Tag Archives: modern architecture

Paul McClean | 308 | A Master of Modern Architecture



This is Convo By Design with an architect that is single hardly redefining what is possible in modern residential architecture, this is Paul McClean…

Paul McClean is one of those rare individuals who knew what he wanted to do at a very young age. Rarer still is growing up to change that space into your vision of what it should be. McClean grew up in Ireland and made his way to Southern California by way of Sydney, Australia. His work uses clean lines, site-specific features that make the most of water features, and the given space available, sometimes more, sometimes less. Always distinct, you can see McClean’s fine lines woven through space and structure in the most seamless and unapologetically spectacular ways. McClean’s work is inspirational, aspirational, and if nothing else, makes you wonder, ‘what if’.

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 master architect, Paul McClean.

Thank you, Paul. 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.


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.

http://jabinteriors.com

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.

https://www.wandrdesign.com

https://www.landrydesigngroup.com/#/about

http://bridgidcoulter.com

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.

https://www.johncolaneri.com/biography

https://www.walkerzanger.com

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.

https://www.thermasol.com

Convo By Design was built on fascinating conversations with world-class talent. Showcasing a handful of those. First up, Michael Berman.

https://www.michaelbermanlimited.com

Thank you, Michael, this is Cesar Giraldo from the Convo By Design Programming Lounge in 2017.

https://cesargiraldodesign.com

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.

https://www.loridennis.com

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.

https://www.ryansaghian.com

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.

http://www.ryanwhitedesigns.com

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.

https://www.wardjewellarchitect.com

Next up is the soft-spoken but incredibly talented, Joan Behnke talking about the value of art and how art influences her design.

http://joanbehnke.com

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.

https://www.mattblackeinc.com/about

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.

https://dakotajackson.com

 That was Dakota Jackson, this is Timothy Corrigan

https://www.timothy-corrigan.com

Thank you, Tim. This is architect Takashi Yanai

https://eyrc.com/studio/partners

This is Rachlin Architects, Michael Rachlin from episode 16

http://rachlinarchitects.com/firm/team/michael-rachlin

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.

http://suefirestone.com

Designer Kyle Schuneman focused early on small spaces and millennials. This is more important now than ever before.

https://www.kyleschuneman.com

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.

https://www.setdecorators.org

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.
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#InteriorDesign #OutdoorLiving #UrbanBonfire #WalkerZanger #ConvoByDesign #JoshCooperman #RyanBloom


Imagine A World WITHOUT Frank Lloyd Wright | 291 | A Conversation That Would Thoroughly Annoy Him



A conversation of his work and influence in the abstract would, no doubt perk up the prickly side of Frank Lloyd Wright who never seemed to pass on an opportunity to share his thoughts regardless of how they might be perceived. The cantankerous side of Frank Lloyd Wright was a gift second only to his work. It made things so much more interesting.

Around the time I was writing panel concepts for the Convo By Design Programming Lounge at WestEdge in 2019, I saw a movie that posed the question, what would the world be like if only one person remembered the Beatles… That made me think, what was Frank Lloyd Wright’s impact beyond the work itself? That is exactly what was pondered and explored by this incredible panel. Featuring Margaret Bach of Margaret Bach Design, Carlo Caccavale, Executive Director at American Institute of Architects, David Coffey, Director of The Design Thinking Academy, and Michael Lehrer of Lehrer Architects. This group of luminaries is led by moderator and educator, Carol Bishop who masterfully navigates this idea in a conversation called Modern World, Life Without Frank Lloyd Wright.

Wow, okay. This was a great chat, thank you, Margaret, Carlo, David, and Michael. Thank you Carol for navigating this strange idea and leading this excellent conversation. Thank you Walker Zanger  for your continued support and thank you for listening.

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.


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.


SoCal’s Modern Architecture Revolution | 278 | Christopher Brandon of Brandon Architects



This is the next golden age of Modern Architecture with much of the leadership emanating from SoCal. For six years, every interview you heard on the show was recorded live. Since March 13th of this year, every new conversation has been recorded on the phone or via Zoom. This has completely changed the way I do this and we have all change the way we work. So as Christopher and I talk about how his business is changing, he also mentioned that he started his firm during the great recession and I think that speaks to how Brandon established his firm and how he has worked with all his employees to make sure they can work most effectively. Doing the episodes this way has also provided me with an opportunity to discuss specific projects and it has opened a new door for me and I hope for you as well. Please make sure you are following along as we look at these projects by visiting www.brandonarchitects.com as you listen and we can explore design together.

In this episode, Chris and I talk about some amazing ideas in design that include a skylight through the bottom of a swimming pool and an absolute masterpiece in the Strand Hotel. You are going to hear about incorporating VR and technology, progressive ways to make distance working more effective and overcoming the challenges of working during a disaster. At the same time, this is a reminder that design is a service industry. A service industry that directly improves the quality of life of those we serve.

Before we get to this, I want to share some thoughts with you. Convo By Design is presented by Walker Zanger. I am going to tell you a little more about what makes Walker Zanger so special in a minute. But I also want you to know how they are responding during these trying times. I recently paid a visit to their West Hollywood showroom. When I walked in, staff was distanced, there was sanitizer available and they were masked up. They have also been inviting through drive by slab showings and partnering up with yours truly on a virtual series called The Showroom. If you are a designer looking for great partners to work with, you can look no further than Walker Zanger. They continue to innovate. They made me feel comfortable going back to their showroom. It may seem like a small thing. It’s not. We are back to a really fun conversation with architect, Christopher Brandon.

Thank you, Chris. Thank you for making the time, thank you Walker Zanger for being an absolute joy to work with. Your partnership is appreciated. Thank you Thermasol for your support of Convo By Design and thank YOU for listening to the show, subscribing to the podcast and coming out to our events. If not already, ask Alexa or Siri to subscribe to Convo By Design, and they will. Thanks for listening and until next week, keep creating.