HGTV Design Star Judge: Genevieve Gorder

Genevieve Gorder

Today I am so excited to continue the HGTV Design Star interview series with Design Star judge, and one of my favorite interior designers, Genevieve Gorder.  Genevieve is known for designing soulful and whimsical spaces, and has been designing on television for many years now.  Many readers probably remember her from when she was on TLC’s Trading Spaces.  Genevieve has stopped by today to let us know what it’s like to be a judge on HGTV Design Star; what she thinks about the changes to this season; and to give us the inside scoop on some exciting projects she’s working on.

HGTV Design Star has made several changes this season.  How much input do the judges have in determining the structure of the show from season to season?

The logistical issues and structure of the show are tackled by production, but who stays and who goes is up to the judges.  This year is a lot more design-centric.  The judges are a lot more interested in evaluating the design process of each contestant.  We’re able to get to know the designers a lot better.  Contestants get six weeks to compete for an enormous gift and this year the challenges are stretching every design muscle.

Genevieve Gorder Portfolio
Living room by Genevieve Gorder

So much of design is about being inspired by your environment, tell us how the move to New York came about, and how has it impacted the show?

As far as moving the show to New York, Producer Mark Burnett made that decision.  I’m the only designer who lives in New York, and the city is so important when it comes to design.  It’s a character and active landscape in the show.  The city feels like a 13th character in the Design Star cast.

This is definitely the most experienced group of designers thus far.  What should viewers expect from this season?

Having a more educated and experienced design cast means they usually up the standards within themselves.  This year we have such an eclectic group of ages, backgrounds, and varying degrees of experience.   There is a lot more energy and competition among this group.  Working with Mark Burnett, an expert at this genre of programming, the production value is so high.  This year is exceptional.  The cast is up to a higher standard and so is the production value.

Genevieve Gorder Portfolio
Home office by Genevieve Gorder

This show is so great at choosing designers who have a wide range of backgrounds and experiences that inevitably each season brings up the question of formal training vs. natural talent in making a great designer. What are your thoughts on this issue?

I  don’t think you have to have an interior design degree to be a brilliant designer.  Some educational training is needed in the design field, and knowing the rules is important, but it’s also good to break them.  Experience is the most important thing of all.  You have to have a natural ability to do this.  You have to have an inherent eye and gut.  This is true for most professions, and especially true for the creative arts. 

I don’t ever rule out someone who didn’t go to design school.  You have to look with an open mind and open eyes.  However, the final prize on Design Star is getting your own show.  When you’re hosting a design show you need to have the language.  Just because something is pretty doesn’t mean you’re done.  You have to make sense of it.  A lot of people lack that language.  Television is harder than real world design.  You can’t repeat yourself on TV, and you can’t be boring.

Your show, Dear Genevieve, helps people fall back in love with their homes.  How did the idea for this show evolve from your own interior design philosophy?

I approach design form an emotional place.  I need to approach it that way with my clients.  I have a therapeutic eye.  I need to find out why people are struggling with their space.  Everyone wants to have a beautiful landscape.  My job is to work with people to build a great story together.  One of the clients I worked with on the show had a rare nerve condition.  At the end of the show she said “I’m healed”.  The space became her womb of healing.  It was a humbling and powerful experience.  It showed the gravity of what design can be when you can create spaces that take care of you.

Genevieve Gorder Portfolio
Dining room by Genevieve Gorder

You are definitely busy with two shows on HGTV.  Are there other projects that you are currently working on?  What’s on the horizon?

I have a really exciting project coming up!  Now that I have a couple of months off from shooting, I’m taking a big design trip to two countries that my ancestors are from.  My assistant and I are filming the trip ourselves.  I’ve always been fascinated with genealogy.  This is the first time I’m doing a real roots perspective.  It’s important to connect the dots between who you are and how you design.  This will be an opportunity to really see more of my personal design process.  You can read about the experience on my blog

Thank you so much Genevieve!  Don’t forget to stop by her brand new blog, Genevieve Gorder Home, where Genevieve is expanding her relationship with interior design fans.  I’ve already placed it in my blog reader!

{Images furnished by HGTV}

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