An Interview With a Design Star?

For fans of Design Star, the name Emily Henderson  no doubt rings a bell. She's the quirky and refreshing professional set stylist who not only has managed to make it to the top three, but who might just come out of this with a show of her own...and one I think I'd actually watch. I was thrilled the first time she visited my blog and left a comment and since then have been happy to see her back nearly every week. Her blog, The Brass Petal, is one I check every few days and it's just darn enjoyable. I'm really happy to present this interview with Emily and I encourage everyone to tune in this Sunday night to watch as the final three finally...FINALLY...get to work in an individual challenge. Gooooo, Emily!

We were introduced to you on the HGTV show, Design Star, but can you give us a bit of background on who you were up until you joined the show? Are you a professional designer, an architect or simply a design enthusiast and what kind of education do you have in your field? 
 I grew up doing 4-H.  yep.  not the lamb-scramble-milk-your-own-cow type of 4-h, but the recover-lampshades-and-sew-clothes-and-pillows 4-h.  I guess it kinda gave me my DIY start and my introduction into all things pretty.  After graduating college and having stints as bartender, piano teacher and dog-walker in New York I became a prop stylist assistant.  I worked for one of the best stylist out there and with some of the most world-renowned interiors and still life photographers for four years. Then i started my own business as a prop stylist - designing sets for magazines, catalogues and print ads.  And I love it.  

Where did you grow up and where has life taken you so far? When did you know you wanted to work in the interior design industry?

 I grew up in Coos Bay Oregon, a small beach town.  My family moved to Portland when I was 15.  I spent my 20's in New York and now i'm in Los Angeles.   I always knew that I liked shopping (hello) and knew that i liked being around beautiful things.  When I worked at Jonathan Adler i met all these stylist that would come in to rent things for shoots, and after finding out that their job consists of shopping, making flower arrangements, crafting, i was like, 'ok, yes i'll do that please.'  I didn't know that I wanted to do interiors until Design Star - i was happy doing sets and more temporary spaces, but lo and behold this whole 'interior design' thing is way fun.  

Tell us who and or what you are influenced by. Is it the high profile designers or have you found influence in your own surroundings? Are there particular magazines that you look forward to perusing each month? 

 I was obsessed with Domino and Gourmet, sad to say they are both dead and gone.  I don't follow designers as much as stylists.  I love Cindy DiPrima (my old boss), Robyn Glaser and Christine Rudolph's work very much.  I virtually stalk them and can't get enough of their work.  But nothing inspires me like the flea market - the absolute mix of styles and the never-ending possibilities keep me salivating, stylistically.

What concerns did you have about joining the show? What information were you given before hand? For example, were you told what paint company you'd be using, what stores you'd be shopping and/or what power tools would be available to you? Were you able to take personal journals/look books/or other inspiration notes with you?  

My main concern was that i would get out first and I had given up two huge clients to come so that woulda sucked.  We were told NOTHING about ANYTHING, which was hard but also really kept up the whole excitement of it all.  Not knowing what would happen constantly creates a huge adrenaline rush, and it become kinda addicting. No books or journals.  My main worry is that as a stylist i mix a ton of styles and I knew that our resources wouldn't allow that, so I was worried (and i had right to) that it would be hard to mix my vintage styles without vintage shopping. Although, spoiler alert - this Sunday I shop at one of my favorite vintage stores in New York. 

So, the first episode is shot...was the challenge and filming what you anticipated? How long do you have for each challenge and how long before the next one begins? On a scale of one to ten, what would you say your stress level is during the challenges?
 Um, the first challenge was insane.  I knew i was blowing it.  just knew it.  On a scale of one to ten of stress levels I would say i was at a 9.  Going into elimination, i was like, just send me home, I'm not cut out for this.  For the first challenge we had 5 hours, but for the rest of them we have 2 days.  It's not a lot of time, and filming and production eat up a lot of it.  But the time constraints weren't as hard for me as the variety of store constraints.  

How has the feedback concerning the episodes so far affected you and has it been positive or negative in general? Do you feel like we've seen an accurate representation of who you are and your work? If not, how are you different?  
 In my opinion, it has been an accurate portrayal, just not enough.  i'm sillier and snarkier and have a lot of fun and that isn't shown, yet.   The feedback has been mixed - readers of my blog support me hard core, but I think the rest of America is still waiting to see what I can do.  Hopefully this sunday I give them a better idea in the individual challenge.  That's right, you heard me (er, read me) INDIVIDUAL CHALLENGE!!

Do you think group challenges allow for individual designers to shine? Has this experience changed how you work within a group setting?  
Working as a team in a creative competition is nothing short of really really really really really hard. If you don't want to make murals and if you don't know how to build furniture quickly then it is really really hard to stand out.  I think i didn't really grasp that concept until it was too late, and I wish I could go back to the second challenge and force some of my ideas, because they were good, I was just trying too hard to be democratic. 

If you were the one selected as the winner of this season, what kind of show could we look forward to on HGTV? What would be your concept? Is hosting a tv show scary to you or exciting? 
Ooh, i like this question.  I would have a style show, still a design show, but more figuring out what your personal style is and how to infuse that into your room.  Most people's houses don't look like themselves, they shop not really knowing what style they are - they go to a big box store and get everything in one fell swoop.  I have a few helpful theories, i think.  And hosting a show would be totally scary, but undeniably exciting at the same time.  Like  6 flags.  

How can people contact you if they're interested in working with you?

 Check my blog ( <> ) and leave a comment.  As a blogger, I'm sure you know, we LIVE for comments.  It makes us feel like we aren't just doing it for no reason.  That someone is reading and enjoying.  Or maybe just reading, who knows.  

Thanks so much for taking the time to let us get to know you better, Emily! Wishing you luck (in hindsight) and hoping you take the crown! Have a great weekend, everyone!


bifty489 said...

Great interview! Love Emily and can't wait to see what she does with the next challenge. Finally individual challenges!!

Carrie DeVine said...

Emily rocked it tonight on the show!!! I absolutely loved her room and would love to watch her show! And I am with her...totally miss the mag, Domino!

A.Clark said...

Emily is a designer that is definitley worth watching on HGTV. I am not easily impressed with "television design", but she rocked it last night!

Cassi said...

Excellent interview w/ Emily for sure! I just found your blog on her blog, actually, because I saw you referenced one of my comments. ;) Your blog is one I will be checking in on frequently. Thanks for sharing!

Jen of All Trades said...

So glad to have you all here sharing my excitement for this show and Emily in particular. So fresh and unique, isn't she?! Can't wait til the finale!

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