My trip to LA was primarily to attend the Keynote Panel discussions being held at the Pacific Design Center. The first Panel was moderated by Margaret Russell of Elle Decor. The Panelists:
- Mayer Rus, Design and Culture Editor of the Los Angeles Times Magazine. Mr. Rus was formerly the Design Editor of House and Garden where he was also known as The Testy Tastemaker. He is also the author of the blog From Rus with Love.
- Patricia Shackelford, whom we all know and love as Mrs. Blandings.
- Michael Bruno, founder and president of 1stdibs.com, leading online resource for high-end antiques.
- Vicente Wolf, Top designer for the last 35 years, and more recently blogging on his Vicente Wolf Blog.
The discussion centered on the rise of Social Media and was titled: Giving Design a Voice in the Digital Age, Navigating the New Media Landscape.
As you can imagine, bloggers are at the forefront of the social media phenom along with Facebook and Twitter. Designers are being told by the powers that be that they need in interactive internet presence, whether a blog or a Facebook connection or both. The panelists discussed the merits and drawbacks of each and all, how to start, why to start.
The reasons stated were as personal as the personalities. Patricia was looking for a community, or as she so aptly put it, her "people". She shares anecdotes about her adventures in decorating her own home as well sharing lots of design information and resources.
Vicente Wolf started his blog to share information, especially about the challenges of doing the business of design. Interestingly, Mr. Wolf admitted a real lack of interest and know-how regarding his use of computers. He let us in on the fact that he tapes his posts which are then transcribed by a staffer to his blog. His view is that computer use can stifle the creativity of a designer to a degree...in this instance he was referring to CAD.
Mayer Rus' enthusiasm for computers was less than one might think as well. He was as entertaining as you would expect if you were familiar with his Testy Tastemaker column, boldly stating mind altering substances were his way of coping with email. I have to say, he was hilarious. Do check out his blog as you will be able to get your own fix of his irreverent humor....something I have sorely missed since the passing of HG.
Michael Bruno was the only panelist without a blog, but his website, 1st dibs has become not just an online antique resource. It is also an internet magazine. There are stories about who's who in the design industry regularly updated on the 1st dibs site in the Introspective Magazine.
All of the panelists agreed that blogging has had an affect on print media and that the way print and online media work together is still in it's infancy. There are many people working hard to try and find a path that leads to prosperity for everyone. The rules are changing constantly. And Margaret brought up the very important point that it is crucial to keep up. Elle Decor has launched their new website, which will act as Elle Decor's online presence and will be offering many more interactive features than what is available through their print magazine. It is a much more immediate form of communication and can be updated accordingly.
The panel discussion was recorded, and Vicente Wolf mentioned on his blog that he is trying to get ahold of it for everyone to see. I will let you know as soon as it is available!
The afternoon panel was moderated by Editor at Large's Sophie Danielson. Panelists included:
- Michael Bruno of 1st dibs.
- Ronda Carmen, Founder of All the Best blog.
- Vanessa de Vargas, Interior Designer and blogger for her blog Turquoise and Apartment Therapy.
- Brian Patrick Flynn, Designer and Founder of Decor Demon.
- Brad Ford, Designer and Founder of Design Therapy.
- Jillian St. Charles, Vice President and Site Director of HGTV.com.
This Panel discussion revolved around essentially the same theme: How does one navigate social media to enhance one's business and brand identity. These panelists have all taken on the internet to create a more interactive forum with the hope that this forum will result in more design business, more sales, and more information for existing and potential clients. The bonus for us? We get a lot of ideas, information, inspiration and entertainment that is immediate!
Ronda Carmen is spinning her popular blog off into a new business called All the Best Portfolio which specializes in brand building and marketing for the design industry.
Vanessa de Vargas offers online design services (a new design phenomenon for many designers!) for those clients that have a restrictive budget or who live anywhere in the world.
Former television producer turned designer, Brian Patrick Flynn has taken his skills with the camera and turned his sights to creating "Webisodes" of design How-tos soon to be found on his blog Decor Demon.
Top designer Brad Ford shares his passion for design and insider information on his blog Design Therapy.
And Jillian St. Charles shared with us the differences between the HGTV television channel and the features from the website. There is a lot of info on there...so check it out!
Great discussion and food for thought from both panels.
The main thing I took away is that it is a good idea to get involved online. But not necessarily in the expected ways. Many are using social media in new and creative ways to enhance their primary business' or to create a new business altogether. Social Media is a primordial soup and it is going to evolve exponentially in the coming years. It's a good idea to evolve with it!