Photos by Mark Jackson/CHROMA Photography.
Designer Chris Goddard grew up in Arkansas in a house full of built-in furniture. As his love for design started early in life, he says this situation “drove me nuts.” Now, as the principal founder of Goddard Design Group, he credits these hurdles, as well as the creative nurturing of his family, for his love of change, which continues to inspire every facet of his work.
It was the need to produce something new every time, and the drive to push himself past his own creative limits, that helped Goddard become a finalist on the most recent season of HGTV’s Design Star: Next Gen.
We spoke with Goddard about his whirlwind experience of creating interior design for TV, and how his reality TV appearance inspired an even deeper love for design than he’d had in 30-plus years.
For those who haven’t watched the latest season of Design Star, can you relay to audiences your method of design?
I’m a big proponent of change, if you’re doing the same thing you did 3 years ago you’re doing something wrong. I never do the same thing twice, so in 30 years we’ve never used the same fabric twice, the same piece of furniture twice — it’s kind of my trademark. I don’t want anybody to have something somebody else has.
What has been your biggest inspiration, since you were young, to work in such a creative field?
I grew up in a very creative family, always surrounded by creativity and the arts. My family, especially my mother and my grandmother, were big on travel and exposing me to as much as possible. So I traveled a lot and spent a lot of time in museums. They would always take me out of school for weeks at a time; they always said ‘the best education was travel and experiencing things.’ I grew up a little globe-trotting kid, seeing the world, which was wonderful and super inspiring.
You received both design and business degrees in college. Have you found this type of structured education helpful as well?
I’ve found that having a business degree really makes a huge difference. Most designers are creative but can’t always run a business, and I’ve been able to strike a good balance. That’s not to say I haven’t ever screwed up — we all have — but those are called learning experiences.
You mentioned loving to travel, what’s one of your favorite places to visit?
One of my favorite places is Morocco. I try and go once a year. I’m super inspired by the colors and textures, anything that’s handmade. When you have something that’s made by hand, at least one thing in your house, it gives your house a soul and gives the room a sense of place, like it’s always been there. That’s my whole deal, creating timeless rooms. I don’t want anything to look like it was stuck in time, and the key to doing that is layering in parts of the past, present and modern so you get something that never really goes out of style.
A traditional Southern estate with hints of modern elegance in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
What is your primary focus when you’re designing a space?
I’m designing for the client, or if it’s commercial, for the space. You want to create an experience that is singular to them. I think the death of most design is becoming a trend or doing anything trendy, so I always try to be very specific in what I’m doing and make sure it’s uber-tailored to the space or the client.
I think as a designer the biggest compliment I can ever get is when someone comes in and says “Oh this looks like the homeowner,” instead of “this looks like a Chris Goddard house.” The biggest compliment is that it’s a reflection of the homeowner or the space.