City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Vern Yip talks about sixth season of ‘HGTV Design Star,’ featuring Atlantan Doug Hines



Vern Yip, the Atlanta interior designer who began his TV career on “Trading Spaces” 11 years ago, has been the single on-air staple on “HGTV Design Star” since it began in 2006.

“I am the old relic,” he joked in a phone interview last week while he was at the airport awaiting a flight from Knoxville (home of HGTV) back to Atlanta.

“I have a great time on the show,” he said, more seriously. “I love the concept of the show. I’m a fan of this kind of television.”

And for the third time, the show will be based in New York City.

But there are some changes. First of all, the show moves to Monday nights at 9 p.m. from its usual perch on Sunday nights. Last year, the show lost about 20 percent of its audience on a very competitive Sunday night, its first year without an official host and the only one under the auspices of Mark Burnett’s production company (”The Voice,” “Survivor,” “The Apprentice”).

This year, the show has its third production company (CBS Eye Too Productions, the same one that does “Next Food Network Star”) and a new host: Tanika Ray, a former “Extra” correspondent and frequent panelist on HLN’s “Showbiz Tonight. She’s also a Spelman College graduate.

Plus, another somewhat new face pops up as a mentor, the first time the series has brought someone like that in: David Bromstad, the first and most successful “HGTV Design Star” winner to date. It’s kind of like bringing Kelly Clarkson in as a mentor on “Idol,” something that show has never done.

But the judges’ panel is the same for the third season: Yip, Candice Olson and Genevieve Gorder.

Yip said this is the most talented cast ever, something he has said before but he feels the casts do get stronger each year. And he has seen the best room ever as well. “The longer the show has been on, the more established it is, the more you attract folks who understand its legitimacy. It has produced some real design stars.”

He thinks Romstad’s presence helped the contestants and that they soaked in his and the judges’ advice to heart. (Not every contestant has done so in the past, though he didn’t name anyone specific.)

And Yip loves New York City as a home base. “I just think you can’t help but feel inspired when you wake up and see the skyline out your window,” he said. “There’s a very special creative energy there.”

Among the guest judges: Savannah’s own Paula Deen (”She knows what good kitchen layout is”)  and “Oprah” designer Nate Burkus. He naturally praised the new host Ray, who effectively replaces Clive Pearse from the first four seasons. “She’s a design junkie,” Yip said. “I don’t think it hurts that she’s a super fan of the show. She brings really good energy to the show.”

Doug Hines is the Atlanta representative on this year’s show. “He’s very indicate of the level of competition this year,” Yip said.

Hines is originally from New York City where he attended the High School of Art and Design so he felt at home being there on the show. And the view from their $7.2 million penthouse in Brooklyn Heights was surreal, Hines said in an interview last month.

HSTAR6_doug-hines-gray-full_s3x4_lgLocally, he does residential and commercial spaces, mostly local restaurants and lounges such as Vitesse Exchange, Rare Soul Tapas and The Social House.

“Design is not something that is supposed to be intimidating,” he said. “It has a snooty connotation. I want people to be comfortable and have fun.”

In the first episode, which I screened, Hines comes off competent and confident, but not arrogant. “There are personality clashes,” he said. “People react differently under pressure. I just rolled with it. I’m a very lighthearted fun person. I never let that kind of thing bug me.”

Hines originally was a graphic design specialist and when he moved to Atlanta in 1998, he opened an art gallery in Buckhead.

That led to his interior design firm Freshmaker Designs. He is hosting a viewing party at Ikea Monday night starting at 8:30 p.m.. “Design Star was always an automatic draw for me,” Hines said. “I’ve watched every season, every episodes, always been a fan of the show.”

And like a lot of reality shows, it’s a lot harder than it looks on TV, he said. “If you have to paint a room in 10 minutes, you actually have to do it,” Hines said. “It’s an eye opener.”

Getting back to Yip, keep your eyes open on HSN, the Home Shopping Network, on July 26. His new line of furniture will be featured throughout the day. He will be there doing live TV to sell his goods. And as a parent of two adopted kids, he and his partner Craig Koch are just thrilled their four-month-old daughter is now sleeping through the night.


“HGTV Design Star,” sixth season begins July 11, 2011 at 9 p.m.

Join my Facebook fan page and Twitter.

By Rodney Ho,, AJCRadioTV blog

15 comments Add your comment


July 10th, 2011
10:58 pm

Doug also designed a local boutique here called Vitesse Exchange which has amazing design showing. In fact they did quite a few shots there. Its a very NYC feeling boutique in the amazing Castleberry Hill district in Atlanta. A little NYC right here in the south!


July 11th, 2011
12:53 am

Good luck to Doug – make Atlanta proud!

Doris M

July 11th, 2011
6:02 am

I like Design Star. I’ll be sure to watch for Doug Hines.


July 11th, 2011
6:49 am

Vern needs to get a contract with Granny Smith. He’s OBSESSED with placing green apples in his design reveals. Simply Obsessed!


July 11th, 2011
7:25 am

As long as John Gidding isn’t on the show. He made a fool out of my neighbor’s house. And then at the end of the show they took all their “recyclables” and turned them over into the dumpster and took off, leaving us with a hideous yard to look at. Very snobbish, too. Vern has a kind personality and will go far.


July 11th, 2011
11:34 am

I wish you luck and success , show them what talent and magic can do.


July 11th, 2011
4:14 pm

John Gidding is a douch bag. Sorry.

Bobbie Phillip-Rogers

July 11th, 2011
5:28 pm

Go Doug!! You know I’ve been a fan…very talented!!

[...] the one who drove me to the show,” Ezelle says, referring to the auditions. …Vern Yip talks about sixth season of ‘HGTV Design Star,’ featuring Atlantan … Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)all 24 news [...]

former state farm rep

July 16th, 2011
5:40 am

doug hines the crook.. hgtv should do a better job on their background checks this is the same dude that committed insurance fraud not once but twice. He fraudently claims broken art on is home owners insurance.. I hope ikea kept this klepto away from the small furniture.


July 18th, 2011
6:22 pm

Wow! If this guy can make it on ds than i need to sign up next season. He is pretty bad.


July 26th, 2011
12:46 am

Doug is an IDIOT! I’ve personally known him for years. He was a crappy graphic designer then. And from what I saw on tonight’s episode, he’s a crappy interior designer, too. Who let this arrogant you-know-what on this show anyway!?


July 27th, 2011
1:22 am

My issue is with Genevieve Gorder. I can never forget one episode of Trading Spaces when she placed moss all over a bedroom wall!!!
The homeowners couldn’t believe their eyes and neither could I. Who does that. Just pretending that the moss would have stayed on the wall, can you imagine the amount of dirt and cobwebs it would collect?
Some designer! She should not judge other designer’s work.

Loser Zo

July 29th, 2011
12:08 pm

Loser Zo

July 29th, 2011
12:10 pm

Posting a bunch of phoney comments will get you nowhere in Life Lorenzo. Get a clue.