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To be completely honest, I can’t really tell you which I am more excited about, hitting episode 300 or ushering out 2020. It is completely irrational to blame anything, let alone everything that happened in the year, but I can’t remember a year as absolutely traumatic as 2020. And regardless of how you feel about the outcome of the elections, the future of a vaccine, or the return to normality, whatever that means, here is what I know. When this whole COVID thing started back in March, I started talking to designers and architects, nobody knew what was happening, everyone, myself included said things like, “In these unprecedented times” followed by a statement about the obviously troubling times were in. But, here’s the thing. As the weeks passed, more conversations took place followed by even more research… I slowly learned something. These are not unprecedented times. There was a pandemic in 1918 and the Spanish Flu went pretty much the same way this one has. There were people who complained about masks, society was shut down and it had a massive effect on how life changed on the other side. In the mid-1920’s Le Corbusier was touting the benefits of cleanliness and minimalism in residential design.
Prior to and during the early 1900s, indoor bathrooms featured mostly porous wooden furniture and paneling, it held germs and bacteria. The new focus on cleanliness led to tile, linoleum, built-in bathtubs. It led to bigger closets and less cabinetry that held clothing. It led to tile in bathrooms, more specifically the use of subway tile in residential design, and revolutionized toilet and porcelain sink production.
We are seeing some very similar behaviors and it is safe to say that design and architecture will change again after this pandemic is over. Not unprecedented. We have been through civil unrest, economic recessions, depressions… we have seen trying times. These are not unprecedented times, they are new to us. In an effort to try and understand what comes next I have spoken with incredibly talented designers and architects to help shed some light on what is most likely next. Speaking of “what’s next”, that is what is the most fun for me about producing this podcast. Exploring exquisite design now and figuring out what is going to come next with the best in the business today. That is what Convo By Design is all about.
So as I present episode 300, as is tradition, we look back on some of the conversations that have transpired over the past 7 years. It would be impossible to do this as if 2020 hadn’t been a completely different kind of year. Yet, much of what you are about to hear in the following episode has led up to this. I have long said that designers and architects are futurists and storytellers. You are going to hear some of those conversations and as you do, you will notice that every one of them has something in common, the betterment of life through design and architecture.
2020 has been a trip, has it not? When this whole thing started, I ran a special series called Designing for Disaster which was an opportunity to focus on the pandemic, in real-time and it was fascinating to hear how designers and architects were adapting in real-time.
I spoke with designer Joe Berkowitz about how design was going to change post-COVID. Joe shares his thoughts on the ‘edit’, something he already incorporates into his work, but now, is even more important than ever.
COVID was not the only major issue we dealt with head-on in 2020. A core component of social injustice is the lack of diversity in American society and our business is not exempt. Listen to Jean Brownhill, architect and CEO of Sweeten as she shares her story and her introduction to architecture. Jean is incredibly talented and driven, this is how she got her start.
On that same topic, I produced and moderated a panel at WestEdge Design Fair that covered the very issue of diversity, or lack thereof in the business. Some thoughts from Brian Pinkett, then Bridgid Coulter, and Ron Woodson.
2020 also brought a new series called The Showroom, a partnership between Convo By Design and Walker Zanger showcasing incredible work as well as an inspirational series designed to shine a light on working more efficiently within design partnerships. This is John Colanari.
Speaking of partnerships, we have a great partnership with Texas-based, Thermasol. This is Mitch Altman, the man at the helm of this family-owned and operated company doing groundbreaking work in steam showers for over 60 years.
Convo By Design was built on fascinating conversations with world-class talent. Showcasing a handful of those. First up, Michael Berman.
Thank you, Michael, this is Cesar Giraldo from the Convo By Design Programming Lounge in 2017.
Up next, designer Lori Dennis. Lori is a multi appearance guest on the show. She is a friend and I always appreciate her take on the business.
Thank you, Lori. This is Ron Woodson and Jamie Rummerfield…
One of the events missed in 2020 that I cannot wait to come again is the La Cienega Design Quarter’s LEGENDS. In 2019 brought Convo By Design was an official media partner and as the event brought in design icon, Bunny Williams, we got a chance to hear her thoughts on what designers REALLY need to know. And then, she shared her thoughts starting out as a new designer working for the storied firm of Parish Hadley and specifically, what it was like working for Sister Parish.
This is Ryan Saghian from episode 112. Now, Ryan is another friend who has appeared more than once on the show and he never disappoints. Ryan is highly opinionated, incredibly talented, and always fun to talk to.
Thank you, Ryan Saghian. This is designer Ryan White who designer the Convo By Design Programming Lounge from the WestEdge Design Fair in 2016. It was a really special place masterfully designed by Ryan White and it could not have been executed without partners like Snyder Diamond and Warner Bros.
We wrap part one with architect Ward Jewell to whom I often refer back to when I need to be reminded of what’s really important. In times like these, look back and you will find your path for the future.
Next up is the soft-spoken but incredibly talented, Joan Behnke talking about the value of art and how art influences her design.
Thank you, Joan, this is Cliff Fong from episode 68. Another fine example of a multi-disciplinary designer, in this case, a fashion designer turned interior designer and entrepreneur.
Victor Zolfo, set decorator is going to tell you what it feels like to win an Oscar and a Bafta for his work on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Have you ever wondered what that feels like?
Dakota Jackson and his work are legendary within the art furniture movement. The magician turned designer turned magical designer talks about crafting a one of a kind gift from Yoko Ono to John Lennon.
That was Dakota Jackson, this is Timothy Corrigan
Thank you, Tim. This is architect Takashi Yanai
This is Rachlin Architects, Michael Rachlin from episode 16
There are those that know how to develop a line, a goal for many designers. One of the best I know at this is Sue Firestone.
Designer Kyle Schuneman focused early on small spaces and millennials. This is more important now than ever before.
This is a series of set decorators Rosemary Brandenburg first, then William DeBiasio and K.C. Fox. Set decorators are first and foremost, storytellers. Architecture is the language of design is the storytelling of design. While set decorators are not necessarily designers, they are some of the best storytellers around.
I am ending with one of the absolute best interviews around. Martyn Lawrence Bullard is highly accomplished, you know this. But if you listen to how he tells the story, you can understand how he got there.
As I wrap up this celebration of reaching episode 300 I am reminded that I did not get here alone. As a matter of fact, without the incredible creatives that appear on the show every week, you heard a small sample here but there are literally hundreds that have appeared on this show over the past 7 years. Without the trade partners like the WestEdge Design Fair, Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts, ASID, LA Design Festival, Pacific Design Center, and Set Decorator Society of America, this would not be the show that it has become I am eternally grateful. A huge thank you to all the media publishers and professional publicists who bring their skills to sharing the stories of our industry and make this possible. And most importantly, thank you for listening. Thank you for subscribing to the show and engaging at our events for the past 7 years and for the last 7 months, exclusively online.
Thank you for your emails, your texts, and your show suggestions. If it wasn’t for all of you that make up this amazing design and architecture community, what’s the point? So thanks for listening and until next week, Keep creating.