Liz Gray

Contributor to HGTVersus

Jun 7

Ask the Producer: White Room Challenge

Each week, I chat with Design Star‘s producer Loren Ruch about your most-asked questions from this week’s episode. This week, he talks about why the White Room Challenge is important and what it was like on set with Vanilla Ice. Plus: What happened to Candice?

Design Star Producer Loren Ruch with Design Panel

David, Producer Loren Ruch, Genevieve, Vern, Guest Judge Vanilla Ice

Some of the blog readers are unhappy with who went home this week. Why do you make the White Room challenge the one time that the rooms don’t have to be functional?
This is a good question and one that I get all the time. At HGTV we think that a true Design Star needs to be a Renaissance person — creative, artistic, out-of-the-box, in-the-box, personality plus, and likeable! Too much to ask for? Maybe…but our goal is really to create a star! The White Room Challenge is the only time in the entire Design Star season where we can see the true artistic creativity of a designer in a non-traditional environment.

You may wonder, “Why would you care about that?’ but honestly, in our design shows our hosts use out of the box thinking all of the time – and this is a way for us to test just how clever they can be in their designs. For example, David Bromstad is such an exciting designer because of the incredible creativity he exposed in his own white room in season one. As for the fact that some viewers were unhappy with who went home this week, I’m sorry that you didn’t like who our panel selected, but in my heart I feel like it was the right choice. Heck, even Jordan thought it was the right choice! He mentioned after the fact that he just couldn’t wrap his head around this one, and that his room didn’t showcase his true talents or abilities.

This question comes from Jo C on the blog: “As I was watching this first episode, I wondered how many cameras are being used at one time? Does each contestant have a camera? How many hours of film get cut for each episode?
Jo, you are the first person who has ever asked this question – I love that! On average, we usually have 9-10 cameras shooting at any given time, depending on where we are in the season. We have more cameras earlier in the season (when there are 12 contestants) than we do towards the end (when we might only have 4-5 cameras). There’s a producer who is assigned to covering each designer. They are not allowed to talk with the designers or stop the flow of their design process, but they are jotting down everything that happens over the course of the day so that when we get into the editing room weeks later we already know the moments that are the most important or significant. For example, a story producer may note something like “at 5:45 p.m. Luca signed his signature on the wall”, or “at 3:15p.m. Rachel hand painted a mural,” etc. As for how many hours we shoot, it’s non-stop from about 7am through 11pm. There is never a time that cameras aren’t running because we don’t want to miss anything significant at their home or on set, so there are literally hundreds of hours of footage for each episode.

Also, people are wondering: What happened to Candice?
We miss Candice terribly! We actually wanted her to be on the show again this year, but her shooting schedule for Candice Tells All prohibited her from doing it. She’s one of the most fun people you could imagine working with, and the only reason she wasn’t on this season was her incredibly busy life!

What was it like on set with Vanilla Ice? Any rapping on the set? Best moment?
Rob (aka Vanilla Ice) was so much fun to hang out with on set! What you see is definitely what you get, so we spent much of the time laughing. Even though you’d think that Vern and Ice would be polar opposites they got along incredibly well. We didn’t get to hear any rapping on set, but he did toss out a line from one of his old raps in the middle of evaluation and it cracked up the entire room – even the designers – who are usually super stressed out during that process.

Since the challenge was at Union Station, the public could see the designers working, right? Did they have to interact with the crowd at all? What was the crowd’s general reaction?
It was a challenge to shoot at Union Station for a variety of reasons, the most challenging was the fact that it’s basically the loudest place on Earth! Between trains, buses, helicopters, etc.,  we couldn’t go more than ten seconds without some sort of interruption. And then when you add the public walking through the middle of our challenge, it added a level of even more pandemonium, but in a fun and energizing way. The passersby seemed to be drawn more to some rooms than others, although their likes and dislikes were never discussed in front of the panel. I think a lot of people were scratching their heads at Stanley’s space, but many of them seemed to gravitate towards Rachel’s and Danielle’s in a positive way.

Have a question for Loren? Shout it out in the comments and he might just answer you next week.

Posted at 8:00 am

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  1. Just wanted to say that I am sorry to see Jordan go so early in the competition. I was really looking forward to seeing what he was going to bring to the show. Why was he chosen the worst room? I didn't get to see his video presentation. I love the show and I forward to hearing back.

    Paul Rados on June 7, 2012 at 6:09 am
    • Hi Paul – thanks for your question and for your support of the show! I was sad to see Jordan go, too, and I initially thought he'd potentially be one of our strongest contenders. I truly think that the white room challenge just got the best of him — and in person, his room was truly the weakest by a mile. Vern said it reminded him of a food court in a mall. Who do you think should have been eliminated instead? I am always curious to hear what others think. And once again, I SO APPRECIATE that you watch the show! -Loren

      loren on June 7, 2012 at 6:50 am
      • I would like to know where a food court exists that looks like Jordan's room? It was not like Stanley's Dan Flavin inspired room, but what can I do with any of that? Jordan's was a space I could see recreating in my backyard – Confused? (Like most of America)

        Designlove on June 7, 2012 at 8:14 pm
  2. I dislike being negative however I just HAVE to ask what MANY must be thinking….How and why in the world would such a fun, exciting, positive, delightful Design Star production go from extraordinary classy Candace judge to inviting a classless, sleaze Kardashion?! "I" for one will not watch THAT episode!
    I wish you had Meg return as a judge when wonderful Candace's schedule would not allow. I hope next season you will return to a designated judge and not just anybody fill in's! Thank You.

    Dee on June 7, 2012 at 8:32 am
    • I agree with you Dee. I won't be watching ANY HGTV programs with Kris Kardashian-Jenner on them. Their decision to make her a "judge" on Design Star is questionable. Reality Celeb..maybe.
      Design Judge…No.

      Guest on June 10, 2012 at 7:20 am
    • I would second what Dee has said and also will not be watching this episode. I think it would be wonderful if Meg could come back as someone who has been through the process. And since Candice can not be there can she appear once? Perhaps another HGTV network star such as Sabrina Soto could come in. But NO Kardadashians who lack class, taste, and discrimantion.

      Val on June 10, 2012 at 3:56 pm
    • It was my understanding that they're designing some of her offices, or something? Is she actually a judge?

      Robin on June 11, 2012 at 8:59 pm
  3. Forgot to mention….LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the show, Vern, Genevieve and David… Thank YOU!

    Dee on June 7, 2012 at 8:37 am
  4. Thanks Dee for your message…and I hope that you will give next week's show a chance. Kris Jenner actually wanted to hire HGTV to make over their new offices, so it was a very legitimate challenge, and a great opportunity for our designers to transform an old chiropractor's office into a gorgeous office space. That said, I also hope you'll be happy to hear that Meg is coming back later in the season — She'll be a guest judge in a few weeks, and she does a fantastic job! Plus, I hope you're enjoying her new season of Meg's Great Rooms. Take care, and hope to answer more questions soon!

    loren on June 7, 2012 at 9:19 am
    • Surely other have applied to HGTV for a reno. Is this worth the possible loss of viewers?

      Val on June 10, 2012 at 3:59 pm
    • I too was disappointed to see yet another Kardashian in one of my favorite shows. Sorry, I stopped watching after finding out she'd be on. I watch HGTV religiously because each and every one of you is tremendously talented in your field. I learn from you. The little I've seen of the Kardashian/Jenner group has been fundamentally insipid. I prefer to spend my time in more inspiring endeavors. I'll be sure to return when you are Kardashian-free.

      Maggie Solis on June 11, 2012 at 4:48 am
    • I"m sure Kris J. did make a legitmate request to you/D.S. for a makeover. But we're not stupid enough to believe she didn't chose D.S. fot the exposure. Just another example how a woman with no discernable talent keeps showing up in the media!

      CharlesD on June 12, 2012 at 6:46 am
  5. I have been watching Design Star from the beginning. I was disappointed in many of the white rooms. There seems to be so much talent in this year's group but it didn't show in a lot of the rooms. Maybe it had to do with not having the time to plan a design although I would think that some planning and sketching would be going on in the car on the way to the store! People started with their rooms with no plan in mind. Since this was done in all the past seasons, your think they would have been ready for this.

    mkblair on June 7, 2012 at 10:04 am
  6. I am unclear about the intent of the W.R.C. I'm making an asumption that the winner of the season be an interior designer, but David is encouraging the contestants to be more sculptural in their execution. How fluent in classic design priciples does the season winner have to be?

    CharlesD on June 7, 2012 at 11:57 am
    • About as fluent as the average American needs to be in Mandarin Chinese.

      erikcreature on June 7, 2012 at 6:09 pm
  7. I wanted to mention a blog that I had read – regarding a new evaluation system. It had said that each challenge should be given POINTS. Well, I have one better- rather than to eliminate a contestant each show, have a real "horse race" with accumulating points based on predetermined judging factors. DO this for half of the competition and give the contestants a chance to really show what they are worth. Then after the top six are chosen, regular eliminations can be had. Just a thought! I have been watching DS since the first year and felt that some great talent had been lost because of early elimination. Thank you for listening to the viewers last year- this year is much more civil and enjoyable!

    willTryDSagain:) on June 7, 2012 at 1:53 pm
    • That's a great suggestion! I will absolutely consider that for next year — it would change the show, but it might give it an exciting new twist. Thanks for the suggestion!

      loren on June 8, 2012 at 11:15 am
      • This viewer likes DS original concept just the way it is…..except for last season when the no design style, disruptive, argumentive, aggressive person stayed on forever ….and now the "visiting" judges. "if it ain't broken; don't fix it"! The above suggestion sounds way too much like all the current reality shows format ie: AGT etc. "Great talent" is not "lost"……look at where many of the early HGTV stars are in other productions, ads, on other networks, doing other things ….keepin' on.
        Just my thoughts. Thank you for this format allowing opinions to be voiced….AND THANK YOU for DESIGN STAR program…'s GREAT, innovative, informative, instructional and motivating!

        Dee on June 9, 2012 at 2:16 pm
  8. I think it was a toss-up on whether Jordan's room was the most uninspired. It truly didn't have any imagination — just buying stuff and putting it there. Luca's was worse to me, except for those teeny-tiny spark of imagination in his light fixture. Not great really. I really love Rachel's & Danielle's rooms. Super creative!

    tiagolin on June 7, 2012 at 3:30 pm
  9. Did not like this white room challenge at all…I know the white rooms are not supposed to be functional, but why not? A design star by the very name "designs"…he/she is not necessarily a sculptural artist, as it appears was required for the white room challenge. Based on the "winners" I would not hire any of those "designers" nor would I watch their design shows.

    mjbrady on June 7, 2012 at 5:16 pm
  10. I think you sent the wrong designer home also, and wonder why we did not see Jordan on his camera challenge? Rachel winning was a great choice. Lucky Luca is all i am saying. Brittany is my pick to win her rooms actually feel designed.

    Designlove on June 7, 2012 at 5:35 pm

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