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 agree, sometimes it seems like you change things just to change it. 99% of the time it's still working and it's a really good show and then boom it's either changed or gone. For example, Deserving Design was a great show and then one day….it was gone. It sucks, really big.

    donna on June 13, 2012 at 4:49 pm
  2. What I really would like is an opportunity to see the judges deliberating and making their decisions. Too often I feel left hanging as I try to see what their thoughts were. After all at least Vern and Gen are successful top designers.

    donna on June 13, 2012 at 4:53 pm
  3. I have always been a fan of Design Star, yet I find the increasingly condescending tone and negative critiques to be a real detraction. When Vern and Genevieve attack "what was s/he thinking, as opposed to constructive critcism "something would have worked better, or that object detracts" . the show loses any sense of role models evaluating design. Would you speak in a negative, whining tone to a client, to your own children. this is design star, not survivor – please lose the condescending tone and attacks on people, and evaluate their work. Perhaps you watched Fashion Star this season – not one negative remark or tone was made toward the contestants – it was about the work, and everyone learned and there was no bullying – just imagine – you could do the same.

    Kellan on June 13, 2012 at 7:01 pm
  4. I would like to know what Sherwin Williams blue colors were used on the walls in Ep.3.

    LodgeDecorator on June 20, 2012 at 4:12 pm
  5. my sister and i just watched an episode, and could not believe that eli was not the first one eliminated. as was commented by one of the contestants backstage, it was not a room! more amazingly was the fact that none of the judges pointed out that it was not a room, thank you david for not bending on your view; however you could have been more assertive. jamie and antonio you are wonderful designers, as david is, so how could you possibly give any credibility to eli's so called room design

    corey on June 24, 2012 at 10:13 am
  6. The winner of Room Challenge this week September 21, was awful . Yes it was different but the execution was terrible. Lets not judge on a floor( good idea) but the rest of the room. Was awful.

    Art Mellor on September 21, 2012 at 5:18 pm
  7. "Bye Bye Apartment, Hello Modern Mexican Backyard" Episode HHUTR-105H.
    When the realtor showed the house, I noticed what appeared to be moldy areas on some of the walls. No one mentioned them. Why?

    Rose on November 15, 2012 at 11:02 am
  8. "Bye Bye Apartment, Hello Modern Mexican Backyard" Episode HHUTR-105H.

    Why didn't Jamie replace the rotten roof on the entertainment area? Jamie Myer (architect?) was on the roof of the carport (the owners wanted to covert into an outdoor entertainment area) and instead of checking the soft area on the roof and repairing it, he just wanted to seal it in order to protect the entertainment area and the orange cloth he'd stapled to the ceiling,from water leaks. He warned his associate, to be careful and step around the soft spot. He didn't want him falling through the rotting roof. (What would Holmes say about that?)
    What legitimate professional would use a band aid solution on a rotting roof? You can bet that Holmes would have ripped that roof off and rebuilt it like new. Not Jamie. Jamie is not about a job well done but only about the appearance of a job well done.

    Rose on November 15, 2012 at 11:04 am
  9. "Bye Bye Apartment, Hello Modern Mexican Backyard" Episode HHUTR-105H.
    Why staple cloth to the ceiling of the outdoor entertainment area? If it needs to be taken down for cleaning, separating the cloth from the staples will likely result in the destruction of the cloth. Why not attach it to curtain rods and stretch it across the area? Or use Velcro to attach the material? I'm shocked that HGTV doesn't seem to notice these flaws and allows people like Jamie to do shoddy work and pass it off as entertainment.
    On top of that, he made an "executive decision" to change the paint color the owners chose. How arrogant! Why did Jamie ask them to chose a color when he had already made up his mind to chose it himself?
    Can't you see the difference between the ethics of a man like Holmes and the ethics of Jamie Myer? Which one would you trust to work on your house? I'd pick Holmes every time. As for Jamie: go back to school!

    Rose on November 15, 2012 at 11:06 am
  10. Hello! When will you begin casting for The White Room Challenge for 2013? I really love this show and would love the opportunity to put my design skills to the test.

    Thanks in advance for your response.

    Guest on March 28, 2013 at 5:43 pm

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