Tag Archives: design

300th Episode Special | 300 | Seven Years, 500+ Guests, 300 Episodes and Here We Are

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.

Ryan Bloom – Urban Bonfire | 299 | A Story About Designing A Modern Company Dedicated to Your Kitchen Outdoors

Together, we have shared literally hundreds of conversations since the show started 7 years ago. In that time, I have shared some absolutely incredible stories about design partnerships and I am so happy to share a story of my own with you. Last year at the WestEdge Design Fair, I met Ryan Bloom, co-founder of Urban Bonfire. He moderated a really fun conversation at the show and it ran here on Convo By Design. If you want to go back and listen, you can, it was episode 255 called, “Your Canvas for Outdoor Memories.”

Ryan and I kept in touch and an opportunity presented itself for us to work together. I was recently named the Director of Content & Growth for Urban Bonfire. I have taken on the role of content curator & creator as well as creating new ways to help you, the designer, architect, developer and builder craft entertaining and activated outdoor spaces. It means being able to find Urban Bonfire products at your favorite retail showrooms, it means creating a truly unique trade program that will provide you with the tools and opportunities to collaborate that you have been telling me you want. This is a fantastic partnership and I am thrilled to share it with you. This is Urban Bonfire’s, Ryan Bloom.

Thank you, Ryan, for the time and this incredible opportunity. Please subscribe to the show so you catch every episode of Convo By Design, ask Alexa or Siri, say, “Hey Siri, Play Convo By Design” and she will. You can follow the show on the socials as well, @ConvoXDesign with an “X” on Instagram, and check out the YouTube channel for videos from some of your favorite episodes. Thank you for listening and until next week, be well and keep creating.
#InteriorDesign #OutdoorLiving #UrbanBonfire #WalkerZanger #ConvoByDesign #JoshCooperman #RyanBloom

Woods + Dangaran | 298 | The Future of California Modern Architecture

If you have been listening to the podcast for any part of the past 7 years, you understand that you are going to hear different perspectives on design and architecture. I believe that there is truly a language of architecture, and that design is about storytelling. I do this podcast because I love discovering new designers myself and thoroughly enjoy introducing them to you. If you are in the biz, it gives you a chance to meet someone whose work might influence or inspire you. If you are an enthusiast, it makes you dream of what’s possible. Joseph Dangaran and Brett Woods are currently producing future classics in modern design. Full stop.

The work they are doing makes use of materials, space, the landscape, and a sense of theater. You look at their work and you can see a nod to Schindler or Neutra, but not a byproduct. Their work is unique, it’s great, and these are two architects making it, this is Woods and Dangaran.

Thank you, Brett and Joseph, I enjoyed our time together. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next. Thank you for listening, downloading, and subscribing to the show. Join in the conversation @ConvoXDesign with an “X” and while your there, check out our amazing partner @WalkerZanger. You can also find everything you need at Convo By Design dot com. Thank you for listening, downloading, and subscribing to the show, without you, there is no Convo By Design. Be well and until next week, keep creating.

Michelle Lisac | 297 | Enduring Design Through Disaster, Trends and Turmoil

I enjoy talking about the business of design because only after you understand the business landscape and how the business works can you truly take your talents to their full potential. How many times have you seen a creative type with crazy skills but no business sense? The most frequently asked questions of me by those in the trade revolve around the brand development series of episodes and panels I offer every year in the fall. So when I have an opportunity to speak with someone like Michelle and share it with you, it makes me feel like I’m doing some of my best work.

Michelle has a degree in Business Marketing and grew up the daughter of a contractor with a love of and passion for design. This experience has given her a strong foundation by which she has built her own firm. These days, it’s not enough to be good, to have talent, or to know the business inside and out. You have to possess the skills and demonstrate the will to persevere under extreme circumstances.

As I recorded this conversation with Michelle, we were in the middle of a pandemic, which affects all of us, but Michelle was also coming off recent disruptions caused by the wildfires in California AND, a mass migration out of NorCal. So, how do you deal with trials and tribulations in the ordinary course of doing business, with tariffs and pricing issues affecting product delivery compounded by major shifts in population in an industry that is all about the creation of home? As you will hear, you know your business, you stay focused and you persevere. That is how we all succeed. This is Michelle Lisac.

Thank you, Michelle, for your talent, time, and willingness to share. Follow Michelle on Instagram to see her work @MichelleLisacInteriorDesign and follow us while you’re there @ConvoXDesign with an “X” and our amazing partner @WalkerZanger. You can also find everything you need at Convo By Design dot com. Thank you for listening, downloading and subscribing to the show, without you, what’s the point. Be well and until next week, keep creating.

Lone Star House of Design | 11 | Lindley Arthur

This is Lone Star | House of Design, produced and distributed by the team that brings you Convo By Design with another story about design and architecture from the Great State of Texas featuring Dallas based designer, Lindley Arthur and a chat about the pivot, second careers, and making every opportunity count…

If 2020 has taught us anything it’s that you have to keep your head on a swivel. Keep an eye out for the next opportunity, maximize the work you’re doing now, and stay busy, keep moving. Lindley Arthur is a design pro who was previously a PR pro. She knows that part of the game and has used that to build her own firm. Smart. This is Lindley Arthur.

Thank you, Lindley, I appreciate you, your work, and that approach to growth, now more than ever. Please subscribe to the show so you catch every episode of Lone Star House of Design and Convo By Design, ask Alexa or Siri, say, “Hey Siri, Play Convo By Design” and she will. You can follow the show on the socials as well, @ConvoXDesign with an “X” on Instagram, and check out the YouTube channel for videos from some of your favorite episodes. Thank you for listening and until next week, be well and keep creating.

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.

Lone Star House of Design | 9 | Sara Malek Barney of BANDD Design

This is Lone Star | House of Design, produced and distributed by the team that brings you Convo By Design with another story about design and architecture for the Great State of Texas featuring Sara Malek Barney, founder of Bandd Design.

Sara is a remarkable talent who brings a number of unique elements to her incredible rise in design, that of a first career in sports and entertainment. She worked for Hollywood powerhouse talent firm CAA, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and then came home to Austin to launch her design firm, Bandd Design. Sara and I talk about her journey and her work, work that is influenced by her Hollywood experience and Texas roots, equally and balanced which makes her work truly unique. You are also going to hear about some of her amazing projects like a kitchen she designed for Ferguson.

Enjoy this conversation with Sara and then, catch up on more episodes from both Lone Star House of Design and Convo By Design by subscribing to the podcast so you never miss a single episode. It’s really easy, find the shows everywhere you get your favorite podcasts, or ask your smart device to “play Convo By Design podcast” and it will… This is Sara Malek Barney

Thank you, Sara, loved this. Please subscribe to the show so you catch every episode of Lone Star House of Design and Convo By Design, ask Alexa or Siri, say, “Hey Siri, Play Convo By Design” and she will. You can follow the show on the socials as well, @ConvoXDesign with an “X” on Instagram, and check out the YouTube channel for videos from some of your favorite episodes. Thank you for listening and until next week, Keep creating.

The Future of Minimal Modern | 285 | Minarc

This is Erla Ingjaldsdottir and Tryggvi Thorsteinsson of Minarc. The duo founded Minarc, a Santa Monica based architecture firm that is producing ground-breaking minimalist, modern design that is both stunning to look at and stripped down to the very essence of the structure itself. Materials and lack of materials play a huge role in the finished product. The absence of paint, carpet, tile, and a focus on letting the included materials speak a different dialect in the language of architecture. And because architecture is a language all its own, Minarc’s work allows the design to speak for itself using a “don’t tell me, show me” approach.

This is a new segment of the show called A moment of Zen presented by Thermasol, it’s a focus on wellness tips for a healthy mind, body, and soul. This topic has been coming up more and more lately and while this is certainly not a new topic, more clients have been asking for health and wellness worked into their designs. I started asking around and there are some really interesting ideas taking shape.

As you hear about modern minimalist design, peaceful living needs to be a part of that conversation and if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that the idea of home is very different now than it was at the start of the year. Not only are we spending more time at home but that time is being spent doing more things. Of those, the idea of relaxation in a spa-like environment has been lost to many. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Have you considered incorporating steam showers into your designs? If not, some things to consider… Steam showers are not just for resorts, spas and gyms. You know this, but what you might not be aware of is that steam showers offer additional opportunities like aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy is the introduction of essential oils into the steam itself which is said to have both healing properties as well as adding to a relaxing experience. Options include jasmine, eucalyptus, rose, lavender, chamomile all offering their own “essence” to the experience. While they have not been studied for medical efficacy, and it is important to get any treatments cleared by a medical professional in advance… this is the legal disclaimer portion of this segment. This is something that can add to the experience of a shower making it so much more than just a cleaning tool. A steam shower conversion is a relatively simple construction upgrade and once that is done, incorporating essential oils into the steam is even easier.

I read an article in New York Magazine online from February 16th, 2017. It was called, The Strategist, What’s the Deal with Essential oils? By Mike Albo. Albo spoke with Dr. Pamela Dalton from the Monell Center in Philadelphia. Dalton, an olfactory-research scientist spoke about the value of essential oils. Dr. Dalton recommends “encourages their use” and notes that, in. Dalton notes “extremely rare’’ creations in personal research. There are a number of possible reasons for this but at the end of the day, we are all looking for ways to increase the sense of well being achieved through relaxation and aromatherapy is an option worth exploring.  

These ideas are provided for you to consider exploring in your future projects. Zen is a state of mind, designing for wellness is more important now than ever before. Thermasol is a brand created over 60 years ago to incorporate steam showers and sauna into any project you can design. They have also integrated cutting edge technology into their products allowing you to set individual profiles for every user. Set temperature, chromotherapy, aromatherapy, listen to music, or watch your favorite shows while taking a relaxing steam shower. You will be amazed at just how easy it is to specify Thermasol products for every project you can design. Check them out online at Thermasol dot com.

Michelle Boudreau | 284 | Modern Design in the Desert

Michelle Boudreau is a very skilled designer with an engaging personality. She makes her work seem absolutely effortless, and I can tell you first hand that when it comes to design houses, effort is one thing you must bring in abundance, like patience, a sense of calm determination and a thick skin. Having produced design houses, I can tell you that this is true and that Michelle checks off each of these boxes. 

Partnerships are key and this is how these projects become a reality.  They include Russo Studios lighting, JennAir appliances from Ferguson, Heather James Gallery provided the art, Minotti Italian furnishings from MASS Beverly, Design Hardware and Flooring provided a variety of hardware and fixtures for this home and so many other amazing details and you will hear about all of them here. This particular home captures a European modern feel in the middle of the desert.  And this fearless mosaic was created by Michelle and now you get to sear about how everything comes together. A request for those new to the show… Please follow us on Instagram, @ConvoXDesign, with an “X” and subscribe to the show so you never miss an episode. You can find us everywhere you find your favorite podcasts.

Thank you Michelle for your time and talent. Thank you Walker Zanger for your continued support for the show and THANK YOU for listening to the show. Were it not for you, there would be no Convo By Design so, thank you. Until next week, keep creating.

Buster + Punch | 283 | Massimo Buster Minale

Buster + Punch is the luxury home fashion label born out of a love of home, fashion, metalwork, and motorcycles. Minale is part fashion designer, craft metalworker, and mad scientist. Buster + Punch is one of the most impactful new home design brands for a number of reasons, not the least of which is an artistic approach to the work that blends machine worked industrial lines and fine art. This is a fearless luxury home brand that demands attention yet works flawlessly with so many different styles of design and architecture. Full disclosure, I have Buster + Punch pieces in my home. My absolute favorite is the light bulbs installed in a suspended Jamie young piece hanging in our kitchen. I look at this every day and it makes me happy. So, I’m a fan off the bat and I think you will be as well after hearing about Buster + Punch from Massimo himself. This is Massimo Buster Minale, founder of Buster + Punch.

Thank you, Massimo. Great chat, I’m sorry we won’t see each other at WestEdge this year, but I am counting the days until 2021. Thank you Walker Zanger for your support for Convo Boy Design and THANK YOU for listening. Were it not for you, there would be no Convo By Design. Speaking of which, make sure you are subscribing to the show everywhere you find your favorite podcasts. You can also find everything show related at ConvoBy Design dot com. Be well and until next week, keep creating.