Designers Today: When did you first have the idea for the podcast?
James Swan: In the summer of 2015, after realizing I had become disillusioned with my active client work in the world of design and decoration, I found myself floating in a friend’s pool at their lovely Connecticut compound. As had been my habit since discovering them in 2012; I was listening to a podcast on my smartphone.
My good friend and hostess that weekend came to the pool’s edge and asked what was I listening to and she casually asked what my favorite design podcast was. I was shocked that I had no response other than to say I’d never looked for one. We decided to fix this and together dashed in the house to find a laptop so our search could begin.
I poked about online and found the person who would become my mentor as I learned (from the ground up) what a podcast was and how one gets produced. By October I was hooked on the idea and in early December, after doing my homework on launching a podcast, I sent out ten emails to designer friends asking if I could interview them. I explained it was for a new design focused podcast I was launching and they would be my test subjects, as I’d never conducted an interview in my life.
They all said yes and on 17 December 2015 I recorded my first interview, a process I would repeat 35 times over the coming two months. Leveraging my social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) I launched the podcast on March 1, 2016, with no idea if anyone in the world would listen. Turns out they did and still are.
Very shortly after the launch the show landed in the Top 10 podcasts on ITunes’ "New & Noteworthy" Arts section. Since then we have consistently been in the Top 100 Podcasts across all 300,000 titles on ITunes. Last week we surpassed 500,000 downloads to the show and that number grows daily making us the world’s most listened-to daily podcast celebrating the worlds of design, decorating and beautiful living.
Who have some of your notable guests been and why?
Starting with my very first guest, Robert Couturier, we’ve been fortunate to have many iconic talents on the show. With over 500 interviews recorded, there are too many memorable moments to share. But in general the grace, wit and humility demonstrated by such well-known names as Bunny Williams, Alexa Hampton, Campion Platt, Miles Redd and Matthew Patrick Smyth (and so many others) makes the process of interviewing an endless source of fascination for me.
What do you think most "average listeners" learn from your podcast?
I believe our listeners, at the core of their experience, discover that:
A. Our guests are real people and that despite the many magazine covers, features, profiles and books, these powerhouses of the design and decorating world are just like us, real people. That they choose to live in a way that inspires us to create more beauty in our homes and lives gets to the power of design in our world
B. Our guests are business people. If anyone ever doubts that design is big business they just need to listen to our guests. Each one is at the helm of their own entrepreneurial enterprise that is growing and impacting their world, really making the world more beautiful and doing it while creating jobs and stimulating the economy.
C. The world of design is not a stuffy or elitist place. We laugh together (sometimes cry) and dispel the idea that design is something stiff or old-fashioned. Many of our guests come from humble beginnings and have risen through the years to their positions as tastemakers and business moguls through hard work, diligence and their personal style. They and the industry are remarkably approachable.
Describe your content with three adjectives and then expand on why they fit.
I would describe our content as candid, practical and fun. Whether it’s a background story, in all its grit and detail, or the travails of daily business challenges; the degree of candor brought by our guests is delightful and cherished. Guests are generous with their thoughts and ideas, shared without hesitation, to our enthusiastic listening audience and it’s all done in a way that makes the time spent fun and enjoyable.
Prior to her role with Designers Today, Cindy attended markets as both a consumer home furnishings editor and interior design client. She has written about the design industry for more than 15 years and still finds editorial inspiration in every corner of the world, from Italian villas to Atlanta urban lofts to country escape tiny homes.