Hilari Younger of HGTV Design Star

Hilari Younger, HGTV Design Star

A few weeks I had an absolute treat.  I was able to get on the phone with one of my favorite HGTV Design Star contestants, Hilari Younger of Ufunkshen.  The two of us spoke for over an hour, in one of the most fun Style Talk interviews I have ever done.  Hilari has a genuine spirit, and a passion for design and fashion that shines through instantly.  She was an amazing contestant this season, creating stunning rooms full of color, pattern, and beautiful styling.  She made it into the final three (though many, including me, feel that she should have made it all the way to the end), and even though she may not be crowned the winner of Season 7, it is easy to see that Hilari is a star in the making.  I am happy to bring you inside the conversation I had with Hilari as we discussed everything from how she married her two passions – fashion and interior design, to what the experience was like being on the most diverse season of HGTV Design Star, and how she is helping moms get fabulous style back in their homes. 

Hilari Younger, HGTV Design Star

How did you transition from fashion to interior design?
That is the longest short story ever.  I thank God for family and friends. One of my best friends and former roommate is an architect. He’s African-American, an MIT graduate, and ten years my senior. He told me about a position with Archstone-Smith, one of the largest restate developers in the nation. It was a design position, and I would be doing installations. He put it like this, “Look at our apartment, the structure is all me, but the beauty is all you.” And told me if I wanted the job it was mine. You have no idea the fashion fanatic that I was at the time and that I currently am. I took the job and had no idea I could love something so much. It’s like loving that first child, and then having the second child and loving them just as much. That’s how I felt about interior design. I loved it, and it was in line with everything I’d been doing in fashion – color theory, textiles.  Discovering interior design also brought me balance. After transitioning into interior design I met my husband, and had a baby. All of these things were happening, and I asked myself, “Am I doing the right thing by transitioning?”.  When I step back, I can see that it was all by design, and that everything happens for a reason.

Hilari Younger, HGTV Design Star
How has your background in fashion influenced your interior design work?
With my fashion background, I bring something to the table that a lot of designers are not able to do. My color and form experience all come from dressing the body. I look at a room like styling a person. A room is naked. You put the underwear on first. The basics – architecutre, flooring, paint. The clothes are the furniture. The accessories are the earrings and necklace. That’s how I conceptualize the spaces I design. Aesthetics are important to me, and I believe that both your home and the way you dress should look incredible. I can’t go out and look amazing and walk into my house and it looks lackluster. I am about the total package.

Hilari Younger, HGTV Design Star

You have a talent for bringing color and pattern together in a room.  How do you balance the two when working with clients?
People fear the unknown.  A lot of clients are reluctant to bring in color and pattern.  You have to introduce them to it and walk them through it. With pattern in particular, I like to gradually introduce things.  It’s really about layering with me.  I usually start with a smaller pattern, something lighter and build from there.  And a pop of color just brings everything alive.  I love neutrals as well.  I like to approach a room, like I do my makeup.  I don’t wear bold colors on my face, and I’m not going to come into your home and paint the walls bright yellow.  I like to layer in color through my clothing, and in a room I like to start with a netural palette and build the colors in the space.

Hilari Younger, HGTV Design Star
This season of HGTV has been the most diverse yet with three African-Americans in the final four.  What is the significance of seeing African-American designers on national TV?
I think it’s important for our community to branch out and recognize that we live in a society where the opportunities are not limited. We need to look at who designs the furniture, who comes up with different products for walls, who does the installations and have exposure to different careers than the typical teacher, doctor, lawyer, fireman, nurse.  What if you don’t fit into to that?  What if you have a kid who digs in the dirt?  Maybe he wants to be an archaeologist.  We have to start asking people who don’t fit into the traditional boxes, what is your passion? what do you love? what makes you tick? and grow and develop that.  I look at my daughter, she’s so artistic, and she’s been writing songs since she was two, basically from the time she could talk.  It’s important to me for her to be happy, fulfilled, and passionate.  

Hilari Younger, HGTV Design Star
How has the HGTV Design Star experience been?  Can you walk us through a-day-in-the-life of being a contestant?
What you see on the show is just a fraction of a second of what actually happens. We have wranglers that come in and wake us up at 5am the first day of each challenge.  You do your own hair and makeup.  You get dressed, ready to go, sound comes up and mics you, and they get you ready for the day so that they can hear you no matter where we are.  We have mornings when the camera comes in and they’re watching us get dressed. The day starts around 6:30 or 7am.  Maybe you grab breakfast,  sometimes you don’t even have time.  We head out, and they read the rules to us before the challenge begins.  You start the design project, and when they say go they need your paint color right away.  Those colors you see us choosing, we dot that in 5 minutes.  In the first 30 minutes you speak with your carpenter about the build outs. Then you get out to LA to shop.  You have designated stores that you can shop at because they have to clear the stores before the cameras come in. You go to bed around midnight, and have so much anxiety because you don’t know what’s going to happen the next day.  Evaluation happens on a separate day, and you stand in evaluation for four hours.  Much longer than what you see on the show.  It was challenging, fun, and the experience of a lifetime.  Would I do it again?  I already did it, and I’m up for doing anything once.

Hilari Younger, HGTV Design Star

About the evaluations.  I have to tell you, you had the cutest outfits!  I also noticed some coordination going on between you and the other contestants.  Were you the resident fashion stylist?
I was the stylist in the house.  During evaluations, if you watch Episode 4 when I won the challenge, I basically styled everyone.  Everyone came to me to help them figure out their style.  I have always wondered why people look bad during evaluation.  This is a job interview!  You are presenting yourself to be the host of a TV show.

Hilari Younger, HGTV Design Star
I was so sad to see you leave Design Star last week.  I truly believe you should have been in the final two.  What next on the horizon for you?
I am working on a line of home accessories.  I have some of the most amazing pillow samples in front of me.  The look is opulent, old-world, rich, luxurious and affordable.  I took inspiration from things I love like Chanel.  I want everyone to have a little bit of oppulence in their life.  It’s time to get the velvets, silks and luxe back into the home.  I’m looking to launch the collection in Fall 2012.

I have also been involved in a summer program where I present interior design workshops at summer camps in Dallas teaching kids age 6-12 how to floor plan, storyboard, and work with color.  I am also a mom and have a group of women that I meet with often.  They recently asked me to do a workshop for them.  A lot times when women have children they never resurface as themselves again. I let moms know that it’s going to take some time to get back to 100%, but I don’t ever want them to lose who they are. We discuss issues like letting their children’s toys take over their space.  If i walk into your home I don’t want to see toys all over the floor.  Those toys need to stay in a play space.  If you get comfortable and accustomed in living with so much of that type of stuff, you are never able to get your fabulous back.  I help moms to set some boundaries, and help them reach their fly quotient! 

Finally, I am still designing for clients, and I am not done with television at all!

Hilari, thank you so much for participating in Style Talk.  We are certainly looking forward to seeing you back on TV and designing amazing rooms.  For those who want to keep up with this design star, you can follow her on Facebook and Twitter @ufunkshen.  

{Image furnished by Hiliari Younger and HGTV.com}

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.