When you design upon a star

by Joey Leslie
Staff Writer

Crowded around a television each Sunday night, many viewers might find it a struggle not to be drawn to the magnetic force that is Josh Johnson; think Fabio, but much cuter and with a charming southern twang.     

And as far as ratings are concerned, that should be a good thing for the Tennessee native as he vies for his own television show on HGTV’s Design Star.

Johnson, 33, is one of 11 designers competing in the second season of Design Star. The show airs Sundays at 8 p.m. central time on HGTV.

After submitting a video application, going through a series of interviews and a casting process, Johnson entered the challenge with nearly 17 years of design experience up his sleeve.

Now that the filming is done, Johnson gets to sit back and watch with the rest of the country as his reality plays out during the next few weeks.

Interior design was his shtick early on, Johnson said. As a child he was inspired by his grandmother who continuously revamped her own living space.

"She wasn't afraid to try something new, to be bold," Johnson said. "Style wise, I learned from her."

Bold, opulent and glamorous are Johnson’s designs and his personality. But from his wardrobe to his interior creations, Johnson is true what he calls live-able luxury.

"I like a lot of glamorous elements," he said. "But I think everyone should be able to live in their house and not have rooms for special occasions."

His early inclinations toward designing didn't lead him to pursue the career immediately.

In college, Johnson worked as a probation officer during summers while studying business at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

"I didn't deal with hardcore crimes," Johnson said. "I worked with DUI offenders, making sure they followed through with court orders and things like that."

He said his exposure at that age to the inner workings of the court system helped him learn how to deal work with many different personalities.

"Sometimes designing can be like a courtroom," Johnson said. "Somebody ultimately has to make the final decision."

After graduating, Johnson took on assistantships and worked with different design firms to learn the art of interior design. Now after nearly 17 years of designing, he is vying for his own television show and a lifestyle as glamorous as his own interior creations.

Johnson has already garnered national attention during the past six months from TV and radio appearances. And as each episode brings the finale closer, Johnson said his excitement grows.

Should he win, Johnson hopes to host a show where he designs for, shops with and interviews celebrities. But win or not, the show has offered him national exposure that could give him a variety of career moves.

“It’s a tremendous achievement,” Johnson said. “It’s not something I expected, but I’m glad I got a chance to be on the show.”

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