Hot Off the Press: Meet Design Star 6 Cast and My Analysis

Well they made us wait long enough… about 3 to 4 weeks longer than normal, but here’s this year’s Design Star cast….

… and my overly premature assumptions on each contestant:

Blanche Garcia

Age: 32
Hometown: Montclair, N.J.
Despite a childhood filled with frequent moves, little money and the unexpected death of her father, Blanche says it was her dream of becoming an interior designer that kept her going. At age 15, she started as a volunteer for community building projects and, a few years later, pursued her studies in interior design. Today, Blanche is a licensed interior designer and business owner with many high-end residential and commercial clients. Blanche identifies her design style as “green glam” and loves to enhance traditional eco-friendly materials with touches of glamour and luxury.

Favorite Design:

Summary:  Blanche has a deep and diverse portfolio. Based on her bio and portfolio I think she will last deep into the competition.

Brett Ritter

Age: 30
Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Growing up in a military family, Bret spent his childhood moving to different countries around the world, including India, Germany, Panama and Japan. He soon discovered a love for design because with each move he learned how to make every new space his own. Bret, who holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Art Center Design College in Tucson, Ariz., is a project manager for an eco-conscious construction company in New York City. Bret says he loves mid-century design that includes environmentally friendly, energy-efficient building materials. Although he describes himself as nice guy, he has been known “to get very intense when he works.”
Summary: I felt sad that he didn’t have more pictures to look at. I really didn’t understand why out of all the pictures he could’ve chosen he submitted a shoe closet with drapes? This really was unimpressive to me. I just don’t see what the casting agents did, but maybe I’ll be surprised.
Cathy Hobbs
Age: 42
Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Originally from Maryland, Cathy went to school in California for business and eventually became a broadcast news reporter in New York City. Despite winning five Emmy Awards for outstanding news reporting, Cathy’s passion for design propelled her into a second career. She attended morning classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in interior design, and then returned to the station to report the evening news. Married with an 8-month-old daughter, Cathy now owns a flourishing interior design company and specializes in residential and commercial properties. She says that her signature design style includes Asian influences paired with touches of Hollywood glamour.
Favorite Design:
Summary: With a background so similar to mine, how could I not like this lady? Obviously she got a little more neck deep than me in broadcast journalism… her portfolio seems a little shallow, but I would like to see her go far.
Doug Hines
Age: 44
Hometown: Atlanta, Ga.
Born and raised in New York City, the arts have always been a part of Doug’s life. Growing up, he studied visual arts and design and then later turned his passion for aesthetics into a career. Doug worked for several of New York’s top advertising agencies as a graphic designer before moving to Atlanta 12 years ago to open an art gallery. His talent for art consultation soon led to him designing interiors for several of Atlanta’s restaurants and nightclubs. While his favorite design style is mid-century modern, he also loves the glamour of Hollywood regency and the sleekness of modern minimalism. Doug, who describes himself as a loyal friend, loves antiquing and yard-sale cruising in his spare time.
Favorite Design:
Summary: There are some people who are really good at graphic design. Some people who are good at commercial design. Some people who are good at residential design. And some people are able to excel in more than one area. My take is that he is really good at commercial and I am not sure how well he’ll do at residential design… which is the majority of Design Star challenges. Right now I’m not sure how long he’ll last. Time will tell. 
J Allen
Age: 31
Hometown: Chevy Chase, Md.
Instead of pursuing a career in political science at the behest of her parents, J says she decided to follow her dream to be an interior designer. With more than 11 years of professional experience, she has designed dozens of residential and commercial properties across the country. J, who studied interior design at Howard University, says she can do anything for her clients, whether it’s paint a room, build a table or reupholster furniture. She characterizes her design style as eclectic and modern. She says she loves to incorporate a client’s global souvenirs into the design to personalize the space.
Favorite Design:
Summary: It was hard to read whether or not I like her style from the few pictures I saw. What I did see I wasn’t a massive fan of, but I can’t judge her quite yet. On the fence.
Karl Sponholtz
Age: 42
Hometown: Chicago, Ill.
As a kid, Karl says his love of design was “there from the beginning.” By age 10, he frequently rearranged his parents’ furniture while they weren’t home and was mesmerized by building blocks and floor plans. Karl, who studied architecture at the University of Illinois in Chicago, has more than 10 years of practical design experience and says that he can excite people with his passion for design. He characterizes his personal design preferences as “ultra-modern minimalist,” but often completes traditional designs for his high-end clientele. As the youngest of six, Karl says he is extroverted, loud and loves to live in the moment.
Favorite Design:
 Summary: I loved this guy’s style from the interiors to the exteriors. Amazing! I hope he goes far. Would love to see what he can do.
Kellie Clements
Age: 33
Hometown: Edmond, Okla.
A self-described “fireball,” this married mom of two says people sometimes underestimate her design talent. Originally from Arkansas, Kellie grew up in an artistic family. Her parents were artists and allowed Kellie to mix paints and create artwork in their studio. Kellie, who holds a degree in interior design from the University of Central Arkansas, has more than 10 years of professional experience as a designer with a residential builder. She calls her design style “warm contemporary” — that is, it includes lots of color and whimsical touches.
Favorite Design
Summary: You know I love color and this girl offers it. But I am going to make a premature judgment call on her. But I worry about her being tough enough to handle the competition aspect of the competition. For that reason I don’t think she’ll stick around.
Kevin Grace
Age: 42
Hometown: Chicago, Ill.
Kevin, a fashion merchandise director and window dresser from Chicago, says he was first inspired to become an interior designer by watching design shows on TV. Encouraged by friends who loved his room designs, Kevin decided to follow his dreams and audition for HGTV Design Star. He describes his favorite style as “eclectic retro” — a look with a mid-century feel that includes clean lines and pops of color. On a small budget himself, he says he designs with “cheap” in mind and understands the importance of repurposing items whenever possible. Kevin says he is a lot of fun, friendly and focused.
Favorite Design
Summary: I wish everyone had to submit at least 20 photos so I can make an accurate assumption. But based off his photos, I just didn’t dig his style.
 Leslie Ezelle
Age: 43
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Leslie, a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, cruise ship entertainer and mom of a blended family, has a wide variety of design experience ranging from remodels to home staging for real estate agents. Leslie, who describes herself as fun with a larger-than-life personality, helps clients “tame their domain” and believes that a stress-free, organized home offers the happiest and healthiest environment. With her preferred design style of “simple, traditional elegance,” she offers a less-is-more design philosophy that’s easy and inexpensive. Above all, Leslie considers herself a survivor. After winning a two-year battle with breast cancer, she is ready to live her dream as the host of an HGTV design show.
Favorite Design:
Summary: This is girl is my favorite by far!! She kind of reminds me of Lonni and Torie in a way. I think she is capable of any style in my opinion, not being pigeon holed a certain type. She is obviously a fighter having battled breast cancer. This hits home to me after losing a grandmother many years ago and an aunt this past week, she gets an extra vote from me for that alone. But I think with her perfomance ability in addition to her incredible design ability. I think she has a great shot to win.
Mark Diaz
Age: 33
Hometown: Miami, Fla.
Mark, who grew up in a large Cuban family, says he always had a natural knack for design. After winning a scholarship for his design work in high school, Mark went on to earn a B.A. degree, Design in Architecture, from Florida International University. With a self-described passion for edgy, modern styles, he moved to New York City where he specialized in luxury hospitality design. Despite a successful career, Mark says he missed the Florida sun and returned to Miami to start his own firm. His favorite design styles, which include mid-century modern, Asian-inspired minimalism and postwar industrial, combined with his love of martial arts, are the inspiration for his current line of chandeliers that are crafted from brass knuckles.
Favorite Design:
Summary: I think his design style is fun and he is a standout to watch.
Meg Caswell
Age: 33
Hometown: Chicago, Ill.
Meg says she began her career in design the moment she decided not to attend law school. After she earned a degree in criminology, she soon enrolled at The Art Institute of Chicago where she earned a B.F.A. in interior architecture. The interpersonal skills she learned during her criminology studies help her develop profiles of her clients and uncover their true design preferences. As the owner of a design firm and a home decor store in Chicago, Meg characterizes herself as a determined, direct and high-energy competitor. She describes her design style as a preppy mix of modern and traditional, but she also counts the vibrant pastel colors of “Palm Beach chic” among her favorite looks.
Summary: I think she is a good designer and real women we can all relate to. Maybe her background in criminology and legal aspirations will help her in the heated eliminations… a huge element to the competition where many a great designer has fallen.
Tyler Wisler
Age: 35
South Orange, N.J.
After completing high school in Honolulu, Hawaii, Tyler moved to the East Coast to attend Marymount University. Since earning a bachelor’s degree in interior design 12 years ago, Tyler has worked as a professional interior designer in the New York City area. He believes that most of his design skills were developed by on-the-job experience with clients, who he says appreciate his attention to detail. Tyler says he enjoys the latest design trend of “industrial chic,” which includes the use of recycled materials and dark metals paired with wood. As a professional designer, he says he always strives to give his clients the design they love, but will not hold back if he disagrees with a design decision.
Favorite Design:
Summary: I think he is a strong designer, but based off his bio I think he’ll probably be a strong personality too.
To view more of the contestants portfolios visit the HGTV website:
Who is your favorite to win? Would love to hear all your thoughts! 

4 thoughts on “Hot Off the Press: Meet Design Star 6 Cast and My Analysis

  1. Upscale Downhome says:

    Design Star and Food Network Star are my two summer programming favorites. I had not been hearing anything about Design Star so thank you for giving us an overview of the contestants. I agree; I need to watch the first episode to see who I will cheer for. Looks like a strong crowd. When does the show start? Can’t wait!

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