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Talk Design

Alexandra Senter

Alexandra Senter, the CEO of The Big Smoke Media Group and commentator on radio and TV.

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  • Kristina LoMonaco - Turn Nothing into Something

    Kristina LoMonaco, an interior designer based in both New York and London, returned to the podcast to discuss her life's recent changes, including making a new friend through the host and adjusting to a slower pace in London due to health challenges. "One of the key takeaways from our conversation was the idea that productivity is subjective and personal. We discussed how individuals have the autonomy to define their own scale of productivity, whether it involves reading five pages or making $100,000 in a month. I particularly loved your insight that these moments of quiet reflection serve as points of value in our lives, regardless of external validation and we all need to find “a breathable pace.”  Kristina emphasizes the importance of positivity and choosing happiness, even in difficult situations. Her approach, influenced by a trip to Bali and her experiences during a health diagnosis, focuses on personal growth and resilience. Kristina now prioritizes self-care and integrates nature into her design work, reflecting on the rapid societal pace post-pandemic and the need for introspection and healing.
  • The Divine Hustler - Laura Martin Bovard

    Through her decades-strong interior design practice, Laura Martin Bovard has been privileged to hold space for her clients at times of transformation. Laura has witnessed the magic that happens in realizing that having a beautiful home is more than creating something visually pleasing; it’s about building a home for your people; creating a vision for and manifesting a unique space that nourishes your soul’s growth. Via her blog, talks, and podcast features, and during retreats and one-on-one mentoring, Laura distills all of her interior design and self-improvement knowledge and experience down to what is relevant for her audience to apply it to their own business and life. She generously reveals her messes and her wins, the successes and the failures experienced along the way as she continues to create an energy-rich life. Laura is well-versed in themes of transformation, connection, authenticity, self-awareness, freedom, neuroscience, metaphysics, health, wealth, philanthropy, and creating beauty for the purpose of bringing us closer to our Source.
  • Jeanne Collins

    From Corporate to Creative: Jeanne's journey uncovers the transformative power of embracing creativity after a career shift, urging listeners to pursue their passions fearlessly. Through challenges and growth, she illustrates the profound impact of personal resilience and self-discovery on career trajectories.Navigating the pandemic's uncertainties, Jeanne's entrepreneurial spirit shines as she adapts her interior design business, offering invaluable insights into balancing practicality and passion. Her emphasis on aligning with ideal clients echoes the importance of fostering meaningful connections in professional endeavours.Jeanne Collins wasn’t always living with two feet in—but now she wants to share how she harnessed an abundance mindset to build the life she always wanted.In her book "Two Feet In", Jeanne proves her mission statement: success requires perseverance and vulnerability. From the trials of childhood to the rush of romance; from the crush of heartbreak to the nervous excitement of two major pivots in her career—readers will relate to Jeanne’s honest and heartfelt insights on growing up, motherhood, love, and, yes, interior design.As the conversation unfolds, it becomes clear that interior design is more than just aesthetics; it's about creating spaces that inspire, uplift, and resonate on a deeply personal level. Join Jeanne on a journey of self-discovery, creativity, and the transformative magic of intentional design.
  • Max Levy

    From childhood inspirations like Chicago's skyline to discussions on urban development and architectural philosophy, Max shares captivating stories that delve into the heart of design. Explore the transformative power of iconic structures like the Sydney Opera House and Frank Lloyd Wright's Broadacre City, discovering how they integrate with their surroundings to inspire greatness. Uncover the profound connection between architecture, nature, and well-being as Max and Adrian discuss the importance of space, silence, and intentional design in fostering emotional regeneration. Join the conversation as they envision a nature-inspired retreat, where freestanding pavilions refract different aspects of the natural world, inviting guests to connect with its sacredness and mystery. Experience the magic and power of architecture to uplift the human spirit and create meaningful, inspiring spaces that resonate with our souls. Tune in for insights into architecture's potential to influence and enhance our experience of the world, advocating for a return to principles that prioritize aesthetic harmony and thoughtful integration with the environment.
  • Lonnie Armstrong

    Join Lonnie Armstrong, an experienced builder from Austin, Texas, as he shares insights into his journey from childhood curiosity to a career in construction science. Transitioning from initial aspirations in design and mechanics, Lonnie's path led him to discover his passion for hands-on work in construction, illustrating the importance of adaptability and seizing opportunities.In the shifting landscape of architectural education, Lonnie discusses the debate between virtual and physical creation, highlighting the collaboration between builders and architects to ensure feasible designs within budget and construction constraints.Navigating the challenges of construction, Lonnie explores the need for collaborative problem-solving in the face of unforeseen obstacles and emphasizes the importance of environmental considerations in building projects. Driven by a shared passion for craftsmanship, both architects and builders are motivated by a desire to create and problem-solve, fostering a deep appreciation for the industry and its practitioners. Recognizing the talent and skill of tradespeople, Lonnie emphasizes the value of experience over traditional education, addressing the labour shortage in the industry and promoting its appeal through the enjoyable aspects of problem-solving and fulfilment derived from completing projects.
  • Steve Griggs

    Meet Steve Griggs, the visionary New York landscape designer featured in our podcast. Join us as Steve shares his journey from childhood aversions to traditional jobs to becoming a celebrated landscape architect. Learn about his passion for design, the secrets behind his adored client relationships, and the challenges he's faced in entrepreneurship.In this episode, Steve delves into the complexities of his craft, from tackling challenging installations like cliffside pools to navigating urban landscaping logistics in bustling cities. Discover how he designs for emotional impact, creating spaces that resonate with clients' aspirations.Explore post-COVID shifts in outdoor design priorities and the importance of integrating landscape with architectural planning. Join us to uncover the growing trend of biophilic design and the creation of multi-functional outdoor spaces.From the primal appeal of fire pits to the intricate considerations in landscape design, our podcast offers insights into the transformative power of outdoor spaces. Tune in for a deep dive into the art and business of landscape architecture with Steve Griggs.
  • Heather McKinney

    Transitioning from Principal to Founder, Heather McKinney reflects on her journey at McKinney York Architecture. Embracing the role of founder celebrates freedom and fulfilment, focusing on passion-driven architecture. Heather highlights the transformative impact of architectural work on communities and the responsibility architects hold in shaping landscapes. Architects like Donald Mays and Hank Schubart leave lasting legacies, shaping neighbourhoods and towns. The discussion delves into the significance of good orientation and thoughtful design, balancing traditional hand-drawing with digital tools. Cultural impact and workplace dynamics are explored, emphasizing the importance of understanding clients' personalities and preferences in design. Heather's firm focuses on community architecture, collaborating on projects for underserved communities and discovering universal design principles. Her favourite space, her closet, serves as a personal sanctuary, evoking a feeling of safety and retreat within her home.
  • Marlon & Meryati Blackwell

    Explore Marlon Blackwell's architectural journey, from childhood explorations near the Everglades to a career of merging art and design. His interdisciplinary approach, shaped by nature and storytelling, enriches innovative designs resonating on multiple levels. Marlon's wife Meryati Johari Blackwell and cameo appearance of Michael Malone all discuss the insights into urban versus natural settings and collaborative problem-solving in projects like the Lamplighter. Dive into the significance of liminal spaces and ecological design, fostering seamless educational environments. Delve into the collaborative design process and the profound impact of light on space. Lastly, ponder their hypothetical final projects, one envisioning a house as a culmination of architectural essence, the other contemplating a studio at nature's edge, embracing creativity beyond formal practice.Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, is a prominent architect based in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and holds the E. Fay Jones Distinguished Professorship at the University of Arkansas. He oversees all aspects of design, from inception to completion, at Marlon Blackwell Architects, fostering close client relationships and ensuring project success. His firm has earned numerous accolades, including the 2016 Cooper Hewitt National Design Award and top rankings in the Architect 50 survey. Marlon's contributions to architecture have been celebrated with prestigious honours such as the 2020 AIA Gold Medal. He is also recognized for his excellence in education, having been named the 2020 SEC Professor of The Year and honoured as one of Design Intelligence magazine's "30 Most Admired Educators" in 2015. Throughout his career, Marlon has held various esteemed academic positions and collaborated with renowned architects like Peter Eisenman and Julie Snow.Meryati Blackwell, AIA, ASID, LEED AP, is a Principal and Director of Interiors at Marlon Blackwell Architects. Meryati has been a guiding force in the growth of MBA, helping to transform the firm from a sole proprietorship to the thriving international practice it is today. She continues to work closely with Marlon and project teams to deliver thoughtful and award-winning designs that are both sensual and sensible.
  • Mark Wellen

    Mark Wellen, FAIA is co-founder and principal of Rhotenberry Wellen Architects in Midland, Texas. Drawing inspiration from the vast, inimitable landscape and the traditions of Texas’ modernist regionalist architects of previous generations, he has become a champion of the highest standards of the built environment, through both design and leadership. His work is both intuitive and instinctive, drawing on the unrelenting characteristics of the region – its big sky, long horizon, intense light, and climatic extremes to reveal moments of richness that elevate the human experience. Wellen’s body of work includes varied building types and project sizes from ranch shelters to residences, museums, and office towers. His work has received numerous national, regional, and local design awards, including AIA National, Residential Architect, The Dallas Architectural Forum, Texas Society of Architects and AIA West Texas.Join Mark and I on a journey of transcending transience in design. Explore the enduring elements that elevate spaces beyond mere materials and finishes. Discover moments of delight and clarity as we delve into the joy of thoughtful design experiences. Learn about the importance of client understanding and collaboration in achieving exceptional results. Reflect on the personal journey in design, from exploration to refined intuition. Experience the seamless integration of site and context, where landscapes and structures harmonize effortlessly. Embrace the fusion of functionality and inspiration, where practicality meets creativity to captivate the senses. Dive into collaborative visions with artists, crafting spaces that elevate and showcase their work, enhancing the overall experience.