Two of the largest design centers in the country, the Pacific Design Center (PDC) in Los Angeles and the Decoration and Design Building (DDB) in New York, have new leaders at their helms—Jeff Sampson and Jodi Imburgia respectively. Both bring deep backgrounds in design to their new roles, and big ambitions to boot.
Sampson was most recently the VP of marketing for the L.A. Mart Design Center. Imburgia grew her career as the Director, National Design Awards, at the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. This reporter spoke with them about their backgrounds and what lies ahead.
Jeff Sampson and Jodi Imburgia
Why do you love working in the design industry?
Sampson: I am constantly inspired by the creative process and the extraordinary vision that distinguishes great design. The idea of home is very meaningful to me. I am obsessed with the concept of creating space that is a reflection of personality and interest, a place that is comfortable, stylish and inviting, where one can spend time relaxing alone or entertaining friends. This fascination for imagining extraordinary environments has fueled my love of interior design and my admiration for the exceptional talent that our industry represents. I feel so very fortunate through my career that I have collaborated with an amazing cross-section of creative leaders who are brilliant designers who are also genuine, generous individuals.
Imburgia: My parents were always remodeling something, they were very DIY. At one point they added on this huge game room fit out with a sunken bar and they wanted these chairs that were made from old wine casks and they could not find them, so they ordered the barrels and made them! Remember hi-lo shag carpeting? Well I think we may have been the first to have it on my block. My education is in design and I have always loved architecture and the creativity of this community. I admire the community for its innovation, generosity and its courage to take risks.
What made you interested in working at a Cohen Design Center?
Sampson: The PDC is such an iconic, international landmark and the pinnacle of design for the West Coast. Over the course of my 20+ years in the design industry, I have had the pleasure of partnering with the PDC and developing many relationships with the showrooms. When I was asked to take the role, the opportunity to lead the marketing effort and create my imprint as part of the PDC team was both an irresistible offer and the next step forward in my career progression.
Imburgia: Being in a design environment is essential to not only my career, but my soul. Watching design evolve and seeing first-hand what is new is what interests me and there could not be a better building to experience that in.
What are you most excited to learn and work on?
Sampson: I think becoming immersed in the community and culture of the PDC and understanding the needs of our showrooms is my first priority. I am beginning my tenure at a pivotal moment as we ramp up towards our WESTWEEK Spring Market. It's been a fast and furious, hit-the-ground-running experience but it has also given me great insights into the working dynamics of the current marketing effort. I feel most proud that within my first few months we have built a robust 2014 market featuring some of the industry's most prolific talents complemented by more than 100 programs, events and product introductions.
Imburgia: I am most excited to get to know each of the showrooms intimately and figure out how the marketing department can best market for them. Also, I am looking forward to our Spring Market, which is just around the corner, Thursday, May 15.
What can dedicated shoppers and designers expect from you and the marketing department in the future?
Sampson: We definitely want to up our game, deliver the best celebrated design talent to inform and educate, expand our calendar of lecture programming across the year to include CEU credits, introduce new marketing and communications programs that spotlight our product offerings, enhance current partnerships while building new relationships with vested constituents, and build a greater level of community to best serve our design customers and their clientele.
Imburgia: What’s happening in design education? What is the future of product design? How is sustainability affecting the market? I hope to be able to provide robust information to the clientele of the D&D Building through seminars, education and special events.