Who Went Home Last Week? Week 4 Exit Interview

Who Went Home Last Week? Week 4 Exit Interview

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Tara Bellucci
Feb 15, 2016
(Image credit: HGTV)

This week, the Ellen's Design Challenge contestants were inspired by countries around the world. Unfortunately, one more designer is sent packing.

(Image credit: HGTV)

While the judges called it beautiful, Melissa's Chanel-inspired vanity set could have benefitted from an editing eye, and she was eliminated for it. Here's what the industrial designer had to say about her time on the show:

Your designs are so fun and playful! What was it like to go from designing kids’ pieces to a competition focusing on adults?

I appreciate you thinking that my designs are fun and playful, that means a lot. While I do love designing kids furniture pieces, I also have always enjoyed designing for people all ages. With my career, background and education at RISD, in Industrial Design and a Masters in Art and design Teaching, I was very lucky to be trained and challenged to be able to take in projects of all kinds, and work with a wide range of clients so I actually was very excited to participate in this competition and be able to show the array of things that I could make. During EDC I wanted to take every challenge as a totally different client since that is how my design life has been like while working on my business, Unleash Studio. I never know who will call me and ask me to create something, from store designs, to individual pieces, to logos, pet products and even stages for totally different people with different needs and backgrounds, so I was actually excited to show everyone the vast variety of styles and challenges that I could take on, but most importantly my design process while keeping true to myself.

(Image credit: HGTV)

Looking back, would you do anything differently?

Not really. I left the competition knowing that I did the best that I could with the time and circumstances we were faced with. I was comfortable being myself and I never forgot to have fun while being here, especially with my carpenter, who was super fun to work with. I don’t regret trying new things that I had never done before like upholstering, or making designs that were perhaps a bit more “outside of the box” because I feel like that is why we were there, to challenge ourselves, even if it meant possibly getting kicked out early. I rather take risks and know I learned something that play it too safe.

What will you remember most about your time on EDC?

Aside from:

a) The casting process where I was taking calls and Skyping AS I was moving across the country towing my lil car, taking Ellen’s call to tell me I made it into the show in the middle of the Mojave desert, having to run to Walmart in Vegas to buy paper and sharpies to design my first “homework” assignment because I had nothing but a suitcase with me and arriving to the show without having a home to live yet (since I had literally just moved 3 days before to California)...

I would say:

b) Every single bit of the experience was amazing. I feel so fortunate to have had the chance to experience being in the show and meeting the people that I met.

What’s the reception been like back home?

I have to say that being kicked out of the show a little earlier and at the time that I did has been kind of fun and super cool — imagine that! I have been getting lots and lots of awesome, sweet, supportive and even quite hilarious emails of people that seemed pretty upset that I got sent home. Never thought that people would be so kind to me and sweet about my design work and most importantly me, as a person (That, more than anything, makes me the happiest). I have had people of all ages and complete families take time off from their days to send me all kinds of encouraging and supportive messages about how they enjoyed watching me come up with my designs and that were just rooting for me wishing I had been able to stay longer just so they could see me more and what else I would create. That, to me is super inspiring and encouraging, and I am thankful for everyone who has taken that time to make me smile… or almost tear up with your kind messages.

Has your experience on the show changed your work?

The experience of being in the show made me realize of how MUCH MORE I want to keep doing and pushing myself to be better and keep growing as a designer.

(Image credit: HGTV)

What’s next for you?

I currently own my business Unleash Studio, but I also recently landed an amazing job at an Exhibit Design company in Alameda called Group Delphi. They are amazing and working for them is a fantastic opportunity to surround myself with great creative people again, to push myself to learn new things and to keep creating, not just for me, but for other cool companies such as National Geographic, Google, Mitsubishi, Medical Companies, you name it, plus they are based in a WW2 hangar where they make everything in-house so they have their own metal shop, wood shop, printing room, model shop… it’s like a dream come true since I get to see my creations come to life. I know that it will push me to keep making things to make this world better and have an impact in a different scale which is ultimately what design is about.

Thanks, Melissa!

We'll be live-tweeting the show along with the cast & judges every Monday at 9|8c. Follow us @apttherapy & join in using #EllenDesignOnHGTV. And check back after each show for our episode recap!
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