Genevieve Gorder, designer on the cable TV show -- Trading SpacesCroatian
Here's another Croatian American who's making a splash in NY and on TV.
Genevieve Gorder, designer on the cable TV show -- Trading Spaces -- is the
daughter of the cousin of NFCA VP Ed Andrus from Philadelphia.
Ed's mother's Croatian maiden name is Domovic.
Genevieve is an offspring of the Croatian family Domovic.
We hope to have Genenieve attend a special NFCA event in NY soon.
Genevieve Gorder on fame, design and 'Trading Spaces'
Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)
Published May 2, 2002
The guy behind the counter at Theatre Antiques on Lyndale Avenue just north of Lake Street gave the tall, green-eyed blonde that I-know-I-know-you look. He whispered to a co-worker, who tried to place her.
The woman walked up to the counter, purchase in hand. In a whisper befitting someone at a Sunday church service, Jim Thomas asked, "Are you . . . ?"
"Yes," said Genevieve Gorder, one of the stars of "Trading Spaces," a cult hit on the TLC cable network.
"I knew it was you!" Thomas said. "We watch the show all the time!"
It's become a familiar exchange for the 27-year-old Minneapolis native since she joined the show nearly two years ago. "Spaces" faithful know Gorder as the perennially barefoot designer with a distinctive, full-throttle chuckle and a penchant for distinguishing her rooms with black-and-white photography.
And, occasionally, moss.
Get what you pay for
Based on the British hit "Changing Rooms," "Spaces' " has a simple premise: Two neighbors trade house keys and in 48 hours, with a budget of $1,000 and under the direction of a designer, each redecorates a room in the other's home. You don't get to pick your designer (there are six, each with an individual style), you have to sign a release letting them do whatever they want to your room, and if you don't like the result, too bad.
There have been some doozies. Rooms painted black. A bedroom made to look like a railroad Pullman Car. Until designer Hilda Santo-Tomas glued hay all over a family's living room walls, Gorder created what was arguably one of the most audacious designs: She covered a bedroom wall in moss and built nightstands out of chicken wire.
"Spaces" has become the most popular show on TLC network, perhaps because it's more a "reality" game show than it is a decorating show. Viewers want to see the "reveal," the last minutes of the show when the host ushers the eyes-shut-tight homeowners back to their house and tells them, "Open your eyes and see your new room!"
Reactions range from "I love it!" to "Wow!" "Wow" as in, Wow, it's going to take us way more than 48 hours to repaint and repair this mess.
The owners of Gorder's mossified bedroom were in the "Wow!" group.
"That moss wall was hot," Gorder said recently over lunch in Uptown. "I just don't think they got it."
Although not trained as an interior designer, Gorder did have some do-it-yourself credentials, thanks to her parents. As a young couple, they didn't have money for contractors to rehab the south Minneapolis Victorians they lived in, so they did the work themselves. By the time she was a student at Clara Barton Open School, Gorder knew how to strip wood, paint behind radiators and take down wallpaper.
Still, it seemed more likely that she might become a classical musician or international aid worker than a television personality. Throughout her school years and into college, Gorder played the violin. She and her two younger brothers were required by their parents to learn at least one foreign language. They were encouraged to travel.
Gorder's mother, Diana Drake, said she and her husband wanted the kids to know something about the world. On a summer break while she was attending South High School, Gorder was an exchange student in Barcelona, Spain, an experience that influenced her decision to major in international affairs at Lewis and Clark College in Oregon.
In her sophomore year of college, just for grins, she took a graphic design class. Until then, Gorder hadn't been inclined to the visual arts. Smitten by the class, she switched majors -- a dicey but fortuitous move.
On the strength of a collage she made in that design class, Gorder landed an internship with MTV at age 19. She was soon offered a job there and, with her parents' blessing, quit college and moved to New York. After earning a design degree from the School of Visual Arts there, she was hired by the New York offices of Minneapolis-based graphic design firm Duffy Inc.
Duffy CEO Joe Duffy hired her and remembers not only her work, but also her "spike of energy." She'd just finished heading up the redesign of an FAO Schwarz project when she got a call from Ross Productions in Tennessee. Ross was going to do an American version of the show "Changing Rooms," and she'd been recommended for an audition.
"To this day I have no idea how they got my name," Gorder said. "I was like, 'Yeah, I'll come for the audition, but I'm not moving to Tennessee.' "
She also had her doubts as to how her training as a graphic designer would work in interior design.
"I just didn't associate interior design with cool," Gorder said. "I was thinking it was all Christopher Lowell, 'Let's make this Arabian Nights!' "
In a matter of a couple months, she and five other designers were filming the first episodes. None of them had to move to Tennessee.
"I remember thinking while I was doing the first one in Atlanta, 'What have I gotten myself into, this is so not for me,' " Gorder said.
But as time went on, she became more comfortable with the cameras and the tremendous amount of work it takes to pull a room together in two days.
"Ninety percent of the homeowners say, 'Make it look like Pottery Barn,' " she said. "But it has to be dramatic or people won't want to watch."
Drama's great, but what if the homeowner doesn't like what she's done?
"You can't take it personally," Gorder said. "Whether people like it or not, I always go back in so I can find out what did and didn't work for them. If the room looks bad, I look bad and I want to feel good about the room every time."
Los Angeles resident Paul Hogan and his girlfriend, Sonja Teri, worked with Gorder on a recent episode. Unlike some of the show's designers, Gorder was open to at least some of their ideas for changing their neighbor's living room, they said.
"She was just really fun to work with, not stuck up or pretentious at all," Hogan said. "She had us doing the whole show barefoot, just like her."
Gen and Bob
" 'You guys are gon' be celebrities,' " Gorder remembers one Ross executive drawling early on. "I was like, 'Yeah, right, me and Bob Vila.' "
What a difference a season makes.
The show is so popular in Texas that when it is filmed there, crowds stand outside the homes for hours with placards and cameras. A late-night run for potato chips at her neighborhood market can turn into an autograph-signing. The number of unofficial fan Web sites is staggering. As Gorder walked through Uptown on a recent trip home, two teenage girls appeared on the brink of hyperventilation as she walked past them.
Gorder takes this in stride. It's flattering. Her mother worries, though. While Drake is happy about her daughter's success, she's concerned about its speed and the fickleness of television.
"This is a great experience for her and she can take this anywhere," Drake said. "But the show has an almost fanatical following. People will walk up to her, literally crying, 'It's Genevieve, it's Genevieve.' So she's starting to deal with the gradual loss of her privacy."
Still, Gorder is enjoying a life that has become somewhat charmed. Marriage and kids will happen eventually, she said. Her parents' mandate was always "check out some of your dreams before you settle down, so there are no regrets." Which is exactly what Gorder has been doing. When she's not filming, she's visiting her old host family in Barcelona or going to Morocco or some other far-flung place. On the side, she designs the occasional room, although for a budget more than $1,000. (She's reprised the moss wall five times.) She's started Double G Designs, which produces"Sex-in-the-City"-esque greeting cards, and she's been approached about designing a line of jeans. And she's retained an agent as other entertainment offers have begun trickling in. Movies? Other TV shows? Gorder won't be specific, but says that in a dream world she'd host her own travel show. Not now, though.
She'd be a fool to stop changing rooms, she said, because like her moss wall, "Right now, this show is hot!"
Move over Martha - Another Croatian Sensation
Thought you'd be interested in this. Click on the link below and see my cousin, Genevieve Gorder in the top picture, being portrayed as a contender to "Martha"! WOW! Another Croatian Sensation!
Edward A Andrus