The Pivot: Actionable Steps You Can Take Now to Level Up Your Design Business | 410 | Make 2023 The Year You Need it To Be

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design. Today on the show we are heading back to the WestEdge Design Fair from Dallas, Texas to talk about something on every creative’s mind these days. The Pivot. I started writing about the pivot in the first year of the pandemic. Through my conversations, a constant theme kept emerging. This idea that creatives must continually reinvent themselves to reflect both a working knowledge and fundamental understanding of where the design industry was going from both technological and preferential perspectives. We continue this conversation with some new voices, and I am really excited to share this with you.

How are you adapting to the design business changes over the past 3 years? Are you working harder than ever before? Checking on delivery dates, specifying and re-specifying due to repricing and discontinuations? Wondering how to capture a bigger audience in social media, upgrade your clientele? Are you wondering if this is the right time to scale back, scale up or merge with another firm? Are you concerned about how inflationary pressures or that threatened recession will become a reality? 

Thought so. You’re not alone. These questions are on the mind of most if not every designer working today. Size doesn’t matter, scale does. Is this the time to scale down to find harmonious home/ life balance or scale up to increase revenues. While ultimately these are individual decisions, you will hear from designers who have scaled that mountain, some up and others down. You will learn from those who have experienced it and what they have learned from the experience. Is it working? Follow along as this distinguished group discuss these issues and others that directly affect the industry. Featuring Laura Umansky, Ann Jackson,  and moderated by Sara Malek Barney.

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!

Before I get to this episode of the show, I received a special delivery and I’m so happy to share it with you in this edition of BOOKLOOK featuring Intersection of Nature and Art, an absolutely glorious book celebrating those very things by James Doyle Design Associates. There are a few different styles for today’s design and architecture books. Some are used as a promotional piece for the designer or architect. A way to display their work in a weighted volume from which to share detailed ideas, almost like that of a text book while others create picture books full of their project images sans much editorial. Then of course there are various options between the two extremes. Then there are those who craft and construct their tome with the approach of a romance writer but weighted and balanced as to demonstrate how the copy could have served as the instructions for what would ultimately become the completed work. That narrative is then seen in the photos. There is enough art and sculpted landscape, which could also be defined as art in the project images, but there is also a great deal of work that looks to be there, not because a landscape designer placed it but because it just belongs there. That too is the feeling I had going through this monograph. It is complex yet simple in the idea that nature and art are inexplicably tied, but there is a completeness to the story being told in the work itself. I’ll share a secret with you. I am what you call an extroverted introvert. I have known this for a long time and that is one of the reasons why I think I love design as much as I do. I can appreciate the work and even draw energy from it. Going through a design book like this energizes me, provides me with an opportunity to lose myself in their work and focus exclusively on what is about the inanimate and the living working together without the need for people to activate it. Intersection of Nature and Art is a journey that takes you from a fun, elaborate tree house to the concrete exoskeleton that will be a retaining wall. Exquisitely sculpted gardens to nature-scapes that appear not to have been touched by human hands in decades yet they all share the same sense of scale, detail, scope and importance.

This book is being shared with you because it belongs in your library if what I previously mentioned are important to you. I love books, I love design and so my love for design books runs deep. This is a book I can see myself returning to often and because of that, if you share this passion, I think you will enjoy it as well. James Doyle Design Associates, well done.

Thank you Sara for grabbing the mic and taking this conversation on. Thank you Ann and Laura for your insight and expertise. Thank you for listening and subscribing to Convo By Design. The podcast, now in our 10th year was created for those in the design industry as well as those who simply love design, architecture, the arts and want the insider’s perspective. 

Thank you ThermaSol, Moya Living and Design Hardware for your partnership and support of the show. Keep those email coming, I do love hearing your thoughts about the show, ways to provide you new ideas and those guest submissions. Love those. Until next week, be well and take today first.

A Master Class in Structure and Organization of A World Class Design Firm | 407 | Benjamin Johnston + A BOOKLOOK featuring Thomas Kligerman

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo by Design featuring a one on one conversation with a modern design clarion. A design creative with exceptional vision and true perspective on who he is as a creative and what he wants his eponymous firm to be. This is Benjamin Johnston recorded live fat the WestEdge Design Fair’s first Texas edit in September 2022.

Architect and designer, Benjamin Johnston is the face of his namesake firm but he is not a one-man show. He is partner & Creative Director and seems extremely comfortable with the roles he has chosen for himself. That of creative to work the business but not necessarily CEO, president or other lofty titles because he has made the decision not to let the business work him. The true gift I receive from moderating these chats is a unique perspective that sometimes, really surprise me. This was one of those conversations and I am really pleased to present it to you for your enjoyment and edification. 

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!

Before we get to Benjamin, I received a special delivery recently and that warrants another BOOKLOOK. I don’t review every book I receive, but the specials ones do get special treatment. This is one such occurrence. 

During the early days of the pandemic, I started a new series called Designing for Disaster™. During the series, I met Thomas Kligerman. He shared his story during the lockdown and it was a very cool episode of the show. Check the show notes, if I remember…there will be a link to that episode. So when Thomas wrote a book, I was certainly going to tell you about it.  The book, Shingle and Stone Thomas Kligerman Houses is extraordinary for a number of reasons. This is a reflection on his years of work it’s also a lovingly tender notice to the architecture and design community that the band is breaking up in pursuit of solo careers. Thomas lays out his point of view and the manner in which he, Joel and John have their own interests both personally and professionally to pursue. For Kilgerman, it’s the announcement of his first solo enterprise, Kligerman Architecture + Design. This 275+ page announcement  comes complete with a well-defined narrative. Every Louvre, shingle, elevation is uniquely Thomas Kligerman and as he even points out, it’s not that he did everything by himself, it is a team joined together by a vision. That vision is uniquely Kligerman’s. Thomas is not only an architect but an artist who uses what architects use, elevation, space, material… But, his vision for taking shingle and bending it to angles and joints that create something new is mesmerizing as one turns from page to page. This book is one for the library because it represents timeless work with singular vision and artistry. 

Since we are talking about a design and architecture book, I will tell you that the book is solid in construction and beautiful to look at when closed which means it is also a perfect specimen for accessorizing. When you open this book, the experience of turning pages is as much a journey as it is an exercise in surprise and delight. BOOKLOOK has turned into a a really cool segment for me and it has also received some very positive feedback. I would tell you that I only review design books that I can touch, hold and feel because I believe that is how books are meant to be enjoyed. I don’t review pdf’s because I want you to know what the experience was like for me so you can factor that not the calculus when deciding if or if not to get a copy for yourself. I spend aver an hour paging through, flipping, turning and reading Thomas’ thoughts.

As much as it is a “mirror” as Kligerman describes it, he envisages things to come. With that, I am also anxiously awaiting the next book that will showcase the work he does from here on out. Between now and then, this book is a keeper. Godspeed Thomas.

Thank you Benjamin. Amazing. Thank you WestEdge Design Fair for allowing me once again to take over the stage and present panels and conversations like these. I view it as a gift. A chance to challenge both myself and the design community with ideas and programming that is different, inspiring and thought-provoking. Thank you to CXD partners and sponsors, ThermaSol, York Wallcoverings, Franz Viegener, Moya Living and Article Furniture for your continued support. I would ask that if you enjoy the show, you support these companies by giving them a chance to earn your design business. Thank you for listening, downloading and subscribing to the show. Thank you for your emails and guest submissions. I love them, keep em coming. You are the reason I produce CXD. Designers, architects, set decorators, showroom managers, publicists, artists, makers…You make this world a better place. Remember why you do what you do. Be well. Until next week, take today first. -CXD

Be Bold! Make A Statement & Grow Your Design Presence | 399 | Age of Influence featuring Sara Malek Barney and Melanie Venture

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design with a conversation about influence, your influence on the business of design and the relationships with others that make up this remarkable industry of ours. 

Every successful creative knows the importance of presenting a professional image in digital media. The importance has been magnified in the past few years but with compressed schedules and far less free time to learn new strategies it has become more challenging to create beautiful and meaningful content. While we can’t give you more time to do it, you will learn best practices for interviews, editing images and text to best showcase your work in short videos and social media. You will also learn how to craft your professional introduction on mic and on camera. This is a perfect conversation for the successful designer and architect looking to take their promotional content to the next level. This chat took place at the WestEdge Design Fair in Dallas, Texas in September 2022. It features Melanie Venture of the Dove Agency, Sara Malek Barney of Bandd Design and moderated by me. And, we will get right to it after this.

Designer Resources

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

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

Thank you Melanie and Sara for your time and willingness to share your expertise. Thank you WestEdge Design Fair and to all of you who came to the show. Thank you to CXD sponsors and partners, ThermaSol, Article Furniture, York Wallcoverings, Moya Living and Franz Viegener for your continued support. Of course, thank you for downloading, subscribing and listening to the show. Thank you for the emails of support and the guest submissions. I love them and it has allowed me to find some amazing talent to showcase. Please remember why you do what you do and for whom you do it. Designers, architects, artists, product designers, showroom managers, publicists, magazine editors, publishers, set decorators and everyone else that makes our industry stronger by the day, this show is for you. That’s why I do it. Thanks for listening. Be well, and take today first.

Standing Out presented by WESCOVER | 395 | LIVE from the WestEdge Design Fair

I’m Josh Cooperman, this is Convo By Design and after 3 years, we’re back at WestEdge. Deep appreciative breath, a nod to all the work and those who participated and here we go…

Designer Resources

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

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 nod of appreciation is important because there were times in 2020 and 2021 when I wasn’t sure about the future of live events returning in large format editions. Don’t get me wrong, I love small gatherings and intimate events, but the big ones are exciting and add another dimension to what we can do, present and how we can engage with large groups at one time. That is also why I think it is so important to lead off with this talk, presented and sponsored by Wescover.

Find out how creatives from across the US are pushing the envelope through their innovative approach to design.  They will be joined by Kevin Wildes of Oakland based sustainable furniture brand Model No along with Dallas based textile artist Nosheen Iqbal and Austin designer, Kristin Martino of KozyKasa.  All these creatives share a passion for supporting local artisans, craftsmanship and sustainability.   Learn how these designers stand out by thinking outside the box and sourcing unique and thoughtfully designed products for their projects.

Featuring Kristin Martino, Kevin Wildes & Nosheen Iqbal and Moderated by Hilary Sessions

Hilary Sessions is a San Francisco Bay Area-based Marketing professional with decades of experience in interior design and business management.  She is the Head of Partnerships and PR for Wescover, a marketplace for authentically designed home decor.  Hilary also served as the Principal of Quarry Hill Consulting, a PR and Marketing firm serving the Interior Design industry.

Kristin Marino discovered her passion for design at a young age. Having moved multiple times before she was 18, Kristin found her creative outlet in decorating her bedroom in each new home. She describes moving numerous times as a blessing in disguise because she learned early on that there was a career path in her love for decorating. After earning her degree in Interior Design from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles, she began working for several top LA-based design firms shortly after graduating. A few more moves and backpacking trips later, she accidentally settled in Austin, TX, where KozyKasa was born.

Website: https://kozykasadesign.com 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kozykasa_/ 

Born in Surrey, England, she moved to Texas in her mid-teens, Nosheen Iqbal received a BA with outstanding portfolio award in Communication Design from the University of North Texas. After graduation, she worked for Fossil for over a decade in design, art direction and finally as a lead watch designer. She has also worked for brands such as DKNY, Armani Exchange and a collaborative collection with Opening Ceremony whilst still at Fossil. She is currently a multidisciplinary artist working in the fields of product design and development, illustration and graphic design. 

Nosheen Iqbals Pakistani heritage plays a dominate role in her choice of color, pattern and texture. Pakistan has a rich history of pigment dyeing and embroidery techniques which varies in each province and dates back further than the Mughal Empire. She is also heavily influenced by the intricate and interlaced patterns found Islamic Art. Taking key elements from the classical tradition, she elaborates upon them in order to invent a new form of decoration and design. 

Kevin Wildes has over two decades of experience in manufacturing, design, marketing, retail merchandising, and décor for some of the nation’s top companies and has worked extensively with startups on company formation and brand and product development. Kevin is a graduate of The University of Georgia with a BFA in Interior Design and earned an MBA from Kennesaw State University. Kevin has over two decades of experience in manufacturing, design, marketing, retail merchandising, and décor for some of the nation’s top companies and has worked extensively with startups on company formation and brand and product development. Motivated by sustainable design, he endeavors to explore solutions that result in a better life for us all. Model No.

Thank you Nosheen, Hillary, Kristin and Kevin for this amazing chat. Thank you WestEdge for having me out for this first edition in Texas.For those playing the home game, this is my 6th WestEdge Design Fair. I love putting these panels together for you and I’m really excited to see you again soon.

Thank you to CXD partners and sponsors; ThermaSol, Article Furniture, Moya Living, York Wallcoverings and Franz Viegener. Please make sure to check the show notes for links to each of these remarkable companies. 

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to subscribe and listen to the show. I appreciate you. Until next week, remember why you do what you do and take today first. CXD

WestEdge Design Fair is BACK! Celebrating the Return with a Throwback to 2015 | 392 | Featuring Fu-Teng Cheng Called Translating Creativity Into Form

I’m Josh Cooperman, this is Convo By Design and I’m getting really excited about something. You know that excitement you felt when you were a kid and found out you were going to Disneyland, or on a big trip? Yeah, it’s kind of like that…

Why am I excited you ask? WestEdge Design Fair is coming up. I have not been able to say that for 3 years. I have been involved with WestEdge since year 2 or 3, I’m not completely sure, but its has been a while. The show is coming up September 16 through the 18 and it is the first edition in Dallas, Texas. In future episodes of the podcast, you will have the chance to hear from some of the country’s greatest design talent discussing issues of design that you might not have heard in the past, that’s the objective. It always has been. So, I want to share a past conversation from WestEdge in 2015. This features Fu-Teng Cheng of Cheng Design. I’m keeping the preamble brief here because I am going to include my thoughts from the original post. And you can tell it’s original by how my voice has changed. You know how weird it is when you hear yourself on a recording, it’s like that for me too. Enjoy this talk from the WestEdge Design Fair, 2015, right after this.

So there you go, fun right? And so interesting that these ideas were being shared in 2015, before the world changed. This is exactly why design trade events like WestEdge are so important. And you are either hearing this before WestEdge in Dallas so you can still attend, OR you are hearing this after the show has wrapped in which case, you will be hearing all the panels soon if they are not up already.Either way, make sure to check them out and make sure you make WestEdge next year in Dallas or the LA edition coming back to Southern California. 

Thank you to Convo By Design partners and sponsors; ThermaSol, Moya Living, Article Furniture, Franz Viegener, and York Wallcoverings. And thank you for joining me every week for these conversations. I do hope you enjoy them as much as I do. And give yourself a mental hug right now because we are all living through some very interesting times. Personally and professionally. It has gotten much harder to do business, create wonderful and sublime spaces but remember why you do what you do and why you do it. Your clients depend on you to make their lives a little better. Check back here every week for more stories of design professionals and creatives who are doing this at a very high level. Get some new ideas and inspiration to take your firm to the next level. Until next week, be well and take today first. -CXD

Mentorship Master Class | 262 | Timothy Corrigan, Michael Berman & Genevieve Trousdale

The reason I love doing this podcast as much as I do is because of the amazing people I meet along the way. It’s as simple as that. In this episode of the show you are going to hear from three amazing designers and tremendous people; Michael Berman, Timothy Corrigan, and Genevieve Trousdale. The setting is WestEdge Design Fair and the top is mentorship. I have had the great fortune of interviewing each of them separately but I wanted them on stage so you could hear the story about the connection that binds the three of them together. This is a story about learning, teaching, sharing and collaborating. One of the greatest gifts that come from teaching is what the teacher learns from the student. This is story is very much about that.

That’s a wrap on this episode of Convo By Design. Thank you, Genevieve, Michael, and Timothy. Thank you WestEdge Design Fair for making a public forum possible. Thank you, Walker Zanger, for your support and most of all, thank you for listening. Were it not for you, there would be no Convo By Design. Until next week, keep creating.

What’s My Line | 259 | How to Create and Take a Design Product Line to Market

Resetting the scene for you, the WestEdge Design Fair was held, as it is every year, at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica. These conversations were held in the Convo By Design Programming Lounge with custom designs from John McClain, Studio Akiko, Isbell Interiors and Julia Wong Designs. This conversation was transformative for a number of reasons. Interior designers, many if not most, want a line to call their own. That signature line not only creates an opportunity to do business outside of the design studio but it is considered by many to be a legacy proposition, something that extends beyond the design work.

As such, I wanted you to hear from power players in the space, and you are about to hear that conversation featuring Sue Firestone of SFA Design, Arch Interiors, Christopher Grubb, photographer, Gray Malin, designer Xander Noori, and designer Leslie Shapiro Joyal. This group was expertly questioned by journalist and editor, Alex Abramian. This group brings some serious firepower. Enjoy and be inspired.