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.
Moya Living – Beautiful, durable powder coated kitchen, bath & outdoor kitchen cabinetry
Design Hardware – A stunning and vast collection of jewelry for the home!
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.
- An understanding 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.
Shop the Space:
York Wallcoverings – Wallpaper
Benjamin Moore, Simply White
DVKAP – Custom Curtains & Throw
918 Reklaimed – Console
Jaipur – Rugs/ Pouf
Noir – Dresser
Noir – Lamp
Noir – Cosmopolitan Accent Table
Noir – Chandelier
Noir – Bed
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