The Great Interior Design Challenge returned to our screens in January and the GIF-fest started again! We loved Tweeting along and we loved chatting with you all too. However, we spied one designer in particular early on who we gelled with – and loved her style!

Skip forward to the final and let us present the winner of this year’s GIDC – Daniela Tasca York. We caught up with Daniela for our usual five minute chinwag…

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So Daniela, you’ve just won The Great Interior Design challenge – what’s the first thing you did when you found out?

I hit the champers, darlings! I had my best friend with me at the final, we were getting the train home, so before we boarded back to London I quickly ran and bought some champagne, tears rolling down my face whilst calling all my family…multitasking to the max! A few days later I called Kelly Hoppen and went to her studio, she gave me lots of invaluable advice which has now be implemented in my own new interior design studio.

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Your career started in fashion and you’ve worked at some of the world’s most renowned brands such as Matches and Burberry – what made you make the leap into interior design?

My love for interior design started from a young age, I made over my dolls houses, renovated cupboards into mini rooms (yes really), watched Changing Rooms religiously and redecorated my room on a regular basis in the wildest of schemes known to man. Lucky for me I had a wonderful mother who always let me express my creativity. I then went into fashion design. I thought that I wanted to be part of that industry more than anything, so chose to do a degree in it.

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After finishing my degree I went on to work for the fashion houses you mentioned. I had such a fulfilling career in fashion, especially at Matches, as they really nurtured me and taught me a lot about commercial luxury clothing design. Unfortunately I got made redundant after they changed the structure of their in-house label. At around the same time I fell pregnant with my first child and moved into my boyfriend’s apartment.

Jobless, pregnant and bored I thought it was a fabulous time to renovate this dilapidated duplex apartment I was now living in. It was definitely a fixer upper; kitchens and bathrooms from the 80s, blue carpets and ceiling tiles… (Yes CEILING TILES!) It all had to go, so for the next 6 months we literally ripped everything out and started again, the result was a huge success with so many bespoke design elements that I’m still proud of to this day.

It was at that point that my love for interior design was cemented, I stepped back and took a look at all I’d done and realised that I wasn’t half bad at it!

We then sold that place and moved to Ibiza, which was full to the brim with interior design inspiration. My love of the Mediterranean whitewash look grew and grew and we moved every 6 months over there because of the seasons. With each new house I felt like it was another blank canvas to create something beautiful. People would always come over and say how gorgeous my home was or ask me advice.

Fast-forward three years, we’re back in England and I saw an advert to apply for The Great Interior Design Challenge, the light bulb-moment happened and I went for it. So looking back, it’s been a slow burner for me. Interior design has always been a huge part of my life but I can honestly say that it was only once I got accepted to the show that I thought ‘this is my chance’.

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You cite Tom Ford, Gucci, Alessandra Rich and Wes Anderson among your inspirations. Is there common glue that holds these amazing people together?

For one I think they are all ground-breaking designers and directors. I love Tom Ford’s clothing obviously, but his cinematic work is my true inspiration. I’ve watched A Single Man around about 5000 times…Ok – maybe a slight exaggeration but I will never get bored of seeing those stunning heavily stylized scenes in amazing settings.

The one thing they do have in common is that they make ‘retro’ turn into modern so effortlessly. All of Wes Anderson’s films are made to look unnervingly 70s. Tom Ford encapsulates the 50s and 60s and Alessandra Rich with her 1980s Dynasty aesthetic – she’s a fairly new designer and is making waves with her tongue-in-cheek aesthetic and I think that, without realising, I’ve seen a lot of that in my own designs recently. Also, Gucci… they mix it up constantly. They aren’t scared to play with design and push the boundaries a little!

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On the GIDC you were under the watchful eye of design heavyweights Daniel Hopwood and Kelly Hoppen – did they give you any titbits of design advice you can share with us?

They gave SO much advice! They are a wealth of knowledge and really seem to take great pleasure in handing it out. For me the main advice was about delegation and managing a team, which on the show I struggled with sometimes. I’m too nice and not assertive enough, but I’m much better at it now and that is definitely down to their advice.

They told me to delegate, delegate, delegate! Be a project manager not an up-cycler or a seamstress – my job should stay as a designer and a manager and to focus on that only.

What’s the one piece of advice you would give to someone before they apply for GIDC and is there anything you wish you’d done differently?

Just go for it!!

Fill in the application form – warts and all, it doesn’t matter. Be brave, makeover a room in your house and then send those images in with the form. If you get a call back, practice like mad – upholstery, mood boards, presenting to clients – the lot. Practice makes perfect!

Try not to be the contestant that says “I’ve never done this before but…”

Although I bet my life that I said those very words a fair few times! Just remember that they are looking for something new, something original, they want to be surprised and to see the passion in you.

In one way, there’s not anything I would change as I won so something clearly worked! But in reality I find it so hard to watch as I want to kick myself for piling too much on. After seeing the other contestant’s rooms I realised I was over ambitious and tried to achieve too much, especially with big ‘makes’.

Now, I don’t mean this negatively at all but some of them only painted the room or added wallpaper, etc. – so they were able to finish to a high standard… On the other hand, I was making wardrobes, panelling walls sofas, wallpapering ceilings that are 4 meters high – making far too much myself and staying up late meaning I was tired and emotionally fragile then next day… the list goes on. I was over-ambitious and therefore, the quality wasn’t there sometimes, which was disappointing. But overall it taught me a lot about my abilities, my strengths, weaknesses and how moving forward I can improve as a designer and as a Girl-boss!

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Like what you see from Daniela? We recommend you follow her on Instagram immediately!

We’re off for some champers too after this,
David & Mark x

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