Interior Design Masters Exit Interview: Jess du Preez

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The third week of Interior Design Masters series five saw the eight remaining contestants tasked with transforming a corporate hospitality box at Ascot Racecourse.

In what was a double elimination week, head judge Michelle Ogundehin told the designers to stick to Ascot’s core values; their designs should be uplifting, elegant and original.

Upholsterer and gay bar co-owner, Jess (she owns Camp in Margate, Kent), went for a glamorous Studio 54-inspired vibe to celebrate the recent loosening of Ascot’s straight-laced dress codes allowing transgender racegoers to wear ‘what they feel most comfortable’ in.

Michelle and guest judge, international high-society interior designer Kelly Hoppen, found her bright, colour-blocked space ‘uplifting’ and ‘definitely original’, but not quite elegant enough to meet the brief. So, Jess ended up on the sofa with Ben and Roisin, and after Hannah’s exit, became the second contestant to be eliminated in week three.

Speaking exclusively to House Beautiful, Jess, 35, (find her on Instagram @jessicadupreezdesign and at Margate Design Collective), told us she’s proud of breaking down Ascot barriers, and how a drag queen helped her and Hannah celebrate their time on the show.

What’s the one thing you did well and not so well in your task?

    What I did really well was coming up with a concept that had meaning, especially in a place like Ascot. My idea was good, I just didn’t execute it that well. The tortoiseshell wall was very cool and perhaps I should have pushed that further into the room. But the room looked exactly how I wanted it to. I imagined me and my friends in there, dressed up in our suits.

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    BBC/Darlow Smithson Productions

    As an upholsterer, why did you upholster the walls and not the chairs?

      It takes such a long time to upholster one chair. I had two days. Reupholstering 12 chairs in two days is impossible. I would have had to upholster every chair and I did everything to a commercial standard – no way was I going to upholster them all in that time.

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      BBC/Darlow Smithson Productions

      Tell us one thing that goes on behind the scenes that viewers don’t know…

        How detached Michelle is from everyone. It’s brilliant that she is, it makes all of her decisions completely impartial.

        What surprised you most during this whole process?

          Just how quickly you fall into being in front of a camera, and how quickly you give in to the process of creating a TV show. We’re this massive swarm of people, yet we all managed to have this like amazing dance together. You just connect. Going out on that week was the perfect way to end that journey. Me and Hannah, we filmed the studio bit then both drove to Margate and got drunk, at Camp, with drag queen Vanilla Parker Balls.

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          BBC/Darlow Smithson Productions

          Do you think you have what it takes to be an interior designer?

          What I’ve realised in this whole process is that I’m a collaborator at heart. I don’t think I’m ever going to be a lead designer. But that for me is where the true magic happens; I’m great with working with other people and have the ability to pull other people’s ideas out of them. Taking part in the show has massively made me self-reflect on who I am. It has really changed my whole sense of identity.

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          BBC/Darlow Smithson Productions

          Time to manifest! Tell us, what do you think you’ll be doing this time next year?

            I just want to keep making sure I’m making good work and making great connections with people, perhaps making more TV, working with other creatives and teaching upholstery.

            • Interior Design Masters with Alan Carr airs Tuesdays at 8pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer

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            Jayne specialises in advice stories for House Beautiful magazine and writes about a wide range of topics, from gardening and DIY to decluttering and mindfulness. Based in Yorkshire, she has recently renovated a 1920s house, where she lives with her family.


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