank you to my partners and sponsors ThermaSol, Moya Living and Design Hardware. You can find direct links to them and to Brad in the show notes. Thank you for listening and subscribing to the show. Remember why you do what you do and for whom you do it. I appreciate you, I do this for you. Be well and until next week, take today first.
I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo by Design featuring a one on one conversation with a modern design clarion. A design creative with exceptional vision and true perspective on who he is as a creative and what he wants his eponymous firm to be. This is Benjamin Johnston recorded live fat the WestEdge Design Fair’s first Texas edit in September 2022.
Architect and designer, Benjamin Johnston is the face of his namesake firm but he is not a one-man show. He is partner & Creative Director and seems extremely comfortable with the roles he has chosen for himself. That of creative to work the business but not necessarily CEO, president or other lofty titles because he has made the decision not to let the business work him. The true gift I receive from moderating these chats is a unique perspective that sometimes, really surprise me. This was one of those conversations and I am really pleased to present it to you for your enjoyment and edification.
Before we get to Benjamin, I received a special delivery recently and that warrants another BOOKLOOK. I don’t review every book I receive, but the specials ones do get special treatment. This is one such occurrence.
During the early days of the pandemic, I started a new series called Designing for Disaster™. During the series, I met Thomas Kligerman. He shared his story during the lockdown and it was a very cool episode of the show. Check the show notes, if I remember…there will be a link to that episode. So when Thomas wrote a book, I was certainly going to tell you about it.The book, Shingle and Stone Thomas Kligerman Houses is extraordinary for a number of reasons. This is a reflection on his years of work it’s also a lovingly tender notice to the architecture and design community that the band is breaking up in pursuit of solo careers. Thomas lays out his point of view and the manner in which he, Joel and John have their own interests both personally and professionally to pursue. For Kilgerman, it’s the announcement of his first solo enterprise, Kligerman Architecture + Design. This 275+ page announcementcomes complete with a well-defined narrative. Every Louvre, shingle, elevation is uniquely Thomas Kligerman and as he even points out, it’s not that he did everything by himself, it is a team joined together by a vision. That vision is uniquely Kligerman’s. Thomas is not only an architect but an artist who uses what architects use, elevation, space, material… But, his vision for taking shingle and bending it to angles and joints that create something new is mesmerizing as one turns from page to page. This book is one for the library because it represents timeless work with singular vision and artistry.
Since we are talking about a design and architecture book, I will tell you that the book is solid in construction and beautiful to look at when closed which means it is also a perfect specimen for accessorizing. When you open this book, the experience of turning pages is as much a journey as it is an exercise in surprise and delight. BOOKLOOK has turned into a a really cool segment for me and it has also received some very positive feedback. I would tell you that I only review design books that I can touch, hold and feel because I believe that is how books are meant to be enjoyed. I don’t review pdf’s because I want you to know what the experience was like for me so you can factor that not the calculus when deciding if or if not to get a copy for yourself. I spend aver an hour paging through, flipping, turning and reading Thomas’ thoughts.
As much as it is a “mirror” as Kligerman describes it, he envisages things to come. With that, I am also anxiously awaiting the next book that will showcase the work he does from here on out. Between now and then, this book is a keeper. Godspeed Thomas.
Thank you Benjamin. Amazing. Thank you WestEdge Design Fair for allowing me once again to take over the stage and present panels and conversations like these. I view it as a gift. A chance to challenge both myself and the design community with ideas and programming that is different, inspiring and thought-provoking. Thank you to CXD partners and sponsors, ThermaSol, York Wallcoverings, Franz Viegener, Moya Living and Article Furniture for your continued support. I would ask that if you enjoy the show, you support these companies by giving them a chance to earn your design business. Thank you for listening, downloading and subscribing to the show. Thank you for your emails and guest submissions. I love them, keep em coming. You are the reason I produce CXD. Designers, architects, set decorators, showroom managers, publicists, artists, makers…You make this world a better place. Remember why you do what you do. Be well. Until next week, take today first. -CXD
I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design with a look back at some of the conversations that I feel have shaped my current views of the design industry. Influencers creatives who directly impact the direction of our business. This is Matte Black’s, Cliff Fong.
Last week you heard from Cliff on a panel and this week, I wanted to showcase him exclusively from our conversation back in 2016. Cliff’s ideas about design, taste, style and their direct relationship to the work he does, for whom he does it are inextricably tied together. We speak about him as a design show judge and how that work differs form his views of design in the real world. I would argue these viewpoints are more relevant now than they were then because since the pandemic, haven’t most design professionals become a reality design show in some form or fashion? I would argue that most participate actively in the conversation now as opposed to that in 2016.
One of the other aspects to this that I hope you notice are the things Cliff does around the work, as in, not the work itself but how he thinks about it and you fill find a certain zen state in his approach that has truly influenced the approach I take to my own work. I can still do way better at that, but this really did help me and perhaps it can help you too, if you’re into that sort of thing. Enjoy my conversation with Cliff Fong from 2016, right after this.
Thank you, Cliff. Loved hearing this again. I remember it like it was last week at the Crestron showroom in the Pacific Design Center. I don’t think that showroom is there anymore, but it is here. Thank you to CXD sponsors and partners, ThermaSol, Article Furniture, York Wallcoverings, Moya Living and Franz Viegener for your continued support. Of course, thank you for downloading, subscribing and listening to the show. Thank you for the emails of support and the guest submissions. I love them and it has allowed me to find some amazing talent to showcase. Please remember why you do what you do and for whom you do it. Designers, architects, artists, product designers, showroom managers, publicists, magazine editors, publishers, set decorators and everyone else that makes our industry stronger by the day, this show is for you. That’s why I do it. Thanks for listening. Be well, and take today first.