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. I find your answer about the WRC describing what you look for in a designer during the WRC a bit hard to believe. Meg freely admits that she failed the WRC but she still ended up the winner. So she got lucky in not having the worst WRC that year, or at least it wasn't judged the worst. The point system another poster described would help a good designer not be eliminated for one bad week. Too often a designer is eliminated for one item in a room, such as Suki, with the point system she would have gotten credit for the good things she did in that room

    Corvette Lady on June 7, 2012 at 6:26 pm
    • You make a great point…I am going to reconsider the White Room for next year…maybe it's time for us to try something totally new and different…I always thought viewers liked one avant garde challenge that is wild, wacky and out of the box, but I'm noticing that people prefer the real-life challenges better. I will definitely consider your suggestion — and I really appreciate you watching the show.

      loren on June 8, 2012 at 11:17 am
      • What you need to do is let all the challenges be individual challenges, as with the WRC. Get rid of this team nonsense, and let's see what they can do on their own, as a real designer would do. Let them sink or swim based on their own merits, without anyone else to blame for their failures, and their successes are all theirs too.

        erikcreature on June 8, 2012 at 12:26 pm
        • I totally disagree with this. I love the team challenges, not least because I know that when a designer actually gets his or her own show, it's going to be necessary to work with a team, even if they're the only person who gets the spotlight. If you want nothing but individual challenges, you should check out the White Room Challenge show!

          I dream of seeing a Design Star show where contestants really work together to come up with a room that blends all their different individual styles into something better than the sum of its parts. Someday!

          @anjelabug on June 8, 2012 at 1:13 pm
          • A real designer is the BOSS, and tells the team exactly what he wants them to do, according to his design. A real designer doesn't need any other designers to work with, he just needs people to work for him, and do what he tells them to do.

            Big talents seldom get along, and compromise leads to mediocrity, not great designs.

            Getting real designers to work as equal partners, just won't happen. You have a better chance of herding cats.

            erikcreature on June 8, 2012 at 1:45 pm
        • Well stated! Great idea!

          Dee on June 9, 2012 at 2:18 pm
      • I like the WRC, I just think this year that the judges were not clear in the criteria they used for judging the rooms. If they want it to be an art project than say so. I don't mind if it's not functional but there should still be criteria for non functional rooms. Stanley's room had electrical cords hanging and lying on the floor, it may have been outside the box but it was also unsafe. I like the idea of an individual challenge that is designed to really be outside the box, one of the items in the WRC is a sofa which I think means make it a room. Maybe the room could just have different size boxes, circles and triangles, that way the designers can really let their creativity run wild. Thanks for responding to my post, I think it is great that you listen to the viewers!

        Corvette Lady on June 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm
  2. Just wanted to let someone know that the Episode 1 (full episode) video does not play. Apparently it has not been loaded correctly.

    catocate on June 7, 2012 at 10:31 pm
  3. Loren, I was wondering if there is a way to get feedback or opinions from the designers themselves, like on many other similarly formatted shows (please tell me if I'm totally missing something)? Maybe a live web chat with the eliminated designer after the show, or a question answer blog etc. From what I've seen, only a few have even posted anything on the website, and it seems random at best. Is there someway for us as viewers to hear from them and get their thoughts and opinions of the weeks designs? Thanks.

    LNDS8PR on June 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm
    • agree.

      kkat on June 8, 2012 at 5:03 pm
    • That's an interesting suggestion…We usually ask the designers to stay 'silent' until the end of the series so that it doesn't give anything away for the viewers, but I like this suggestion a lot…I'll discuss it with my colleagues tomorrow…and I truly appreciate your input — it helps us create a show that is what you want to watch :)

      loren on June 10, 2012 at 3:12 pm
  4. WRC I would think that the designer of each white room should not be identified until all the rooms have been judged. Assign each room a letter or number and then make your decisions. After all the rooms are judged then identify the designer. This would help eliminate any judge biases based on previous work of that designer.

    Gary R on June 9, 2012 at 7:03 am
  5. love the white room challange. like to see people think on their feet, i agree that they know about the white room challange ahead of time, and could have thought of possibities for it, the linked them innto the store that is chosen for them. __

    lorene on June 9, 2012 at 8:14 am
  6. I think the BEST PART about the WRC is that the designs are non functional. It's a true test to see their creativity. I think the visual appeal of this challenge is lost by adding a functional requirement. Maybe some of the viewers have been disappointed because this season was fairly weak compared to seasons past….remember Dan's apple orchard? Tylers water bottle chair? Todd's wave room? That is the type of thing judges/viewers are looking for….IMHO.

    I think the shopping location might have been uninspiring….home improvement store???? Boring! Again….IMHO.

    Love loooove LOVE DS! My favorite show of all time!

    The Design Daredevil on June 9, 2012 at 12:16 pm
    • I TOTALLY agree with you 100% and in retrospect I wish we would have picked a different shopping environment that was more out of the box…previous years' locations like Pet Stores or Grocery Stores were more interesting…Thanks for the support of Design Star and I hope you love the rest of the season!

      Loren on June 10, 2012 at 3:14 pm
  7. Would Rachel consider selling the fasion silhouette artwork from the WRC? It should really caught my eye and I LOVE it! I do like watching DS but I am wondering about some of the "guest" judges. I can handle Vanilla Ice but Karadashian? Give me a break!

    Tennessee on June 9, 2012 at 10:27 pm
    • LOL about the Kardashians — I hope you'll be pleasantly surprised…as for the silhouette artwork, unfortunately it was painted directly on the wall so there was no way to save it. Otherwise, I had considered donating it to a charity for an auction…Thanks for watching DS…hope you like the rest of the season.

      Loren on June 10, 2012 at 3:15 pm
  8. What happened to Tanika Ray?

    J.B. on June 10, 2012 at 6:13 am
  9. Will pass on the episode with Kardashian, such trash.

    Mary on June 11, 2012 at 8:47 am
  10. Wish I didn't have to miss a DS episode……but will give up tomorrow's challenge based on previews showing Kardashian-Jenner looking for another way to place herself in front of the tv lens! Look forward to next week and Meg's future return. Thank You!

    Dee on June 11, 2012 at 9:08 am

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