8 Questions With … Antonio Ballatore

1. What has been your strangest fan encounter?

Antonio Ballatore: The funniest one was the first person who ever recognized me. I was in this home-improvement store and I was trying to order these kitchen cabinets. I couldn’t figure out how to order them and I was having a mini panic attack, and a lady came up and said, “Well, you should know, you’re a Design Star,” and walked away.

2. You’re at a magazine rack and can pick three magazines. Which do you choose?

Dwell, Rolling Stone, and then some miscellaneous one, whatever cover looks good. I used to work for Vanity Fair a lot, so I usually check out what’s going on in there.

3. If your TV only aired three shows, which three would you want?

Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Bizarre Foods With Andrew Zimmern, Eastbound & Down.

4. What’s your favorite sports team?

The 1978 New York Yankees. I used to play sports when I was little, and then I got my tooth knocked out by a baseball. Then I just went straight over to music, and that was the end of my sports career.

5. When was the last time you were starstruck?

I’ve worked as a set designer for years, so I’ve worked with pretty much everybody you can imagine, and the only time I kinda geeked out and got starstruck was when I did some sets for KISS. Gene Simmons made fun of me a little bit, and it was actually kind of funny. They were really awesome guys.

6. When was the last time you felt like crying?

Couple minutes ago [over a design project]. There’s always something going wrong. Every day there’s a new obstacle, and it’s down to the wire. There’s always something to cry about.

7. You won the fourth season of HGTV Design Star. What’s something about the show that people watching at home would be surprised to know?

It’s surprising to know how really hard it is. There’s a lot of Monday morning quarterbacks. People just come in and say, “Oh, I could do that.” When we did it, we had no cellphones, no computers, limited time to shop. Everything was very last minute. There’s a lot behind it that makes it so hard to do cool stuff.

8. Who gets recognized more, you or your dog Chewie?

He does get recognized a lot. He also gets a lot of fan paintings. I get a lot of art from people that are just paintings of Chewie, which is pretty awesome. I’m starting a whole collection of it. I plan on doing a whole tribute wall to Chewie.