Q&A: Interview with David Bromstad
HGTV really knocked it out of the park when they selected David Bromstad as their first Design Star. Six years later, he's juggling multiple shows on the network, doing appearances all over the country, and branching out into product lines.
Is it weird that your old Design Star judges are now your peers?
It's very strange! It's 100% full circle, but it's also very strange because I watched Vern (Yip) and Genevieve (Gorder) on Trading Spaces and of course Vern was our head judge from my season of Design Star, so being in his presence is kind of fantastic. He is just a lovely man, always gives me the most confidence and complements. It's pretty surreal!
What can you tell us about the next season of Design Star (premiered on May 29th)?
You know, I have to say, and I'm not just saying this because I'm now the host and mentor, but it is by far the strongest group of designers that we've ever had on Design Star. As a whole, as a group, they really pulled out beautiful designs and I'm really proud of every single one of them. It's pretty darn good. I didn't get to see much behind the scenes, so I can't say if there's tons of drama—there's probably a little bit here and there. As far as what I saw, beyond fabulous! I think the audience is going to be really impressed.
What about your new show, White Room Challenge?
The White Room Challenge is amazing! I'm the host, mentor and the head judge as well. It's so much fun! It's taking the most popular challenge in Design Star history—the white box challenge—and turning it into its own series. Like Chopped or Cupcake Wars, you have four contestants on every episode. They have a funky place to shop at and they actually turn out fabulous rooms! These rooms are really great, I think they're actually stronger than what you see on Design Star, simply due to the fact that they have a carpenter to help them make sure that the designs are executed brilliantly.
We all know that what you see through the camera lens and what you see in reality are two different things. Since Color Splash is so color-focused, how do you adjust what you're doing to compensate for those effects so that what you see on TV looks great?
You have to make sure that there’s a decent amount of contrast, whether that's through paint color or texture. You don't want it to be too high contrast either. I did a black and white bedroom, with black walls and white curtains and that was hard for the camera guys to shoot because there's so much darkness and then you have really crisp white against it. You have to balance it out a little bit and bring in some things that make it more of a backdrop. I don't know how I do it—it's one of those things where I learned it so quickly when I was on Design Star because the judges didn't walk through the rooms the first few seasons, they just saw videos of our work on television. We saw the videos when the judges did, so it was kind of like, oh my goodness, look how that registers. Look at that space—even though it's only three feet, which is standard, it looks like it's really empty. You have to massage the spaceplan a little bit, make sure the colors are registering beautifully. It takes practice but it's something that comes innately for me.
Do you ever watch design shows for inspiration or does your schedule prevent that?
I don't have much time to watch TV. When I do, I don't usually watch design shows, solely for the fact that they're my sort of work. Since I do work so much, I need to decompress. I was just watching The Natural! I like sci-fi, fantasy, reality shows. I love reality competition shows, but when you put design into it, all I can think about is work. I try to escape it as much as possible even though I do love my job. My job is pretty much my life right now!
Do you ever have to talk scaredy-cat clients off the ledge or do they tend to trust you more because of your TV work?
They tend to trust me. I have a very large portfolio on television and they hire me because they've seen my work on TV. They usually just throw up their hands and say, "You know best!" And I'm like, "You're right, I do!" That's always a much better way to get a more creative space, when you let the designer or artist kind of do their own thing. When you have a client who's constantly throwing out comments like what about this color, or I think we should change that, it's kind of like, well if you knew what you were doing, why did you hire me? Luckily all of my clients have been very cool.
Jay Leno once said that if you can last seven years in show business, you'll be in it for life. Now that you've passed that milestone, do you think that's true?
Seven years, really? Fabulous! I love me some Jay Leno then! I'm bit by the TV bug. It's really so much work—more work than any other job I've ever done in my life—but it's so much fun and it's different every time. We're always in a different city with different clients and it's a really unique life. I can see myself doing this for a while longer, fo sho!
I love that you're offering canvas prints of the paintings you've created for homeowners on Color Splash. Are you just going to focus on recent work or are you going to go back into the archives?
I would love to go back into the archives of the San Francisco episodes, but it's too labor-intensive and too hard to get in touch with the homeowners. We've actually reached out to a few of the select ones that we really want, but email addresses and phone numbers change and it feels like a lifetime ago. The majority of the pieces from the Miami episodes are available, and the pieces I did for Art Basel this year. I'll continue whipping them out. Not as quickly as I did these last few years, just because I’m not doing my design show as heavy as I was—I'm doing The White Room Challenge and Design Star. I miss getting in there and getting dirty a little bit.
I know you're doing bedding and bath collections, too. When will they come out?
It launched last fall and we did another launch this spring with great reviews. It takes a while between the time you do a launch at Market Week and when it will actually be seen in stores. It's not just like, ooh, we're going to do this! They have to see where to fit it, what's the niche, what's good for the company. It's so much more work than I thought it would be. My part is pretty much done but it's the manufacturer's part—that's definitely not an overnight thing. It takes a few years before you actually see it in stores. We're hoping to see it hit retail this fall or next spring. 1888 Mills—they're the only existing cotton manufacturer in the country. My higher-end bedding, sheets and towels will be made in the USA!
How do you juggle everything you're doing?
I don't know, honey! I just got in from visiting a furniture manufacturer—hopefully you'll see a new line of furniture from me next spring. It's constant running, constant craziness. Keeping healthy, working out, taking vitamins and trying to get sleep but I don't sleep. I'm just one of those people who, if I have something in the early morning, I don't sleep that night—maybe two or three hours. But it's fun. When you get involved in the day, you don't realize that you’re tired until you sit down at night!
What is the most surprising aspect of achieving celebrity status?
That people know who I am! That's just so weird to me, still, even after seven years. You're walking down the street and people are like, "David!" I'm like, really? You know who I am? I'm like, you watch my show and admit this to your friends? That is so bizarre and so fantastic and a great perk. Everyone is so happy to see me, it gives me tons of confidence. It's so lovely, but it's so strange.
Does it make you feel self-conscious when you're out in public?
No, but it does make me think twice about what I'm wearing when I go out the door! I'm a real person and real people have bad days. Yesterday I was walking around the airport and I forgot my razor. I was in the middle of a town that didn't have any stores, period. I was unshaven and my hair was all messy and before taking pictures with people I had to be like, oh well, whatever. You'll get to see the real side of me! Granted, I don't really want people to see that side, but…
What are your guilty pleasures regarding home decor?
I'm a huge fan of animal heads, I can't help it! I just love it. I don't even mind a real animal head in there. I just think they have a quirkiness to them. There's a sculptural beauty about them and they're so random. You can put them anywhere! Although I don't have a ton in my house—I have a few—but if I had an old lodge, I'm sorry, I would have a thousand of them. It'd be an animal head installation, all different, all crazy and out of control!
For bonus content, go to FU FOR THOUGHT. Visit bromstad.com to get all of the latest news about David, and be sure and watch him on Season 7 of Design Star, The White Room Challenge, and Color Splash: Miami on HGTV! Photos courtesy of David Bromstad, HGTV, and Penny Lane Publishing.
Robin Callan is the founder of Room Fu, a Best of Austin award-winning interior design firm and long-time defender of affordable design. Her blog, Fu for Thought, features steals and deals, design-related musings, and interviews with celebrity designers.