Design Star 5: Pre-Show Interview with Genevieve Gorder
Genevieve Gorder Talks About 'HGTV Design Star' Season 5
by Kelly Woo, posted Jun 11th 2010 9:00AM
Filed under: TV PreviewsCelebrity Interviews
HGTV's breakout hit reality series, 'Design Star,' is getting back into an Empire state of mind.
The fifth season of the show returns to its original location, New York. But that's not the only change in store, according to judge Genevieve Gorder, who spoke to TV Squad by phone yesterday.
Gorder and fellow judges Vern Yip and Candice Olsen take on hosting duties from Clive Pearse. They get more involved in creating the challenges, following the contestants' work from start to finish and mentoring them throughout the entire design process.
A fabulous season is in store for viewers, one that was "a lot more fun," Gorder said.
Check out what else she had to say about 'HGTV Design Star.'
What can viewers expect from the new season?
It's just a completely new package. We're working with one of the best productions houses in the business that do this kind of television with Mark Burnett. Really all of the technical aspects of a show like this -- which are many -- that normally take so much time and so much effort were just so smoothly accomplished that the creative end of this show we heavily focused on because we could. They'll see a show with a lot more content.
I think the design has elevated to a degree far beyond what we've every accomplished on 'Design Star' previously. The cast is I think the most talented that we've ever had. Having it in New York, which is the design capitol of the country, makes so much sense and kind of ups the ante and the competition to a standard it needed to be at for a long time.
And the challenges, now that the technicalities of the show are so smoothed over and perfected, the challenges have been so heavily focused on. You're going to see things that you've never seen before on 'Design Star' and that are so unexpected and I was absolutely salivating over. I wish that I could've been in the challenges because they look like so much fun. It's like art school on crack. [Laughs]
I'm sure you can't get into the specifics of the challenges, but what can you tell us?
We have everything involved from the FDNY and explosions to celebrities that you would never think would be on cable. [Laughs] There were very dangerous moments that involve the EMT and blood, there was love. I think the judges this year -- I'm speaking as a third person -- we had just so much fun because: A) We all knew each other a lot better. I've known Vern for forever, but Candice and I just met last year. B) We were so much more involved because not only were we judging, we were giving the challenges and coaching as well. The judges are throughout the show instead of just the end, which I think provides for a more elevated design conversation throughout the whole hour. It's been really fun. It's so rare that we get to talk to other designers for that long of a period on television. We're usually talking to homeowners. The conversation levels and the design chat is again, incomparable to any other show on the network.
The judges seem very heavily involved in all steps, like you said. What was that like?
It's more like -- you know you have Tim Gunn [on 'Project Runway'] right there in the middle who's helping you out, but not in such an intimate way because we are judging them too -- the challenges are also prescribed by us. We came up with all the challenges, which again I think makes it a lot more legitimate and at the end we are really deciding who is going to be the next 'Design Star.' You see the judges throughout the entire hour and I think, like I said prior, it provides just a conversation that's a lot more elevated within the design realm.
HGTV viewers are not 101, they've been watching for years. They want to learn more, to listen to a higher conversation about what they love so much. This is a perfect platform for them to get that nitty gritty design info that you don't get on all the design shows.
Do you feel like you've gotten more insight into what the contestants are going through?
Yeah, I think the hardest part for me being a caretaker and working a lot from the emotional side of design in general is that I just want to take care of all of them. [Laughs] We do have kind of a wall, a barrier between us. We have to because we're judging them too. But yes, I'm a lot more emotionally involved. It was a lot clearer to me from an earlier point of who the front-runners were because I knew them better. You can't hide anything from us when we're there looking at your work in person, which I think provides for a lot clearer view of who should win this competition in the end.
We become a family of sorts. It's such a crazy schedule, it's done so quickly. There's part of me that wants to feel bad for every contestant because it's so grueling, but at the same time, they're winning a prize that all of us have worked years to attain and they're being given it over the course of six weeks on a silver platter ... It could perhaps be a career that lasts for many, many years if they play their cards right. It is a completely different experience for all of us as judges and I have to say I had a lot more fun. I'm not just checking in at the end and peeking at something that I didn't know the real story of. I'm involved throughout. I think Clive [Pearse] was a great host, but I think having the designers give the challenges and create the challenges makes a lot more sense.
This is the first season since season 1 where you're back in New York. How big of a role does New York play into this season?
New York has a huge role in every show. I think if you've watched 'Project Runway' in the past, you can see the difference it makes when a design competition is taken out of the design capitol. They came right back the following season. It's because it's legitimate. This is the design capital of the country. This is where all the best designers are and where they train. All the shopping the city provides in such a condensed fashion that is chaotic, it's harried and real is only applicable to New York. It's a big character in the show and it adds a background that you can't really accomplish anywhere else. I'd rather see someone hustling down the street and all the beauty and history and drama that that entails on that shopping trip or hunt, whatever they're doing as opposed to watching someone talking to me blankly in a car on some vast highway in the middle of wherever. [Laughs]
Re: Design Star 5: Pre-Show Interview with Genevieve Gorder
I imagine future challenges will be more sort of urban and apartment-based than some of the homes that have been done in the previous season.
I would definitely say it has more of an urban edge this year, which I think is absolutely necessary in design television and kind of under-represented. I think for so long we've often tried to make it really generic so it could apply to anybody in the country and now I think we've all graduated to a point where we aspire to live in certain landscapes that maybe we weren't entertaining enough on television and urban is one of them. I think most of us live in urban centers so let's make sure that we're covered. This is a perfect show to do just that. We definitely step outside the New York City circle and attack other problems. I do a show in New York City and do Jersey and Connecticut as well. I think it's having a real healthy balance, but for this competition, I do think we're skewed a bit more urban which is so needed.
What's happening on your other show, 'Dear Genevieve'?
Well, we're going into our fourth or fifth season this fall, but we have a new season airing right now, every Saturday -- the day before 'Design Star,' 9PM ET. I'm the only HG designer in New York, so I'm doing a lot of the urban dilemmas which I feel very comfortable with.We work in Jersey and Connecticut and the outer boroughs as well, but this season I'm really pushing the mediums that we're using -- from tiles that you don't see that often to wainscoting to flooring you haven't seen before. I'm trying to introduce a lot of new stuff to the genre and you're seeing it a lot throughout the season and it's been our highest-rated season yet so I'm really excited. We have a team that's an absolute family and joy to watch. We're not contriving drama in anyway, I think [renovations] has enough drama in it that it kind of unravels itself and the design needs to be absolutely beautiful and bigger than you can imagine every time.
That's I think the hardest part about design television which kind of segue to 'Design Star' as well is, you can't repeat yourself. You can't do the same color palette a million times, you have 83 million people watching you, so you have to be new every single week. It's the hardest design job on the planet, I'm absolutely convinced after watching the contestants scramble. Everyone thinks design TV is so cush and luxury, it's the absolute polar opposite. But, for those designers who like pushing themselves really hard, this is the perfect medium for them and it's mine. It's been mine for some many years, I can't imagine not doing it.
So, where do you get your inspiration from? Do you travel a lot? Is it stuff you kind of see around your home base?
I think that's probably my most frequently asked question and the answer to it is of course, New York is a huge component in my inspiration. Every single experience that we have in life is an inspiration into our design palette. That's as vague as I can get. Now, what do I do personally to kind of fill up that palette, I do travel a lot. I'm actually traveling this summer for a good chunk to all of the countries that are my roots and kind of doing an explorative on the folk art of Norway and Croatia and all the islands bordering as well and trying to bring back something new. I have to challenge myself every single day, otherwise, I do get repetitive. We all do. It's like if a chef only lives in one small town his whole life, he's only going to create ingredients that are around him and that are influencing him from outside. It's the same thing with design. If I don't leave, I keep recreating, so this is something that is absolutely crucial to my livelihood.
My co-worker Sandy Deane wanted to know if you had tips on nursery design.
I think actually it's just the approach to the nursery and avoiding buying the "set" and really designing a space for your home as well as for your baby. There has to be a sense of flow and sophistication, a balance of new and old in every nursery. You're really creating this palette -- not to reuse the word to many times but -- for your child that they're going to grow up with and I can't convey how important this is. Again, a parallel to food, we don't feed our kids chicken McNuggets and french fries everyday just because that's what they like. You have to create a really vast and full palette of mediums, colors, textures, a balance of kid's stuff and adult stuff that really sets the tone for how they see design in their life. They'll carry this with them forever. I know I did. My brothers did. Growing up in old homes, we all looked for the little details that were in old Victorians throughout our lives. In our $300 apartments when we were 19 years old, we had a hard time finding it, but wouldn't settle for a place without a hardwood floor.
These little things you don't think children understand become an inherent sponge and it's so important. I can't stress it enough. Don't get the new dresser that has laminate and big ball legs and costs $400 and is made cheaply in Taiwan. Use something your grandma gave you -- use it as a changing table. You don't have to buy into the contrived idea of what nursery is. Really play with your tastes and what is beautiful to you as a person as well, instead of what corporations think are beautiful.