“As designers, we are transformers at heart.”
As we gear up for Celebration – the ASID Design Awards on June 21, ASID ICON Online staff had the opportunity to speak with the event’s emcee, Mark Brunetz, about the inspiration that drives his work and his success as a designer and television celebrity.
Q: You have a really interesting background with a pre-med education and having worked with celebrities like Jane Fonda on her fitness programs and producing films with Sandra Bullock before making a name in the design industry. What led you on the path to design?
I’ve always followed my heart when it comes to my work and despite what looks like a series of non-sequitur career choices going from fitness to film to interior design; my attention has always been on creating the space for people to live the best life possible. I finally discovered that it was interior design that gives me the most access into people’s lives and that if I ask the right questions and listen carefully, I have the ability to create magic. So in many ways, design is both a journey and a destination. And I’m so happy to be here.
Q: Now that you are here, what is your favorite thing about the design industry?
That it is ever evolving yet undeniably experiential. Each project is as unique as the client and since design is in the eye of the beholder; what inevitably matters most is what the client thinks. I’ve designed about a thousand rooms over the past decade and no two have been alike because no two clients have been alike; despite what we perceive on the outside. Rising to this challenge is what keeps me on my toes and what recharges my batteries on a daily basis.
Q: From authoring books to hosting TV shows, you are a top name amongst designers. Like you, of our members wear many hats and want to know your secret: how do you it all so successfully?
Never doubt yourself. I learned a long time ago that if you don’t get behind your work, no one will. In fact, a career gets difficult and time consuming when you question your judgment or let people’s judgments question you. Makeover television taught me to stand behind my work and that if it doesn’t fly, take responsibility immediately. Coupled with the right team, it’s this modus operandi that gives me the freedom and time to do everything I chose to do with time to spare.
Q: ASID focuses on the impact design can have on the human experience, how have you seen people’s lives change through design?
In one word, remarkably. I’ve been so honored to witness people on a weekly basis ‘take off their blindfolds and open their eyes’ and realize that they are worth it. I’ve watched people sob, scream and shudder in awe as they come to terms with the beauty and function of the design in front of them as a reflection of what’s inside of them. Many of my clients have changed careers, rekindled relationships and started families because they finally felt at home. As designers, we are transformers at heart. And one day, there will be a study on the effects of design on the human experience and we will all take comfort in knowing that we played a pivotal role. In the meantime, take a bow knowing that your talents are a gift of immeasurable value.
Q: You also founded the non-profit initiative, Design Without Borders. Can you tell us more about that organization and some of its achievements?
After years of focusing on the family unit, I decided to start Design Without Borders; a charity’s charity that helps organizations that help so many others. Our first project was for a national charity in South Africa and has since inspired many other projects, most notably Design For A Difference for which I serve as the National Spokesperson here in the U.S. Sponsored by the International Design Guild’s Designer Program, an ASID Industry Partner, Design For A Difference is the first of its kind design contest that gives a designer $20,000 in resources to makeover a space at a favorite local charity; not based on a finished work, but a simple idea and impassioned desire to make a difference for a community at-large. It’s these kinds of initiatives that leverage the power of design and ultimately become a gift that keeps on giving.
Q: In one sentence, what does the value of great design mean to you?
Improving the quality of the human condition and having a whole lot of fun doing it.
Mark Brunetz‘s influence within the design industry is far-reaching with his work in makeover television seen in more than 30 countries. At the creative helm of Mark Brunetz Designs, he has launched a line of home furnishings on the Home Shopping Network, authored a book on living clutter free and founded Design Without Borders, a non-profit initiative that conducts makeovers in developing areas of the world. He currently serves as spokesperson for the International Design Guild’s Designer Program and is the face of its Design For a Difference competition, benefiting local charities across the United States.