Design Star | Episode 1

Monday, June 14, 2010

Don't fret my pets...It's been months since the show wrapped and I've resiliently made peace with being the first one eliminated. Do I wish I could have stayed a little longer? Of course! Do I agree with the judges' decision to send me home? Absolutely NOT! I've been patiently waiting for this premiere to air so I can FINALLY dish the dirt that's been brewing in the cauldron y'all. I hope you like your supper with a little side of scandal 'cuz that's what I'll be serving in 5 seconds flat.

But first things first. THANK YOU to everyone who's been supporting me since the beginning of this unpredictable adventure. I never thought that I'd even be considered for the show, let alone make it to the top 12, so having the opportunity to showcase any part of my work is a success in itself. However, having made it that far and finally on air- I solemnly promised myself one thing and one thing only: Go Big or Go Home. Well so much for pep talks since we all know how that ended...let's turn back time and re-visit that White Box Challenge (even though I'm still trying to forget...arrrghhh! ). But I owe it to you guys so here goes!

I was elated to have been paired up with Tom "the suit" (a moniker I so endearingly bestowed upon my new bff). Dude fearlessly slapped red paint on the walls in a thousand dollar ensemble, all the while flashing those pearly whites AND chit-chatting from across the room random stories of life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. Can you say FABULOUS!!! We barely had met just a mere hour beforehand and quickly grew to manifest this ridiculously authentic connection. Not the "I like you, you like me" sort of bond, but one that was grounded on a natural chemistry of energy, a meeting of the minds if you will. His aura was blue, mine was red, together we make purple magic kinda thing. 

So I was able to assess parts of his personality that weren't readily apparent to the discerning eye. I detected dynamism, a youthful vital energy that could appreciate the arts even while requesting a space to be inspired and relaxing at the same time. I saw beyond Tom, the business professional (so obvious!) and came to regard Tom as my longtime bestie who understands the originality in creative interpretation. Who knew the judges weren't taking into consideration the client's perspective (i.e. Court and Nina debacle) when it seemed to be the primary objective?

The room that sent me packing 

Every designer assumes a different method when designing for clients. I tend to start out highly conceptual, in this case borrowing feng shui techniques of achieving balance and harmony by applying elements of water, earth, air, and fire. The execution is clearly where I lost track but I'll get to that in a NY minute. We were given the parameters for the challenge and told that the space did not have to exist as a bedroom to "sleep" in and that it need NOT be functional. In other words, simply showcase some facet of your partner's personality and re-interpret this white box however you wish. I committed to projecting Tom's fun and fearless side...Boy was I in for a rude awakening!

My decision to colorwash the walls in blue and grey tones was rooted in the idea of representing water in a stylized and spirited fashion. Tom would then be granted the calm by existing in the midst of the four elements as a balanced whole, not as individual entities. It never even occurred to me to simply slap on two coats of matte paint, dress the room as a tailored suit, and call it a day. I mean, how insightful is that?! I'm a psych major for peet's sake. Although, I must admit, the aftermath of that paint job was clearly not my finest hour. It translated as way more chaotic than I had anticipated and definitely more mediocre than I'm accustomed to. But at that point, I had already committed to this design decision so I had to move forward and keep trucking through. Time constraint, lack of "handy" man, and deep thinking were all causes of my demise.

Moving from the walls on to the flooring...I thought my plush inset "flokati" rug was ingenious! Tom had even admitted to loving fur (although that insight had been conveniently omitted from the tape) and the flooring was my interpretation of that texture. The judges, on the other hand were appalled at the flimsy application and even sardonic to say the least. Genevieve immediately announced her allergy to the goose feathers, Vern mocked my execution of a nearby flock, and Candice even went so far as to "playfully" kick that carpeting around to instigate more trouble for me and my "conceptual, need not be functional" space. It's one thing for me to shred that pillow for a purpose, but to massacre my masterpiece simply for amusement? That's where I draw the line man. *Cue my evil eye...grrrr*

My white room gone blue. Notice how PERFECTLY my "rug" was placed. After the judges came waltzing through and deliberately kicked it around, the producers must've thought it was a great idea to capture the chaos and use that photo during the judging panel....and all over HGTV's website. Nice one guys- very professional.

I can only explain my design approach like I do my wardrobe resolutions. Some days I hit, some days I miss, but EVERY DAY I take a risk. I make a conscious effort to think outside the (white) box to come up with a daring and creative solution to any and all of life's lessons. This particular lesson had me foaming at the mouth (or more accurately seething in silence if you re-watch the bottom 6 panel discussion). Since the judges seemed to have made up their minds already pre-elimination, it seemed pointless to utter two words without sounding desperate like you're throwing yourself a pity party for the sake of ratings. Not my style y'all.

The bottom 6 discussing our failed attempts

All in all, they just didn't get it. And I have to admit, I honestly don't blame them. Design is completely subjective; My overthought concept and "scripted" presentation weren't enough to garner me a spot in the top 11 in their eyes. But it's all good. I come correct when I put my heart and soul on the line to produce a space that's riddled with original concepts, unconventional methods, and maybe a little controversy. The goal is to create experiences, not pretty pictures. I'd rather be memorable than be safe. If I ever designed to please the masses, shoot me. Unless I've already dropped dead from surveying such lifeless excuses for inspired design. Although the first to go always makes the bold, at times misunderstood, gestures...alas, I finally understand where they were all coming from. 

Look in the end, I have no excuses. Just my growing appreciation for the arts and my professional responsibility to this industry. The probability of me executing a hospitality project from inception to end with my own two bare hands? Unlikely man. That's what specialized experts are for. I conjure up the ideas, I pay peeps to make it happen. For this particular format though? I conjured up a dream to host my own design show, I paid a small price to get a taste of the experience. It may not happen this year. It may not happen with HGTV. But one day...even if I have to ruffle a few feathers to get there ;D

Design Star Season 5 Cast
all photos credit: HGTV


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  1. You've made it this far and I'm proud of you. One door closes and another door will open for you. I see great potential in you. Don't ever give up!!!

    I don't agree with the judges, that you got eliminated and I don't like their choice on who won that night either. I expected that they have better taste than that but I guess not. And I'm not just saying that because I'm your cousin either. hehehe

    This was a good opportunity for you. Take it as an opportunity to learn and grow. We are all unique. As long as you are proud of your designs (unlike Emily) and your client likes it. That's all that matters.

    love ya,

  2. Love you mama!! Thanks for stopping by! xoxo

  3. It's pretty amazing that you made it on the show! Who knows what the judges are thinking.

  4. I sure didn't...thanks for reading Sheridan! Hope you enjoyed the premiere show :D

  5. Hi, Julie, I'm just finding your blog (don't know where I've been) so I'm a little late here but I just wanted to say I was sorry (and shocked) to see you leave the show. I applaud you for taking a risk and doing something different.

    And thank you so much for linking to my blog! Now that I've found yours, I'll be sure to visit regularly. I wish you much continued success!

  6. Thanks for reading and sending warm wishes. I am a conceptual designer through and through so risk-taking is part of the program in my eyes :D

    Hope you're following the show, be sure to come back for my insider scoop every Monday!

    Love your blog btw- keep up the awesome work!


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