Kayla Kitts

Contributor to HGTVersus

Aug 31

Ask The Producer: Episode 8

HGTV Design Star Final Four

The final four designers with producer Loren Ruch.

Each week, we ask Design Star producer Loren Ruch your most-asked questions from the show. This time, he tells us how long it takes to shoot the full season of Design Star. Plus, what were the best moments backstage at The Nate Berkus Show?

What happened to the decorated apartments after the designers finished with them?
Since these apartments didn’t belong to actual homeowners we returned all of the purchased items when the episode was finished. Of course, our producers alerted all of the stores in advance so they knew to expect them back. Some of the items that couldn’t be returned were donated or offered to residents in the building.

How long does the entire season usually take to film?
The entire season takes place over a 35-day period in early spring where we shoot back-to-back days, seven days a week. It’s a pretty intense schedule, but it’s incredibly fun — almost like summer camp, because we’re all in it together…from the designers to the design panel to Tanika and David! We only take four days off in the entire cycle, one of which is Easter Sunday.

What was it like for the designers to be on set at The Nate Berkus Show? Were there any fun moments that we missed during the show?
I think that The Nate Berkus Show was both the most fun and scariest challenge for our designers in the entire season! They were INCREDIBLY pumped about doing Nate’s show, but they also realized at that moment just how important the ‘camera challenges’ are – literally on par with the design challenges, because we’re looking for an overall Design Star. There were two fun behind-the-scenes moments: 1.) When all of the final four got to have their hair & makeup done. They felt like celebrities. You need to remember that they feel dirty, grimy, and sweaty for most of the series, so it was fun to be pampered! 2.) Meeting Nate on the set! He gave the designers a pep-talk moments before the show that really empowered them.

What was your favorite design element this week?
I have two favorite elements this week. I thought that Karl’s bookshelf was a ‘novel’ idea (pun intended!), and I also loved Meg’s wall treatment – the striped panels were quite beautiful and rich looking in person.

What do you want to ask Loren? Tell us your questions about Design Star in the comments below — he may just answer you next week!

Posted at 3:17 pm

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  1. Could we get a little more information about how to create the "book" shelves that Karl designed? I've got some old books that need to be re-used, and would like to try this. Thanks!

    cherjohn on August 31, 2011 at 12:12 pm
  2. No one did anything to fix those awful excuses for kitchens in those apartments. What was up with that?

    erikcreature on August 31, 2011 at 12:29 pm
    • Oy vey!

      Mark G on August 31, 2011 at 12:50 pm
    • It was a living room challenge. Kitchen was not part of it. Yes, it was attached but with their budget and time constraints, it would not have been a good use of time to address space that is not required in the challenge. They barely made it as is.

      guest on August 31, 2011 at 1:10 pm
      • They said it was a small apartment challenge.

        erikcreature on August 31, 2011 at 1:22 pm
        • …and you will be designing for their living space…hello.

          guest on August 31, 2011 at 1:55 pm
          • My kitchen is a major part of my living space. I spend a major part of my day there.

            erikcreature on August 31, 2011 at 2:00 pm
          • Good for you :) Maybe the designers can come over and make over your space then. Just make sure to give them enough time and money. I'm sure they will be happy to design for you.

            guest on August 31, 2011 at 2:56 pm
          • You have to forgive the creature, he believes he is a highly sought after interior designer, who is in the perfect body. – LOL

            Mark G on August 31, 2011 at 2:43 pm
          • Unlike you, fatso.

            erikcreature on August 31, 2011 at 2:46 pm
          • LOL, what are you about 10?

            Mark G on August 31, 2011 at 2:54 pm
          • LOL! The creature…haha

            guest on August 31, 2011 at 2:57 pm
        • Tanika says for their main room.

          haley on August 31, 2011 at 2:14 pm
          • It was one room. If that was the instruction, then they were to "design" half a room. A really stupid challenge.

            erikcreature on September 4, 2011 at 10:49 am
  3. Mark's room (without wall) was by far the most sophisticated and appealing. Very much did NOT like Meg's room – note that Candice said yellow strips looked good in person??!!! Not a restful room at all.

    Kellie missed it entirely and Karls' was just OK.

    Dee on August 31, 2011 at 1:33 pm
    • Yes, the producer said the same thing. Looks good in person but this is a TV show. We won't be seeing the rooms in person.

      lisa on August 31, 2011 at 2:15 pm
    • I thought Mark had the nicest furniture…I wonder how it was decided who got which space.

      Mark G on August 31, 2011 at 3:09 pm
      • They actually just drew the apartment numbers off camera…so it was competely random…we tried to keep it as fair as possible :)

        lorenruch on August 31, 2011 at 4:21 pm
        • Oh OK, thanks!…Well personally speaking I like the show better this year than last…Even the contestants seem a lot more likable than last years, well except for 1…She should have been in last years back stabbing, bickering and better than thou group.

          Mark G on August 31, 2011 at 5:12 pm
  4. Most of the time on Design Star, the end products look rushed, and they are often incomplete. (Karl's master bedroom at the HGTV'd house is a notable exception.) I would LOVE to see a challenge in which the designers were truly allowed ample time to maximize their fullest creative potentials and also allowed more resources for decor and supplies than they appear to have. Would you ever consider doing this on the show?

    argyle on August 31, 2011 at 1:55 pm
    • We will consider it for sure…I'm starting to lay out next year's show…and it seems like a lot of people would rather watch 'great design' rather than 'competition' so I'm trying to figure out the best way to do it…but I totally appreciate the suggestions! A lot of our viewers are really tough on the show (and me), but I really don't mind, because my goal is to create the show that you all want to watch.

      lorenruch on August 31, 2011 at 4:18 pm
      • I understand that in real life, these designers probably don't have a lot of time either, but it seems to me that having the contestants rush around all the time and having unreasonable time constraints (like who plans a wedding reception in 2 days? Maybe one….) is setting them all up for failure. I agree, having them have time to be thoughtful would be a huge improvement. I don't think "Speed Designing" is an olympic sport yet. Love the show overall!

        Deb on August 31, 2011 at 4:45 pm
      • Thank you for your response, Loren. I believe even those here who fling the worst criticisms at you and the contestants still love the show. We all keep watching. :)

        argyle on August 31, 2011 at 7:42 pm
    • Lack of sufficient time makes the show look like a cooking contest. It isn't informative or representative of each designer's skill. Short challenges are interesting but not when the project and time are so out of sync.

      Francesca on August 31, 2011 at 7:16 pm
  5. I agree. Show could definitely use a change in format, Loren.
    I've seen some posts that sound interesting. Hope you get to read it and incorporate ones that you think could really work better than it is now.

    HGTVfan on August 31, 2011 at 3:00 pm
    • Believe me…I read them. I have a bit of a stomach ache sometimes because we really are trying to find the perfect mix of good design and a fun 'game' element…but I always love to hear what everyone says…and I do pay close attention. We tried to make a lot of changes from last year to this year :)

      lorenruch on August 31, 2011 at 4:19 pm
  6. 2-3 day challenges are difficult and draining. From the footage, it seems like that last hour the designers are scrambling to clear out the clutter and style their rooms. It's absolute chaos. I think one additional hour, the day after the challenge has ended, would be ideal for the designers to be able to come in and set up the rooms.

    Brenda on August 31, 2011 at 3:10 pm
    • This is a GREAT suggestion! Each year we tell the designers off-camera to 'make sure and allow enough time for styling' and every single time they end up getting bogged down on their projects and forget…maybe a 'forced styling time' where they absolutely need to do that would help the finished rooms look even prettier. Love that suggestion, Brenda.

      lorenruch on August 31, 2011 at 4:20 pm
  7. I would like to see the designers get "credit" or "points" for helping out their teammates in the joint projects. Seems to me that some of the stress comes from just "looking out for Number One" rather than being a good team player. I'm sure that in real life at HGTV, being a good team player and working well with others is needful. I would like to see the panel take this into account in their evaluations.

    Deb on August 31, 2011 at 4:51 pm
    • Well look at last year, a guy went through to the next round after putting a nail through his hand…I still think that was wrong considering he was not there to fulfill his obligation, and really did nothing to contribute to the rooms outcome…Then there was poor Dan who was always doing all the carpentry work, neglecting his own contribution to the room…Everything about last years show almost stopped me from watching Design Star this year.

      I also have to ask a question, do all these judges honestly believe that you're at a disadvantage when a team has an extra person?…The reason I'm asking is because I heard Vern say something about them having three designers, and it looked like one, and I thought I would rather have the extra person to be able to spread the work load out, than not…That's why I really don't like when they have to do these team challenges, because you never really know who did what…So I for one like the individual challenges better.

      Mark G on August 31, 2011 at 5:31 pm
      • I definitely agree with you on the team vs individual work. I think it's good to have them work with others some, but I also think they can't have everyone do it alone. It would cost too much and take too much time to review.

        Deb on August 31, 2011 at 5:34 pm
    • I agree totally!!! No props are given for helping out others. Candice gave a shout out to Meg for helping Cathy in the reception challenge for placing flowers at her sweetheart table and yet nobody noticed or said a thing to Karl who literally had to beg for some kind of recognition for executing an idea that got lots of praise that was heralded on Kellie and Meg……and who helped Kevin put the bar together and groom's lounge while Mark was busy and self involved in making a skateboard structure (good or not)…Karl again. I gives an overall feeling of unfairness to the show not to give credit where credit is due during group or partner challenges.

      Rosebud2005 on September 1, 2011 at 5:58 pm
      • Yeah I agree. The fastest and most skillful person on the show is Karl.
        He seems to just get things done. Even when he doensn't get any recognition for it at the end.
        I hate this show for how they minimize the talent of Karl. He is so good.- not just for his creativity but you can tell his absolute love of design. Why else would he just 'help out' what other people can't finish on their own?

        Lianne on September 3, 2011 at 2:02 pm
  8. Still don't have power because of the hurricane. Can someone let me know who was eliminated in the 8/29 show.

    barbara on August 31, 2011 at 6:42 pm
  9. QUESTION: Why do the judges know who designed each room in advance of judging? Having the host introduce each room with the designer's name introduces bias. It would be more interesting and focus only on the design if they didn't know until after they scored the designs. Then, elements like progress week-to-week in design presentation and team work vs. antagonism would be a secondary factor (important but still secondary to the quality and originality of the design.)

    Francesca on August 31, 2011 at 7:10 pm
    • I agree that the judges should spend some time in the room before knowing whose room it is so their first impression and comments are not influenced by previous opinions. However, there needs to be an evaluation of whether the designer has a point of view consistently coming through that could develop into the basis for their own show, so I think the judges should know part way through their room evaluation.

      Lisa on September 1, 2011 at 6:12 am
    • I agree that the designer's identity, should remain anonymous to the judges. Everyone has their own style and signature look, why not give the judges a bit of a challenge by guessing who designed what? Having the judges guess, would be entertaining, interesting, and would lighten the mood during the elimination round.

      Donna on September 1, 2011 at 10:09 am
    • Maybe they shouldn't even be told, and just judge on what they see, and then that way the elimination will solely be based on the ability to design a nice interior.

      Mark G on September 1, 2011 at 2:02 pm
  10. The dynamics of human behavior is very complex and placing a group of total strangers in the same living environment for a period of time breeds strong personality clash. The Design Star contestants have to share all living quarters (bathroom especially) while in competition. Has there ever been any serious incident or problem in which the staff from Design Star needed to intervene or referee? On film they seem to get along most of the time when in competition but sometimes while in the Judges Waiting Room tempers flare up. Conversely, it would be wonderful if Paula Deen was hired as a permanent Judge. (4 judges) I think she is the perfect person to add a much needed comic relief to an otherwise tense moment.
    p.s. I suspect the next challenge will be either a child’s playhouse or a miniature doll house. If not, it would not be a bad idea as a design challenge.

    marilyn on August 31, 2011 at 9:24 pm
    • I like that challenge idea! Nice one. Not sure about Paula Deen. Love her dearly. She's a sweet woman but beggin your pardon, is she qualified to be a judge on a design show? I guess you could argue that the ones we have now aren't that much better but it seems out of place to have professional designers judged by someone who is not a a professional designer. You know the term judge by your peers kind of come to my mind.

      guest17 on September 1, 2011 at 12:08 am
      • I would never presume to argue that the current judges are not qualified, it is not my place. Nevertheless, my original idea for some comic relief would still not be a bad idea. I feel it would give the show a more compassionate twist. Moreover, notice was taken that not all of my questions were addressed. I suspect it has something to do with liability! Nevertheless, thank you for your response.

        marilyn on September 1, 2011 at 8:48 am
        • Wasn't Clive that "comic relief"? I think that's what people are missing this season!

          Margaret on September 1, 2011 at 8:04 pm
          • Yes Margaret, Below is an answer I posted to someone that voiced his opinion in regards to Tanika Ray:
            Unfortunately, the entertainment business is on a constant metamorphosis. They are under the impression that newness is the right approach. They must “refresh” on a constant basis for fear of becoming stale and loosing viewers. Sometimes this works but not in the case of Design Star and Clive. If it is not broken then don’t fix it! I mean no disrespect for Tanika Ray or David Bromstad (they are both talented) but somehow their chemistry just doesn’t work. Clive is a hard act to follow. He has a calm confidence which exudes warmth and comfort. I invite anyone to revisit past Designer Star shows. There you will rediscover what subtle brilliance he has. He is quick witted, which is a rare quality. His humor sets a balance to the sometimes very nerve-racking moments and removes tension which places everyone at ease. He always had me in stitches and added (a very much needed) comic relief to the show. I also see that very rare quality in Candice Olson but unfortunately, she has been absent for most of this season (quite understandably). If enough people voice their opinion they might just listen and bring him back! ____

            marilyn on September 2, 2011 at 8:28 pm
    • Yes, I was also thinking it must be a playhouse of some sort. How fun, can't wait to watch!

      Donna on September 1, 2011 at 10:01 am

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