Looking into the distance, designer Genevieve Gorder gazes upon the first car she has owed in a decade: a fully loaded BMW X3. While the perky sport-ute has much to do with her new weekend digs in upstate New York, she’s anything but snobby about her ride, afforded by her association with the hit shows Town Haul and Trading Spaces on The Learning Channel (TLC).
Looking into the distance, designer Genevieve Gorder gazes upon the first car she has owed in a decade: a fully loaded BMW X3.
While the perky sport-ute has much to do with her new weekend digs in upstate New York, she’s anything but snobby about her ride, afforded by her association with the hit shows Town Haul and Trading Spaces on The Learning Channel (TLC).
“Aren’t I supposed to be nice?” Gorder asks, casually perched on a stoop in Brooklyn, N.Y., where Celebrity Car Magazine met up with her.
She waxes philosophical on her down-to-earth, Midwestern sensibility, growing up in Minneapolis, Minn.
“Just coming from a culture like that can help you keep your feet on the ground, especially when you get into TV.”
When a building resident approaches during our photo shoot, she instantly scoots to the side, fervently apologizing for getting in his way.
Her breezy manner and 24-karat smile has the young man blushing. With her natural people skills, it’s easy to see how she is able to communicate her thoughts, refashioning design principles for the amateur decorator.
“It’s all about community ties to where you live,” she says with a marked passion about the concept that was behind TLC’s Town Haul, a show that, for three seasons, made over American communities.
“I started helping these small towns. It’s more preservation than a renovation. If you work with the people, you can achieve that.”
It’s this relaxed manner that gets her in the door, but it is her fine sense of aesthetic that has her quickly rising to the forefront as an expert in design and owner of her own company.
Part of her appeal is her ability to connect to people in the heart and soul of American culture, and she can adapt her ideas about design to most everything. “Like the interior of your car is another environment,” she suggests.
Gorder was never shy about standing out on the block. She says she was known far and wide in her Minneapolis hometown for her ride. “On my 16th birthday, I had a Honda Civic station wagon that we got for free. Its name was ‘Greenie’ and everyone in high school knew that car.”
She muses on the way cars affect peoples’ lives.
“That’s true, Americans have sentimental car stories. I think it’s a lot more interesting than the nuts and bolts of the car.”
A lot has changed for Gorder, since she left Minnesota for Europe and New York to earn a degree in design from Manhattan’s School of Visual Arts. She has grown attached to New York and she also operates design companies, gg studios and MJD.
“Chelsea [in Manhattan] is my favorite neighborhood. I have been there for 10 years.” She started off at MTV’s graphic design department before landing her role on Trading Spaces, which led to Town Haul.
For Trading Spaces, two couples — friends, wives/husbands, etc. — will spend a weekend redesigning one room in each others houses.
Expectedly, she spends a lot of time on the road. “Wherever I end up working... I will go get a [rental] car, and I’ll go seek out a natural phenomenon that I never saw before. Like I went to Lake Tahoe yesterday....”
She pauses to think about her moments of solitude.
“It’s that 30-40 minutes that you have by yourself in that car, with your favorite music. I always attribute music to cars, and Prince is always playing,” she nods insistently.
“Natural landscapes really give me a boost and a good amount of time to myself. And, I think, some of my favorite car moments, my design inspiration comes from that. Colors speed up my thoughts when there isn’t a phone ringing. That’s when everything comes clear.”
Gorder is getting in touch with nature more these days, securing a getaway in upstate New York and getting behind the wheel more. “This is the first time I have owned a car in 11 years because I live in Manhattan. And I just got the little place upstate so I have a reason to have it now.”
“For me, right now, this is the right car. I’m tall; my fiancé is very tall; and Germans are very tall. They make cars for tall people. They have thought of everything so I don’t have to. It works in my life.... I have no complaints. It drives like a car and has as much room as a small SUV.”
It’s the little things about the X3 that strike Gorder.
“When I have a cup of water and I sit in the passenger side, I just press this little thing in the dashboard and it [a beverage holder] comes right out. That’s thinking out of the box and I appreciate it.”
While Gorder is enthusiastic about her Bimmer, she’s not your typical auto enthusiast.
“As far as joining the car club, that’s definitely not my style.”
In her silky smooth manner, Gorder has a neat way of matching up all the pieces and making them fit together, whether sharing her thoughts with a national audience, the readership of this newspaper, or chatting with passersby at a Brooklyn photo shoot.
“A car does the same service for a man as it does for a woman,” she says. “Men need to be educated in design. Women need to be educated in the car culture.”