While we’re loath to ever disparage a day off, the consensus around the office is that a midweek holiday is a bit of a bummer. We’re feeling sluggish, sun worn, and mildly hungover. It’s not a good scene. So we’re giving you a Design Star twofer today… Actually our intrepid intern (thank God for intrepid interns), the lovely Caitlin, is giving you the Design Star action. I’m just staring at my computer and nursing a headache from one to many beverages involving gin.
First up, Caitlin sits down with Dallas’ very own Design Star extraordinaire, Hilari Younger. Stay tuned for Caitlin’s recap of Tuesday’s episode later today.
By Caitlin Giddens
For Hilari Younger, all that glitters is gold: her taste as an interior stylist, her perspective on Design Star, and, most importantly, her heart.
I met the Design Star contestant for coffee at Bridge Bistro in the design district. As I suspected when I saw her joke with fellow contestant Mikel and design the perfect 80s-inspired room, we immediately became friends. I didn’t ask if she won season seven of Design Star. Because after just a few minutes, I decided who I thought the design star was.
“Who you see on the show, I’m that person in real life,” Hilari said. “There are no gimmicks. There’s more to me, but I’m that same person every day.”
(A shot from Hilari’s portfolio via HGTV)
Although she had never seen the show, Hilari auditioned for Design Star after moving to Dallas from Washington, D.C. In Dallas, she worked as a self-employed designer and new mother to Haili while her husband attended SMU Law School on scholarship. “Dallas was a hard nook to crack into as a designer,” Hilari said. “I felt like going over Dallas was the best way to get in.”
Now, Hilari’s design business Ufunkshen is booked with projects until October. She feels energized by the changing design world in Dallas. “The more global Dallas becomes, the more it’s opening up to its great potential,” Hilari said. “When I moved here, Dallas didn’t have the pace yet. But Dallas is changing.”
At the root at that change lies Dallas’s design and art district. Hilari described art as the one common ground for people. “Art gives us peace,” she said. “You look at it and say, ‘I get it.’ Even if you don’t want it in your house, you understand it. It’s even more of a common ground than music because it’s visual. The only way I can not see a wall is to close my eyes.”
Contrasting to the deadline-driven challenges on Design Star, Hilari said the most important part of design is the process. She sits down with each of her clients and explains the process to them, a session she describes as education and therapy. “You can’t buy a room, you have to grow it,” Hilari said. “The best way to do that is with conversation pieces. You can’t manufacture character and charm, it’s more collective.”
When Hilari graduated from Howard University, she said she couldn’t afford luxurious design. She couldn’t even afford Haverty’s. So Hilari created a conversation piece, a treasure her friends named Liberace, she still owns.
“I drove down in my new Beetle and got a crushed velvet headboard,” she said. “That headboard is amazing because it speaks to me and who I am. So when you’re young, you have to choose things that represent you.”
Representing herself was also important to Hilari while filming Design Star. She refuses to walk away from a room without a piece of her left behind. “A lot of the people behind the scenes on the show are not designers, they’re interested in creating a good TV show,” she said. “They beg us for content, for tips. But sometimes they only show the fights. I wanted to leave with some integrity as a designer.”