Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Style: A Few Minutes With...Danielle Colding, 2012 Winner of HGTV's Design Star!

I recently had the fantastic opportunity to ask New Yorker Danielle Colding some of my burning questions about her bargain hunting & apartment decorating experiences in the Big Apple

Danielle with "Design Star" hosts:
Vern Yip, Genevieve Gorder, & David Bromstad
This year Danielle cemented herself into design stardom by winning HGTV Design Star, Season 7. If you haven't seen it - think the Project Runway of interior design
Although the show ended in July, Danielle is now hosting her very own show on HGTV called "Shop This Room". The show focuses on "creating highly personal spaces for clients around a single inspirational object", something that speaks to them. In addition to her TV stardom, Danielle owns her own company, Danielle Colding Designs, and is a fabulous alumna of my alma mater (yay Stanford University!) where she received a BA in Anthropology.

HauteontheSpot: When did you first decide to become a designer? What inspired you?
In her element: shopping a showroom!
Danielle Colding: I first decided to become a designer after my career as a modern dancer came to a close. I was working seven days a week in order to fuel my dance career and after four years of this rigorous schedule I was spent. At that point, I decided that I was ready for a different career but I wasn’t willing to give up being an artist in some way. As I contemplated my next move, I reflected on all of the things I was naturally good at — problem solving, working with people- and all the things I love to do- I had always had an eye for things design related and loved shopping. And since I'm not a nine to fiver, I knew it had to be something I was passionate about. I came up with interior design as the perfect blend of my talents and my passion and have never looked back. 

HotS: You have a great ability to understand what others want rather than focusing your designs on your own personal style. What project was your biggest challenge?
DC: The toughest project I have faced is one where I was not able to finish executing my vision. That is the most frustrating part for a designer. On one project, I was only able to get to about 60% of the scope completed. The best spaces are the ones that are layered and that evolve over time- with this project I was only able to get in the big, foundation pieces. It is a real challenge when a client doesn't appreciate the process and the time it takes to have a fully completed space. 

HotS: From the show, I know that you love vintage shops. What's been the best bargain you've found? What do you think are the best finds in vintage shops?
LA artist's home designed by Danielle
DC: I do love vintage shops!!! I love finding pieces with history and detail and wear just makes them more beautiful. Knowing that a piece has had a past and has been lived on or lived through just makes that piece more compelling. The other part and I don’t think it is debatable is that the craftsmanship is better because most things made then were done by hand literally crafted by artisans. Now everything is machine made and the focus is really on getting items made as quickly and as cheaply as possible. One of my favorite finds was a charcoal drawing of a blues singer playing a harmonica. It was just beautiful. It was an original piece that was bursting with detail and it was a steal at $20! There is absolutely nothing comparable to finding a great deal! When vintage shopping, I am usually most successful with chairs- vintage chairs usually have such great lines and silhouettes. And once you have a great piece with good bones it’s super easy to clean it up and reupholster as needed. 

HotS: A common theme on Design Star is helping clients create better storage solutions for their space. What are your tips for cramped New York apartments?
A Harlem apt. designed by Danielle
DC: New York apartments are notoriously small so no piece can have a single use. I always suggest to clients to use furniture that is multi-functional, so a desk that can also be a dining table or dressers that can be used as night tables. For tight spaces you want to use every square inch. Everything must serve a purpose and in NYC where space is at a premium you have to get very creative.

HotS: Your new show focuses on the shopping aspect of design and finding items that really speak to you. What are your favorite places to shop for budget-friendly and unique home decor in New York City?
Vintage chair from Housing Works
DC: I love Housing Works. Not only do they have great things but its for a great cause. I also love the parking garage flea market in Chelsea because the inventory is always changing and the range is anywhere from valuable vintage to junky stuff and you can always haggle prices. Not to mention they have everything from world art to lighting. For big box stores, I’m a West Elm girl hands down. Their collaborations with artists have taken them to another level.

Tune into "Shop This Room" - 
Tuesdays @ 8:30pm EST on HGTV!

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