Style Talk with Design Star Judge Candice Olson

candice olson

Candice Olson is one of my all-time favorite interior designers.  Her work is impeccable, it’s always clear that she knows what good design is and how to implement it, and for years she has been hosting on of my favorite interior design shows, Divine Design on HGTV.  When I had the opportunity to interview her a few weeks ago, I have to admit, I almost hyperventilated.  I was going to be talking to one of my interior design heroes!  When I spoke with Candice not only did I learn about her design philosophy, her experience, and the nitty gritty of judging on HGTV Design Star, I also learned that she has a wonderful wit and sense of humor to go along with it all.  I hope you love this interview with her as much as I do!

On your show, Divine Design, you truly transform people’s homes and many times, their lives.  What is that experience like?

Often we underestimate the importance of the spaces that we live in and how they add to the quality of our lives, or what it can mean to have someone transform a space that has become stagnant or disconnected.  But the reactions that you get at the end of the show tells a different story. 
All of the spaces I design are meaningful.  Going in and helping people change their lives is the most rewarding part of what I do.  I’m not Extreme Home Makeover, but I find that design really can change the way that people live their lives for the better.  Design can make people live better, laugh better…I’ve seen it with every process we’ve done.

Candice Olson Portfolio

What’s your definition of good design?

Good design is all about the basics.  It’s truly about form versus function.  You have to ask clients, how do they actually want to live in their home?  It goes beyond what you see in magazine clippings.  My job as a designer is not just about color and decor, but about structure, renovation, and layout.  From there it’s all about finding the personal side of the client’s style.  You want to open the front door of a home and be able to read about the client who lives within.  Good design should look like a designer hasn’t even been there, instead you should see a space that continues to grown and evolve.

People get tripped up on magazine or lifestyle photos, but is that really what a family with five kids, a dog, and a habit for eating nachos should live in?  Many times people need a reality check and need to see how they can get the home they want in a smart way.  Good design is an investment in time, energy and money.  As a designer it’s my job to help the client be really smart about what that investment is all about.

Candice Olson Portfolio

You’ve been a judge on HGTV Design Star for several years, what do you feel is the single most common mistake that you see contestants make year after year? 

I had my own business for sixteen years before I had my own television show.  The biggest problem I had was the hosting perspective.  How do you make a show that is entertaining, engaging, and cut out the swearing?  The hosting is really tough to do in front of the camera.  I always wanted to show people that design is approachable.  I wanted to show the fun and character, and that’s what I brought to the screen.  On Design Star we see people go into news caster mode when the camera is there.  The challenge for the contestants is they have to show what makes them different as a host.

What does the location change from Los Angeles to New York bring to the current season of Design Star?

If you have ever designed in New York it’s really tough.  The logistics of having stuff arrive on time is difficult.  It’s a big busteling city.  The designers virtually have the entire city to source from.  Logistically it really puts an extra weight into the challenges and getting things done.  On one of the challenges they couldn’t deliver everything due to a parade of elephants that had to go past Madison Square Garden.  The logistical challenges are tremendous!

With so many changes to the structure of the show this season, what would you like to see more of?

I love to see an individual doing their design work without extraneous factors.  I love the solo challenges, but do to the nature of the show every challenge can’t be individual.  If it were up to me we would have more individual challenges that focus on the vision of the designer. 

HGTV Design Star: Alex Sanchez & Judges

Can you give us the inside scoop on what the judging process is like?
Vern, Genevieve and I are three totally different people from totally different backgrounds. This year has been tough for the judges, because all three of us approach things very differently.  In the green room when discussing why someone should go, we duke it out behind the scenes.  I’ve been at the network longer than anyone, and my focus is on bringing great design to the network for the architecture and interior design community.  But you also have to have the personality and host side that the other judges are championing. 

What can we expect to see next from Candice Olson?
I’ve had eight seasons of Divine Design.  I’m lucky enough to have had two children in that period as well.  I’m working on a new show that will launch this January – Candice Tells All.  The show is as if somebody got inside my head.  We will deliver a full 26 episodes, featuring real work with real clients.  You are going to be able to see a whole other side of Candice.  While Divine Design is all so perfect Candice Tells All will go behind the magic and show the design process.

Candice Olson Portfolio

Candice thank you so much for joining us on Style Talk.  We’re all on the edge of our seats to see who wins this season of HGTV Design Star.  And I cannot wait to check out your new show.  I’ll be the first to tune in January 2011 to Candice Tells All.

 {Images: Candice Olson portfolio on HGTV}

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *