The Secrets from Top Designers on Crafting the Modern American Kitchen | 433 | Listen in On an Intimate Chat With 7 Creatives Who Know

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design with a look at the modern American kitchen and what the design community is doing in response to changing tastes and new opportunities to create unique functional spaces transforming the heart of the home. 

Designer Resources

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

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

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

The Oasis Alliance – Providing design to those in need.

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

In May, 2023, a special gathering took place in Long Beach, California. This gathering  featured a diverse group of design talent and presented an opportunity to get some of Southern California’s most dynamic and creative designers together for a conversation about kitchen design. Our group engages in an open forum about how the kitchen has changed in form and function since the pandemic began in 2020. This idea started as an exploratory look at what has changed, but developed into an overarching dialogue about what it means to be a designer today. Further, how the design community has learned to lean in on each other for support, direction, inspiration and in the case of showrooms like Friedman’s Home Experience, how to provide designers and architects with opportunities to discover new product and specify with confidence to best serve the client.

You are about to listen in on a real workgroup discussing the issues designers, architects and builders face today. The following conversation is between 7 creatives and at times, it gets complicated, just like conversations in the real world. The conversation was not intended for you to blow through while multi-tasking. There is a great deal of material here and it is intended to be listened to over time and re-listened as well. It is worthy of saving and. added to your resource library. 

Before we listen in, I thought you would like to meet the participants. We are going to get to that, right after this.


Lea Biermann – Principal, Lea Biermann Design – @lbkbdesign

  • The joy of coffee systems
  • Adding secondary color
  • Backsplashes that pop
  • Maximizing spaces for experiences
  • Resale considerations
  • The in-home coffee bar experience is here to stay

Cheryl Kaye – Principle, Cheryl Kaye Design Studio @cherylkaye

  • Hospitality, front of house focus
  • Kitchenette for commercial projects including hospitality
  • Visual arts are given and now the ‘function’ and artistry is in meeting client lifestyle demands
  • Dining areas away from tables and more on islands
  • Exposed kitchens, not just functional but decorative and artistic
  • Wet bars for juicing now so they are taking on a different vibe
  • More outlets and charging stations
  • Kitchens more as work spaces


Paul Fernandez – Principle, @kitchenkoncierge

  • Look to new, unexplored appliances
  • Speed Oven: Microwave + Convection
  • Steam ovens
  • Steam oven + oven in lieu of the double oven to maximize functional opportunity
  • Cooking with moisture
  • Refrigerators with cameras, use the app to aid with shopping
  • What is next in countertop materials? What is the most durable material? 
  • Custom options in wood products. This is an incredible time to be designing kitchens!


John Feldman – Owner, @ecocentrix

  • Discovering the opportunities in outdoor spaces
  • What is possible in an outdoor kitchen
  • How a project can maximize function through discovery of untapped space unlike inside the home where walls define spaces
  • Working with better educated clients (product)
  • Incorporating outdoor kitchens into complex hillsides
  • The joys of outdoor living
  •, A new company representing family owned and operated Italian faucet lines

Pam Barthold – Owner, Pazzam Designs @pazzamdesigns

  • Searching for perfect materials
  • Acrylic in shelving and cabinetry that is mainstream and not exclusively modern
  • Durability and warmth means more wood products and because hybrid wood products offer a more wide ranging product selection
  • More durability, cleaner product and sustainable
  • Rise of smart appliances
  • Convection ovens and better educated clients
  • Seamless flat countertops that are the entire cooking surface
  • Less exposed stainless. Color-full and unique in design
  • Adding color to the island


Donna Johnson – @luxedesigner

  • Luxury kitchen design is more about form and function, but feel
  • Accessorizing in the kitchen is more  important than ever before and in more ways than is seen. Dividers and separators for sectioning the functions
  • The feel of the space is based on treating the kitchen as another living room with a different skill set
  • The return of the “triangle”? To this designer, it never left

Now that you have met the players, let me share the conversation that ensued. They were talking about materials. Brass, brushed gold and chrome.  Understated glamour. Stamped wood, wood islands with nautical finishes.We are talking about custom organics. Luxury and organic. 

Long Trinh – Managing Director of Friedman’s Home Experience – @friedmanshomeexperience

  • Panel ready
  • Pops of color
  • Coffee systems
  • Under-counter wine units and columns
  • Induction increases over gas
  • Refrigeration integrated look
  • NEW – Countertops as the full cooking surface with embedded induction elements

You are going to hear an honest conversation about supply chain, lead generation for products and materials.

I started hosting these conversations in 2017 following an event at a design festival. What I found was the moment the mics were off, the conversations started to be real. These real conversations have led to actionable steps and techniques designers can use in a real world scenario because at the end of the day, we are all dealing with the same issues. Some better than others. Enjoy this conversation from Friedman’s Home Experience in Long Beach, California on a sunny day in May, 2023.

Panel ConversationTake Aways:

Just some thoughts and ideas that emerged from this: 

Dust is a big issue with open shelving in kitchens now, as is clutter.

Thicknesses and finishes. Technical design details. Products for outdoor uses. 

The art of sales and how designers can engage more efficiently with trades and showrooms.

Working with educated clients and the “Amazon Effect”, training customers to just buy and return if they don’t like it as opposed to buying right the first time. 

Evaluating new lines and products. 

Induction, new tech and new ideas, but what does that mean by way of new upgrades like the electrical panel? Government regulations, utility company specifications…How does this affect the design. 

Steel cabinetry is becoming more of a standard in lieu of wood, stone and cement board outdoors and indoors. Durability is becoming more important as temperatures increase. 

What I love about these conversations and that I hope you do as well are the real world data points that emerge. These are not preprepared glossy ideas about how wonderful great design is. While that is important, I find it even more important to get past the hurdles that impede the design process. If you are a working designer today, at any level, you are encountering some, many or all of these issues in your own work and I hope hearing that others deal with the same issues and how many are approaching the work helps you in yours.

Thank you Lea, Pam, Donna, Paul, Cheryl, Long and John for your input and for participating in this event. Thank you Freidman’s Home Experience for hosting and thank you for listening, downloading and subscribing to the show. If not already, please make sure you are subscribing to the show. You can find Convo By Design everywhere you find your favorite podcasts. 

Thank you to my wonderful partners and sponsors, ThermaSol, Moya Living and Design Hardware. Without you, I would not be able to do this and for that, thank you. Thanks again for listening. Be well and until next week, take today first. -CXD

Christopher Peacock | 420 | Bespoke and Hand-Crafted Design with Heritage to Match

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo by Design with a conversation about building an absolutely exceptional design brand. Christopher Peacock is a truly exceptional creative with a rich history in creating some of the most extraordinary wood cabinetry in the industry today. There is a difference between crafting a product and building a brand. Peacock molded his eponymous brand in the US from humble beginnings and a keen understanding for what he wanted. And he’s going to share that story and insight here.

Christopher launched his firm in 1992. Christopher Peacock Cabinetry was built on the premise that wooden cabinetry should be beautiful and enduring. But when Peacock put his name on it, there was a greater sense of purpose. That is what I find so interesting here. This is the piece that is missing from much of what we. See and hear these days in the trades and in the media surrounding design and architecture. For many years now, the idea of luxury design has been inextricable tied to big, expensive and for lack of a better word, “extra”. I don’t think good design has to be big, expensive or “extra”. I think good, no, great design is about the nature of the work and manner in which the work is tied to the individual for whom it’s created. Look at art. A painting can sell for millions of dollars but at the end of the day, what is it…really. A few dollars worth of canvas and paint. But the work speaks. Fashion, same thing. A few dollars of fabric crafted into something extraordinary. It’s the art that goes into the craftsmanship. That is what makes design so special. And that is why Christopher’s sorry is so special. And why I am so pleased to share it with you. 

Designer Resources

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

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

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

Thank you Christopher 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. Until next week, remember why you do what you do and for whom you do it, be well and take today first.

Artisan, Craftsman, Architect & The Power of Creativity | 387 | Darrell Wilson

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design with the kind of architect you love to hear from and I love speaking with, both craftsman and creator. What’s the difference?

Years ago on the show, you heard from a friend and former high school classmate, now amazing chef and restauranteur, Steve Samson. He explained to us that he did not consider himself an artist, but a craftsman. He wasn’t interested in creating new dishes but instead, wanted to take his customer back to Italy with a regional focus. He wanted his food to make you feel the way he did when his grandmother made this for him. Architect Darrell Wilson is a Principal Designer with Mark Weaver & Associates. He is both craftsman in the sense that if a client wants a Hollywood Regency style, he can create an original design with historical accuracy. Wilson can also ideate an original idea for his more adventurous clients influenced by Modern ideas or traditional. There is a big difference between artist and craftsman, there is a huge difference in creatives who can straddle both worlds, Darrell Wilson is one of them. This is another installment of the Wellness & Design Thought Leadership Series presented by ThermaSol. You are going to hear from Darrell, right after this.

Designer Resources

ThermaSol – Redefining the modern shower experience

Article, great style is easy. It’s the best way to buy beautiful modern furniture

York Wallcoverings – Designed to inspire for over 125 years

Franz Viegener – Finely crafted sculptural faucets

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

Thank you Darrell. I appreciate the time and, I am in awe of your talent and skill. Thank you to Convo By Design partners and sponsors; ThermaSol, Moya Living, Article Furniture, Franz Viegener, and York Wallcoverings. And thank you for joining me every week for these conversations. I do hope you enjoy them as much as I do. And give yourself a mental hug right now because we are all living through some very interesting times. Personally and professionally. It has gotten much harder to do business, create wonderful and sublime spaces but remember why you do what you do and why you do it. Your clients depend on you to make their lives a little better. Check back here every week for more stories of design professionals and creatives who are doing this at a very high level. Get some new ideas and inspiration to take your firm to the next level. Until next week, be well and take today first. -CXD

Design Rockstars, Rebels & Raconteurs | 261 | A Blueprint for Success

I started Convo By Design seven years ago because I saw an opportunity to tell the stories of creators, designers, architects, artists, set decorators and others who change the way we live, build and design. I started recording panels and keynotes from West Week, Fall Market, Legends and of course, WestEdge Design Fair. After I started working with WestEdge co-founder’s Troy Hanson and Megan Reilly, the opportunity presented itself to start producing the stage. For two years now, the Convo By Design Programming Lounge has been a place to share new ideas, engage and explore the stories from inside SoCal’s vibrant world of design and architecture.

Rapidly, a new class of creators has emerged. These artisans are taking the industry to the next level through the work as well as through the stories they’re telling and the business they’re building. They are multi-dimensional. I crafted a panel called Rockstars, Rebels, and Raconteurs to showcase some of these unique personalities. This group included designers Lori Dennis and  Ryan Saghian as well as architect, Jean Brownhill. Consider this a blueprint for success and a roadmap for any new creative endeavor.

This chat was fun and covers a lot of ground so let’s get to it. Here are some of the topics covered:

Who are you? What an interesting question. Do you know? They do.

The next topic is one very near and dear to my heart, it too was covered at WestEdge and you will be hearing about it later this year on the podcast. The topic is mentorship.

The next topic is connections. So important and you’re going to hear why.

You have heard a lot about talk collaborations and you are about to hear more..this is good, really good.

Okay, we have covered a lot of ground here. Identity, mentorship, connections, collaborations… You’re about to hear about fear.  Not a topic often addressed but so important. Everyone feels it, but everyone responds differently. Here is how this group of rebels handles their fear.

From fear to drive and you’ll hear how they are connected.

From fear to drive, what could the next subject possibly be but working on the edge

If you are going to change the business, disrupt or whatever you want to call it, you have to find your niche, locate the need, find the audience looking for what you have to offer.

From finding the need to maintaining momentum. This is a hard one. Making it to the top is one thing, staying there is another…

Finally, it comes down to blazing trails and doing things differently…

So there you have it for Rockstars, Rebels, and Raconteurs with Lori Dennis, Jean Brownhill, and Ryan Saghian. This is a blueprint for any creator looking to take their game to the next level. Special thanks to Ryan, Jean, and Lori. Thank you, Megan and Troy, thank you Erika Heet for moderating this conversation, thank you, John McClain, Kevin Isbell, Julia Wong and Nicolette Akiko for designing our stage at WestEdge. Thank you, Walker Zanger, for your support and thank you for listening, without you, there is no Convo By Design. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to the show everywhere you find your favorite podcasts. Until next week, keep creating.

#ConvoByDesign #Rockstars #RyanSahgian #JeanBrownhill #LoriDennis #WestEdgeDesignFair

The Christopher Kennedy Compound in Turlock, CA | 256 | Hosted By Nancy Russert of Les Beaux

Design houses are one of the elements unique to interior design and architecture. It’s like our version of the runway show in fashion, or the car show in the auto industry. Christopher Kennedy has become quite adept at ideating the design house and executing them. Christopher is a regular fixture in Palm Springs during Modernism Week and you have heard about some of those here on the podcast and even seen some of the interviews on our YouTube channel.  As a side note, before I started the podcast, I produced a design house in Hollywood I called Small Space, Big Style and Christopher was a featured designer on the project. He masterfully designed a 70’s inspired living room and was an absolute pleasure to work with. So when I heard that Christopher was creating a design house in Central California, I really wanted to cover it for you.

I had another idea at the time, I wanted to assign this project to someone who could cover its from a designer’s perspective so I reached out good friend, previous guest and fabulous design talent, Nancy Russert of Les Beaux and Twist Custom to go and see this project. She did, and in the process, created what is really a travel journal to the Central California Valley City of Turlock, definitely NOT a hotbed of design to see this project.

Convo By Design is presented by Walker Zanger….A fantastic company and an equally dependable design partner.  While the Walker Zanger brand was built on the promise to inspire designers and architects to do their best work, there is far more to it than that. Yes, that promise is fulfilled everyday through a commitment to provide the best ceramic, glass, stone, porcelain, quartz and concrete surfaces and finishes but at the heart of this is a family owned and operated business that provides stunning surfaces for a well designed home. Walker Zanger started in 1952 and they are absolutely one of the best trade partners a designer can have. Check out their newest collaborative line with designer Pietta Donovan. A collection of Cement and Ceramic tiles inspired by the the patterns and colorways of the 1970’s and created with a comfortable modernity. Walker Zanger is on the cutting edge of design featuring products for every style and architectural feel you can create and they provide homeowners with the materials that dream kitchens and baths are made of. Check out any of their 14 showrooms across the country or shop online, Walker Zanger dot com.

This is Nancy Russert starting off where most good travel stories begin, the airport. #Design #Interiors #MidCenturyModern #NancyRussert

Your Canvas for Outdoor Memories | 255 | Creating Memory Making Spaces for Outdoor Living

This is the time of year when many here in California are starting to think about getting back outside. It was cold for a week or two, we got a little rain to clean off the dust from the Santa Ana winds and now it’s time to start thinking about making new outdoor memories. For that, we are going back to the WestEdge Design Fair for a conversation called, Your Canvas for Outdoor Memories presented by Urban Bonfire and featuring; Patty Dominguez, VP of National Sales at Cosentino, Annette Reeves, lifestyle advisor for Pirch and designer, Cesar Giraldo. If you have listened to the show for a while, you know Cesar. This panel was moderated by Urban Bonfire President and Co-Founder, Ryan Bloom.

You are going to hear about collaboration, inspiration, design and putting it all together for a space that is a canvas for creating your outdoor memories. Enjoy this conversation, by design. A note, if you haven’t already please subscribe to the podcast everywhere you find your favorite shows, check out our videos form conversations like this one and engage via the socials. Can’t wait to hear from you and if your’e a designer with a story to tell, email me directly

#ConvoByDesign #WalkerZanger #Pirch #CesarGiraldo #UrbanBonfire #WestEdgeDesignFair #OutdoorDesign #InsideOut

Build Your Design Brand | 253 | The Firm Upgrade Master Class

This is a panel conversation from the WestEdge Design Fair called The Firm Upgrade, part of the Brand Development Series. It featured journalist, Alex Abramian, Project M+ Cleo Muranane, Designer Jeff Andrews and Xander Noori’s, Keon Khajavi-Noori. This conversation is about growing your design or architecture firm’s brand, your profile, doing more, doing better and increasing the productivity of your brand development, an afterthought for many creators. This is the whole conversation and it covers many of the questions you probably asked yourself before working on your resolutions for 2020.  Get off to a fast start… It starts here. This conversation was hosted by yours truly and I do hope you enjoy it.

Thank you for the time, Alex, Cleo, Keon and Jeff and thank you for listening, downloading, subscribing, emailing and coming out to our events. Without you, there is no Convo By Design. Please follow the podcast on Instagram, ConvoXDesign with and “X” and make sure you subscribe everywhere you find your favorite podcasts. That way, you will receive new episodes on your mobile device the moment they are published.

Convo By Design is presented by Walker Zanger.

Until next week, keep creating.

#WestEdgeDesignFair #ConvoByDesign #BrandDevelopment #XanderNoori #JeffAndrews #CleoMurnane #AlexAbramian #WalkerZanger

Design Destinations | 251 | The Beautiful Year That Was

2019 was an amazing year for me personally and professionally. A breakthrough year, really. Convo By Design was recorded from the home studio, sure, but we were on the road as well. These design road trips took me, and you all over Southern California, Arizona and Nevada.

We started with a trip to Las Vegas for the 2019 edition of KBIS. If you haven’t been to KBIS before, a word of advice, wear comfortable shoes. This is one of the biggest design focused events I have attended. I must have walked 4 miles a day and seen every new kitchen and bath product known to man. I talked to so many amazing people. I wanted to share my chat with Billy Peele with Mockett. This is a small Southern California company with some creative architectural solutions for age old design challenges. I thought you might enjoy hearing about this…

1. Billy Peele of Mockett

From Vegas, it was off to Modernism Week in Palm Springs. I had the chance to catch up with a ton of remarkable and creative people and this year, I had the honor of recording from the SIA (Save Iconic Architecture) Party at the Cary Grant Estate. Catching up with some old friends and making some new ones. Here’s what that sounded like. First with long time friend of the show, Patrick Dragonette. Patrick was the president of the LaCienega Design Quarter and owner of Dragonette, LTD. His showroom in said design district. We covered a lot of ground here,

2. Patrick Dragonette

Next was a fun chat with Ron Woodson and Jamie Rummerfield, the creative and intellectual force behind Woodson & Rummerfeilds House of Design and co-founders of SIA.

3. and 4. Ron Woodson and Jamie Rummerfield 2

If that wasn’t enough, I had the chance to catch up with Peter Gurski, interior designer and set decorator, responsible for the look of Will & Grace.

5. Peter Gurski

Finally, it was off to El Paseo for an amazing afternoon at the Cambria Surfaces showroom. Here are a few of the highlights including;

6. Adele Cygelman talking about her book about noted designer, Arthur Elrod.

7. Dann Foley

Before I left Modernism Week, I had to make a stop by the Christopher Kennedy Compound. I spoke with Christopher about the project this year.

8. Christopher Kennedy

This was so much fun and was the very first Design Influencer Group meeting. The Design Influencer & Innovator Group as its now known is series of events that include designers, architects and others from the design and architecture space for the purpose of networking in a meaningful way, sharing information and helping each other do better work while making more for that work. A novel concept, right?

Since that first gathering in Palm Springs last January, over 70 creatives have participated and shared their expertise. This is Kristi Nelson from an event at the Tidelli showroom in the pacific Design Center

9. Kristi Nelson

10. Micehelle Salz-Smith

11. Gary Gibson

These DIG events are so much fun, and incredibly rewarding… Speaking of rewarding, the Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts was fantastic this year. This was my third year covering the Pasadena Showcase, here is a clip.

12. Robert Frank

The LaCienega Design Quarter’s LEGENDS event was blast this year. I had the chance to interview 38 of the 43 designers who crafted some of the astounding showroom windows. I actually rode my bike between LaCienega from Santa Monica Blvd to Melrose by the PDC, almost got hit about 5 times and covered about 80 miles during the week. Earlier in this episode, you heard Patrick Dragonette mention some of the amazing designers, here they are…

13. Alex Papachristidis

14. Jeff Andrews

15. Peti Lau

16. Nicole Fuller

So much fun, I truly loved Legends this year! This brings us to the home stretch of 2019, WestEdge Design Fair where Convo By Design was, once again the presenting sponsor of the Programming Lounge. A full 3 days of panels, keynotes and elevated conversations. over 65 creatives, 15 panels and 20 hours of programming in a space designed by Nicolette Akiko of Studio Akiko, John McClain of John McClain Designs and Kevin Isbell of Kevin Isbell Interiors.You will hear all of these in 2020. Here is a little bit from the Convo By Design Programming Lounge at the WestEdge Design Fair…

17. Jean Brownhill

18. Breegan Jane

19. Ryan Saghian

20. Timothy Corrigan

That is a wrap in this episode of Convo By Design featuring clips from the design events of 2019. Thank you to the fine folks at KBIS, Modernism Week, LCDQ, SIA, Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts, the Design Influencer and Innovator Group and WestEdge Design Fair. What a spectacular year in design from some of the most inspiring events. Thank you for listening, downloading, subscribing, emailing and coming out to our events. Without you, there is no Convo By Design. Please follow the podcast on Instagram, ConvoXDesign with and “X” and make sure you subscribe everywhere you find your favorite podcasts. That way, you will receive new episodes on your mobile device the moment they are published.

This is also a wrap on 2019. This has been a spectacular year, and next year is going to be an even better year, not just for Convo By Design, but for you. Set your goals, make your plan, recharge those batteries and buckle up because 2020 is coming and you are going to punch it in the face! Happy holidays, and until next year, keep creating.

Mastery of the High Low Mix | 242 | Nicole Gordon

This past year, Convo By Design was an official media partner of LCDQ’s LEGENDS event. As part of this partnership, I interviewed 38 of the window designers. It was a glorious challenge. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a lot of time with most of the designers. Our conversations were brief and focused on the windows and the legends they embodied. But, there were a few opportunities to spend a bit more time with some and this is one of those. Nicole Gordon and I first met a few years ago, I think it was the Wattles Mansion showcase. What stood out to me then and I remember to this day was how she crafted a super luxe space, dripping with high concept design and she suspended an IKEA lighting fixture in the middle of the room. It not only fit, but looked, as great design always does, as though it was made for that space. It belonged there. That is what I think about Nicole Gordon’s design style. It all belongs. High, low, vibrant color or stark white, it was all planned and looks like it was made to work together. Nicole respects the craft and you will hear her share some thoughts on showing that respect as she honors legendary designers who came before her.

# InteriorDesign #NicoleGordon #LosAngeles #LaCienegaDesignQuarter #NicoleGordon #ConvoByDesign #Podcast