Jaws dropped up and down the country last week and the internet went into meltdown when colour-loving mural artist Richard O’Gorman was the first to leave BBC’s Interior Design Masters.
In case you’re new to the show, 10 aspiring designers are in the running to win a contract of a lifetime – revamping the Watergate Bay Hotel in Cornwall. Now in its third series, the first task saw head judge and design guru Michelle Ogundehin ask the contestants to design a luxury flat, suitable for renters on the outskirts of Manchester’s city centre.
Put into pairs, they were given just two days to transform bland flats into something fabulous. There were mixed results as the budding designers interpreted the brief (there was plenty of debate over whether a wallpaper was navy or teal), but it was social media star and interior stylist Richard who had to say goodbye, with Michelle taking an instant dislike to his handmade curtains that didn’t reach the floor.
Speaking exclusively to House Beautiful UK, Richard is as warm and friendly as you would hope – and his Zoom background is as fun and colourful as you would expect. Read on to find out how Richard feels about leaving the show first, his experience, and who he wants to win…
It’s such a shame you left so early, but what an experience! Has it been hard keeping it to yourself this whole time?
I found it so hard to keep it a secret! Especially online as I am so open with my followers on Instagram – I share my failures and successes with them, so it was difficult to not be open about it. We filmed in June, so it’s been a long time. Everyone has been so supportive and kind and I’m so grateful. I have no regrets – even on the drive home from Brighton, I felt proud of what I achieved.
Viewers online were not happy that you went out in the first week…
I’ve received so many messages of support – I’m still trying to get through all of them! Some people said they were going to boycott the show but I’ve asked them not to as I love the other designers and want everyone to see their hard work, too.
How do you feel now about being the first to leave?
As soon as I found out I was in the bottom groups, I just had this gut feeling that I was going to be sent home. I remember feeling so numb and disappointed, I almost couldn’t walk in the room. I was nervous about watching it back, but Abi (Davies) and I had a viewing party with our friends and family in Birmingham. Being surrounded by them really helped – as did a few drinks, of course! I’m most sad that I have lost out on time with the others.
What were you most nervous about before filming started?
Time constraints – we only have two days to completely transform these rooms and it took me five weeks just to do my dining room! However, I still managed to tick everything off my to do list and achieved everything I wanted to.
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Did you feel additional pressure because you were already known from Instagram?
Definitely. I was worrying about my career. I’ve spent the last two years working so hard and building my own brand that I was concerned what it would mean for me if I went home first.
How did you find being filmed?
I think I got used to having the cameras in my face right before I left! I was so nervous of saying the wrong thing. When we were in the challenge the producers asked if there was tension between me and my partner Molly or if we were bickering. I have to say I genuinely love her and there were no arguments at all.
The days look so long…
They are such long days. You arrive at 8am and start filming around 9am, finishing at 7pm. We had an hour lunch break but it was still exhausting. I was really chilled on my first day and then I thought ‘Agh, there’s only one day left!’ so had to smash through it on the second day. I absolutely loved styling my room, it’s one of my favourite things to do. And afterwards we all went to the hotel bar and had some drinks together, which was just so lovely.
Do you still talk with your fellow contestants?
Everyone is still in touch – we’ve even got the obligatory WhatsApp group. Pete (Anderson) was on the radio this morning and we all tuned in to listen to him. We call him Uncle Pete and we really are like a family now. I’m hoping to head to Pete’s house on Wednesday night to watch the next episode with some of the others.
We need to discuss the curtains…
I stand by my decision! I always wanted them off the ground – but I’ll let you in on a little secret. They were only meant to be 10cm off the ground, but I made a miscalculation and they ended up being 20cm off the ground, whoops. Sadly, Michelle didn’t see my vision, but genuinely, none of my curtains touch the floor at home, I do it on purpose.
Did you feel that you had met the brief?
I did and I still do. At first I felt so trepidatious but then I just thought to myself ‘you have to just go for it!’ Maybe I was too forward-thinking. I like to push into the future but I think perhaps Michelle was looking for the now.
What was your inspiration?
I lived in Manchester for four years and it really can be as rainy and gloomy as the stereotype suggests, so I decided to go for a warm base colour that really envelops whoever walks in. Then I added different hues for an interesting colour palette. My inspiration was very much the future, very LA, quite minimal. As a renter you need flexibility, so I tried to allow breathing space for that. I also liked the green surprise behind the curtain (where the shelves were), it was something a little different.
Where do you tend to find the majority of your inspiration?
I try to not spend too much on Instagram as I think it can really affect your own vision and judgement – you can get too swayed by what everyone else is doing or what the trend is that month. I look at the fashion industry a lot as the colours always seem to inspire me.
What, to you, makes a perfect space? What is your idea of a dream room?
Light, light and more light! More than you think you need. One of my favourite things about my house is how much natural light there is and the impact it can have on a room – the way the light and shadows dance around is just beautiful. And add plants! They soften a room.
If you could go back in time and change one thing, would you? And what would it be and why?
No – although maybe the curtains…
What is your favourite memory of your time on the show?
At the end of the week we all headed to Brighton beach and had chips on the seafront. It was such a lovely bonding experience and created memories I’ll never forget.
What would you say was the biggest lesson you learnt?
Time management – I’ve never really been a list person before but I’ve realised now how handy they are, I feel more organised already!
Do you have any advice for anyone who is thinking of applying for the next season?
I would say go for it – just go big. Trust your instinct and trust your aesthetic.
What is next for you?
I’ve just got back from Leeds where I painted two murals for clients and now I’m off to London for more mural painting. I love it. I’ve also got a t-shirt collaboration coming out, as well as collaborations with a cushion brand and a wallpaper company. I’m busy and grateful.
Who is your winner?
Oh, I love them all… it’s nearly impossible to say, but I’m going to go with my queen Abi. We knew each other before the show and I am just so grateful to have her in my life. She deserves the world.
• Catch the next episode of Interior Design Masters on Wednesday at 9pm on BBC One. Follow Richard on Instagram.
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