The Design Messengers: Credit, Attribution and Media Standards | 494 | The Sofia Vergara Project in AD

This episode of The Design Messengers is dedicated to an original in the field of design. Someone who has earned their reputation for the amazing work they do. This individual has been on Convo By Design in the past, I believe three times in different ways; As a solo guest, a multi-guest episode and on a panel I produced at the WestEdge Design Fair. Have you heard the story of Timothy Corrigan and Arch Digest? You probably have by now, if not in his Instagram feed, then perhaps through Business of Home who did an absolutely wonderful job covering this. If you have not heard this story yet, check the show notes for a link to the BoH story. Honestly, I can’t tell it any better than Fred Nicolaus executive editor @BOH did.

To synopsize, Tim worked on Sofia Vergara’s home in the Los Angeles suburb of Beverly Park. He worked on this project for years. His firm was replaced, for whatever reason with that of O’Hara Davies-Gaetano. Davies-Gaetano is another alum of Convo By Design. She has been on the show and I think that she too is a very talented designer. So, far so good, no problem. Clients and creatives part ways all the time. Enter @ArchDigest …The 800 pound gorilla in our industry. They publish the project and in the original piece, there is no mention of Corrigan’s work despite much of the specified material and architectural detail of Corrigan’s firm present in the final project. Corrigan called BS and had lawyers send a letter of complaint to AD which I have not read but which did result in a digital version correction and I would not be surprised to see a carefully worded correction in the next print edition. I am glad that they are doing this but to be frank with you, it is not only unfortunate that this happened but it was entirely avoidable. How?

  1. The trade publications have slashed editorial staff over the past decade.
  2. The contributors who are writing these stories are not, in most cases, trained journalists but instead, content producers who work off subject provided information and push the stories out fast. In many cases working on multiple projects for the same publication or in some cases freelancing for other outlets.
  3. There are no real journalistic standards for our industry. There should be.
  4. With the proliferation of social media, idea theft runs rampant, claims made are not checked and because there is so much content pushed out, it would take an army to do it.

I do not think there are any villains here. I think there are a number of players involved in this story that are overworked, overstimulated by social media content, driven to push out any celebrity driven story as fast as they can because that is what they believe their audience wants to see. I have issues with Architectural Digest and some other other industry pubs but AD in particular. Years ago, Architectural Digest published a piece on AD Pro that misattributed Convo By Design to another company. Check the show notes for a link, if it gets taken down by the time you hear this, email me and let me know so I can publish a screen shot to our IG feed. I reached out to AD’s contributor the week it happened. That was in October of 2019 and they still haven’t fixed it as of this recording.

Corrigan handled this the way it should have been handled. But let’s be honest about this… Were it a lesser designer, they most likely would have been ignored. I also think that what Tim did was incredibly brave. There could be ramifications, you just never know. My hope is that the folks at the shelter publications,  if they do believe strongly in our industry and who do, in fact make our industry better will use this experience to strengthen their journalistic practices. I would like to see all the trade pubs use trained journalists with a focus on design and architecture to write. That is not always the case. But, if it were, they could catch some of these inconsistencies well in advance of publication. And, if errors are made, which happen all the time because we humans a fallible and we journalists do make mistakes, once discovered, should have practices in place to correct the issue to the very best of their ability. We will see if this happens in this case. What does that mean… To the best of one’s ability. If I am being honest with you, I think there is far more that AD can do, I feel like in this case, they have thus-far done the bare minimum. You might ask, “like what, Josh?”. Great question. I did a bit more digging, and checked out AD’s YouTube channel. The Sofia Vergara project video remains on the channel, as of this recording on March 15th, it has just over 6 million views and absolutely no reference to Tim Corrigan. Sofia mentions O’Hara at least three times but there is no mention of Corrigan, his work or his influence on this project. There is no mention of him in the description

nor in any credits. There is no credit to O’Hara in the credits either which I found odd. I think it speaks to the lack of formal guidelines in media production and project credit attribution. 

Something else to consider, as machine learning continues to gain traction in every industry but specially ours, an algorithm would not know to credit Corrigan for his work on this project and in all future inquiries submitted through AI bots, he would never get credit for his work. This should trouble every single designer, architect, maker and brand from the biggest to the smallest. There should be rules, there should be standards. It would also stand to reason that the biggest players in the space from media to brands would act as thought leaders in this regard.

In an effort to help be part of the change, I would like to share a past episode of Convo By Design as it relates directly to this very issue. 

Episode 175, recorded in 2017 and published in 2018 called, Intellectual Right for Creative Types features Emile Nicolau, an IP attorney I worked with at Playboy along with Wendy Posner and Gary Gibson is a fantastic opportunity to hear about the ins and out of IP rights as they affect the design community.

The link to this episode is in the show notes. At the end of the day and through this episode you will learn that regardless of the IP or attribution issue, as a professional in any industry but specifically the design and architecture industry you can choose to defend your rights. You can also choose not to. But make no mistake, that is a choice and nobody is going to do it for you. If you see something that doesn’t make sense, say something. Those on the shelter media side, you have a choice as well. Do you make it right, or not? And that is a choice, one that should not be decided based on the size and experience of the creative, nor on wether or not they have an attorney but instead, is it the right thing to do. If you made a mistake, own it. Thank you, Tim for forcing this issue. Your actions have once again made the industry better than it was when you arrived.

Thank you for listening to Convo By Design. If you have questions or comments on this issue or any others, please email me, Until next time, be well and take today first. – Convo By Design

Source: All above mentioned source material was acquired from the internet on March, 15, 2024. 

Sofia Vergara_YouTube.com_March_15_2024





#TimothyCorrigan #ArchitecturalDigest #ODGInteriors #SofiaVergara #MediaStandards #Design #Architecture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is what you CAN do Beverly Hills.

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

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

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

By John Mirisch

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

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

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

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

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

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

It didn’t matter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until then, RIP 1001 N. Roxbury.

RIP Community over cash.

RIP historic preservation in Beverly Hills.

Ross Vincent | 287 | Attaining Balance of Sophisticated and Approachable Design

Interior design is so much more than an accumulation of things arranged in a pleasing way. Interior design, done right, means understanding the needs of the client and then taking those desires, both seen and unseen, and crafting an environment that meets those needs. Ross Vincent is a rising design star that is already highly accomplished. His work is clean and elegant, modern, and comfortable.

You are going to hear Ross talk about the state of design here in Southern California as well as the influences that he brought with him from his home city of Seattle, Wa. This conversation also turns to design in the fly-over states and locations that are not normally included in the conversation about significant design and architecture. I love that, I think you will, too. This is interior designer, Ross Vincent.

Ross. I really enjoyed our chat. Thank you for taking the time. I also must note that this conversation was recorded live and in person. It seems like a lifetime ago since I was able to do this and I can’t wait to do it again. Thank you, Walker Zanger and Thermasol for your continued support. And, thank you for listening to the show. Please make sure you are subscribed so you don’t miss a single episode. You can find Convo By Design everywhere you get your favorite podcasts. You can also ask your smart device to play Convo By Design, and it will. If you want to continue the conversation, you can find us on Instagram @ConvoXDesign, with and “X”. Be well, and until next week…Keep creating.