Designing Reality Mass Media and Interior Design

Just a decade ago, the average person didn’t have much of an idea about the ins and outs of interior design. Thanks to the recent—and rapid—proliferation of cable television and the phenomenal success of reality TV however, that has changed. Today, a host of programming appeals to all tastes and budgets, from HGTV’s modest “Design on a Dime” to the over-the-top, spare-no-expense grandeur of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

Interior design and home magazines are also on the rise, according to the 2006 edition of The National Directory of Magazines. The number of design and home-related periodicals has more than doubled, going from just 92 to 192 publications in the last ten years alone. This list includes such popular titles as O at Home, Oprah Winfrey’s spinoff of her O magazine, Martha Stewart’s Martha Stewart Living, and newer glossies like Domino. Add in a plethora of books on decorating and designing and access to millions of websites, and today’s consumers now have a limitless vault of design ideas available to them.

The Media Effect

With the proliferation of design media and the public’s avid consumption of them, apartment owners who didn’t know the difference between sheetrock and shingles a decade ago today feel themselves empowered to tackle their own design projects—or give input to the professional designers they hire.

Most professional designers agree that it’s great to work with clients who are conversant in certain design terms and concepts. However, they also caution that when it comes to television programs edited into a jam-packed hour or half-hour, what design-show junkies are getting is an incomplete (and unrealistic) education.

“I do think people, after seeing these shows, get this impression that decorating can happen overnight,” says Philip Gorrivan, president of Philip Gorrivan Design in Manhattan. “In reality, on some projects it can take a whole year for certain items or materials to come in. Viewers have a false understanding that things can happen very quickly.”


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  • Great post! Atlanta Interior Designer Janice Dietz Also Gives Her Take on the HGTV Effect. How HGTV is Affecting Clients and Interior Designers – Janice Dietz