CXD Design Icon Series for March 2024 | 497 | Jean Brownhill

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design with a very special episode. Part of a new series of the show and something that I have been considering for quite some time but I specifically wanted to complete year 10 of the show before I rolled this out. 

Do you know that in the 11+ years of Convo By Design, I have published over 500 episodes, spoken with over 6500 creatives, produced over 5 dozen panel conversations for design events across the country. From all of these amazing conversations with the worlds greatest creative talent, I wanted. to start enshrining some of these individuals into the Convo By Design Icon Registry, a hall of fame if you will.

I don’t do contests and I most certainly don’t do lists. Lists are gimmicks designed to capture clicks. They are, click bait pure and simple. You cannot tell me that a list of 50, 75 or 100 designers and architects are the absolute best at what they do without providing context. Lists are created in the hopes that those who are being listed will promote the accolades and that attention will be driven back to the author of the list. And contests where creatives have to reach out to their base to get them to vote for them is just wrong in my opinion. Because, if someone is amazing at what they do… Celebrate that, no strings attached. And that is what we are going to do here. 

Now, the criteria… Each inductee has been a guest on Convo By Design. They have a body of work that is exceptional in their various disciplines and there is no justification required for their world class status. They give back to the industry, they are innovators, givers and make our industry better than they found it. This project is called the Convo By Design Icon Registry, because that is what this is, tantamount to a hall of fame, but more. What is an ICON? Described as an icon; A person or thing regarded as a representative symbol or as worthy of veneration. A registry is a well curated list. You can consider this a venerable who’s who in our industry with gifts to offer and a willingness to share. Pablo Picasso is credited with saying, “the meaning of life is to find your gift and the purpose of life is to give it away”. Now, I am not suggesting that those enshrined in the Icon Registry have all just been giving away their gifts. These are professionals of the highest order and part of being a professional is knowing your worth and understanding your value. Each of these individuals have appeared on Convo By Design, shared what they know for the betterment of others, and I am deeply appreciative for that. This is the most authentic way that I can express my gratitude for that. As deeply appreciative as I am for their sharing, I am equally grateful for your taking the time to share a few moments, an hour out of your busy schedule each week to listen to the show. Again, the most authentic way that I can express that gratitude is to give you an opportunity to hear them again. Every month, the last Thursday of the month, unless it’s a holiday week, in which case I will publish a week sooner, I will share a new inductee with you.

This week, our third installment into the Convo By Design Icon Registry is Architect and founder of Sweeten, Jean Brownhill. 

Brownhill is an incredible talent. A serious multi-hyphenate and an extraordinary person. A Loeb Fellow from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design where she co-founded the African American Student Union, founder of SAW, Sweeten Accelerator for Women and so much more. Her accolades are many and deservedly so. Jean and I spoke back in 2019.

Thank you Jean for making this world a better place than you found it. Congratulations on your addition to the Convo By Design Icon Registry. And thank you for listening and subscribing to the show. Thank you to my partner sponsors Design Hardware, ThermaSol, TimberTech and Pacific Sales. these are amazing partners all, they support the trade and I love sharing these amazing resources with you. Thanks again for listening, 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

Sweeten Your Design | 258 | Jean Brownhill

You listen to Convo By Design for a few reasons, I have been told, and 2 of those reasons are to find inspiration and hear the stories of designers, architects, futurists and creators responsible for the direction of design in So Cal and beyond. I have an amazing guest in Architect, founder and CEO of Sweeten, Jean Brownhill.

Brownhill’s story is a complex one full of long shots  successes and uphill battles. A women who is disrupting the construction space by attempting a massive change in the way the business is done. I want you to know that I use the word “disrupting” carefully and with purpose. Because that word has become overused with regard to business changing the status quo and because simply changing something isn’t enough, it has to be positive change or what’s the point? 

Brownhill is addressing some common issues and attacking those issues with thoughtful strategy available via Sweeten, a company that matches clients with vetted contractors in a transparent ecosystem that incentivizes the trade to remain on good terms and Sweeten is compensated through commissions on work transacted within that ecosystem. While I have not experienced the service myself, I like the idea because it provides all parties with positive motivating factors for doing things the right way. That would make Brownhill and Sweeten a truly disrupting company. And regardless of how you feel about that idea, what cannot be denied is that a woman… of color… an architect… in  the construction space… who has raised millions of dollars in VC funding… does make Jean Brownhill a unicorn. She is one of very few, this is her story.

Convo By Design is presented by Walker Zanger….A remarkable company and an equally remarkable 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.

That is a wrap on this episode of Convo By Design featuring Jean Brownhill, this was recorded at the WestEdge Design Fair in Santa Monica in October 2019. Thank you for the time Jean, thank you Walker Zanger for your generous support of the show and of course, thank you for listening. Without you, there is no Convo By Design!  Until next week, keep creating.