Esprit Decor

By Tk Published on .

No doubt a lot of graphic artists would like to work in broadcast, but Genevieve Gorder , a designer at New York's Duffy Design, has gone them one better: she has a featured role in a reality-TV series. One of seven designers on a new Learning Channel show called Trading Spaces, Gorder's taken a three-month sabbatical from Duffy to tape the hour-long weekly program, which airs on Friday afternoons. The show, an adaptation of a British hit called Changing Rooms, provides two neighbors with $1,000 apiece, a professional designer, a handyman and 48 hours to each redo a room of their choice - but the room is in their neighbor's house, and said neighbor has no say in the renovation. They may like it, they may hate it, but they're stuck with it, at least until they decide to re-redecorate it. "People get mad, they cry, it's very emotional and it can be very funny too," says the 26-year-old Gorder, who's been at Duffy almost three years.

Gorder's something of an outsider on the program; she's the only graphic designer among a gaggle of interior designers. But she views this as an advantage. "The interior designers are so fabric heavy," she pooh-poohs. "I'm a lot more raw and industrial. I use metals and the kinds of things you'd find in a hardware store, which is good, because there's not a lot of money to spend. Anyway, it doesn't really matter what kind of designer you are, as long as you know your colors and forms - designers see design in everything we do." Moreover, Gorder's design background goes back well beyond her professional career. She grew up in a "big hippie family" in Minnesota, she says, and "moved from old Victorian house to old Victorian house every few years. I was varnishing at the age of 5," she laughs.

But how'd she get the TV gig? "They liked my portfolio and they wanted someone different to make it more interesting," she shrugs. Her portfolio includes the recent racy call for entries for the Advertising Women of New York's Good, Bad & Ugly Awards, seen here (see also related story on page 28). "She's come into kitchens and bathrooms and taken over the whole room," the show's supervising producer, Leigh Seaman, said of Gorder in The Washington Post. "In her audition, she used terms like `shabby chic,' which we loved."

At press time, Gorder had appeared in three installments of the show, but the first had yet to air. For her debut, "I did a kitchen in Atlanta," she says. "I had to de-countryize the kitsch and just simplify. It's amazing how cluttered people's kitchens are, they have like five colanders hanging around." So did the client like her redesign? Gorder's not saying a word till the show airs, but it's a good bet it's a one-colander kitchen now.

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