When he’s not busy creating “inheritable spaces” for his VIP clients or traveling the world for treasures, Chris Goddard can be found on HGTV’s show, Design Star: Next Gen. Chris won over the judges and viewers with his fun personality and bold work. He is known for his ability to design spaces with a wide range of influences, often creating layers to build a story rich with references within a home.
With over thirty years of experience in the world of design, the energy, passion and joy designer Chris Goddard brings to his work is going strong. His love of design, and of the experience he creates for his clients is truly inspirational. Soaking up ideas everywhere he goes, and with a love of styles representing all eras, he specializes in guiding his clients toward their own personal aesthetic, helping them identify what moves them and advising on spending where they will derive the most joy from their investments. His ability to articulate advice on the design process and inspire confidence in others to pursue their own journey of design discovery has led him to appear on a variety of television programs including on HGTV’s Design Star: Next Gen. When he is not traveling the globe for work, he can be found in his home base of Arkansas, dreaming up his next big idea, often in a vibrantly hued caftan.
Images Courtesy of Chris Goddard
Today, he is known for his ability to design spaces with a wide range of influences, often creating layers to build a story rich with references within a home, a tendency that began early in his life. “Travel has always been a big part of my life. Lucky to have a photographic memory, my head is filled with all the sights and sounds of my journeys. I must admit that I’m not the best person to tour with as I tend to avoid the typical sites and choose to get lost in the streets where I get inspiration from unique door knobs to patterns found in sidewalks. To me, the most beautiful spaces look as though they’ve evolved over time, and I put a lot of thought into the creating layers so my projects tell a story.”
His own personal story with design begins with the future designer growing up in a very creative household. “My mother invited all the neighborhood kids over for weekly craft lessons. We were always making fun items while creatively using our hands and brains. Travel and museums were also important to my family, so every vacation we were off to explore and learn all that the world has to give us.” Naturally, he would express his own creativity in his room as a child. “I grew up in a very modern 1970’s house with built in furniture, and this made me absolutely crazy. In order to jazz up my room, I constantly moved my Charlie’s Angels posters around the room creating all sorts of vignettes!”
In addition to his mother, his uncle and grandmother provided him with creative inspiration that he credits with sparking his interest in design. “My great uncle, Leonard Tharp, was a very famous florist of the 1970’s and 1980’s and published several books on floral design. Uncle Leonard and my grandmother instilled in me the importance of design, elegance and manners. Being raised in the south, beautiful homes and elegant entertaining were a constant in my life.”
In his current work, one can see his emphasis on originality, quality over trendiness and investing in meaningful pieces that worth handing down. “I always tell clients that design is a long process. It’s always better to invest in one quality piece that you love than to fill a room with meaningless objects.” One way to add quality and elements of interest into a space is to make use of carefully selected vintage and antique pieces. “Every space from modern to traditional needs at least one antique element. These pieces can be anything such as an architectural element or a client’s special keepsake. All of these convey personal history and give the space a soul.” His advice to those shopping for vintage is to buy what you love. “When shopping for antiques, clients should buy what they love and what appeals to them on an emotional level. Antiques are great conversation starters because who doesn’t love to tell the story of where they found something special and unique!”
While finding the right piece for your own home can be quite satisfying, sometimes it’s the gift you give others that can end up being the most precious. “I often think if my house was on fire what would I grab first and why. When I opened my firm 30 years ago, my first big client gifted me with a tortoise shell tea caddy which started my obsession with all things tortoise shell. I look at the box as a “thank you for a job well done” and encouragement from a client that believed in a 21 year-old designer. The meaning behind the box is priceless.”
Making space for all the things that bring joy in a home can often mean a blending of styles, a method of designing that Chris happily leans into. “My designs can be described as “contained chaos.” When layering color, materials or collections, it’s best to keep similar items in groups for more impact thus creating a common thread to unify a space. The subtle use of repetition tends to calm a space and give it balance.”
This “contained chaos” quite naturally produces a very unique look for every project he works on. “I never use the same color or fabric twice and work to ensure that no projects ever look alike. I know there is safety in numbers, but I’m not the designer to call if you want what everyone else has.”
Speaking of unique, the designer’s current work is a beautiful example of perhaps what he does best, the result of a lifelong love of branching out and trying new things. “I’m most excited to be wrapping up and photographing some projects that I feel are my best and most unexpected work. I can’t wait to share these spaces that have been years in the working and are not what anyone would expect from me.”
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5 Questions with Designer Chris Goddard
TLV: How would you describe your goal when working with a space?
CG: My goal is to exceed the client’s expectations. As Diana Vreeland said, “Give them what they didn’t know they wanted.”
TLV: What is your favorite place to travel (for design inspiration, pleasure or both)?
CG: Morocco is my happy place. There is so much history and artistry to be discovered and so much inspiration from the people, textiles, architecture and art. Plus – who doesn’t love a caftan!
TLV: Is there anywhere you have not yet been that you are dreaming of visiting (and why)?
CG: India is next on the bucket list, and I can’t wait to experience it all!
TLV: Favorite way to pass the time on a flight?
CG: I’m old school and love magazines where I can turn the pages, view creative images and read about design or the latest scandal. It’s nice to unplug from technology and immerse myself between the pages.
TLV: Most memorable keepsake from or piece purchased on a trip?
Photos Courtesy of Chris Goddard / Text by Liana Hayles Newton