DECOR FELLOW: BEHIND THE SCENES OF DESIGN SCHOOL
To tide us all over until the next HGTV "DESIGN SCHOOL" episode review- FIDM SuperLabTM student Mark Griffin takes us behind the scenes; tells us about his little tantrum; and whom he like working with the least. (I'll give you one guess.)
James Saavedra: Tell me how you became to want to be an interior designer? Was it always your passion?
Mark Griffin: I have always had a passion for being creative. As a child my strengths were always in the arts… music, acting, singing and visual arts.The arts is what kept me interested in school. As a young adult I was involved in many stage shows and television productions. Ultimately, my interest in set design was sparked and that lead me to FIDM to study interior design.
JS: Prior to the first episode did you know any of the other FIDM SuperLab students?
MG: I had seen Paul around campus and I had met Marcia briefly in a class. Gianna is the only one I can say I knew, not very well - but- I realized that she was my strongest competition in that class!
JS: Give me one word that describes your FIRST impression of each classmate
Gianna - competitive
Danny - charismatic
Paul - knowledgeable
Ashleigh - intense
Olivia - sweet
Chris - restrained
Marcia - quirky
Celeste - pleasant
JS: FIDM SuperLabTM is an accelerated learning experience. Did you expect that it would be as tough as it was or prepared for the workload that was required?
MG: I definitely expected the Superlab projects to have the intense work load. What I did not expect was that the production element of each challenge would considerably slow down the design process.
JS: Speaking of tough- tell me about your virtual episode. It certainly brought up some issues and pushed a button or two for you.
MG: Yes, as the episode showed I did have my buttons pushed. There was a lot you did not see between your appearance on day one and your return for the project presentation. Many issues arose in the process; it was not just the slow Internet as it appeared.
Even though it was clearly an impossible task to accomplish in the time permitted my team gave it literally every waking moment and did not stop working at any point. I was being honest when I said I had missed both my Wife’s and Son’s Birthdays in the process!
It was unacceptable in my eyes to have Mr. Roy chastise us on national TV as if we were children and lower our grade.
JS: I see. chastise, interesting. Unfortunately, as instructors the power of grading is in their hands. Speaking of which...
I really enjoyed your team’s design. I gave your Mountain group an A- but Mike Roy’s decision to drop a full letter made it a B-. Thoughts?
MG: Let’s see, my opinion about Mr. Roy lowering our grade?
JS: Let's leave it at that! Moving on.
I do not believe that either team really understood what I meant when we gave you a chance to “sell your vision”. Looking back do you see that it was not about defending your design choices?
MG: Yes, looking back I wish it had been handled differently. I definitely know that what you wanted was not about defending our choices. That is why we took that time to point out all of the elements we provided that met your requests…but that part was edited out.
Part of both teams confusion was that what you ask for and what the show director asked for were two different things.
JS: Edited out? Imagine that.Still everyone missed that boat. Either way- just the way it was.
In my opinion- the challenges in the SuperLab were more than the task at hand- there was meaning beneath the surface. What’s one example of something you learned as a result of an assignment that you did not expect?
MG: One of the most important things I learned was that you really need to be a team player.
JS: I don’t believe in sugar-coating things simply to be gentle. I have to ask- were you guys really “afraid” of my critiques? It seemed to be a theme…"oh James is so tough".
MG: I know you have the respect of FIDM for your work and contributions so I welcomed your critiques. Critiques can be constructive and I for one do try to learn from them. Take the chair episode for example. Olivia and I really took your critiques to heart and kept them in mind as we moved forward in the production of Lamar Odom’s chair.
JS: So your reaction to your grade in window display episode was welcoming? That eye roll-Bless your heart.
Did you gain anything valuable from me? I won’t be offended if you say no. LOL.
MG: I have gained inspiration from you.
JS: Giggles. (I mean- Who Wouldn't?)
MG: It is inspiring to see how you have made a success of yourself and how you value your FIDM experience. I admire that you pay respect to the school in so many ways. There are too many students who don’t seize the opportunities and then wonder why they don’t succeed...
JS: Agreed. Sometimes it is also about creating opportunities. Don't forget that.
Speaking of unforgettable- Who did you enjoy working with the most? The least?
MG: I would have to say it is a tie between Olivia and Paul for the same reasons- both were hard working, drama free and all together a pleasure to be around…even after no sleep!
My least, which I don’t like to answer-
JS: Uh HUH.
MG: - would be Marcia. She can be fun to be around and we made the best of every team opportunity we had together but as you can see for yourself on the show, it is clear where the difficulties lie.
JS: Clearly, Ms. M is misunderstood.
Which is tougher- balancing life – ie school, work, design…or raising children?
MG:Well, I only know life as a juggle of school, work, design AND raising children. Everything is so tightly intertwined. I have been raising children since the age of 20 so I have no reference of a life without children.
JS: with your experience then- what is your best advice for anyone considering parenthood?
MG: Make sure you have children with someone who has the same parenting philosophies. You will be better parents if you have a clear united front. Demonstrate a relation of love and respect and your children will seek the same in life!
JS: So sweet- I think I am melting. Just kidding!
What piece of advice would you tell the Mark of 10 years ago if you could sit down today and have a conversation?
MG: Oh that would be a looooong conversation- probably over a glass of wine or three!
JS: My kind of meeting!
MG: I would tell Mark to be better prepared in the event the economy falls apart. I totally believe in living life for the moment but I should have been better prepared for the economy of today. I feel I am in a race against time and the stress can be daunting!
JS: I think lots of us can empathize with you in that regard.
Give me one word to describe each classmate now that you have completed the FIDM SuperLab.
Gianna - resilient
Danny - endearing
Paul - genuine
Ashleigh - consistent
Olivia - inspiring
Chris - insightful
Marcia - insensible
Celeste - supportive
JS: One thing that people would be surprised to learn about Mark?
MG: People who really know me probably wouldn’t be surprised by anything. I am a very open person. Those who first meet me are probably most surprised by the fact I not only have five children but I am also now a Grandfather.
JS: Um yeah- Grandfather!
One wish- anything- what would it be.
MG: My wish is that I will become successful as a designer and a better provider for my family before it’s too late.
JS: Lovely Mr. Griffin. Now, about that wine?
Check in again for the next episode review!
HGTV'S “Design School” is a new docu-design series that runs weekly through December 3rd and is seen every Friday at 2:00 p.m. EST/PST (12:00 p.m. MTN, 1:00 p.m. CST, Direct TV @ 11 a.m PST, check local listings for other service providers).