The seventh annual LA Design Festival is over but certainly not forgotten. Throughout the four days of events, open houses and executions, there were some truly creative discussions. One of which was the LAX DET conversation comparing and contrasting two cities not often used in the same conversation let alone the same sentence. Detroit is a city on the rise. The city is finding new popularity and those driving that are the creatives. Open spaces for exploration and development. A serious need for new capital and with that need comes an openness for new ideas. At the same time, you have LA, a city that has always been home to the creative class and built on the creative economy since the studios found fertile territory to grow production facilities from acres of empty orange groves. But, growth doesn’t continue forever and it doesn't come without a price. LA is in the process of a major reinvention and the growing pains are evident. Housing prices are at levels that price out the very people who make it work. Services and resources are stretched to the point where they are ready to snap. In times like these, to whom does one turn? The creatives.
Following is part one of LA, Detroit, truly a tale of two cities moderated by KCRW’s Saul Gonzalez and featuring architects, Edwin Chan and Lorcan O’Herlihy, brand manager, Eileen Chen cultural alchemist Jason Mayden and innovation expert Chris Denson.
Timothy Corrigan is one of the most decorated interior designers I know. He has been named to many World’s Greatest Designers list including the AD100, Robb Report’s Top 40 and the Luxe Gold List. Corrigan operates offices in Los Angeles and Paris. We spoke about international business and Corrigan is no stranger to long flights and international business management. In his prior career, he oversaw international operations for a large global advertising firm. He left to start working in interiors, a passion that he figured out how to turn into a global design brand. This conversation covers his design work and a fantastic new project with THG Paris.
Regular listeners of Convo By Design know that I am not a designer. I am passionate about interior design personally, I am a brand manager by trade and I have been consulting major brands in the interior design, architecture and product design for quite some time. It’s rare to meet someone like Timothy because he is extremely creative and he knows the business side better than any other designer I have ever met. That is not to take away from anyone else. It is recognition for what Corrigan has done with his design studio and how he allocates his time and resources to those endeavors that further his brand. A large part of this includes sourcing product and staying on top of trends and developments. This further allows him to deliver consistent results to his clients and maintain a superior level of quality and service. At the end of the day, isn’t that what all of us are trying to accomplish?
This week, you will hear from two amazing interior designers, Fernando Diaz and Kelley Jackson. Fernando and Kelley are interior designers with a bold, fearless sense of style and both apply a tactical approach to strategic use of color. These conversations took place at Wattles Mansion just prior to the closure of the design house. You have been hearing from Wattles Mansion Designer Showcase designers in pairs in previous episodes. It has been so much fun to try and pair designers using at least one common theme and that is no exception here. This episode is about color. Use of color to make a statement, being bold, taking chances and tying it all together. Both designers do this masterfully. Fernando is Cuban-born, well traveled and adds touches from his travels in his work. You will hear about his use of vibrant, colorful, visually interesting beer steins and contemporary art pieces from LA artist Clara Berta to open up a heavily wood paneled library. Fernando uses furniture from Mitchell Gold - Bob Williams and rugs from AgaJohn to put this library together.
Kelley Jackson attacked the ladies lounge with early California style in keeping with the time of Wattle Mansion but shrouded it in a pink haze . With Monterrey furniture and Anders Aldrin art and pillows she crafted herself. This space is filled with natural light from a southern exposure which caused the room to literally change color shades as we spoke. Please enjoy this episode with interior designers, Fernando Diaz and Kelley Jackson.
I took a ride to China Town near downtown LA to visit the offices of the LA Design Festival. I sat with Haily Zaki Co-Founder of the LA Design Festival of which Convo By Design is incredibly proud to be a media partner. The LA Design Festival celebrates the rich design culture of Los Angeles. They see this as their opportunity to honor LA’s status as a global design capitol. This event, now in it’s seventh year shines a white hot spotlight on architecture, product design, graphic design, film, art, anything designed in LA. There are a number of very cool and unique opportunities during the four days of the event that include a a tour of the Modernica factory and a deep dive to see the inner workings of the Tryforium. Not sure what that is, keep listening and Haily will explain.
This week, you will be hearing from two designers with very different approaches to Hollywood glamor but similar in their love the old-Hollywood feel. First up is Victoria Reitz, interior designer and producer of the Wattles Mansion Showcase. As the producer of the project, Victoria takes the last remaining room, the one nobody else selected. This year, she took the Butler’s Room and turned it into a jewel encrusted, lavish dressing room. Small, but mighty. We also speak with Victoria about producing this project, the time involved and establishing a cohesive theme for all the designers to work both independently and part of an overall team. And oh the surprises that come from working on a very old house.
Ron Woodson of Woodson and Rummerfield’s House of Design is next up with a fascinating conversation about the living room in which he and Jamie transformed into old-Hollywood magic. Ron and Jamie have been on the show before, I really appreciate the fact that they are remarkable storytellers. Ron explains how the room is inspired by a portrait that was found in a basement. The portrait is of Norma Talmadge. Talmadge was a mega star of the silent film era. She began her career in 1910 with Vistagraph Studios in Flatbush. She moved to Hollywood to star in silent pictures, and she starred in many. She didn’t make the transition to talkies and after making only two, she retired. Some say that she couldn’t make it in talking pictures because her voice lacked power to match her acting abilities. In any case, her two spoken roles don’t translate at the box office and Talmadge was done. But, a few interesting facts about Norma Talmadge, Norma Place in West Hollywood is named after her and the reason there are footprints dating back to the early days of Graumann’s Chinese Theater is because Norma stepped in some wet cement on her way into the theater. The rest is Hollywood history.
We are back at Wattles Mansion for a conversation with two very talented designers. Nicole Gordon and David Dalton. You will hear about art, luxe materials and skillful application. You will also hear about taking chance. David works material into wall coverings and Nicole found a perfect piece at Ikea that style matched perfectly. Skill, fearlessly and artfully applied.
The City of Los Angeles was founded in 1781 and incorporated in 1850. In the years since the city’s founding, Los Angeles has continually reinvented itself, some would say, to a fault. When it comes to architecture and design in Los Angeles, we have always been considered a huge blank canvas, a design lab of sorts. Los Angeles architecture was built on names like; Welton Becket whose iconic works include Capitol Records (56), Parker Center (55), LAX (59) The Music Center (64-67), Claude Beelman, who brought Art Deco and Moderne movements to LA with works like The Standard (55) The Los Angeles Jewelry Center and The Union Bank Center, (later called the Getty Oil HQ and now The Mercury Building). From iconic buildings of industry, came mid-century modern design from architects like Richard Dorman. Dorman was part of Beckets firm until he left in 56 to create some amazing residential design in the city. How is this for a list of notables also adding to the Los Angeles landscape: Neutra, Fickett, Schindler, Gehry, Koenig, Lautner and Frank Lloyd Wright. Groundbreaking women like Greta Grossman and Helen Fong brought their unique perspectives and accomplished much in a male dominated profession. So, why the history lesson? Because much of LA’s notable architecture is being torn down to make way for newer ideas in architecture. Not that that is ALL bad, but when you lose iconic architecture strictly for the sake of a bigger structure, there is something wrong. the idea that architecture has to be temporary is a flawed concept. The Hollywood Hotel, Wallace Neff’s PickFair, Myron Hunt and later Paul Williams creation, The Ambassador Hotel, Marion Davies Beach House, The Brown Derby, The Pan Pacific Auditorium, all gone. What is also going away are Eicklers, Neffs and Schindlers. Iconic architecture in the form of residential homes lost, more every year. So you get it… meet Ken Bernstein. Ken is the manager and principle city planner for the the Historical Preservation Office of the City of Los Angeles. I sat down with Ken at his office in LA’s City Hall, another fantastic structure to discuss the state of historical architecture in LA. Things are happening to help preserve the architecturally relevant structures in the city. Some of these stories are great and you can also hear how to locate some of these gems in the city.
I sat down for this interview with Michelle Workman at a coffee shop in West Hollywood, down the street from the Pacific Design Center. In two years and one hundred and thirteen episodes of this podcast, I am constantly reminded just how talented and amazing the design community is. I would consider this to be a golden age of design. I say this because I am consistently meeting designers who are putting together some truly amazing work. They are doing it through innovation, new ideas and a health dose of trial and error. Fearlessly. If you don’t know Michelle yet, you will very soon. She is building a portfolio of work on the West Coast and in the South. Her roster of celebrity clients is a who’s who and yet, her philosophy is person centric which means her standard approach begins and ends with a level of service geared towards that person at that moment. Michelle just released her first full line of furniture through French Heritage, a line that she says was Art Deco inspired and likes to call it Sexy-Deco. What you are going to hear from Michelle is how she approaches the business as well as the art. Please enjoy this conversation with Michelle Workman and if you do enjoy it, please give us a positive rating on iTunes, that will make us more visible to others. You can also find short videos from many of these interviews at Convo By Design on YouTube. Thanks for listening and thanks for watching.
CXD covered the Wattles Design House this year and it has been an absolute blast catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. This episode features two elegant and insanely unique bedrooms. The rooms are as amazing as their designers. Ryan Saghian and Kym Roger. We start with Ryan who is an outspoken LA native with a very clear understanding of his own style in addition to understanding what his clients want. Kym Rodger is a designer, an artist and a fascinating personality. Kym and Ryan are passionate and absolutely fearless in their use of color, materials and space. Things like gun metal and fur, one of a kind art and walls draped in sheets, you find joyful surprises at every turn.
A three part interview with architect and Vondom product designer, Ramon Esteve who talks about the creation of innovative new products. Daniel Stromborg of Gensler takes it from there and talks about marketing these products for retail. Finally Modern Luxury Interiors and Angeleno Magazine's Chris Gialanella explains how the magazines stay on top of changing taste and styles to provide readers what they want.
Photo: Carolina Korman Photography