HGTV “Design Star” competitor Danielle Colding didn’t waste any time after winning the competition series. She already has a new show in the works and spoke to HitFix about her time on the show, why African Americans are underrepresented in design television and what her toughest challenge was.
Did you think you had a good shot at winning, or did it come as a surprise?
I went onto “Design Star” feeling secure in my talents as a designer and knowing that I had a chance to win. I probably wouldn’t have even tried out without some sense that I could be successful. What I wasn’t so sure about was designing under such extreme conditions — the tight time constraints and camera challenges definitely had me spooked. Once I got on the show, I didn’t focus much on winning. I was competing with very talented designers and knew that any slip-up could have me going home. So, I concentrated on the day to day task at hand. The big picture was way too much to grasp at the time. When my name was called I was surprised- up until that moment I hadn’t really prepared myself for winning. It was a truly amazing moment!
What was your toughest challenge on the show?
Without a doubt my toughest challenge was time management. As a designer in the real world, I am used to having time to reflect on my decisions and to triple check that I am making the right one. On the show, there wasn’t time for all that. The silver lining was that as the show progressed I learned to trust in my gut more and more.
What can we expect from your new show? Details, details!
“Shop This Room” is a show that focuses on my approach to designing a space. On the show, I use an inspirational item — honing in on something very personal to the home owner — and design a room around it. The inspirational item can be something I find in the home itself or something that I shop for. The key is that it speaks to who the home owners are and what they want their home to reflect. The other great component of the show is the shopping aspect. I give the viewers a behind-the-scenes look at what it is like to be an interior designer in NYC highlighting all of my favorite shops, and the craftsmen and artists that I work with in my own business.
There aren’t a lot of African American women in the design space on TV. Why do you think that is? How does it affect what you want to do with your own show?
Although there aren’t a lot of African American women featured on design television, there are many of us participating in the larger design community in various ways. For me, the problem stems from the lack of representation of the complexity of the black community in mainstream media. African American women are often portrayed in a very one dimensional way and if we don’t fit into that box there is confusion about how to make us accessible. However, we are out there breaking molds and doing amazing things in the world of design. I am so thrilled to have a show where my experience will be shown, where the diversity that exists in the black community will be highlighted. Mine is not just a story of an African American woman, it’s a story of the American experience.
How important was it for you to have gone through the “Design Star” process before getting your own show? What was the most important thing that you learned?
My time on “Design Star” taught me so much. I couldn’t imagine doing my own show without that experience. It taught me so many lessons about myself and what I want to consciously contribute in the world of television. Personally, it taught me to be myself in front of the camera — to be comfortable exposing all of those little quirky things that make up who I am. The other lesson really centered around how I design. I was forced to let go of being such a perfectionist. The TV world requires an ability to let go and not be so attached to one particular outcome. Things change all the time and you have to be ready to roll with the punches. And I am a better designer for it.
Is there any celebrity you’d like to design for?
I would love love love to design for Jay-Z and Beyonce. I feel like they have a love of art and beautiful things that I could tap into. And of course a bit of tasteful bling would have to make its way into my design. And Oprah… I think I could take her love of traditional interiors and bring something new to the table while still keeping it elegant. Just say the word!!!
How different is what we see on television than an actual design job?
Designing on TV is different than a standard design job in many ways. Designing for TV requires using greater contrast and big bold moves that show up on camera. All the little details I tend to get caught up in disappear in front of the lens. You lose a lot of the subtly of a design so its important to make sure that you have big moments that count in a space.