Tulsa Remote Design House – Rose Gold feat. John McClain | 412 | A Sophisticated, Lasting and A Spectacular Space by One of the Most Talented Designers Working Today

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design. We are talking about the Remote Design House in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This episode features a tremendous talent and incredible friend, John McClain.

In the last episode of the show featuring this new design house project in Tulsa, Oklahoma, you heard about and from designer Gail Davis. This episode features John McClain and his work on Rose’s Room. First, a reminder about this project.

Designer Resources

ThermaSol – Redefining the modern shower experience. Episode 271 featuring Mitch Altman

Moya Living  Beautiful, durable powder coated kitchen, bath & outdoor kitchen cabinetry

Design Hardware – A stunning and vast collection of jewelry for the home!

The pandemic created a forced shelter-in-place which affected home and office design more than most other industries. 

The core ideas of both home and office have changed forever. And rightfully so. At the same time, the very nature of what architects and designers do hasn’t changed at all, while their means, methods, processes and procedures certainly have. The remote nature of this design house is in direct response to designers responding to clients that they could not see in person at the time and, for those who have left their current city or state but love their designer and want to remain with them. If I live in Los Angeles and move to Aspen, I might want my designer to to work on my project. But if my designer doesn’t know how to work remotely, or virtually, that can and will be a problem. 

Remote Design is the practice of working in one place on a project in another. 

Virtual Design is the process of working on a project that does not currently exist. Thank of it as an idea without a physical embodiment.

The Remote Design House – Tulsa is a real project, using real designers who will never physically step foot in the project house. All the work is being done virtually, and remotely with local trades and artisans doing the work. 

This project will also not have tours and there are no tickets for events or parties. No matter where you are listening to this, you will have access to the final project through videos, before and after segments, product features and an intimate look at the project house, neighborhood and City of Tulsa.

Side note. I was recently in Los Angeles for a design event in May and as I was telling many in the trade about the project, the Mose common response was, “eww, why Tulsa.” This has been a common response since I started planning this project in 2020. There is a visceral, negative response to the idea of Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Midwest from many I have met in LA, New York, Tab Francisco and the other “high style” design destinations. My response is always the same, “oh, when was the last time you were in Tulsa?” Not a single person with that response has ever been to Tulsa because had they been, they would know what a special city this is. Which is exactly why it was selected over Austin, Nashville, St. Louis, Kansas City, Seattle and Denver. Nothing against those cities, but Tulsa is special and over the next year, you are going to find out why.

The Family | The Jennings’s, Michael (45), Rachael (42) and their children, Davis (19) and Rose (17) are transplants from New York City. The family learned that they could work remotely from anywhere in the country and sought out a city where they could slow down, focus on family and still grow their business, make friends, finish high school and pursue a higher quality of life. The desire was to slow down, focus and decrease the rat race pace and find their space.

Michael is a TV producer. He is an avid cook, not a chef. He enjoys his work but is looking for ways to separate himself from doing it 24/7/365. Michael is connected (media) and looks for ways to disconnect, spend time volunteering coach youth sports and engaging in creative endeavors. This includes building and refinishing furniture.

Rachael is in sales. She manages a territory across the US and does the majority of her work online but travels about 5 times a year to industry trade shows. Rachel enjoys reading, yoga and quiet meditation. She is an avid baker who loves spending time in the kitchen and enjoys spending time with the family.

Davis is a college student, attending school on the east coast. While his room is not occupied year-round, when he is at home, he spends countless hours on research projects. He spends time gaming with his college friends around the country and enjoys reading, golf and computer training events.

Rose is a senior in high school. She is a highly accomplished athlete. She plays club soccer and lacrosse and debate competitions. Rose misses her friends back home and looks forward to playing host when they come to town and visit her. There are times when she is often exhausted and physically beat up from long tournament weekends. She spends long hours doing research papers and studying so her workspace needs to be both functional and comfortable. She is fashion forward and cherishes her personal space as teenage girls do.

The home is American Colonial built in 1936. This is a unique property with a park setting and Tulsa’s Crow Creek running though the back yard. Project rooms include; Living Room, Kitchen/ Dining Room, Michel and Rachael’s Room, Rose’s Room, Davis’s Room, Club Room, Guest Quarters w/ Sunroom, Office. All bedrooms are en-suites.

John McClain of John McClain Design is also a long time friend and by far the most business savvy designers working in the business today. Pair that with his tremendous talent and you have a complete deign professional whose work stops those who love design in their tracks.

John McClain is an accomplished interior designer, speaker, writer, and on-air contributor who has turned his lifetime passion for interior design into an opportunity to do the same for others. As a young man, John’s interest in creating beautiful spaces was sparked by his family’s talent in home building and renovations.

Soon, John began remodeling and redesigning home after home and combined a trade taught by his family with his natural aesthetic ability. Shortly after his career launch, John appeared on HGTV; and through this experience, his personality and design perspective were visible to a larger audience, and he was soon designing homes across the country. Next, John joined a prestigious interior design firm/furniture design company in Los Angeles, CA. Here, John gained an appreciation for the sophisticated west coast design style while collaborating on designs for many LA homes-including several celebrity clients. John also fueled his passion for custom furniture design-learning the ins and outs of quality craftsmanship and unique designs, eventually leading to his own home furnishings company, John McClain Home. John McClain Design is a well-crafted blend of John’s past design experience, education, and innovative-forward thinking.

John selected Rose’s Room and he infused it with glamour, style and a luxurious functionality that allows for work, study, fun, games, dreaming, relaxing and growing in a single space. It is so wonderful and I cannot wait to share it with you. 

There you go, that is John McClain and I want you to notice a few things. John is resolute in his talents, style and abilities. That is not arrogant or cocky. John spends a great deal of time studying his craft, knowledge base of materials colors and finishes. Basically, John does the work and it shows in his design. That is the next superpower of the most talented designers. An unquenchable thirst for knowledge, a curiosity that leads to a superior base of knowledge. Why is this important? It provides:

  • A full understanding of what is available, and the performance of the product and materials.
  • An  understanding of the longevity of the idea. Is it a trend, a fad, or, is it something that will resonate for the duration of the design itself. This brings up another concept. Design is NOT forever. There is lasting style and classics but don’t mistake that to believe that the design is going to be forever. Nothing is. Everything has a lifespan. Architects design for 75, 100, maybe 200 years. Designers tend to create for 10, 15 or 20. Daily use furnishings and rugs will not last that long before recovering or restoration is needed. Keep that in mind.
  • Securing the best material quality available so when that sofa does reach the end of its life, it can be recovered, and reimagined to reflect the ideas of the day. A good designer sees that potential.
  • Superior designers who know their business are truly futurists. By that I mean they can look into the future based on what is happening today and predict how developing trends in design might affect other elements of the design. In this case, John designed for a 17 year old girl who will take this design concept with her when she gets her own place. And that design concept will craft her future design ideas and desires. Brilliant really.

So, it’s such a gift to have a great designer, but that’s not always enough. You need good product partners too. The pandemic and later, supply chain issues, inflation and staffing has put a white hot spotlight on the design industries product and manufacturing companies as well as the designers themselves. Not all the businesses in our industry were prepared for what happened, nor were they prepared for what would be required to keep clients and designers happy. We had some specification issues on this project and not every partner responded the same.

There was a console specified. The cost of the console was $2,000. The shipping, added later was $5,000. That is not a mistake, $5,000 to ship a $2,000 console. Needless to say, we cancelled that and found local artisan n Tulsa to craft one that that captured the original idea and I think it really did in the end. The materials used on this console were all reclaimed materials and that too felt pretty good. So, locally made by a local Tulsa, delivered locally and crafted of locally reclaimed materials. Oh, and it was delivered for about 20% of the cost of the other product. Not 20% less, 20% of the total cost. It required local research on my end and input form John. But it really worked.

There was one issue that really did not sit well and it had to do with the window coverings. We had a local workroom craft them but the materials came another vendor. The original order was not correct and the service required to fix it was less than stellar. Love the material, but will not be using that vendor again. Know your vendors and build that relationship even if you are not ordering from them now, it will pay off in the end.

Shop the Space:

York Wallcoverings – Wallpaper

Benjamin Moore, Simply White

DVKAP – Custom Curtains & Throw 

Leftbank Art

CFC Chair

918 Reklaimed – Console

Jaipur – Rugs/ Pouf

Noir – Dresser

Noir – Lamp

Noir – Cosmopolitan Accent Table

Noir – Chandelier

Noir – Bed


Thank you, John for your time and talent. Your incredible and amazing vision. Thank you to Convo By Design partners and sponsors; ThermaSol, York Wallcoverings, Moya Living, Design Hardware. And thank you for listening and subscribing to Convo By Design. I so appreciate that you take me with you on your drives, hikes, workouts all the other places where you listen to your podcasts. For more stories from the Remote Design House – Tulsa and interviews, panels and design events, please make sure you are subscribing to the show. Remember why you do what you do and take today first. -CXD

Creative Kitchen Concepts From the Midwest | 367 | Lynn Knight Jessee

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design with another creative from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I have been focusing on the Midwest a bit lately to share to illustrate and pull focus on the idea that nothing creative is happening in what I call the ‘design fly-overs’. Yeah, we’re going to get to that too.

The ‘design fly-overs’, any state that isn’t California or New York and cities that aren’t, Miami, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago or the others deemed as “it cities for design.” Within these non-fly-over cities lie creatives who go about their work every day creating amazing spaces that you never see in the glossy shelter pubs and online in the flavor of the month websites. If I sound a bit snarky about this, I guess I am. I have always felt that the majority of home & design editors, contributors and, dare I say… “influencers” don’t really know or love design. They know and love clicks, sales, shares and likes and there is nothing inherently wrong with that, we are a capitalist society. Without the business of design, there would be no design business.

That being said, and I have made this abundantly clear over the past 9 years doing this podcast, I am an outsider to the industry first. I can’t say that anymore. After talking about the business since 2010, I can’t really say I am not now an insider. But I came to interior design and architecture because I have always loved it and still do. That is why I don’t focus on speaking with creatives you already know. I love introducing you to amazing people doing incredible things for their clients and the brands that make it all work. SO, allow me to introduce you to Lynn Knight Jessee, principal designer and owner of Kitchen Concepts in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is an award-winning designer with decades of success producing some fantastic projects with a showroom that features some of your favorite projects for the kitchen and bath. Jessee has been doing this for over 4 decades and you are going to hear about ways the business of design in Tulsa has changed and continues to change as more people discover this stylish city with a passion for traditional and an appetite for what’s next.

Thank you, Lynn. Loved our chat and what you’re doing. For more stories like this, make sure you are subscribing to the podcast. You can find the show everywhere you get your favorite podcasts… But, you already knew that. What you might not know, is that there are literally hundreds of other episodes for you to binge on now. Go check them out. 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.

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

Moya Living  Beautiful, durable powder coated kitchen, bath & outdoor kitchen cabinetry

The Magic City of Tulsa, Oklahoma | 314 | A World Class Architecture and Design City with a Memory and A Heart

This is Convo By Design with a two part special about The Magic City…Tulsa, Oklahoma.

In the 1920’s, Tulsa Oklahoma was called the ‘magic city’ because of the things that were happening as a result of the oil boom. The Cushing Field was discovered at the beginning of the 1900’s which saw the population explode from  just over 7,000 in 1907 to over 72,000 in 1920. Names like Waite Phillips, J. Paul, Getty, Henry Sinclair  and John D. Rockefeller came to Tulsa and built a world-class city around the oil industry, and creating companies like Texaco and Phillips 66. With the influx of money and came high-society, culture and the arts along side extraordinary architecture and design. 

It wasn’t just rich white money. Black Wall Street was within the highly successful, self-contained black community of Greenwood. This is a success story with a horrific ending that resulted in the Greenwood Massacre. To understand how this happened, one needs to fully understand that Black Wall Street, as it was called, wasn’t isolated, it was a community crafted out of necessity and developed into a highly functioning community of black-owned, black-run businesses, by design. O.W. Gurley, a wealthy man of color bought 40 acres of land and called it Greenwood. He and others created a center of commerce built by and for the black community and it is a success story with a tragic ending. After years of success, and years of publicly, well documented jealousy, the result was the Black Wall Street Massacre which saw the entire community destroyed by a white mob. 36 Greenwood residents lost their lives, 800 were injured, 6,000 were held unlawfully and the entire community was burned to the ground.  If interested in the whole story, which is an incredible and tragic story will be linked here. And today, you can find influences of Black Wall Street imbued within the city itself through design and architecture.  

This is not the end of the story and there is so much to explore in how Tulsans have respected the Black Wall Street story and are making sure it is told to future generations much of which can be seen through the design and architecture. Speaking of architecture, this AMAZING art deco and mid-century modern, the gothic cathedrals and a city plan straight out of mid-town Manhattan. This is part of the story of Tulsa, an amazing story and one I wanted to share with you from the architecture, design and city planning perspective. To understand the origin and evolution of Tulsa, I spoke with two community experts, Grant Bumgarner with an organization called Tulsa Remote and architect Ted Reeds, both of whom know this city and her history intimately. 

Grant Bumgarner is Community Manager with Tulsa Remote. If not familiar, Tulsa Remote is a community development program designed to bring talented people to Tulsa, Oklahoma. People who work remotely that can bring a fresh perspective to the city. This two-year old initiative will be further explained by Grant. This is a story about regrowing a (formerly) modern city, city planning with people at the center of moving forward smartly into the future.  I love studying American cities. I am a huge fan of cities like Austin, Texas…Memphis, Tennessee and yes, Tulsa, Oklahoma. You can learn a lot about how cities respect their past and nurture their future. Some of the most successful cities are those that respect their past and keep an eye on ever moving forward and Tulsa is one of those. You have no doubt heard about Tulsa recently, and for all the wrong reasons. The Trail of Tears, the destruction of Black Wall and massacre of its residents. This city has a mixed past and you are going to hear about much of it. You are also going to hear about a city that was built on some of the countries best architecture. 

You heard me correctly, some of America’s best Art Deco architecture is in Tulsa, Oklahoma. One of these structures is the Boston Avenue Methodist Church, designed by master architect and prodigy, Bruce Goff. Goff has significant SoCal ties as well. He designed the Al Strucks House, if not familiar, search it…this house is… extremely interesting. Goff also designed the Japanese Art Pavilion at LACMA, a legendary structure that, for me, is in the collection of significant Los Angeles architecture. But back to Tulsa. I visited the city and Grant gave me a walking tour of the city. We had a chance to reconnect and talk.

By the way, 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.

Ted Reeds is an architect and adjunct professor of architecture at the Christopher C. Gibbs School of Architecture at the University of Oklahoma. Ted is president of his eponymous firm and one of those amazing storytellers you are instantly happy with whom you’ve found yourself connected. I have often shared my opinion that architecture is  language while design is storytelling. Ted is the rare architect that has mastered the storytelling within the architecture which is probably why he was so much fun to speak with. Ted and I spoke by phone and discussed some of the amazing structures in and around Tulsa.

In this episode, you are going to hear about…

1. The Vault within the 320 Building (First National Bank of Tulsa)

2. The Vault Restaurant & Bar – One of the first drive—thru banks

3. The Gathering Place – A 70 acre private park gift to the city of Tulsa. Designed by Landscape architect, Michael Van Valkenburg. The banks of the Arkansas River is public land.

4. Cathedral District, one of 5 downtown districts. Multiple churches, Boston Avenue Methodist Church, designed by Bruce Goff. Goff also built the Al Struckus House, one of LA’s most unique homes and Japanese Art Pavilion at LACMA. Bruce Goff controversy.

5. Black Wall Street

6. Guthrie Green

7. Union Depot

8. The Mother Road

9. Tulsa’s 5 Districts

10. Sinclair Building addition

11. Waite Phillips, father of modern Tulsa, Phil Tower and Philcade, Beginning of mixed use. Style of Philcade, vertical lines and dramatic shadows. All that gold! Talk about the cornucopia.

Enjoy this story about Tulsa, Oklahoma…The Magic City.

Thank you, Ted and Grant for both the tour and the chat. I cannot wait to get back to Tulsa. For images from my walking tour with Grant, check out the Convo By Design website and Instagram. You will also find links to the George Kaiser Foundation to see what they do and check out the Gathering Place. Thank you, Walker Zanger for your support of Convo By Design and thank you for listening to the show. Please make sure you subscribe so you get every episode of the podcast the moment it’s published. Until next week, be well and take today first.