Q&A: Lyon Porter of New Hospitality Venture Urban Cowboy
Urban Cowboy, a Brooklyn-based bed and breakfast, began as a passion project for Lyon Porter and Jersey Banks. With the help of Squarespace, the duo made their move into hospitality. Porter, a former pro hockey player, discovered a passion for design after renovating a Williamsburg walk-up to be the Urban Cowboy’s first home, and the business quickly evolved into a global community of travelers and artists. Porter and Banks then brought Urban Cowboy to a Queen Anne Victorian mansion in East Nashville, a thriving oasis for the city’s burgeoning creative spirit. Here, Porter weighs in on how Squarespace has bolstered Urban Cowboy’s popularity, how he approaches interior design, and the brand’s next destination.
You discovered a passion for design while developing Urban Cowboy. What’s the most rewarding aspect of designing a space?
I love not only designing physical space, but creating environments—the way a place sounds, feels, and smells. It sets a mood that translates into an experience.
Tell me about your design process.
I don’t storyboard or moodboard. Rather, I find objects and materials that speak to me. I like to design things like my favorite leather jacket. They are meant to be lived in, to be beat up, and to hopefully look better afterwards.
What did you consider when designing interiors for a Brooklyn walk-up vs. a Nashville mansion?
Brooklyn was my first design project, so there was a learning curve. I was running on intuition. For Nashville, I had more experience, so it was more informed and simultaneously a very specific effort to not be anything like Brooklyn. I didn’t want to replicate my previous work.
How does the Urban Cowboy community in Nashville compare to Brooklyn?
It’s like comparing apples and oranges. Nashville is a fraction of the size of NYC, but has a huge heart and soul. In both places, we’ve become a hub for the creative community, and I’m really proud of that.
This is a huge side project! How do you keep it all together?
It’s not really a side project. It’s my heart and soul. I just happen to have an entirely different life as a real estate broker and a father of a 4 year old. Oddly enough, I accomplish more when I am busier.
How did Squarespace help you make your move?
Squarespace is an amazing platform for the mom and pop business—or like us, the mom and pop who are expanding and require a more substantial online presence.
How would your experience differ without the increased visibility afforded by your own website?
We’ve received so many more compliments and bookings.
What’s your favorite feature of Squarespace?
Unlike traditional web development, you can change things on the fly. This is amazing since tweaks happen in real time.
Any expansion plans you can share?
We just flew back from Los Angeles and are driving upstate to check out a spot next week. We also recently visited London, Austin, and a few other cities. We’re still searching and waiting for the magic to hit.
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