Tag Archives: Thermasol

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.


The Modern Smart Home | 289 | Function vs. Fiction



Our homes are getting smarter. Designers and architects are being given the tools to increase the IQ of the home by making it more functional, using smart devices to perform new functions, and with this comes confusion and challenges in making all of the individual parts work together. This conversation is the latest edition of A Moment of Zen, conversations presented by Thermasol that explore designing for wellness and tranquility.

This chat features designer John McClain, technology integration expert, Dave Raines, and Patrick Weidl from Thermasol. We are talking about tech, integration, and making it all work together within the design.

Thank you, John, Dave, and Patrick, this was great. Thank you Thermasol for presenting A Moment of Zen, thank you Walker Zanger 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.


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.


A Moment of Zen & Bold Bathroom Design | 275 | Jhoiey Ramirez of Studio Jhoiey



I love this conversation and I think you will too. It is with Jhoiey Ramirez of Studio Jhoiey and Mitch Altman, CEO of Thermasol. Jhoiey is an artist and crafts stunning design but this conversation we were focusing on bathroom design, making the bath both sublime and multi-functional This conversation studies a number of projects, most of which you can find at StudioJhoiey.COM. S as we talk about the projects, please go online and follow along. 

Thank you, Jhoiey and Mitch for your time and talent. For more about Jhoiey, please go to StudioJhoiey.COM. Thank you, Walker Zanger and Thermasol for your partnership and support of Convo By Design.

Speaking of which, you heard from Mitch Altman here, Mitch is the 3rd generation president of Thermasol. This company has been innovating and providing steam showers and saunas for over 60 years. That experience and knowledge has helped designers do their best work for their clients. This also allows designers to provide their clients with an amazing experience in the bathroom. We have been talking about designing for wellness, this includes chromatherapy, aromatherapy as well as entertainment options. Thermasol also provides the technology that really does create a smart shower, one that knows your preferences, and that allows for a customized shower experience. Discover the home spa with Thermasol. This is a company that has been doing it right for over 60 years, homeowners love Thermasol for the products they make and designers love Thermasol because they make it easy to specify and incorporate into any design you can imagine. Check them out at Therermasol.com


Design Diversity | 274 | Crafting Our World The Way it Should Be



Following is a panel conversation that took place at the WestEdge Design Fair in 2019. I am always honest with you, and this is no exception, I lost sleep in advance of recording this panel last October and now in publishing it because I wanted to approach this topic with the respect it deserves. I feel now, as I did in prep for this, that we have some incredibly challenging issues as evidenced by the headlines today. We were witnessing similar issues a year ago, and 10 years ago, and 50 years ago. This is a conversation about the lack of diversity in design. It speaks to the broader issue that, and you will hear from the get-go, that the lack of conversation about this issue is a big part of the problem.

You are going to hear a conversation about diversity, or the lack thereof, racism, the great divide, and lack of opportunity. You will hear front line stories about issues at play but you are also going to hear from four highly successful creative designers who bring the fight to the forefront every day. Let’s be clear, this conversation is not going to fix the societal issues we have regarding race nor is it going to equalize the level of diversity in design and that is not why we had this conversation. Let this be the beginning of an open dialogue. I believe the only way we eventually fix societal issues is by having very challenging conversations, conversations that make us uncomfortable but ultimately that is the only way we can understand a foreign perspective. You are going to hear from four individuals who have achieved success in their fields and with that accomplishment comes a recognition of what it took to get there, how they can offer a hand to help others, and how you can too. 

I think one of the most important issues to understand and you will hear it for yourself is that there is room for everyone. This is not about bumping anyone out but making space where there is plenty of room for different voices and new perspectives. That, in turn, makes the industry stronger. It makes our society stronger. This panel is packed with amazing talent and I am so thankful that the agreed to participate. Thank you, Breegan Jane, Bridgid Coulter, Ron Woodson, and Brian Pinkett. In this episode, you will hear about: Exposure, Opportunity, Education, Mentorship, Internship, Availability, Inclusivity, and Outreach. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to present this conversation from the WestEdge Design Fair, recorded in October 2019 called, Design Diversity: Crafting our World the Way it Should Be. The take away from this is that there are more conversations needed, we need to be able to have honest exchanges of ideas without fear of saying the wrong thing and while we are not there now, my hope is that by having more conversations like this, we will be, soon. Thank you Walker Zanger and Thermasol for your support fo Convo By Design and thank YOU for listening to the show, subscribing to the podcast, and coming out to our events. There are more on the horizon and there will always be diversity in the voices and stories you hear. Thanks for listening and until next week, keep talking, listening, and creating.


Designing For Wellness | 271 | Mitch Altman – CEO THERMASOL



I’m Josh Cooperman and this is another episode of Convo By Design featuring Mitch Altman, third-generation CEO of THERMASOL. This is a conversation about multi-functional design for beauty, health, and wellness.

THERMASOL is a family-owned and operated business producing amazing steam shower products for over 60 years. This is the story of a California company now based in Texas and still run by the family that started it all. Mitch Altman is constantly improving the company and that product company is now so much more. THERMASOL is a technology company that provides the tools to turn the shower into an experience, a source for wellness and sanctuary and so much more.

I want you to hear from Mitch, and every month on Convo By Design, THERMASOL will be presenting a new feature on the podcast called, “A Moment of Zen, Designing For Wellness” where we explore new ideas in design with a focus on health, wellness and creating your personal oasis.

Thank you, Mitch, for the time. Thank you, Walker Zanger, for your continued support, and thank you for listening to the show, downloading each podcast episode, and engaging through the socials. Make sure you never miss an episode of the podcast, ask Siri to help you, say, “Hey Siri, play Convo By Design podcast.” And she will! Thanks for listening and until next week, keep creating.