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Tuesday 5 March 2024

Q&A with Alan Carr - Interior Design Masters

Check out Look Who It Is!: My Story Audible By Alan Carr https://amzn.to/3uWMQMN

In the latest installment of Interior Design Masters, Alan Carr hosts a group of ten aspiring designers eager to make their mark in the realm of commercial interior design.

Over the span of eight weeks, these hopefuls will vie for the chance to secure a collaboration contract with a global homeware brand, paving the way for their own line of home furnishings. Seasoned design authority and former Elle Decoration editor, Michelle Ogundehin, returns to the series as the discerning judge.

Hailing from diverse backgrounds, each designer boasts a unique signature style, ranging from the opulent 'Victorian Maximalist' to the sleek 'Elegant Brutalist' to the vibrant 'Colourful Traditionalist'. Week by week, either individually or in teams, they tackle fresh challenges, given the creative freedom to reimagine a variety of commercial spaces across the UK. Their projects include transforming former nun's cells into boutique B&Bs, revitalizing activity centers within Chester Zoo, revamping Wembley dressing rooms, and refurbishing holiday lodges at Blenheim Palace.

Michelle presides over the competition, selecting the standout designs while bidding farewell to those whose creations fall short. She's joined by esteemed figures in the interior design world, such as Abigail Ahern, Kelly Hoppen, Sophie Robinson, and Mary Portas, offering their insights and critiques along the way.

Welcome back to series 5 of Interior Design Masters. Can you tell us what viewers can expect from this series and why they should watch it?

Brilliant designers, exciting locations and eye-popping interior design. The show is such a springboard – that's what I love about it. Banjo Beale has his own show, Micaela Sharp, Peter Irvine and Siobhan Murphy do presenting. Molly Coath and Fran Lee have worked with the amazing Matthew Williamson, and I saw a massive billboard advertising Paul Moneypenny's new wallpaper range - felt like such a proud dad. This show can change your life.

How is it to be reunited with Michelle?

Love her. People think we are chalk and cheese but we have such a giggle on the show. Plus, you learn so much about interior design from her. Every day is a school day with Michelle.

Can you tell us a bit more about the designers taking part this year?

The key to the show success is the designers, it's getting the right mix, not just of personalities but design styles. This year does not disappoint: we have quirky designers, serious designers but the one thing they have in common is that they are designers who are just starting out.   On this show you always think that you've seen everything and then a designer comes along with something so uniquely beautiful, or in some cases hideously awful, but you are always surprised whether in a good way or bad!

In your opinion, is there a common design faux pas which designers tend to make, that you have seen in this series or across all series of Interior Design Masters?

The most common faux pas is when the designers forget the client and just do what they want to do. The client wanted high end luxury, but you like lime green and fuzzy felt so you decided to pop that on the wall instead - its madness! The amount of times we see this on the sofa and Michelle ends up telling them 'It's not about you!!'. Obviously, it makes great telly when these designers do it their way but we do end up with some unhappy clients.

When you are with the designers as they are working on their project, do you ever get the urge to get involved or give your opinion?

I have to bite my tongue so badly, but then I do have the worst poker face, so I end up saying it anyway. The series has been going on so long now that I think the designers can tell whether I like it or not. They'll say 'you hate it don't you' and I have to come clean. But in my defence if I LOVE a design I will gush accordingly.

Michelle and the guest judges are the experts in their field, but do you ever find that their final decision at the end of each episode doesn't match your favourite design?

Sometimes I am shocked and think Michelle and the guest judge got it wrong. But then that's what separates this show from a lot of others as Michelle will so eloquently say why it was wrong and then you go 'oh I see'. The show is fair, no one stays in because their nan's not well or they didn't get a Christmas present as a child, it's whether they follow the brief. A designer will create a stunning room but if the client didn't want that and asked for something different, you fail the task, then you will be on the sofa. That's interior design - client is king.

What sparked your interest for interior design and what do you love about it?  

I wasn't interested in interior design when I started, I loved the show don't get me wrong, but I was a bit 'it's only some wallpaper - get over yourself'. But, as the series went on and I saw more and more designs I realised, and I know this sounds pretentious, the power of colour and space! Plus, you have to remember, with BBC One's The Italian Job with Amanda Holden I was renovating our little house in Italy doing what the designers were doing back home. I was upcycling, finding wallpapers, tiling, panelling - on a budget too. But they didn't have Amanda bossing them about!!! JOKE!!!

Do you have a style you take inspiration from for you home?

Love bold tiles, the brighter the better. I have quite eclectic taste, hate rooms with nothing in them, where's the life? Do you even live in this room?!

In your opinion, can good interior design have a positive effect on how people feel?

Yes definitely, that's the one thing I've learnt from this show - interior design can affect you mentally, whether that's spatially or with colour. We all have a favourite pub or cafe that we love to go to, and you probably love it so much because of the design and you don't realise it. The comfy sofas that give you a good view to people watch, the cosy banquette with the plush velvet makes you feel relaxed, the lighting gives off an intimate glow and you can chat with your friends in a soothing environment. Even if you don't like interior design you actually do - you just don't know it!

How do you think this series will inspire the British public with their own interior design ideas?

It's all accessible, it's all within reach, it's all on a budget, there are no excuses. The only thing holding you back is your imagination. None of the stuff is high end, they make it look high end. If it can inspire me to go to a car boot sale on a Sunday morning, it can inspire you.

From your personal experience, if you were to give a word of advice to those viewers wanting to design or redesign their home or a room, what would you tell them?

Be confident. Go for it. I got these bright teal tiles for my kitchen, I thought sod it, let's have a bit of colour, best thing I ever did. It's a talking point when people come into my home.

If you were an element of design, what would you be and why?

I would be a chandelier, elegant, never out of style but if you get too close - I get shady!!!

Check out Look Who It Is!: My Story Audible By Alan Carr https://amzn.to/3uWMQMN

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