Shop week. Two words that can send fear into even the most confident of contestants on BBC’s Interior Design Masters. And after last week’s shock double elimination, who could blame them for feeling extra nervous? And that’s before they found out Mary Portas, the self-proclaimed Queen of Shops would be judging alongside Michelle Ogundehin.
Our six remaining designers were put into pairs and sent to Salisbury to spruce up bridal, homewares and lingerie stores in just two days. Amy and Banjo ticked all of the boxes with their modern bride design, Fran and Dean had to ditch their usual colours to please a neutral-loving client, but it was Molly and Paul who took the brunt of the judges’ criticism when it came to their lingerie shop design.
With Michelle saying she felt there was ‘too much’ and Mary criticising the lack of merchandising, there were tears all round when it was time to say goodbye to the lovely Molly Coath, 24.
House Beautiful UK had an exclusive chat to find out what happened when the cameras stopped rolling…
We can’t believe you have left! How did you feel watching it back last night?
Mixed emotions, but overall, I feel content and happy. The judge’s feedback was positive, all the others were so kind and even the reaction on social media has been lovely. Saying that, it was hard to watch it back as I didn’t feel it was my time to go, but someone had to!
As lead designer, did you think it was right that you should go?
That’s a tricky one. Obviously when you are the lead you take full responsibility, but I felt I had fulfilled my brief in terms of the interior design. I don’t know if it came across on camera but we had the largest shop, it was almost like four shops in one. And although lingerie is beautiful, it’s also so hard to work with as it’s small and fiddly and there’s loads of it! The merchandising took us much longer than we anticipated.
Head judge Michelle looked quite emotional when she said you were leaving, did you speak once the cameras had stopped rolling?
Michelle came over and gave me a hug. She said how far I had come and how difficult she found the decision to make. She said even down to the last second she wasn’t sure if she was going to send me home or not.
How did you feel when you saw Paul saying that he thought he should have gone home and you should have stayed?
It made me feel sad. We knew the visual merchandising was weak and as that is his speciality, he felt responsible. The frustrating thing is knowing how beautiful that window would have looked if we had had more time.
Have you spoken to Annie, your client, since? Do you know if she has changed anything?
I spoke with Annie yesterday and this morning — she’s lovely. She’s really delighted with the shop. We wanted something bold, eccentric and quintessentially British, and we all think that was achieved. Annie hasn’t changed a lot as she loves it, but she has managed to get more stock out! I feel like I did the bones of the interior design and then she could take over and do the merchandising.
How did you feel when you found out you were going to be designing a lingerie shop?
I was really excited as it felt so me. I wanted to create something bold and fun, which I think we achieved. But I have to admit, the practicalities of a store that large and with that much stock – it’s difficult.
It seems the painting took longer than you thought it would – at which point (if any) did you start to worry? Did you have to leave anything out?
I started to worry at the beginning of day two. We were still painting and hadn’t even started on the windows. We had completely underestimated the sheer amount of stock there was and how long it would take us. Luckily, we didn’t have to drop anything from my design, but as the weeks go on, you do learn to adapt and evolve ideas.
Paul said on camera there’s nothing you can critique about that store – watching it back, do you agree?
No! (laughs). I wish I had just a smidgen of Paul’s confidence. We were delighted with how it looked but there were things I wanted to tweak or change such as my illustrations – I printed them at home to save time and money, but in an ideal world I would have had them much, much larger on the walls. I just wish the overall finish would have been better.
How did you feel watching Michelle and Mary Portas discuss your scheme?
It was weird! I was so excited when I found out that Mary was that week’s guest judge. I’ve been a fan of hers for years and I remember watching Queen of Shops when I was younger, so I was ecstatic to know I would meet her and that she would see my work. You do feel a lot of trepidation going onto the sofa, but it was okay and I did agree with a lot of what the judges were saying.
Michelle felt there was too much going on yet Mary said she felt it wasn’t finished properly – who do you agree with?
Difficult to say – yes, there was a lot going on in the windows, but this was the week we needed to make a statement and take risks. But both judges were very complimentary and kind.
What did you think when Mary said that you had ‘lost the product’?
I completely understood her critique – if everything had gone to plan it would have actually enhanced the product. We had a fabulous armoire that would have really let the products sing if it had all been merchandised properly.
If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be?
No big surprise here – the visual merchandising. We needed more time to sort and organise all the lingerie, honestly, if you had seen the mountains of it at the back of the shop…
Which shop was your favourite from this week?
I loved Banjo and Amy’s wedding dress shop. It was so well executed and looked so polished. And unlike us, they managed to get all their stock out!
We have to ask – who do you want to win?
Banjo. I wanted to be different as I know everyone is saying Banjo, but he is just incredible. I knew from day one that he was an exceptional talent. I always said he’s almost like a tortured artist as he has so many ideas. He’s just amazing.
What’s next for you?
I’ve been busy working on a couple of large freelance projects and also some cushion designs, which is very exciting! I will continue to push my interior design career and I’ve just started to sell products on my website, mocointerior.com, too.
• Catch the next episode of Interior Design Masters on Wednesday at 9pm on BBC One.
Catch up: Interior Design Masters contestant Peter: ‘Watching it back on TV, the headboard looked awful’
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