HGTV’s top-rated reality competition, HGTV Design Star, will return for a fifth season beginning Sunday, June 13, at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Shot in New York City, the series will feature 12 creative finalists as they audition for their own show on HGTV. The finalists include Courtland Bascon, Los Angeles; Stacey Cohen, Chicago; Dan Faires, New York City; Nina Ferrer, New York City; Tera Hampton, Austin, Texas; Emily Henderson, Los Angeles; Trent Hultgren, Venice, Calif.; Julie Khuu, Santa Ana, Calif.; Michael Moeller, New York City; Casey Noble, Redondo Beach, Calif.; Alex Sanchez, Upper Marlboro, Md.; and Tom Vecchione, New York City. The series will air on Sundays for 11 weeks through August 22.
For the first time under the direction of Mark Burnett Productions, HGTV Design Star promises to be epic. During the casting process, Burnett, executive producer of reality competitions such as Survivor and The Apprentice, and his team, amped up the finalist criteria–emphasizing relevant expertise and hosting ability.
The finalists–interior designers, contractors, stylists, architects and artists–will face rigorous creative challenges and must execute ingenious designs to avoid elimination. The New York City-inspired challenges include such iconic locations as the City’s Fire Houses and the Flower Market, as well as experiences such as a trip to a high-fashion runway show. The distinguished judging panel, including HGTV designers Genevieve Gorder, Candice Olson and Vern Yip, will visit each challenge location and offer an in-person evaluation of the finalists’ design work. The finalists also will have access to construction crews who will help with building and installation projects.
“This year’s finalists are incredibly talented, each with very diverse backgrounds in design,” said Freddy James, senior vice president, program development and production, HGTV. “Viewers will be captivated as they watch these competitors leverage their experience and creativity to win this competition.”
Beginning June 14, HGTV.com will invite viewers to extend their viewing experience online at HGTV.com/designstar. Immediately following each episode, online users can visit the HGTV Design Star blog to follow the comments of Heather Armstrong, recognized as America’s most popular “mommy blogger” from dooce.com, as she posts her thoughts on the drama and excitement of each episode. In addition, users can watch HGTV designer and season one HGTV Design Star champion David Bromstad as he reveals his perspectives in his weekly vlog. Online visitors also will find special interactive features and exclusive content, including weekly design tips and candid reactions from the judges.
Meet the HGTV Design Star Finalists:
Los Angeles, Calif.
Raised in a strict household in Boston, Courtland says his family discouraged him from studying the arts or expressing his natural creativity. As a teen, however, Courtland convinced his mother to let him take art classes and, once enrolled, his passion for design was born. Like many of his 10 siblings, Courtland spent years working with his father in the family’s masonry business. He credits this work and his world travels for his knowledge and appreciation of architecture and design. With a specialty in painting and faux finishing, Courtland says he is “in it to win it” and wants to become the next HGTV Design Star. Courtland, whose fiance says he is charming, positive and a hard worker, believes that his ability to be a good team player will help him win the competition.
While growing up in Detroit, Stacey says that she was captivated by her parents’ vast art collection. She believes that the early exposure to art strongly influenced her love of design and sparked the development of her own creative voice. After graduating from Columbia College of Chicago with a degree in journalism, Stacey completed the interior design program at Parsons New School for Design, where she refined her self-described “eco-friendly modern” design style. Today, it’s no surprise to Stacey’s friends and family that she owns a successful design business or that she’s competing to become the next HGTV Design Star. They say that she puts 110 percent into everything she does and that when she sets a goal, she achieves it.
New York, NY
Dan, originally from Fayetteville, Arkansas, says his love for construction began when he and his father worked on the family’s home, a century-old place that needed constant repairs. Dan also found inspiration by frequently watching HGTV and was often eager to try the projects he’d seen. After earning a degree in biology from the University of Arkansas, Dan moved to Gulfport, Miss., for a job in medical sales, but his professional plans changed when Hurricane Katrina hit. The destruction of so many homes rekindled his passion for building and he soon left his sales job to join a construction crew. Dan, described as having a warm heart and an easygoing personality, continues to work in construction and design. He defines his style as “rustic” and believes that “design should always incorporate rustic elements because it adds texture and warmth to every space.”
New York, NY
Raised in Brooklyn, Nina says that from an early age she knew her upbringing was not typical. She describes her parents as very “open, free and artsy” and says they encouraged her creativity with art and dance classes. After graduating with a degree in architecture from The Pratt Institute in Brooklyn – where she also studied interior design, painting and photography – Nina began her career in residential design. She created luxury homes for several high-end clients, including a few celebrities, before shifting her career to commercial work. Although Nina says that she enjoys her current position as an architect and project manager for a well-known retailer, she longs to design freely – ideally on her own HGTV show. Describing herself as confident in her design talent, Nina believes that viewers would be eager to see an “attractive, tell-it-like-it-is” Brooklyn girl create beautiful, functional spaces.
Born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, Tera calls herself “the quintessential all-American Texas girl,” and, as the daughter of a high school football coach, says she understands the seriousness of competition. Tera, who says she plays to win, owns a successful design business that specializes in home staging, color consultation and interiors. She characterizes her approach to design as “taking what you have and making it better” and often spends little or no money to create great designs by rearranging items her clients already own. This married mother of three says she has a strong faith in God, family and community and enjoys using her skills to help those in need because it “feels good to make a difference.”
Los Angeles, Calif.
Raised in rural Oregon, Emily says she developed a creative nature because her family often made their own clothes and reupholstered their own furniture. After graduating from the University of Oregon, Emily moved to New York City to study industrial design at The Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Described as charming, hard-working and having a fun sense of fashion, Emily soon found work as a design consultant with several world-renowned designers and stylists. Eventually, Emily’s talent and style, which she says is a mix of classical and contemporary design, led her to start her own business as a prop, lifestyle and tabletop designer. Today she is an in-demand photo shoot stylist for top lifestyle and design publications and national retailers.
Trent says that before he found success as a design business owner, his life had been on a far different track. Growing up in Winton, Calif., Trent spent much of his childhood working on his family’s cattle farm and attending church. He later earned a degree in theology, but after more than a decade traveling the world as a missionary, Trent says he wanted to learn more about life and explore his dream to be a designer. He taught himself the principles of design and decor and, with hard work and determination, he launched a career as a designer. In business, he adheres to his design philosophy to “tweak” a space by enhancing the existing room design. Trent believes that he has an edge on the competition because, after years as a pastor and world traveler, his ability to genuinely connect with people will help set him apart from the other competitors.
Santa Ana, Calif.
Julie, the youngest of five siblings, was raised in an environment where excellence was expected. Although her parents wanted her to become a doctor or lawyer, she wanted to follow her dream to become a designer. With a bachelor’s degree in interior design from The Art Institute of California, this self-described overachiever and socialite says that her favorite projects involve designing spaces for nightclubs. Julie, who says her design style reflects a “modern global glamour,” loves to work hard and play hard. Because of her looks and petite frame, Julie believes that she is often underestimated and must be “bossy and direct” in order for people to take her seriously. She says she’s not afraid to speak her mind and hopes that winning HGTV Design Star will prove to her family that she is a legitimate designer.
New York, NY
As a child growing up in rural New York, Michael knew he had a natural artistic talent and loved to find creative ways to play a game or rearrange his bedroom furniture. After earning a degree in interior design from The New England School of Design in Boston, Michael moved to New York. His persistence and creative design style, which is “a natural approach to urban sleekness,” helped him land a job with a prestigious hospitality design firm, where he produced award-winning work. Today, Michael is a design business owner and credits his outgoing personality and problem-solving skills to his success. He says he grew up as the star in his family and believes that the combination of his competitive nature and outspoken personality will help him become the next HGTV Design Star.
Redondo Beach, Calif.
Casey, who describes herself as meticulous, driven, energetic and fun, says she was eager to start her career as a designer immediately after graduating from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. With an associate’s degree in interior design, Casey worked for two high-profile design firms and managed several international design projects before starting her own residential and commercial design business. Friends and former co-workers say that Casey will be a great competitor on HGTV Design Star because she is passionate about design and serious about being the best.
Upper Marlboro, Md.
Alex was born in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, and often moved between Trinidad and New York City with his family. A self-proclaimed Renaissance man, Alex grew up loving to paint, design and take photographs. He graduated at the top of his class from North Carolina A&T State University with a degree in architectural engineering. He earned extra money by selling his drawings and redesigning dorm rooms. Describing his design aesthetic as “urban eclectic with contemporary style,” Alex designs spaces for his young, hip clientele who often live in bachelor pads or one-bedroom apartments. While Alex says he is extremely competitive, he’s more excited to be on HGTV Design Star so he can inspire city kids to study art.
New York, NY
For 23 years, Tom has worked at one of the world’s largest architecture firms. Now a design director, he regularly oversees projects for international clientele, many with building budgets in excess of $100 million. His parents encouraged his creativity, leading Tom to study architecture at Cornell and earning a bachelor’s degree in architecture at The New York Institute of Technology. Friends and co-workers describe Tom as a leader and compare his personality to a Jackson Pollack painting: bright, vibrant and filled with dynamic energy. Although he has an established career doing what he loves, Tom says his experience, energy and ability to thrive under pressure will make him a standout competitor on HGTV Design Star.
HGTV, America’s leader in home and lifestyle programming, is distributed to more than 98 million U.S. households and is one of cable’s top-rated networks. HGTV’s website, HGTV.com, is the nation’s leading online home-and-garden destination that attracts an average of 4 million unique visitors per month.