FormDecor sat down with James Pearse Connelly, Set Decorator Extraordinaire, who brings personalities alive through his design. From concept and creation to the final product, he provides something extraordinary! Just recently, you may have seen his work on NBC’s “The Voice” where he designed the off-stage set and what a phenomenal stage it was. In addition, he has worked on the MTV Video Music Awards, on Spike TV and more… But we don’t want to give it all away in the introduction! Get to know James Pearse Connelly!
FormDecor: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
James Pearse Connelly: The earliest I can remember, is I wanted to be a TAXI DRIVER. And then I remember saying in middle school that some day, I wanted to be a PSYCHOLOGIST. In Rutgers, Mason Gross School of the Arts, I fell in love with Theater Set Design. Now, all I do is drive around in LA trying to balance personalities while managing a design.
FD: You’ve become quite a well-known and up and coming Art Director / Production Designer!… When did you decide that this was what you wanted to do?
JPC: I just kept following what felt right. My mother was an art teacher turned computer education specialist, and my father was an architect. Design, computer skills, and judgment on aesthetic surrounded me. For a period of time, I even remember somewhat branching out from it. Taking classes in math, psychology… even typing skills. It wasn’t until I was in drama club in high school, that I reconnected back with what felt right, thinking through shapes and forms to construct a set.
FD: What was one of the most memorable sets you’ve worked on? Do you have photos to share?
JPC: Aren’t they all special? 2007 VMAS! I art directed that for Scott Storey and being a part of Britney Spears’ disaster of a performance was an unforgettable moment. When it was finished everyone in the audience didn’t know whether to say it was horrible or not. I was so proud to be a part of such a huge production and work on a number for Britney Spears, that my pride out shined the fact that it was truly AWFUL.
FD: Congratulations on winning an Emmy for Art Direction for Variety, Music or Nonfiction programming: “2008 MTV Video Music Awards”… Will you share with us what that experience was like for you?
JPC: I would only guess it was similar to being called on stage for the PRICE IS RIGHT. It was such a shocking surprise, that when we were called – my astonishment and my adrenaline mixed and exploded to a total frenzy as I bolted, shook and grinned down the aisle. My mother and sister were too excited to even notice that I turned into a raging spaz. And to be honest, I can barely remember it.
FD: We loved your design for the Scream Awards greenroom on SpikeTV, so much that it’s displayed in our Showcase on FormDecor.com! Was there any particular inspiration that made you choose our Hollywood Regency Style for this striking lounge?
JPC: With that project, we always talked about it being a stylized version of a backstage (or back tent) of a vintage carnival. I drowned myself in carnival and circus research from all points of history to see what I could learn. We built the custom tent from fabric we got from INDIA because we wanted a particular color for the ceiling. I picked through turn-of-the-century research to see what styles married well with FormDecor’s vast contemporary selection.
FD: Season 2 of The Voice just aired on NBC after the Superbowl. Your design for the offstage presence was “harmonizing”! What were the highlights for you in working on this project?
JPC: This was a crazy project that landed on my doorstep very late in the process. I designed this over a weekend since the next day was an expected day of build. The idea was to create a showroom of stylish furniture that incorporated the Voice brand. I used color for the brand harmony and FormDecor for the style. FormDecor has such great stuff, that I thought without even knowing what to choose yet, that I would get 80% of the furnishings there, and then fill in with what was needed for added interest. I guess it takes a quick turnaround of a schedule to harmonize.
FD: The work you do with FormDecor furnishings is FABULOUS…If you could choose one design of FormDecor’s for your home, what would it be?
JPC: Right before we were about to go live on air at the Grammy’s this year, of course while the crew was on a dinner break, I took a nap on the IMAN sectional. Fabulous, comfortable and… Perfect.
FD: What is your greatest source of inspiration?
JPC: I’m obsessed with Pinterest!! Honestly, I find inspiration in new architecture and decoration. And usually, in garish places with big economies where money is no object; Las Vegas, United Arab Emirates, corporate projects, sports arenas, shopping malls and retail wonderlands, and illustrative make-believe.
FD: What is your dream project and why?
JPC: I think it’s time the Oval office had a new desk, don’t you?
FD: What haven’t you checked off on your “Bucket List”?
JPC: Making out with Justin Bieber
FD: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
JPC: In a bigger house with 2 bathrooms.