Design TV show The Apartment: Rising Stars Edition‘s judge and design superstar Genevieve Gorder is looking for the next great designer. What makes a space work and what doesn’t?
GIST: When you walk into a room, what do you find as an eyesore or as a turnoff?
GENEVIEVE GORDER: Things that bother me when I walk into a space: things that are too lined up. They’re too symmetrical. I’ve got one over here and I’ve got to put another over here. When it becomes too symmetrical, I feel tense. I feel the tension. When I’m coming into someone’s home, I don’t wanna see a catalog. I wanna see their life, tangible. Another big issue is really bright, bad light because nobody looks attractive in it. If I can see that you’re trying, then I’m uncomfortable. It’s like when you don an outfit and everything is matching. It’s not right. It’s about complement and balance. I’m not gonna match my shoes to my socks, to my shirt, to my belt, cause some things get weird and uncomfortable.
Some homes have all of their furniture facing the television, like a sitcom set. And that’s actually still happening here in the Philippines. What are your thoughts on this?
[Laughs] Yeah, it’s definitely still an issue all over the world! I remember that here in the States as being more of an issue like 10 years ago, especially when televisions took up much more space. Remember when televisions were huge like in size? And they took up half the room. That was a bigger problem. I would say you design your house for what you want to happen there. If you want people to come over and watch TV all the time, then that’s the design you should have if that’s what gives you joy. If you want to have the option of doing many different things, then don’t center the room on the television. When the room is centered on the television, then there’s nowhere else to look. So naturally you’re being guided to watch more TV, and more TV, and more TV. So I would place the TV on a wall that isn’t the prominent wall in the room. That way, you give options for how to interact with people like maybe you have your friend over or just wanna have a glass of wine or you know, and you don’t want to watch television. You need to make sure that the room, the space is multi-functional. So if not, it’s just a bunch of seats around the TV. Create different seating areas. And then, you take the power of the television away once you start shifting where the seats are positioned.
When I’m coming into someone’s home, I don’t wanna see a catalog. I wanna see their life, tangible. Another big issue is really bright, bad light because nobody looks attractive in it
As a female judge in The Apartment, what does your perspective bring to the show and judging the participants?
It’s a big one, you know. The female voice is big in the home. We make 80 to 90 percent of all the home decisions all over the world. So it’s a very powerful voice and I come from a really big country with a lot of design television shows that I’ve been doing for a long time. However, I don’t think that my voice should be loudest. I am with two incredible designers that I’ve worked with many different times in many different countries and I wouldn’t have come to do a show anywhere like this if it were away from home unless, the judges were dynamite.
Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and Jamie Durie and I are peers and that means you’re walking into a situation where you don’t have to do all of the lifting, and that feels really good. Once you get to the level when you’re all together in that summit of the mountain and you can just say, “Okay. We’re all here together and we climbed the mountain, and now what are we gonna do? That’s powerful.” We all like to make fun of each other a lot being from all the different countries that we’re from. We all do these really weird jobs only, I would say, less than a hundred people on the planet do for a living. So to be able to work together — because we’re so often alone — is so much fun. I love working with these two guys more than probably anyone else. I have to say it was such a joy.
You take the power of the television away once you start shifting where the seats are positioned.
In your experience, how big is the difference between designer for women and designing for men?
Designing for anyone is always a very personal thing. Who they are, where they’re from, and how they like to live and how they operate every day. But when it comes to the male/female aesthetics, I think often the biggest difference is the approach with men. In many parts of the world, in majority of the world, men aren’t taught from an early age to really have a voice when it comes to design. They’re not taught the things that women are schooled in naturally from the women in their family. Also I think there is an unfair expectation of women that they should all naturally be designers. That’s why they should all know how to cook. Right? And have baby — no way! We all have very different minds. She could be a scientist and not have the least bit of concern for design. So my approach to men and women are different, and the language that I use is judging from how comfortable they are with it.
Also I think there is an unfair expectation of women that they should all naturally be designers. That’s why they should all know how to cook. Right? And have baby — no way! We all have very different minds. She could be a scientist and not have the least bit of concern for design.
But when it comes to men, I think generally — very general — they want a sense of earthiness. It’s like a strength in earthiness that sometimes comes in darker colors, that sometimes comes in harder textures. But what I do for men — I won’t tell them I’m doing it — is always gonna balance the feminine with the masculine cause otherwise the room doesn’t work. We all need the dark with the light. We need the shining with the matte. We need the fat with the skinny. We need the male with the female. So it’s not enough that, for the men, we’re gonna make a masculine room. I’d bring in just as much feminine as I would in a female room and tell a different story.
It’s just a different language. But it’s also the training during the process, it’s psychology. How color affects us, and how space affects us, how light affects us as human beings. Well, culturally, you know, men are thought to have a louder voice. So I give them permission and I listen harder to men often because their voice is quieter.
I’m looking for someone who doesn’t have a lot of fear. When you design with fear, nothing is ever fully realized.
What do you look for as a judge in The Apartment?
I’m looking for someone who doesn’t have a lot of fear. When you design with fear, nothing is ever fully realized and I feel the tension in that. And so often when people get on TV, they get very nervous and they start designing with too much thought and not with the heart. That makes sense? You know, it’s an art form. Yeah, it’s an art form just like any other, it’s like cooking as well. If we start to turn off our heads and we start to live with our hearts, that’s when design gets really beautiful. And I look for that in everybody and if they’re capable of that cause many people are not. Then, I’m really looking for great storytellers who can communicate a beautiful story of what a room is supposed to be about through objects. Where is the soul of the room? Where do you want me to sit and what do you want me to do? Show me that through your composition and through what you placed there. It’s just like writing a song. Show me how to feel. Show me what to do. As a judge who’ve done these many times in many different countries, you’d still never know who’s gonna win. You’ll never know. You’re always deprived.
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The Apartment: Rising Stars Edition airs every Thursday, 7:55 p.m., on Sony Channel.