A Look Back to the Future | 372 | The Sustainable, High Tech Home of the Future from the 1950’s and Today

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design and we are going back to the 1950’s for a look back at the future… That’s right.

I recently came across a video that was made in the 1950s by Westinghouse called the Total Electric Home. It is a fascinating film hosted by Betty Furness. She was an actress, consumer advocate and special assistant in consumer affairs to the Johnson administration.  Furness past away in 1994 and she was really interesting. She turned a less than stellar acting career into a significant role as consumer advocate and saleswoman. Furness hosted this remarkable film that was created by and featuring the products made by Westinghouse Electric.

Westinghouse was founded in 1886 by George Westinghouse who years earlier, in 1865 patented the first rotary steam engine. In 1869, he patented an air braking system for use on the railroad. In 1888 Nikola Tesla patented the alternating current motor and goes to work for Westinghouse. In 1893, Westinghouse beats out Thomas Edison to win the contract to power the Chicago World’s Fair. Then in 1914, Westinghouse acquires Copeman  Electric Stove Company to enter the home appliance market. So in the 50’s, here they are with this fully integrated electric home. Why didn’t it take? The idea was genius. The reason it didn’t work was due to many factors not the least of which was the competition in the marketplace and to perhaps an even larger extent, the proliferation of other power sources.

Natural gas has been used in the United States since before 1836 when the City of Philadelphia created  the first municipal natural gas company. I don’t want to go too deep here and turn this into a history lesson. Rather, let’s look at this amazing piece of history as we look forward. Some of the same basic ideas incorporated into the Westinghouse Total Electric Home are relevant and even being reintroduced as of this writing. Just listen to Betty’s introduction: So the idea for the Ring doorbell can be traced back to the 50’s. While I don’t know what “Rayescent lighting” is, it sounds pretty cool. While the idea of seeing visitors is not novel to us now, imagine how this idea was received in the 50’s? A great idea right, but how about this?

What? The idea for a home that is organized in zones is not new, but to envision a home that works together as opposed to simply trying to seamlessly connect spaces is, to this day, a revolutionary idea. Keep in mind that at this time, formal dining rooms, formal living rooms and phone niches were all ‘must haves’. 

Now, I don’t want you think that this whole idea could be plucked from then and planted now… There’s this…

It appears only men are interested in the weather, but wait…

Integrated heating and watering. Not only novel, but amazing!

Not sure about multiple hampers, because let’s be honest, no kid I know is going to self-sort by material or color. Speaking of kids…

Okay, so we are getting off topic a little bit, but it’s okay because this Total Electric Home is a concept house, like many of the cars you go see at the auto show. It makes you wonder why there aren’t more experimental spaces from which to truly explore the elements that go into living well.  There is cost, of course, but I always thought that was a perfect role for the design house. Of which we are starting to see fewer organized by the media and more created by developers. 

I wanted to use this opportunity to share some ideas you have heard by architects on previous episodes and a few to come. We are talking about not just creating the home of the future, but the home for now, homes with spaces designed to suit the way we live now and  factor in the changes that come next. This is architect Anthony Poon referencing the Wallace Neff Bubble House in Pasadena and talking about Modern for the Masses.

That was Anthony Poon talking about concepts, this is architect Stephen Francis Jones and his use of shipping containers to build. A plentiful, relatively untapped resource for creation of dwellings. Stephen founder of SF Jones Architects talks about creating a dwelling from shipping containers.

From here we can jump to a conversation with noted LA architect Dan Brunn. Dan and I spoke at the WestEdge Design Fair ant we were talking about some of his truly transformative projects and it all started with his love for the Bauhaus style in which he grew up as a boy in Tel Aviv. Listen to Dan explain it.

Studio MLA’s Ben Feldman and I sat down to talk about his work on the LA River project and this is further proof that the modern home and the modern solution to housing truly is a multifaceted patchwork of ideas cobbled together to address many issues, changing times and conditions not to mention technologies, both coming and going. That Total Electric Home of the future wasn’t just a one off creation but ideas put into practice every day. Listen to Ben explain it from his perspective.

Quite a bit has been unpacked here. Adding another twist to the modern, technologically advanced home is a brief chat with Steven Ehrlich when we met at Modernism Week in 2018. He was giving me a tour of an amazing project in the desert using some uncommon materials for the terrain to make the house both lighter on the footprint and function better. Check this out.

Wrapping this up with architect Lorcan O’herlihy and a brief chat about LA and Detroit from an urban living perspective. Concepts, materials, style, technology, and compatibility are all crucial to the modern, livable home and one also needs to understand municipal policy, change it if you can work around it when you must and be creative stitching projects in whenever possible. Nobody understands this like O’herlihy.

This has been fun, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I have. Here is Betty Furness one last time with the Westinghouse pitch. It’s compelling. Makes you wonder what we can do with the advancements we have some 70 years later.

What a fun look at past design and how it affects both today and tomorrow. Thank you to all of the creatives who added to this conversation; Anthony Poon, Stephen F Jones, Steven Ehrlich, Dann Brun, Ben Feldman and Lorcan O’herlihy. Thank you ThermaSol, Article, York Wallcoverings and Franz Viegener for your partnership and support. You are remarkable partners and amazing allies for the trade. And, thank you for listening, remember why you do what you do and that the business of design is about making better the lives of those we serve. Until next week, Be well and take today first.

Talking Sophisticated and Eclectic Interior Design with A Wonderful Human Being | 363 | Alex Papachristidis

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design with one of the greats. Not just as a decorator, but as a person. Incredibly talented and so versatile as an interior decorator, I wanted to share his story with you, this is  Alex Papachristides.

I first met Alex in 2019, I think. To be completely frank with you, my years have started to mix and mingle together. It’s like something crazy has happened over the last 2 years. I met Alex at La Cienega Design Quarter’s Legends event. I spent a week interviewing creatives who crafted windows in the quarter and Alex was one of my favorites. If you do a modicum of research on Alex, you will find a deeply creative and complex interior decorator who knows the historical importance of the materials with which he works and the meaning behind each design story he creates for his clients. Papachristidis in versatile too. It takes a special person who can appear on Today and This Old House and be equally compelling. Alex is an author and perpetually included on just about any who’s who design list. Alex is also a dog person and sits on the Board of Directors of ARF Hamptons, which is one of the reasons I find him so special. This is Alex Papachristidis.

Thank you, Alex. Loved our chat and truly appreciate the time. Thank you ThermaSol, Article, York Wallcoverings and Franz Viegener for your partnership. You are remarkable partners and amazing allies for the trade. And, thank you for listening, remember why you do what you do and that the business of design is about making better the lives of those we serve. Until next week. Be well and take today first.

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

 

 

Hands-On Boutique Design | 353 | Studio Thomas James

This is Convo By Design with a chat about a boutique approach to international design. Not exclusively, but with a focus on how to grow a design firm to include an international clientele. I sat down with Philip Thomas Vanderford and Jason James Jones to talk about international business and domestic business in interior design. They operate Studio Thomas James from their studio in Dallas where they also operate a workroom to build custom pieces.

The following chat is going to cover a lot of ground of which every interior designer should be aware. And, if you are thinking of ways to grow your client base both domestically and internationally, you are going to love this. Philip and Jason have a calm approach to this turbulent business. Calm is good and when you combine this approach with a seasoned view to all things design in an ever changing world, it makes for a terrific conversation. One that I do hope you enjoy.

This is Convo By Design, a podcast for the design community available everywhere you find your favorite podcasts, like Design Network dot org and Apple Podcasts so make sure to subscribe to the show so you don’t miss a single episode. And you are not going to want to miss a single episode, trust me. While we throttle things down for the holidays, I am preparing a slate of shows for you in 2022 that you are going to absolutely love. A tease, Convo By Design is working on our first ever design house and it is a project the likes of which you have not seen before. Because this project takes many of the elements we have experienced over the past 18 months and uses a real project home in a very remote location in collaboration with some of the most talented designers working today. This project house is being presented in a way that doesn’t require you to see it in person to understand all the finer details in the work. It is remote, not virtual meaning the house is real as is all of the incredible work you see so stay connected and subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss a minute.

Thank you, Jason and Philip. I really enjoyed our time together. Thank you Walker Zanger for presenting Convo By Design. Thank you ThermaSol for your partnership. You are both remarkable partners and amazing allies for the trade. And, thank you for listening. As you may have noticed, Convo By Design is bringing you design talent from all across the country. It’s not just about LA and New York, but Alabama, Louisiana and yes, Dallas! Thanks again for listening, remember why you do what you do and that the business of design is about making better the lives of those we serve. Until next week, be well and take today first.

No Stress Design? Yes, Please | 347 | Interior Designer Lorna Gross

This is Convo By Design with interior designer, Lorna Gross, a super-chill creative with a hyper-focused approach to customer service.

I think it bears repeating. A super-chill creative with a hyper-focused approach to customer service. Think about that for a minute. Regardless of your job, designer, architect, showroom manager, publicist, fabricator, journalist, the approach to customer service is pretty much the only thing of which you have total and complete control. As Lorna and I talk, try to figure out if she’s so chill because she controls the role or, because she controls the role, that allows her to remain super-chill.

Living in a chaotic world where product doesn’t come on-time anymore and that is the new norm, not the exception. Where people are more polarized than ever before. Where politics has invaded every inch of our space and there is no longer a delineation between working hours and personal time, to find something over which we still remain in control is a gift. EDITORS NOTE – After my conversation with Lorna, I changed many of the ways I work.  A publicist recently blew me up pretty good during the weekend. I did something I rarely ever did before. I didn’t answer. Don’t get me wrong, like you, I work on the weekends. I edit, produce and plan but I have come to realize that there is a place for everything and we must keep everything in its place. It was hard at first, but now, I understand the importance of keeping certain rules in place. This is a master class on the professional habits that allow creatives to remain creative, productive and successful. This is Lorna Gross.

Thank you, Lorna. Loved our chat. Thank you Walker Zanger for presenting Convo By Design and ThermaSol, you guys are remarkable partners. Thank you for listening. Without you, what’s the point. As you may have noticed, Convo By Design is bringing you design talent from all across the country. It’s not just about LA and New York, but New Orleans, Dallas and Denver. We are so rich in talent that sometimes, we miss some of the gems. Keep those email coming, email me with show suggestions and feel free to suggest a designer, architect or other creative you think the editorial team should be aware of. Thanks again for listening, remember why you do what you do and that the business of design is about making better the lives of those we serve. Until next week, be well and take today first.

Maryline Damour | 330 | Reinventing Yourself and Career Through Design – Much Needed Guidance and Strategies for Success

This is CXD with a conversation about design houses, collaborative partnerships and second careers. All things you have heard me talk about on the show before…but not like this…

Maryline Damour started her career doing business development with some of the biggest names in accounting and finance. Her desire for something greater led her back to school to study interior design at Parsons The New School for Design. Our conversation covers that journey as well as her experience growing up in Haiti where they are no strangers to living with disasters of all types unfortunately, and that experience has provided Maryline with a unique perspective on life and design. In this episode of the podcast, you will hear about that experience, meeting her business partner, Fred Drake and crafting their boutique design firm. 

Are you subscribing to the podcast, if not, please do so you get every episode automatically when they are published. You can find Convo By Design everywhere you find your favorite podcasts and now, you can find us on DesignNetwork dot Org, a destination dedicated to podcasts, all things design and architecture so make sure to check it out.

Thank you, Maryline. Thank you Walker Zanger and ThermaSol for your partnership. And thank you for listening. Without you, there is no joy in doing this, you are appreciated. My hope is to bring you inspiration and sublime design through these conversations. To give you that extra push to be the most creative designer you can be. I think we did that here. Please make sure you are subscribing to the show so you don’t miss a single episode. You can also follow us on Instagram, @ConvoXDesign, with an “x” and convo by design dot com. Be well and remember to take today first.

Your Best Year in Design | 326 | Proven Strategies for Growing and Promoting Your Design Firm

This is Convo By Design with a conversation about adapting to the ever-changing design environment. Since only everything has changed. When I say that, I mean it. Everything has changed in the business. I remember last March when everyone I was speaking with, myself included thought the events would come back last fall and that the supply chain would return to normal. As time went on, we all started to realize that things were not going back to normal quickly, if at all. this conversation is part of the Wellness & Design Thought Leadership Series presented by ThermaSol.

That being said, not all change is bad. The following conversation includes designers Shirry Dolgin of ASD Interiors, Michelle Salz-Smith of Studio Surface and Jason Lai of L2 Interiors. The panel explores the changes in the design and architecture industry, in real time with a focus on adapting to these changes and maximizing new business and revenue growth. Change is hard. The unknown is uncomfortable.

This exploration unearths some of the most challenging issues we are facing as it relates to the business and how these three firms are addressing these issues.Many of this issues revolve around specifying product right now as the supply chains are stretched and demand has grown as inventories drop. This has led to both shortages and increased costs. There challenges now include managing the disappointment of precuts not being available, reselects, increase costs, lack of manufacturer response times and products showing differently online from reality.

“Our business is so personal, whether we’re face to face, or not. We are people pleasers and that’s not always the greatest thing, especially now. But, I think the greatest challenge now, for me as a perfectionist and a people pleaser, is managing disappointment. Relaying the reality of the situation without making excuses.” – Michelle Salz-Smith

“I spend a lot of my time being upfront with my client saying, ‘listen, it is what it is.’ So, we can either wait, or pick something else.” – Shirry Dolgin

“I know what we want and what we are looking for in our head already, we just haven’t seen it and once we see it, we pull it. But this process has just been so slow. We have to go online and scroll through 75 pages of fabric on one color finish and it’s nothing like what you expect because online it shows differently.” -Jason Lai

In this episode, you will not only hear the challenges restated, you will also hear solutions to many of the issues every designer faces now and what the business might look like in the near future. The best way to overcome challenges is to envision and plan for them in the future. This is another episode in the Wellness & Design Thought Leadership Series presented by ThermaSol featuring Michelle Salz-Smith, Jason Lai and Shirry Dolgin.

Are you subscribing to the podcast, if not, please do so you get every episode automatically when they are published. You can find Convo By Design everywhere you find your favorite podcasts and now, you can find us on DesignNetwork dot Org, a destination dedicated to podcasts, all things design and architecture so make sure to check it out.

And when it comes to working with a partner who has your back, knows your challenges and is there for you every step of the way…

Thank you, Shirry, Jason and Michelle. Thank you Walker Zanger and ThermaSol for your partnership. And thank you for listening. Without you, there is no joy in doing this, you are appreciated. My hope is to bring you inspiration and sublime design through these conversations. To give you that extra push to be the most creative designer you can be. I think we did that here. Please make sure you are subscribing to the show so you don’t miss a single episode. You can also follow us on Instagram, @ConvoXDesign, with an “x” and convo by design dot com. Be well and remember to take today first.

Anthony Laney of Laney LA | 325 | Crafting Custom Work, the New Modern Art

This is Convo By Design and today you are going to hear from Laney LA’s, Anthony Laney. This is a conversation about exquisite modern architecture and a little bit of space planning magic. Like how to make a pool disappear…. I am not kidding, really disappear.

Anthony Laney is the creative force behind Laney LA. His firm is doing some extremely interesting work in and around Los Angeles and the small coastal beach cities of Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach. These are small coastal communities with some very large homes on very small lots. Where the cost per foot is in the 4 digits and the cost of dirt alone is some of the highest in the country. This means an endless supply of cash, or some very strategic space planning and to be frank, there is both. Laney has earned a reputation for crafting really interesting and exquisite modern design with a focus on not just tailoring the work to the client but finding unique ways of adding to the design through subtraction of used material. As previously mentioned, like making a pool disappear to create a yard on demand. I will let Anthony explain how he did it.

Are you subscribing to the podcast, if not, please do so you get every episode automatically when they are published. You can find Convo By Design everywhere you find your favorite podcasts and now, you can find us on DesignNetwork dot Org, a destination dedicated to podcasts, all things design and architecture so make sure to check it out.

Thank you, Anthony. Thank you Walker Zanger and ThermaSol for your partnership. And thank you for listening. Without you, there is no joy in doing this, you are appreciated. My hope is to bring you inspiration and sublime design through these conversations. To give you that extra push to be the most creative designer you can be. I think we did that here. Please make sure you are subscribing to the show so you don’t miss a single episode. You can also follow us on Instagram, @ConvoXDesign, with an “x” and convo by design dot com. Be well and remember to take today first.

Earth Day 2021 | 322 | Steve Pallrand – What Every Designer Must Know About Sustainable Design

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design with an Earth Day Special Episode. Yes, I think Earth Day is silly, but the message behind it is of critical importance to everyone in design, architecture and those who live…on Earth…

There is a day for everything, am I right? That being said, some points of interest, the first Earth Day was April 22nd, 1970. Many say it coincides with the beginning of the environmental movement. In January, 1969, there was a massive oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. The date for Earth Day, April 22nd was selected because it falls on a weekday following Spring Break allowing greater student participation. Which makes sense because young people have always cared more about their environment than those who have less time to spend there. Makes sense. Ere is what it sounded like in 1970. (Walter Cronkite, CBS News)

https://www.earthday.org/history/

This was a momentous occasion followed by decades of apathy and carrying on with business as usual. I think the message is really important and I believe that this is yet another problem that will be solved by the designers, architects and product manufacturers that make up our industry. According to the EPA, 27% of greenhouse gasses are caused by electricity production, 28% from transportation, 22% from industry. As the design machine continues to produce greater efficiencies and uses of renewable energy combined with fewer off-gassing materials, limited waste, etc., the numbers will subside, I believe that.

At the same time, there is a strong connection between sustainable, clean design and wellness. These two ideas should go hand in glove and as such, it makes perfect sense that this correlation exists.

With that, today you are going to hear from Steve Pallrand, founder and principal designer of Home Front Build, a design/ build firm with wellness and environmental design at the core of their work. In another life, I hosted a show called The Green Detective. I know this subject and I don’t agree with everything, and you will hear that in my conversation with Steve. But, it’s important to note that we don’t have to agree about everything to agree that the changes for greater environmental consideration in design is important, and necessary. Are you subscribing to the podcast, if not, please do so you get every episode automatically when they are published. You can find Convo By Design everywhere you find your favorite podcasts and now, you can find us on DesignNetwork dot Org, a destination dedicated to podcasts, all things design and architecture so make sure to check it out.

Thank you, Steve for your time. Thank you Walker Zanger, for your partnership. And thank you for listening. Without you, there is no joy in doing this, you are appreciated. My hope is to bring you inspiration and sublime design through these conversations. To give you that extra push to be the most creative designer you can be. I think we did that here. Please make sure you are subscribing to the show so you don’t miss a single episode. You can also follow us on Instagram, @ConvoXDesign, with an “x” and convo by design dot com. Be well and remember to take today first.

SPECIAL EPISODE: Rocky LaFleur | Celebrating a Design Icon

This is Convo By Design Today, we are saying goodbye to a friend and celebrating an amazing person and giant in Southern California’s design community, Rocky LaFleur.

There are some people you encounter in life who make you feel better, they make you better and they lift up those around them. Rocky LaFleur was the embodiment of that. As long as I knew him, he always had a smile on his face and a word of encouragement. Rocky had a passion for his longtime friends and an openness to make new ones. We lost Rocky this past week and this flood of memories came back to me.

There have been so many fun and wonderful events and I cherish the time this tight knit Southern California design community gets together. The last time I saw Rocky in person, it was to see him speak to up and coming design students at UCLA Extension. Eleanor Schrader handed the mic to Rocky and his partner in comedy, Gary Gibson and the two of them led a journey into the wonderful world of design that made these prospective designers eyes twinkle. Not just the good, but the challenging and the hard work that comes with it.

Rocky was a phenomenal ambassador for the all of us in the industry, he was a dedicated mentor who gave freely of his time to help others and he always had a smile on his face. That sweet smile.

Rocky’s story is special and it doesn’t end here. When you influence and positively impact the lives of so many people, your spirit endures. I was blown away in 2018, seeing Rocky recognized at the Pacific Design Center in front of so many people who were there for no other reason than to shower Rocky with the love and the recognition he deserved. A Lifetime Achievement award, given to him by the ASID, the first of its kind.

Rocky has been a fixture in the Pacific Design Center, at Kneedler Fauchere, Rocky needed a home like the PDC to house his huge personality.

“Rocky joined Kneedler Fauchère almost 16 years ago and I joined one year later. Believe it or not, I sat in front of his desk and every morning when I arrived he serenaded me with show tunes. That pretty much told me everything I needed to know about Rocky. He’s been one of my closest and most meaningful confidants ever since,” said Gina Dewitt, President of Kneedler Fauchère after the gala event.

I sat down with Rocky in 2019. Rocky told me his story, how he, “found his people.” I could continue to gush on about how wonderful this man was, but instead, I would like to replay my conversation with Rocky, recorded in 2019 from the Kneedler Fauchere showroom in the Pacific Design Center.

I want to thank Walker Zanger, presenting partner of Convo By Design, for your partnership. The work that they do and their support of the show makes it possible for me to to this. This podcast has kept me connected to the industry, to you for the past eight years and the last has definitely been the most challenging. As we start moving back to events, showcases, design houses, CEU’s and trade shows, we will have the chance to reconnect and I am so appreciative to Walker Zanger for their support of Convo By Design.

My hope here is that you can take some time to sit back, turn off the phone for a few minutes and let Rocky make you feel good again. I challenge you to hear that laugh and not laugh with him, it’s impossible. I hope hearing his voice, that laugh, those stories takes away your pain for a moment.

Thank you, Rocky…for everything, and thank you for listening. Until next week, be well and remember to to take today first.

Domos Coliving | 312 | Coliving, The Future of Flex-Living and Finding Balance between Private Space and Shared Amenities

This is Convo By Design featuring Daniel Alexander and Richard Loring of Domos Coliving. From Millennials moving back home to traditional multi-generational cohabitation, the idea of coliving has not only gained steam, but taken hold in cities across the U.S. Home ownership once the foundational idea behind the American dream is, in many circle giving way to the idea the coliving provides all someone wants and nothing they don’t. But what role does design play when you are catering to the many without serving only a few. That’s what I wanted to know when I spoke with Daniel and Richard from Domos. Daniel is principal with DOMOS and Richard manages construction and design.

Some thoughts as you listen. If you are a designer, this will shed some light on the approach to application of design and flow. Architects, there is something here for you as well in the structure of a space made for many that feels cozy and personal.

Thanks for downloading, streaming and subscribing to this episode of the podcast. If you haven’t subscribed yet, please do so you don’t miss a single episode of the show, like this one with Daniel Alexander and Richard Loring of Domos Coliving.

Thank you Daniel and Richard. Thank you Walker Zanger for your extraordinary partnership and thank you for listening. My goal is to bring you the stories behind sublime design wherever that may be. To share those stories, bring you business strategies to help you build a stronger firm and inspire you to do your most creative work.

For more, please follow us on Instagram @ConvoXDesign with an “X”, check us out at Convo By Design dot com. Until next week, be well and keep creating.