A few days ago I was lucky enough to be able to chat with Alex Sanchez, who is a contestant on this season of Design Star (Sundays at 10pm on HGTV). A current Washingtonian and a native of the Virgin Islands, Alex is a talented photographer AND has his own design firm here in DC. I’ll be the first to admit that DC isn’t really known for its cutting edge architecture and design, but we’re making our way onto the map slowly and Alex Sanchez is helping to accomplish that. If you’re not already watching Design Star, catch up on the first episode and check it out this coming Sunday to see what Alex and his competitors bring to the drafting board (and if you’re a fellow Washingtonian, you better be rooting for Alex!).
Here he is, in his own words, answering 5 Serious Questions and 10 Not-So-Serious Questions, exclusively for Paint It What I Tell You.
What DC neighborhood do you think has the the most inspired design?
I think the U Street area wins this title. We have seen such a major development of the area that has combined historic buildings with a fresh contemporary renaissance. Even though there are a few areas in DC going through this change, U Street has taken on an eclectic identity that sets it apart. There is no shortage of cultural influence, modern innovation or historic DC charm. The younger generations have moved in and created a very aspirational environment.
You seem to have found a niche right now in designing a lot of bachelor pads and one bedrooms. Coming from another young designer, I find that to be refreshing and realistic, especially in DC. Do you plan to stick with edgy, youthful spaces or is your dream really to break into high-end restaurants some day?
I love designing for young professionals and doing small dramatic spaces so I will definitely keep that as a specialty. But restaurants (not just high-end ones) allow me to be just as creative and blur the lines between abstract art and interior design so I would love to get into that avenue as well.
You’re a big advocate for getting kids involved in the arts. Are there any local organizations that you admire or support?
I am a member of the Omicron Lambda Alpha chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. We have multiple programs like “Distinguished Gentleman’s Club” that I am a part of, which mentor at risk youth in the community and help them aspire to greater heights. I am an advocate for the young adults of all professions to get into the schools and mentor kids and show them the options for their future, in the arts and other avenues.
I know you can’t reveal much, but can you share a proud moment from the show?
Competing on the show in general has left me very proud of myself. As a young, untested designer I felt like I proved to myself that I am not only in a profession that was made for me, but also on a path to greater things.
Do you have any advice for emerging interior designers or current design students?
My advice is to develop your style. Don’t get stuck in following the trends of design and invent your own. Learning the “rules” of design are important, but so is being able to be organic with every project. A really good designer is a really good listener. You have to really get into your client’s head and give them what they need, teach them what they really want, and surpass what they can imagine.
What’s your favorite color?
Deep Reds. They ignite passion and energy.
Last thing you ate?
A “kitchen sink” sandwich-lol. It’s pretty much everything that is in my fridge between two slices of bread. This time it was chicken strips, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, a blend of random cheeses, bbq sauce and avocado…it tastes better than it sounds and I am sure some part of it has to be good for me.
Last thing you bought for your home?
Primer. I’m renovating. Changing the entire style, taking it back to a blank canvas.
Coffee or Tea?
Tea. I don’t drink caffeine (which I really could have used on the show!).
Book, Blog, or Tivo?
Fluorescent or Incandescent?
Incandescent. Fluorescent can be very unflattering, especially for darker skin.
Polished Concrete or Reclaimed Wood?
Ugh! I need both! One comes with the other for me. I need that balance.
Chalkboard Paint – yes or no?
Yes! It adds an element of fun.
Is it ever ok to hang a television over the fireplace?